The expression, “the best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks,” captures a concept at the heart of geology. It is a field where seeing and touching and experiencing are an important part of the scientific process. Each new location, outcrop, and rock gets added to a mental library, and we draw on these past observations to understand new environments. So, the best geologist may not have literally seen the most rocks, but will have the largest mental library of geologic observations.
This past week I have been building my library of coastal environments! As a coastal geomorphologist, I try to understand why coastlines look the way they do and how vegetation interacts with the landscape. Australia’s Gold Coast has been a beautiful and fascinating addition to my mental library. Deb and I spent a few days monitoring turtle migration in Yuraygir National Park. In between turtle surveys we walked across a tombolo to an island and checked out the intense swell breaking at the mouth of the Sandon River. And, we saw some kangaroos sunning themselves on the beach!
We also hiked through mangroves in Ballina, where mangrove forests are directly next to beach environments. This juxtaposition is very different from my previous experience of coastlines. I am from the northwestern corner of the US, where we have lots of coastline with sandy and rocky beaches but no mangroves. And, I study mangrove forests in a part of Myanmar where there are no sandy and rocky beaches. It was interesting to look at a coastline that has both environments together!
Now we’re heading to New Zealand, where the real work begins. Stay tuned for updates on Waikaraka Estuary.