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IGCEA launched field geological skills training for new recruits and graduates in 2018

2018/10/18 14:07:18

As part of the program to help new employees and postgraduates adapt to role transformation as soon as possible, integrate themselves into IGCEA and promote their growth, IGCEA organized field geological skills training from September 11 to 21, 2018. More than 30 people, including new employees, doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, went to NingxiaProvince for the training. This was the seventh training session since the “Field Teaching Practice Base” was jointly established by IGCEA and Ningxia Earthquake Bureau.

September 10th: Pre-departure training

To ensure maximum understanding of field geology during the field training, and to understand the original intention and essence of the internship base, on September 10, the trainers led a 1-day comprehensive pre-departure training in meeting room 301. Associate Professor Haoyue Sun gave a presentation on ‘Activity structure and related knowledge’. He used the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake as an example to show the devastation caused by earthquakes, with the aim of leading the students to think about the mechanism of earthquakes. By studying the seismogenic structure of the Wenchuan Earthquake, the main forms of earthquake damage and the current survey of active faults in urban cities, all students felt the great devastation brought by earthquakes and the responsibilities of the earthquake research they are doing.Associate Researcher Zhengquan Chen introduced the precautions for field work, described to the students some common risks of field work in humorous language, and taught everyone how to avoid danger and save themselves if they were in danger. Researcher Ping Wang gave a detailed explanation of the location and typical structure of the field geological sites, and the contents and significance of the internship. Moreover, staff from the Human Resources Department, IGCEA, described the detailed precautions, internships and disciplinary requirements for field internships.

September 12: Arrival at Yinchuan, listening to a report and visiting Yinchuan Seismic Station

Along with the sunrise in northwest China, the interns arrived at the Yinchuan railway station in the early morning and went directly to the Ningxia Earthquake Bureau. Researcher Chizhang Chai gave a report on the active structures in Ningxia Province. He started with the special tectonic position of Ningxia Province, then talked about the studies of the active structures in Ningxia Province by famous domestic and foreign scholars, the occurrence of several earthquakes in Ningxia Province and their impact on the study of active tectonics in China, and the application of the results of research on active tectonism in earthquake prevention and disaster reduction in Ningxia Province. At the end, he encouraged everyone to learn from the predecessors who laid the foundation for earthquake research and who actively participated in studies of the active structures and earthquakes in Ningxia Province. Through the report, the interns learned about the characteristics of the active structures in Ningxia Province, the typical active structures at the internship sites and gained a clearer understanding of the overall arrangement of the internship.

In the afternoon, the intern team visited the Yinchuan Seismic Station. The staff in charge of the station first provided a general introduction. During the visit, students learned the methods and means of earthquake monitoring and related monitoring equipment such as geoelectric measuring equipment, gravimeters and telescopic instruments. The staff of the station then showed the students how to monitor and identify seismic information by interpreting seismic waves, such as determining the magnitude, source depth and the epicenter location. The interns experienced the work and life of the staff who are fighting in the front line of earthquakes, and expressed respect for their  selfless dedication and courage.

September 13–15: Investigation of the Zhongwei–Tongxin fault

The Zhongwei–Tongxin fault is an important segment of the Xiangshan–Tianjingshan fault, with rich and obvious reverse strike-slip faulting geomorphology. During the 3-day trip, the interns investigated six sites, including the left-lateral dislocation of the Yellow River, the fault section and the steep ridge of Mengjiawan, the fault outcrop at Changliu–Shuikou, the surface rupture in Guanguanling and the ancient city of Ganyanchi.

At the investigation sites, Researcher Ping Wang, Researcher Zhujun Han, Qiyun Lei, and Haoyue Sun first introduced the regional tectonic setting, fault activity and evolution of the geological structure, then guided the participants to learn and find faults on their own. Subsequently, the interns measured and depicted the geomorphic terraces, fault dislocations and fracture patterns revealed by trenches; they observed and sketched the trenches in groups, and consulted and discussed with the team leader on-the-spot. The teachers also raised the issues that not everyone considered. Through the investigation and depiction of these sites, the students not only learned how to measure the horizontal and vertical dislocations of the ridges with tape and compass, but also gained a deeper and objective understanding of the kinematics, dynamics and deformation characteristics of strike-slip faulting in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. In addition, they obtained further understanding of the M 7.5 earthquake that occurred 700–900 years ago and the activity of the Xiangshan–Tianjingshan fault during the Quaternary.

September 16: Investigation of the Liupanshan eastern range fault and visit to the Liupanshan Red Army Long March Memorial Hall

The interns came to the Liupanshan eastern range fault, in Longtan Village, to observe the nature of the Liupanshan fault zone and its associated folds. The Liupanshan eastern range fault, located at the southeastern end of the Haiyuan fault, experienced Late Cenozoic tectonic deformation dominated by thrusting and is the boundary of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. In the Liupanshan fault region, there are obvious striking extruded and folded landforms, where reverse faults are also exposed. Researcher Ping Wang first instructed students on the stratigraphic sequence of the river terrace, then everyone went to the fault profile in Longtan Village to observe the nature of the fault. Qiyun Lei draw a sketch of the fault profile on a whiteboard and explained the issues that students should pay attention to when drawing a sketch. The fault profile in Longtan Village is part of the Liupanshan eastern range fault and is different from the previously observed faults, with thrust motion and little strike-slip component. Together with the north–south direction of the Liupanshan fault, the interns achieved a deeper understanding of the relationship between the kinematics of the fault zone and its distribution in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau.

