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Virtual field trips – a powerful tool to complement teaching in earth sciences

The corona pandemic faced earth science lecturers and students around the world with an essential conflict: field trips as practical parts of their studies were strictly reduced to a minimum and the theories learned in the lecture hall could not be applied to observations made in the field. As a consequence, digital tools are required to make visual features of outcrops experiential and to provide students the opportunity of home-based field experiences.

We set up a concept of virtual field trips (VFT), based on a combination of 360° panorama photographs, detailed pictures, 3D models and thin section photomicrographs, allowing the integration of heterogeneous types of data (e.g. audio, videos, texts) in order to enhance the learning experience. By going without virtual or augmented reality headsets or environment for now, the VFT can be experienced by everyone with a computer and internet connection, regardless of physical or financial abilities which is a clear advantage compared to real field trips. With the goal of a semi-automatic and low-level access VFT platform for geologists, we tested our concept for the Wingertsbergwand outcrop in the Eifel consisting mainly of ash and pumice tephras from the Laacher See eruption 13 ky ago. Although getting the real touch with nature cannot be replaced by a screen-based virtual experience, we are confident that people can benefit from VFTs not only by accessing the deposited data but also due to the great chance of complementing lectures by visual accents which make scientific contents much easier to understand.


Dominik Mock1, Colin Fischer2, Lilian Beckmann3, Monika Sester4, François Holtz4
1Institut für Mineralogie, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany; 2Institut für Kartographie und Geoinformatik, Leibniz Universität Hannover; 3Leibniz Forschungszentrum FZ:Geo, Leibniz Universität Hannover; 4Institut für Kartographie und Geoinformatik, Leibniz Universität Hannover;Leibniz Forschungszentrum FZ:Geo, Leibniz Universität Hannover
GeoMinKöln 2022
Germany, worldwide