The Andean Geotrail: A scientific adventure for public outreach

Cycling 8000 km and walking 400 km in the Andes Mountains to discover the Earth and its resources

Teaching geology is challenging, mainly because geological space and time scales are orders of magnitude larger than the usual scales people are familiar with. One solution to face this challenge is to bring geology at the core of a project that solicits both fascination and curiosity.
On this simple hypothesis, we set up an original educational project based on a human adventure involving two geologists in a spectacular geological setting: the Andean Cordillera. This personal project, called the Andean Geotrail, fulfilled a personal need for adventure and a desire to share our geological knowledge with the public (Sassier et al., EOS, 2011).

During the Andean Geotrail, we cycled 8000 kilometers through the Andean mountains, and after the theft of our bikes in Peru, we walked 400 kilometers for a last crossing of the Cordillera. We evolved through spectacular geological sceneries, we faced harsh conditions such as the ferocious Patagonian winds and extreme colds and high altitudes of the Altiplano, and we experienced encounters with fascinating people.

Overall, the Geotrail was the basis of an educational project supported by the French Ministry of Education. During the trail, 17 schools (about 600 pupils) from primary, secondary and high schools in France and Norway followed us. We visited 23 stunning geological localities (see map) and we reported our observations, interviews, and encounters on our blog to provide input directly from the field to the geoscience lectures of the pupils, with the great support of their teachers.

The present photograph exhibition gives you a small sample of the geological marvels the Andean Cordillera offered during our journey. We hope you will enjoy the exhibition as much as we enjoyed visiting them.

Olivier Galland & Caroline Sassier

Published Feb. 24, 2014 9:15 AM - Last modified Feb. 24, 2014 10:17 AM