Grand Canyon presentation, 2007

Field Seminar in Geology and Tectonics

GEOL 4717/5717

2020 course field trip is cancelled owing to coronavirus restrictions.

2 credits, Spring 2020

Check out the announcement of the course

Instructor: Craig Jones, BESC 440C, x2-6994,
Office hours Tuesday 11:30-12:30, Wednesday 1-2 pm

TA: Michael Frothingham.
Office hours 4-5 pm Thursdays, 440D

Next meeting: Online TBD.

There are no formal office hours; class members are welcome to drop in as needed but encouraged to set up an appointment if you want to be sure of finding someone.

Most of the class was to be a ten day field trip over spring break, the Thursday before (3/19) break to the Saturday at the end of break (3/28). If you cannot make that trip, you cannot take this class. You are the one responsible for making arrangements with other classes that may meet on the 19th or 20th. The earlier in the term you do this, the more likely you are to avoid a serious conflict (e.g., missing a required exam with no possibility of a makeup). Some other professors (outside Geological Sciences) have let me know that they do not regard this as a "legitimate" excuse for absence and so are not likely to make any accommodation for this class. You will want to know of this early in the term so that, if necessary, you can drop one class or the other.

DRIVERS: We will need drivers! Drivers will have to present their license to the front office (the undergrad program assistant, Maddy Atteberry) and a certificate of completion of the online Skillsoft defensive driving course. (Certificate is available from the My Profile dropdown menu on the Skillsoft page).

Prerequisites: GEOL 2001 or GEOL 2700 and one of: GEOL 3120, 3320, 3430 or 4241. GEOL 2700 is strongly recommended.

A page discussing annotated bibliographies and another discussing the one page summaries are available.

As a reminder, the standard campus statements about accommodations are online here. Be sure to contant the instructor if any of the issues in these materials is relevant for you.

Optional Text:

W. Scott Baldridge, Geology of the American Southwest, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0 521 01666 5, 280 pp., 2004.

Handy overview of the geologic history of the region. Most of you would probably find this handy as background, and it also forms a source of references for greater detail such as you will need for your presentations.

2020 materials (some materials will be updated):

2020 meeting schedule:

2020 Deadlines:

Trip logistics overview:

This is dominantly a van/camping trip. There is a lot of driving so we can really get our hands around the tectonic evolution of the region. We will spend four nights camping, then a night in a motel, then another 4 nights camping. We will end up in a motel in either Lone Pine or Barstow for our motel night. Camps will range from perhaps 7000' down to near sea level; nighttime temperatures will generally be near or below freezing outside of Death Valley. Daytime temperatures can range from hot (90° possible in Death Valley) to cold (subfreezing) and weather can be sunny to rain to snow. We will usually try to camp in campgrounds, but a few nights might be spent in open country camping. We will travel in 4 4WD Suburbans with radios and laptops and iPads showing local geologic maps. There will be occasional hikes, so have at least one set of sturdy footwear.

We provide:

You bring:

Note that the outdoor program has rentals of some of these items. Reservations usually are allowed 30 days in advance.

Coolers should be available a day or two before the trip; each food group can then load them up. Block ice generally lasts longer than cube ice. Removing the bag around the ice makes it easier to drain the cooler. Stiff boxes are better for groceries than bags; the department has had some plastic boxes in the past (we will check on those).

Our routine is usually to get up around sunup, have a simple breakfast (cereal, fruit, bread, hot water for drinks or hot cereal, not a full hot breakfast), pack up, drive and look at things, eat a picnic lunch at a spot that suits us, drive and look at more stuff, stop for gas somewhere during the day, and then camp before sundown. Food will be bought before the trip for the first 4 nights (5 lunches, 4 breakfasts and dinners), then again in town (Lone Pine) for 4 more nights. Don't expect to be able to hit a minimart in the evening for supplies! We are often far from such facilities. I expect to have two or three cooking groups (this is easier than trying to plan on cooking for 16 at once); we'll set up these groups at our logistics meeting the week before leaving.

Food items commonly overlooked include salt and pepper, paper towels, dish soap, parmesian cheese, toothpicks, salsa, toilet paper, and other spices for certain meals. (Sometimes there is salt and pepper and dish soap from previous trips, check with the TA). Best to plan meals with the survival of your food in mind: probably most perishable for the first dinner, least for last.

Field etiquette: Certain misadventures in the past indicate that some information should be clearly presented to the class. We are NEVER allowed to collect vertebrate fossils (I do not have a collection permit for any of the places we visit). We are not allowed to hammer on rocks or collect any samples in national parks or monuments (nor, usually, in state parks). So rockpicks stay in the cars in those locations. If in doubt, ask, and if you can't ask, don't collect. Elsewhere (generally BLM land) we can hammer on rocks and collect rock samples or non-vertebrate fossils. Cell phones should be OFF while we are travelling during the day; the exception is at lunch or at fuel stops so long as you do not delay our departure by using the phone (e.g., making a phone call and then, as we are about to leave, running in to use the toilet). Class is in session from the time we assemble to leave in the morning to when we roll into camp in the evening. In campgrounds, we need to be good neighbors to other campers: quiet time is usually 10 pm to 6 am. Mature behavior from all class members is expected. Even when we are camped alone, be considerate of other class members. The last one ready to leave in the morning should be the instructor. Misbehavior can be rewarded with a bus ticket back to Boulder and an "F" in the class.

What's here now:

From past years:


Map of field trip in 2005
Green route is approximate 2020 route.

Please send mail to if you encounter any problems or have suggestions.

C. H. Jones | CIRES | Dept. of Geological Sciences | Univ. of Colorado at Boulder

Last modified at March 13, 2020 10:40 AM