An Immersive Welcome for the Class of 2026

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August 27, 2022—After the first week of classes, the majority of the Department of Geological Sciences’ freshman class braved the steamy summer heat of central Texas for an immersive introduction to their new academic home.

This field trip—a long-standing tradition that builds each class into a cohesive cohort—was especially important after the recent years with little in-person interaction because of COVID.

“With 51 students in attendance (or over two-thirds of our entire freshman class), this year’s NeoGeo Field Trip capped off an exciting week of welcome activities” says Tim Weiss, Director of Student Affairs in the Jackson School of Geosciences. “We’re thrilled to see how engaged this group of new students are with the Jackson School and their peers, and facilitating this experience is one of many ways we hope to build a tight-knit community feel for our students within the larger UT campus environment.”

This year, the Class of 2026 visited both McKinney Falls State Park and Inner Space Caverns with faculty members and advisors. During the morning at McKinney Falls—dubbed the “Cretaceous Tahiti of Texas” by professor David Mohrig—students were introduced to carbonates from an ancient reef that grew on the side of a volcano about 120 million years ago. Students also observed current geologic processes through the drainage of Onion Creek.

After a quick lunch and a drive north up I-35, the tour headed underground into cool caverns. There, faculty member Nicola Tisato explained the hydrology of karst systems that line the edge of the Hill Country and professor Chris Bell detailed the earthen debris cones discovered within in the caves, soils that fell in from the surface that contain with the remains of woolly mammoths, giant sloths, and other animals.