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Looking for Volcanoes in New Zealand


From mapping lava on Mount Ngauruhoe to studying rock formations on the Kaikoura Peninsula, Drew Castronovo ’19 spent his summer on the move.

For five weeks, Castronovo traveled throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand to participate in a geology field camp. The program was run by Frontiers Abroad, an educational organization that brings students to New Zealand for an intensive geological study of the area.

As a student researcher, Castronovo conducted mapping, stratigraphy, and observational projects. The goal was to study the geologic evolution of New Zealand through field-focused techniques.

About Drew Castronovo ’19

Major: Geosciences

Hometown: Amherst, Mass.

High School: Hopkins Academy

read about other student researchers

“We start by looking at rock formations from far away to get a big picture idea,” Castronovo said. “And then progressively get to a smaller scale to hypothesize the origins and environment in which the formation was deposited.”

With the field camp, Castronovo visited national parks, geological formations, and volcanoes — including a trip to Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings film series.

Castronovo’s research wasn’t just about science — he also learned about the culture of the indigenous Maori people. “The camp centers around teaching about the Kiwi culture in addition teaching geology,” he said. “In Whakatane, we stayed at a marae, which is a communal sacred space that has religious and social applications in Polynesian societies.”

While Castronovo attended this camp with the hopes of gaining basic geology field skills, his passion lies with volcanology. “Last summer, I did a research internship in Tenerife, which solidified my interest in volcanoes and indigenous rocks. I loved having the chance to travel to New Zealand and see all the volcanoes there.”

After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school for geology, with a potential focus on volcanology and petrology. “It was so rewarding to finish and hand in our final mapping projects after all that research,” he said. “Field study is a crucial prerequisite to graduate school so I think this was good preparation.”

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