Rock Steady

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On one of their three sea-going geology trips along the Maine coast, students paddle 13 miles from Stonington to Isle au Haut.

“Participants must be able to swim.” That’s the only requirement, besides a 100-level geology course, for a Short Term geology course exploring the Maine coast by sea kayak.

What an ideal Short Term: relaxing on the beach, paddling through pristine wilderness, getting to know the wilder parts of Maine. Professor of Geology Dyk Eusden ’80, however, enjoys delivering a reality check. “It is a lot of work,” he says. “And it is tiring.”

During three separate overnight kayak trips, students map three different geologic environments along the Maine coast. “Each is challenging, each more difficult,” Eusden says. On Isle au Haut — the subject of this slide show — students find rocks that were once fluids. “You have to think like a fluid to map the boundaries. It’s tricky,” he says.

Farther down the coast, students find sedimentary rocks that reveal the ancient environment, says Eusden, “a tropical lagoon that had a volcano that periodically erupted into the tidal zone.”

Whether cleaning out the infamous “thunderdome” — the portable toilet that leaves no trace — or manning dish duty, there’s rarely a pause in the bustle of what his students affectionately call “Dyk’s Armada.” As Eusden says, “It’s a complete Bates experience.”

And students rise to the challenge. “I learned an incredible amount of geology,” says Molly Newton ’11 of Easthampton, Mass., “but also about responsibility, friendship, and understanding.”

Even after one cold and damp trip, Eusden talked warmly about his charges. “They are real good Bobcats — ready for anything.”

Photographs and text by H. Lincoln Benedict ’09
Now graduated, H. Lincoln Bendict ’09 is a multimedia producer for retailer L.L.Bean.

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