Field camp is a fundamental part of our undergraduate curriculum. Observing and recording data in the field is the underpinning of all geologic endeavors, and forms the basis for economic, social, political, and scientific decisions that utilize maps and cartographic information.
The Most Important Course You Will Take
At Penn State, field camp is usually taken after the junior year as a capstone course that integrates the disciplines covered within the core courses of our geosciences major.
The intention is to provide hands-on experience solving geologic problems after students have the background necessary to think analytically in the field. Under these circumstances, students can make first-hand observations relevant to the internal and surface processes that shape the Earth.
Alumni and individuals we have contacted in the environmental and petroleum industries are in agreement that field camp may be the most important course in our curriculum.
An Incredible Itinerary
The itinerary is built around some of the greatest geologic events and features in the history of North America and Europe, and individual projects incorporate sedimentary, metamorphic, volcanic, and intrusive rocks ranging in age from more than a billion years to thousands of years. Within this context we focus on fundamental skills such as rock and mineral identification, geologic interpretation of field data, and the application of geologic concepts to practical problems. Ultimately, we expect students to use the landscape and the surface geology to describe the three-dimensional geometry of geologic features and the spatial and temporal variations in geologic processes.
A Different Way to Spend Your Summer
We recognize that spending the summer in class work rather than in a job is difficult for many people. However, starting salaries of our graduates over the last decade suggest that the "lost" summer wages will be regained following graduation. Furthermore, environmental consulting firms, major oil companies, and federal agencies often require field expertise.
Eastern Utah, in Price, Utah, provides superb exposures of ancient marine and coastal strata (with dinosaurs).
The Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) Campus
At the YBRA Campus near Red Lodge, Montana, students complete maps of glacial deposits and relatively simple structures.
Alta, Utah, offers a more advanced exercise in structural mapping, with complex relationships between faulted and folded rocks. Students also map the Alta stock and associated contact metamorphic aureole.
Both Red Lodge and Alta offer excellent facilities for lecturing, drafting maps and writing reports.
Students will also spend approximately 1 week camping in Idaho at Camp Wildhorse where they participate in a variety of hands-on field activities.
Field camp costs (approximate): Summer tuition (6 credits): $3400 for PA residents, $5900 for non-PA residents
Program fee: $1,190
Note: Costs listed here are approximate to assist with planning purposes. Actual costs are based on class standing and affiliation with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Most food costs are included in the fees. Scholarship money is available!