GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp

“When I was growing up, wild spaces and everyday spaces, they were one and the same, an essential part of our lives.” 

—Barrack Obama

The University of Arizona Summer 2022 GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp application is still open!

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Additional information on our Summer 2022 GEOS 414 Field Camp experience is provided below.

What is the GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp?

GEOS 414 is a five-week, 6-credit, capstone field course that integrates and builds on classroom-based knowledge to develop new understanding of geological processes, with a focus on the 2.5 billion year geological record of western North America. Our overall objective is to train geoscientists to solve complex, four-dimensional scientific problems using multiple working hypotheses and critical thinking. We prepare students for graduate school and careers in geoscience disciplines. Our classroom consists of the North American Cordilleran orogenic belt (the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, Basin-and-Range, and Sierra Nevada) and its spectacular geological landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, Grand Staircase and Bears Ears National Monuments, Bryce Canyon and Circle Cliffs National Parks, the Book Cliffs, and various mountain ranges in Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and California. Our faculty are renowned experts on the geology of the western U.S. Unlike many field camps, ours is mobile and designed to provide an integrated understanding of orogenic systems, leveraging the unique natural laboratory of western U.S. geology in a focused, distraction-free environment to promote personal and professional growth. Great testimonials on the benefits of field camps can be found in this article.

This course or an equivalent course at another university is required for the Geology and Geophysics sub-plans within the UA Geosciences B.S. major. GEOS 414 or an equivalent course can fulfill the 6-unit Capstone Experience for the Earth, Oceans, & Climate sub-plan requirements, as well as the Gem Science sub-plan requirements. The Summer 2022 GEOS 414 course will run from June 15 – July 18, 2022.

What will GEOS 414 participants experience?

Students enrolled in GEOS 414 will put into action principles and knowledge acquired in their on-campus courses in geology, geophysics, and related sciences. Students will study a broad range of rock types in various tectonic and geomorphological settings in order to learn the geological and tectonic history of the western U.S. The various exercises are designed to provide students with an understanding of the Cordillera as an integrated tectonic system. Students depart from Tucson in University vehicles, accompanied by professors and teaching assistants, and travel from campsite to campsite for the duration of the course. The curriculum changes every summer to maintain a spirit of exploration and discovery.

Who enrolls in GEOS 414?

In addition to students from the University of Arizona, qualified students from numerous other universities enroll in GEOS 414. Admission is competitive, the tuition and fees are affordable, and the student:instructor ratio is low. These factors, along with the high level of training and scenic beauty of the study areas, attract students from all parts of the United States.

What can students expect to learn in this course?

  •  To develop intellectual independence and critical thinking skills
  •  To develop practical skills to document rocks, geomorphic features, and other common geological elements in the field
  •  How to operate as an independent field geologist in all types of geological environments, including how to plan, manage, and execute field studies in general
  •  The geological history of western North America over the last 2.5 Ga
  •  The tectonic, magmatic, metamorphic, and geomorphic processes that worked together to form the North American Cordilleran mountain system
  •  To develop wilderness skills and confidence in mountainous terrain
  • How to create and interpret maps and cross-sections in all kinds of rocks and Earth materials, and to integrate surface and subsurface data

What can students do to prepare for GEOS 414?

Although all of these and many more topics will be covered in detail in the course, it helps to come as well-prepared as possible.

  •  Review basic rock types and rock-forming minerals
  •  Review the geological time scale
  •  Review major structural and geomorphological features
  •  Review sedimentary processes and major depositional environments
  •  Review metamorphic and magmatic processes (both intrusive and extrusive)
  •  Be ready to think in three dimensions and through geological time
  •  Be prepared for extended hiking in rough country

GEOS 414 is a challenging course and students must be prepared for variable weather conditions and hiking in rugged terrain. Students must also be properly attired and equipped to carry out this work safely. Backcountry campgrounds have limited facilities. Cell phone reception is also limited, and students should not expect to be in continuous contact by phone with family/friends. Days off are scheduled weekly to allow access to facilities in nearby towns. Watch some of the videos on this website to gain a better understanding of the landscapes and some of the activities involved in this unique course.

