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 an 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 good will 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.