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KU Geology Club in Puerto Rico

The Geology Club Spends an Unforgettable Week in Puerto Rico

by Alyssa Clark '16

The Geology Club at Kutztown University traveled to Puerto Rico in May, 2015. The club stayed on the island for six days, delving into weathering processes, geological and biological systems and the Puerto Rican culture.

KU Geology Club in Puerto RicoThe trip was put into motion by Geology Club president, Kelsey Mason and Dr. Kurt Friehauf, professor, Department of Physical Sciences. Previously, the Geology Club had taken summer trips down to New River Gorge in West Virginia, but the club was anxious to research a new location. The club had organized an itinerary hoping to see Biobay, El Yunque and various beaches.

With so much to see and do in only one week, the club took full advantage of its time. Club member Margariete Malenda recalled piling into the van and visiting several locations in one day. Each recollection of the trip reminded Malenda of the knowledge and experiences she gained, "You do not learn what I did at the Arecibo Observatory in your typical undergraduate geology classes, anywhere."

While hiking in the El Yunque National Forest, the club experienced the massive ancient volcanic complexes.

"The rocks from these volcanoes eventually break down from being beat up by wind, rain and other weathering forces, and are broken into tiny pieces that end up on the beach shore lines," Malenda explained.

Malenda talked about how the observatory enthralled her. The Arecibo Observatory, she recalled, was where the rotation period of Mercury, the existence of neutron stars and binary pulsars were discovered.

"If the extent of geologic processes on our planet does not captivate you and make you feel a part of a grand elaborate production of natural wonders, then learning about the geologic and physical processes of other planets and astronomical bodies will," she said.

Occasionally, the club would add onto its planned itinerary when it learned what other opportunities Puerto Rico had, or take much needed downtime to reflect on the events of the trip. The club kept engaged and enthusiastic through it all.

"Whenever KU students had the opportunity, they reached out to meet the locals and were excellent ambassadors," Friehauf said.

The club members connected with their neighbors while they stayed at Casa Flor in Utuado and learned about their life of residing in the jungle. In Cueva Ventana they experienced the ancient tribal cultural and were introduced to the spiritual meanings of the caves and other natural formations.

Although what Kutztown University students learn in the classroom is invaluable, first-hand experience is incomparable. Because of the trip, the Kutztown Geology Club expanded on its real life geological and cultural awareness.

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