In the afternoon, the interns went to the Red Army Long March Memorial Hall on the top of Liupan Mountain and observed the artifacts , cultural relics and pictures of the Long March exhibition. The memorial hall shows the Red Army’s failure from the fifth anti-encirclement campaign in 1934 to the Long March of the Red Army Gansu Huining Association in 1936. Not only did everyone feel the spirit of the Long March that the Red Army endured, but also clearly realized the difficulties that go into victory. Meanwhile, the interns were moved by the spirit of the people who lived in the Liupanshan region, who did not fear poverty, and who worked hard to build their homes. After the visit, the intern members said that they would like to take the Long March Road and choose the rugged mountain road to walk down the mountain.

September 17–18: Investigation of the geological profile in Hejiakouzi, Zhongwei, the Yaoshuidong fault and Helanshan

On September 17th, the intern team returned to Zhongwei and went to the geological profile in Hejiakouzi, Zhongwei. The geological profile is located in a gully. Along the gully, teachers first introduced the main features of the geological succession, led the interns to observe the lithological changes carefully and find the boundaries between groups . Subsequently, each group was assigned the task of measuring the geological profile. Group members divided the labor, including pulling the tape, determining the direction, measuring, describing and recording. The measurement mission was not yet half completed, when it began to rain. However, the groups did not relax , but finished the measurements in the rain. Their performance reflects the professionalism of geologists.

On September 18th, the intern team came to the Yaoshuidong fault, which is located to the north of the Haiyuan fault, and investigated the fault geomorphology and the exposed fault profile induced by fault tectonic activities. At each site, the intern members discussed the formation and evolution of the structure and geomorphology with the teachers and drew the structure and geomorphology. After noon, the intern team went to the Helanshan eastern range, which is more than 300 kilometers away, and arrived at the Xiaosuhaitu site toward evening.The Xiaosuhaitu fault is a normal fault, located on the floodplain far from Helanshan. Researcher Zhujun Han first introduced the trenches found at the site, which is part of the project of the ‘Ordos Perimeter Fault System’, then inspired everyone to think about the evolutionary pattern of the normal faults between the basins by investigating the locations of the trenches and faults. Subsequently, Researcher Ping Wang asked everyone to observe the trench carefully, draw sketches of the trench and discuss their own understanding in groups. After the discussion, it was almost dark, which marked the end of that day’s activity.

September 19–20: Investigation of the southern end of the Helanshan fault and the Hongguozi Great Wall

On September 19th, due to the inability to travel to the original study site in the Helanshan western range, the internship team turned to the southern end of the Helanshan fault to investigate the landforms of Alashan and a trench across the fault. The trench revealed that the stratum consisted of alluvial gravel and loess. By investigating the dislocation of the loess layer, the students identified two paleoearthquakes. In contrast to the faulting characteristics of the Helanshan eastern range, the southern end of the Helanshan fault is characterized by reverse faulting, which is related to the extension of the Tibetan Plateau as well as the location and orientation of the fault.Researcher Ping Wang pointed out to everyone the terrain caused by the fault. Finally, everyone summarized their own understanding and mapped the trench profile, which further promoted their understanding of the roles of different fault zones in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau.

On September 20th, the internship team came to the last site, the Hongguozi Great Wall. The Hongguozi Great Wall was built in the Ming Dynasty and is located in front of the Helanshan eastern range. The Great Wall was shifted 1.5 m vertically and 0.8 m horizontally by the 1739 M 8 earthquake. Haoyue Sun gave a Digital Orthophoto Map and DEM images of the area near the Great Wall to students. After observing and analyzing the images and the landforms, they discussed the nature of the fault and the earthquake events. Researcher Ping Wang asked each group to give a summary of the field internship. After discussion within the groups, everyone shared their experience and understanding, which lasted nearly 2 hours. Finally, Researcher Ping Wang thanked everyone and spoke highly of their enthusiasm.


Although the 10-day field geological training time was short, it was very rewarding for the new employees and graduate students. Through the training, everyone mastered the basic skills of field work, expanded their horizons, read the geological events of hundreds to millions of years and learned the results of several generations of geologists. As one sentence for geoscientists  ‘field work makes one read earth history not only in millions of years but also over thousands of miles.’ Through close contact with scientific research, everyone exercised his/her quality of hard work. During mutual discussion, exchange and sharing, everyone not only deepened their understanding but also realized the basic requirements and qualities for researchers. More importantly, the training cultivated everyone’s sense of responsibility for earthquake prevention and disaster reduction.