Everest-bound students reach studies’ peak

11 Jan 2019
Everest trip
UQ students are ready to learn about tectonic plate collision at the base of Mt Everest.

Geology students from the University of Queensland ventured to Mt Everest and the ‘roof of the world’ in an effort to understand the impact of tectonic plate activity.

Twelve students travelled to the Himalayas on an 11-day Tibetan Plateau field trip led by Professor Jonathan Aitchison and Dr Renjie Zhou from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Science.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with students immersing themselves in geological science in one of Earth’s most beautiful places,” Dr Zhou said.

“They explored the geologic evidence for an extinct ocean, investigated the creation and steepness of the Tibetan Plateau-Himalayan system, and even visited Mt Everest basecamp over five kilometres above sea level.

“These students had the chance to witness how mountain ranges play a key role in understanding the Earth’s climate throughout various geological timescales.”

Dr Zhou said that seeing these geologic effects first-hand improved the students’ skills to apply to Australian geography.

“The Australian continent was in fact assembled through collisional processes and the Tibetan Plateau hosts some of the best examples of such processes,” he said.

“Learning geology from these examples is invaluable for students, bringing a deeper understanding back home and helping make sense of how our own continent was formed.”


Students learning
Learning about geologic history and climate change in a dried Himalayan lake.

Dr Zhou said such trips were central to the professional development of students.

 “Visiting the world’s youngest and tallest mountain range creates lifelong memories, but it also lays the groundwork for an exciting career in geoscience,” he said.

“Students learn more in the field than they ever can in the classroom, particularly when they’re learning about the spatial scale of geology, directly observing geological processes.

“The Earth is our biggest laboratory, and there’s no better way to excite and engage students than getting them out in that laboratory and getting their hands dirty.”

The trip was part of the School’s annual Advanced Field Experience course, which provides students the opportunity to travel to remote sites associated with major plate boundaries or other geological phenomena.


Media: Dr Renjie Zhou, renjie.zhou@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3443 1437; Dominic Jarvis, dominic.jarvis@uq.edu.au, +61 413 334 924.