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Delivered by Simon Drake PhD

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Dr Simon Drake: Field Geologist and Volcanologist

Hi, I have over 20 years field teaching experience at Birkbeck College London University. During that time I have led numerous field classes and supervised students completing BSc mapping projects. I have also been a member of Birkbeck college sub-examiners board. I have completed two post graduate field mapping courses with the British Geological Survey and my PhD research entailed 7 months mapping volcanic deposits on the Isle of Skye. Fieldwork is my passion and in 2014 I won a distinguished teaching and scholarship award.

Enough of the trumpet blowing! How can I help you?  I believe I can help you improve your field skill set. I am a very patient educator and know the common stumbling blocks the student faces in the field. I will take time to build your field confidence and explain concepts thoroughly.  So, if you are undertaking an undergraduate mapping project and want to build on your field skills and confidence or you have been away from field geology for a while these day field skills courses are for you. They are affordable, friendly and will be a lot of fun. I hope

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One day courses specialising in building knowledge and confidence in field skills and geological mapping. Should you be doing an undergraduate mapping project and want to improve your mapping skills to potentially get a better grade or if you have a general interest in field geology these courses will be suitable to you.
I will cover quite a lot of subject matter and therefore recommend you bring a suitable field notebook and something to write with. A handlens, and compass clinometer would be useful (but not essential) for participants on Field Skills 1 and 2. For the mapping courses a GPS would be useful (but again not essential). I will provide all the base maps needed for the mapping courses.


Thorough grounding/refresher in field skills

 Cost £100 per person.

The course will be a full day of learning field skills which will improve your ability to 'read rocks' and to understand a diverse geological terrain. Subjects covered on this course will include:  how to describe an outcrop, how to measure strike and dip, what is strike and dip?, how to measure cleavage, what is cleavage?, annotated field sketches and their importance, photographs, the importance of scale and sampling, reading the topography in relation to the underlying geology, vegetation, recording superficial features, using stream sections to identify contacts, man made deposits, determining dip amount from distance, way up indicators, inter-bedded sequences. The going is moderately easy on this course and mostly on flat ground. 

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Reinforcing concepts discussed on Field Skills 1 with an emphasis on ancient volcanic rocks. Highly suitable for those mapping in volcanic terrains and those with a general interest in volcanic rocks.

Cost £100 per person

This course builds on Field Skills 1 with particular emphasis being placed on volcanic rocks. Participants will learn how to describe different types of volcanic rocks in and also how to interpret different stages of an eruption. You will learn how to classify volcanic rocks using the most up to date classification scheme and see products of pyroclastic density currents, fall deposits, intrusives and beautiful features within volcanic ash that was remobilised in water. A ridge traverse examining volcanic rocks and their way up indicators will be used to reconstruct the dynamics of a part of a violent eruption. This course would suit undergraduates and post-graduates mapping in volcanic terraines or anyone interested in volcanology. The traverse will require a moderate level of fitness. Total distance covered during this course is approximately 3km.

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Thorough grounding in fundamental concepts



Coniston, Lake District, Cumbria


Geological mapping course. Over the course of two days we will be mapping out a major volcanic and sedimentary contact at Coniston in the Lake District. This contact represents the end of a major Ordovician episode and a subsequent marine incursion.

Aim of course: The course is intended as an intensive introduction/revision to geological mapping on a scale of 1:10000. It would benefit anyone with an interest in geology and particularly those undergraduates who want to improve their mapping skills in order to complete degree level and post-graduate mapping projects. The course is intended to build field confidence by teaching participants how to create an accurate geological map over the weekend and by taking time to explain concepts which often cause confusion. The course will be limited to 12 participants.

Times: 9.30 am - 5.30 pm both days.

Location: Coniston, Lake District Cumbria.

Cost: £180 (all proceeds for all my courses are being placed in a separate research fund for ongoing and future meteorite and volcanic fieldwork).

Accommodation: Self booking. Coniston offers a wide range of accommodation from youth hostels-guest houses- to pub accommodation. You will need to book accommodation for Friday 5th July and Saturday 6th July. I can provide lists of accommodation if requested.

