Louis’ Journal: Geomorphology

If you think about the word ‘geomorphology,’ the field of study it refers to is not surprising at all. Geo, meaning ‘earth,’ morph, meaning ‘change or variation,’ and ology, meaning ‘field of study,’ define geomorphology perfectly. It is the study of earth’s surface features, how they have changed, how they might change in the future, and what those features indicate. These features can range from landforms which have been altered by erosion to those which have been created by tectonic activity. For instance, a geomorphologist might examine a mountain range to determine what kinds of tectonic activity took place to produce it. A lot of variables and questions come into play when trying to decipher the clues earth leaves us. Is a basin the result of erosion or the spreading of two tectonic plates? Is this erosion the result of wind or water? What might this landform have looked like before now?

Sweden is known for many things, but in terms of geology, its glaciers are particularly interesting. Glaciers are essentially giant slabs of ice, snow, and rock which can travel great distances and alter earth’s landscapes over long periods of time. They form when snow and ice are deposited in an area faster than old snow and ice can melt. Over time, these conglomerates become so heavy that they begin to move. Over time, these glaciers can travel great distances, and they leave behind distinct signs when they do. For instance, one of the most definitive signs of glacial movement is a long and winding ‘V-shaped’ canyon. By looking for and examining these signs, it is possible to determine how a glacier has traveled, where it came from, where it might go, and more! Sweden’s 300 glaciers are some of the most fun formations for geomorphologists to study.

Last Thursday was the first day of my geomorphology class, which is my last class while here in Uppsala. The professor for the class is an actual glaciologist, or someone who makes a living by studying glaciers. I am so excited to learn from him! The class will cover much more than glaciers, though. We will be learning why there are deserts in the coldest parts of the world, why the Grand Canyon looks the way it does, and what volcanoes can tell us about the earth’s interior.

To get a break from all of my schoolwork, I sometimes volunteer to work in the student nations. I have written about them before, but to recap, student nations are essentially student clubs. Each nation is named after a particular Swedish region. This semester I joined Snerikes, which is actually an abbreviation for the two regions of Södermanlands and Nerikes. I worked as a waiter and busser, picking up empty glasses and helping the chefs and bartenders throughout the night. Working in a nation is quite fun but also quite tiring. I got there at about 5pm and worked until about 2am. The best part of the whole experience takes place after work, though. Once all of the students have left, the staff gets together in the dining hall and hangs out for a few hours, playing games and telling jokes.

As I mentioned in the abstract and in previous articles, some friends and I have planned a trip to Poland in about two weeks. Poland is rather near to Sweden and is quite inexpensive. My tickets to and from Poland cost about $75 which is really not all that expensive, especially compared to how much I paid to fly to Sweden from America! I do not yet know exactly what we will do while there, but we have been looking into our different options. Personally, I want to go to the Auschwitz concentration camp museum. My great grandfather, the man after whom I was named, lost his entire family in the Holocaust. I do not expect that to be a particularly fun experience, but I see it as an educational opportunity. On a somewhat brighter note, there is also a renowned salt mine just outside of Krakow which I am hoping to see as well. In any case, I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures to share with you all! Thanks for reading!

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