COVID Protocols

Our summer 2021 field course ran well without a single case of COVID-19 transmission or infection. In keeping with University of Arizona practices, all staff are fully vaccinated and all students should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than two weeks prior to departure on June 15. Each student will also need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure (i.e., no earlier than June 12, 2022). Because we work in generally remote backcountry locales, our group will be largely isolated from the general population. Travel will be in SUV's with adequate spacing to avoid close contact and all participants will wear face masks while in vehicles. Students will sleep in individual tents, and all activities in the course are outdoors. Additional details about the University of Arizona COVID-19 policies can be found at https://covid19.arizona.edu/

What are GEOS 414 application requirements and who can apply?

Students in GEOS 414 are supervised 24/7 by faculty and safety standards must be met. Therefore, space in the UA field course is limited to 20-25 students each summer. Admission is therefore not guaranteed for UA students. All qualified students from the University of Arizona or other institutions are welcome to apply. Admission is competitive, based on GPA (3.0 minimum), and the overall quality of the application. Applicants must upload a PDF copy of their unofficial transcript to their on-line application. A faculty letter of recommendation is required. Applicants should be prepared to provide the name of their faculty recommender in their application. The student may upload a PDF copy of the faculty letter to the on-line application or their faculty member may email the letter of recommendation directly to Shawna Matteson at smatteson@email.arizona.edu.

      How much does the GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp cost?

      For summer 2022, the estimated cost breakdown for students (in-state and out-of-state) is as follows. This information will be updated once the UA Summer 2022 Tuition and Fee Rates have been posted.

           $400 deposit
           $1,970 transportation & food
           $3,006 tuition & fees (6-units summer)
           $5,376 estimated total

      What are my alternatives if I have a significant health concern, physical or other disability?

      UA GEOS BS students who have significant health concerns, physical or other disabilities should apply for the GEOS 405 Accessible Earth or an equivalent field experience that better fits their needs. Additional information about the GEOS 405 Accessible Earth field experience and study abroad scholarship opportunities are available on the UA Global Study Abroad website. Alternatively, students may request a Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) accommodation for fulfilling their Capstone Field Experience requirement with a reasonable alternative to their specific needs. Students needing a DRC accomodation should submit the DRC Affiliation Form as soon as they become aware of the need for an accomodation as this process can take several weeks or more.

      Students in GEOS 414 are supervised 24/7 by faculty and safety standards must be met. However, accidents do sometimes happen. Admitted students who injure themselves prior to attending the GEOS 414 camp should notify the GEOS Field Camp Director, Dr. Peter DeCelles, immediately to assess whether attending will pose safety concerns for themselves or other camp participants. Admits who need to withdraw from the GEOS 414 program should check the academic drop/withdrawal deadlines on the Registrar's Dates & Deadlines website and notify the GEOS 414 Field Camp Program Coordinator, Shawna Matteson, as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of each camp participant to notify one of the camp instructors as soon as reasonably possible if they or another camp participant is injured or becomes sick.

      Many other universities offer 6-credit field camps that can be transferred to UA. These camps vary in the type of experience, when the experience is offered and for how long, the number of credits earned, cost, the application process, etc. UA GEOS BS students are urged to apply for a variety of field camps, as well as the UA GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp, to ensure they are able to complete their 6-unit minimum Capstone Field Experience requirement within a timely manner. UA GEOS BS students who are attempting to complete their Capstone Field Camp Experience in Summer 2022 are currently required to engage in in-person experiences. At this time, online Field Camp Experiences have not been approved for Summer 2022 nor future semesters.

      Information on other field camps can be found on the following websites. Contact your Major Advisor if you are unsure of what camps can fulfill your degree requirements.

      Who do I contact if I have additional questions about field camp?

      Students are encouraged to contact the GEOS Field Camp Director, Dr. Peter DeCelles, to discuss GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp course content and rigor if they have any concerns about whether GEOS 414 is a good fit for their personal situation.

      Additional questions about the GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp application process, enrollment process, or UA GEOS BS degree requirements may be directed to Shawna Matteson, GEOS BS Academic Advisor and Field Camp Program Coordinator. Students may schedule an advising appointment through Trellis Advise. Shawna Matteson can assist applicants and admitted students with other GEOS 414 administrative processes. Please contact her as soon as possible if you need to cancel your admission or withdraw (once enrolled) for any reason. Students are responsible for meeting all posted dates and deadlines that are posted on University websites, especially related to enrollment and financial dates and deadlines.

      Students from other majors or institutions should schedule an appointment with their major advisor if they have any questions or concerns about fulfilling their specific degree requirements with our GEOS 414 Geology Field Camp course.