You will need the following equipment:

Compass/clinometer hand lens, field notebook, mapping board, coloured pencils (light blue, dark blue, grey, brown, dark green, light yellow, dark yellow). If you have them please bring a knox protractor and GPS.


You are strongly advised to take out personal insurance. Whilst I will make every attempt to ensure safety (and am a qualified first aider) I cannot be held personally accountable for any accidents that may occur. Participants will be asked to provide contact details of someone to contact in the event of an emergency. 

Over the weekend you will learn the following:

How determine and record daily safety and field risk assessment.

How to locate yourself in the field using GPS and knox protractor, accurate marking of locations on 1:10,000 fieldslips, explanation of British national grid and lettering system.

How to record strike and dip, explanation of right-hand rule (discussion of other methods of recording strike and dip e.g. left-hand rule, and dip and dip direction and the relative merits of each system).  How to use strike as a powerful tool to understand aspects of structural geology and the importance of regional strike in classifying some igneous features. We will use strike orientation to assist in identifying faulting and folding. We will also discuss how to determine strike from dip direction and how to record dip amount from distance using a clinometer.

Measuring and recording of regional cleavage, cleavage/bedding intersection lineation, joint orientation, plunge and plunge direction of columns within ignimbrite.

How to mark outcrop in the field using colour and delineate outcrop. Explanation of use of colour in common sedimentary and volcanic lithofacies.

Feature and contact mapping and how to lock in geological contacts and the field slip evidence required. Feature mapping will cover breaks of slope, ridge crests and evidence obtained from animal burrows. Discussion on changes in topography linked with chemistry and mineralogy of underlying lithologies.

Geological sketching, digital photographs and the importance of scale, how to take a thin section.

Explanation of a systematic approach to outcrop description and data recording including the importance of cross referencing between field notebook and field slip.

Field identification and evidencing of faulting. How to record and lock in field traces and provide supporting evidence.

How to recognise and record Quarternary features e.g.  striations, glacial plucking, till, animal burrows, and numerous erratics.

Post field discussion on inking in, transferring field slips to adobe illustrator and a brief discussion and tips on this package.

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Payment to be made in full at time of booking. Please note that cancellations within 2 weeks of course taking place are non-refundable. Course sizes are limited to 12 but please fell free to contact me should you require group rates e.g geological societies. 


The courses take place at Coniston in the Lake District and will run from 9.30 am until 5 pm. Finishing times may vary slightly. Because of the nature of the area please prepare yourself for rain and bring suitable  warm, waterproof clothing. You will need to have appropriate footware i.e hiking boots. I take field safety very seriously and am qualified in mountain first aid. I'd like to make it clear that I cannot take anyone out in the field who is not wearing suitable clothing or footwear e.g jeans and trainers

We meet at the top of the Walna Scar road car park (please refer to the map in the booking section). Drive out of Coniston in the direction of Torver on the A593, go past the garage and take the next right hand turn (David Watts shop on corner). Follow this road all the way up to the car park after the cattle gate.  You will need to drive up the Walna Scar road in a low gear as the gradient is steep.



Should you wish to stay overnight  and complete a Sunday course Coniston offers a wide range of accommodation. The Crown and Yewdale pubs are very good as is Lakeland Guest House (mention my name and you might get a discount). There is a large campsite at Coniston Hall with a shop and good shower facilities should you wish to camp. 

Sandwiches and food for the field is available from either the garage, the Coop or numerous other small shops in the village. Please ensure you have adequate food and fluid in the field. You will need a packed lunch as we will spend all day in the field. There are no toilet facilities at the Walna Scar car park

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Should you wish to book any of these courses please email me on to discuss your requirements. I can also be contacted on 07762538457 or 01622 859585

1 Church Lane, Harrietsham, Kent, ME17 1BE. United Kingdom.

01622 859585 mobile 07762538457

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Thank you Simon and Shira you have brought the Lakes alive for us all.



Thanks for your endless enthusiasm, cheerfulness and encouragement



Thank you for caring


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