Field teaching and fieldwork are central to the Geology Department’s mission. The department offers several kinds of field trips. The guidelines for students are somewhat different depending on the type of trip, its duration and location. 

Mid-Term Break Departmental Field Trips

What: For many years, we have offered multi-day field trips during fall and spring terms, normally including the midterm breaks. The trips range from 4-6 days. We visit sites like the Black Hills in South Dakota, the Marquette area in Northern Michigan, the St. Francois Mountains in Missouri, Precambrian terranes of northern Minnesota, and the Baraboo region of central Wisconsin (all accessible within a day’s drive from Carleton).

These trips provide students with “real-life” examples of important geological processes and forms, different from those around Northfield. In addition, it is a chance for faculty and students to get to know each other in a setting that is far more conducive to learning geology than in the classroom. Typically we leave our campsite at 8:00 a.m. and do not return from the day’s work until 6:00 p.m. During that time we travel to various classic outcrops and typically engage in problem-solving activities in the field setting.

Who: These trips during the term are open to students who are in or have taken a geology class. Because of generous donations from alumni and friends of the department, we are able to offer them at no cost to participating students, though we do require a deposit which is returned when the trip is over or (if a student has to back out) when a student replacement is found. In general, trips will not run with fewer than 10 students; in some cases, a maximum number will be set. 

The Geology Department strongly endorses and encourages student participation on these trips. However, attendance is strictly voluntary. Students must explain to their other (non-geology) instructors before they go on this trip and make arrangements, beforehand, to make up missed work. The goodwill and consideration of our faculty colleagues make it possible for us to offer these experiences, which inevitably come at the expense of class time in other courses.

Field Geology Short Courses

What: Occasionally, the Geology Department offers trips to more distant areas, such as Hawaii, over spring break, during the summer, at other break times usually in conjunction with a 2-credit course. Most of these trips are more expensive for the department because of the plane travel and housing.

Who: Sign-ups are strictly limited to students who are geology majors or who have taken one or more courses. Students who graduate before the trip dates are not eligible, nor are students who are off campus the term before the trip. Depending on the particular trip, other criteria may also apply. These trips normally have fees for participation, ranging from $250 – $350. Students on financial aid who would have difficulty paying this fee may contact the Geology Department administrative assistant to arrange for a full or partial reimbursement.

Off-Campus Study Experiences

What: The Geology Department has a regular, every-other-year 10-week off-campus program, currently run in New Zealand. 

Who: Students must apply for a place on this program. The student comprehensive fee pays for all of the on-site expenses; students need to buy their own airfare to and from the site. Financial aid is available, both for the program costs and for the plane tickets, from college sources.

The Geology Department occasionally runs winter break trips, which are limited to students taking specific courses in the fall and winter terms and which, like the 10-week OCS trip, require an application and interview. The budget available for these programs is through OCS and pays most of the on-site costs (students are generally responsible for some food costs). Students are also responsible for the airfare to and from these sites. Financial aid is available, both for the program costs and for the plane tickets, from college sources.

Course-related Field Trips

What: Some courses may offer or include field trips over weekends, or even longer trips over breaks. These trips can form a central part of the course, and for some trips, participation is compulsory (in which case, the Department covers the full cost of the trip and the trip is indicated in the course description and in ENROLL). Other courses have associated optional field trips, and may require some contribution from the students, particularly if airfare is involved (financial assistance if available for students with demonstrable need). On all of these course-related trips, accommodation can vary from camping to field stations to motels, but is always covered by the Department and follows college guidelines for lodging. The Department has some equipment for camping that can be borrowed by students on these trips, see the Technical Director for more information.

Who: Limited specifically to students enrolled in these courses.