An incredibly geologically diverse landscape, experienced-enthusiastic faculty, and over 50 years of tradition teaching geosciences in the field from northern New Mexico are at the core of our Field Geology (GLY4790) course offerings at FSU. The course is a 6 credit hour course in field geology in a spectacular setting to engage in hands-on learning of geology. This area of the Rocky Mountains is a classic region for observing and interpreting a wide range of Earth history.
Our field course will give upper level undergraduate and beginning graduate students the observational skills and experience, the interpretative framework, and the self confidence to undertake detailed field studies in a variety of geologic settings. We believe that students learn the most from hands-on experience, working daily to observe and measure geologic features and phenomena, to place these data into a larger Earth history framework, and to build hypotheses that they can test with continued work. Students are exposed to projects in which they learn and apply basic principals of stratigraphy, sedimentology, paleontology, structure, mineralogy and petrology to solving problems of varied complexity in a number of geologic settings.
PLEASE NOTE: This course is physically demanding. Students should be in good health, capable of strenuous hiking on rugged terrain while carrying daypack and field gear.
The camp is located in a very scenic area of the Rocky Mountains where the Rio Grande Rift splits the Sangre de Christo and Brazos Mountains. Wheeler Peak (elevation 13,161 ft), the highest point in New Mexico, dominates the Taos Range and is clearly visible from our base camp near Taos. The historic community of Taos offers a unique mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo cultures.
We generally have 15-25 students in the camp, and our dedicated staff of two faculty instructors and several graduate students offer extensive individual instruction on a daily basis in the field. In the field, the students map in groups of three. We emphasize independent work on the part of the student and the 3-4 instructors spend each day in the field rotating among the field parties. In the evenings at the field station (a condo complex at the base of the Taos Ski Valley) we commonly have lecture/discussion sessions, and the instructors are always available for consultation.
The first several days involve review of basic field techniques and small projects to familiarize the student with geologic field observations, use of topographic maps and aerial photos for location and base maps. Throughout the field course students will be using a combination of traditional and modern tools and techniques to collect basic observational, structural, geophysical, and stratigraphic data in the field. In addition to traditional methods of constructing final geologic maps and cross sections students will have exposure to basic GIS & graphics software to construct final maps and cross sections for some projects.
– Stratigraphic Projects: Include the study of sedimentary rocks through detailed description and measurement, and basic facies analysis of stratigraphic sections to reconstruct the geologic history of depositional basin. Regional stratigraphic exercises will involve primary field data, wireline logs, and/or seismic reflection data for correlation of sections using principles of biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy.
– Geologic Mapping Projects: These multi-day projects involve detailed mapping and reconstruction of geologic history of study areas with varying degrees of structural complexity. Early on in the course students will map in larger areas of moderate structural complexity, but as the course progresses mapping areas will be characterized by numerous folds and faults of sedimentary and metasedimentary rocks that represent a highly complex geologic history. Students will work independently of other students and faculty to collect primary data, construct geologic maps and cross sections for the areas to unravel geologic history of their map areas.
– Field Trips: include: We will take advantage of the spectacular range of geology available in the south-central Rocky Mountains with several field excursions including trips: to the Jemez Caldera volcanic features; to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado (mineral districts near Silverton, Gunnison, & Great Sand Dunes NP)
Off-day Activities: The Taos area offers numerous recreational activities for students during off days. These include white water rafting on the Rio Grande, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, biking, tennis, basketball, golf, and art galleries.
1. Required Software Downloads
*Note: Installation packages for Mac users only
–Sedimentation and Stratigraphy (required)
–Structural Geology (required)
–Mineralogy, Igneous–metamorphic petrology (recommended)
Recommended Readings (not required)
Geology in the Field, by Robert R. Compton
Dictionary of Geological Terms, by Robert L. Bates and Julia A. Jackson, eds.
Geology of Taos, New Mexico Geological Society Fall Field Conference Guidebook 55, by Brian Brister, Paul W. Bauer, Adam S. Read and Virgil W. Lueth, eds.