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Field Experiences for Undergraduate Students

field Cover Morgan Bc Outcrop
Morgan conducting research on an outcrop in the Coast Ranges of British Columbia, Canada

The Department of Geology offers an intensive immersion program in field geology, where traditional geological field skills are uniquely blended with modern technology and computational science. Students use state-of-the-art field computer systems, GIS mapping software, and high resolution GPS equipment, while also learning traditional "rock-hammer geology".
Geology classes at UWEC include regular field excursions to the Black Hills and Badlands areas of South Dakota, northern and western Wisconsin, Arkansas, the upper peninsula of Michigan and many local field trips in the Eau Claire area. Students enjoy this active involvement in the program. Courses with a strong field component include:

Geology 303 Rocky Mountain Field Studies

A 3 credit, 3 week GE course that runs every summer, just after final exams, Geol 303 is a popular first immersion in field geology. Geology majors as well as students in other disciplines are welcome in this course.

Geology 312 Mineralogy and Petrology I

Offered every year in the fall, MinPet I involves the study of minerals and rocks with an emphasis on common rocks in field settings including the Mid-Continent Rift in Michigan's upper peninsula and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Geology 320 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Offered every year in the spring, Geol 320 examines the origin and evolution of sedimentary rocks, with emphasis on sedimentary processes, stratigraphic principles, and basin evolution. This course features a field trip to the Ouchita uplift in Arkansas.

Geology 330 Structural Geology

Offered every year during the Spring semester, Geol 330 explores the description and classification of geological structures and the theoretical and physical analysis of rock deformation. Field and laboratory techniques emphasize mapping and the tectonic analysis of geological structures.

Geology 343 Field Excursions

Commonly offered during spring break of each year, Geol 343 Field Excursions afford an additional opportunity for students to immerse themselves in field geology. These trips have visited such places as Death Valley, California, The Big Bend, Texas, the Grand Canyon, and the slickrock country of southern Utah. This March, Drs. Mahoney and Hooper will take 12 students to examine the volcanoclastic deposits of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles.

Geology 418 Earth History

Offered every year in the fall, Geol 418 examines the origin and evolution of the earth, with emphasis on the physical, biologic, and tectonic history of the planet. Concentration on geologic field relations and determination of relative geologic history is accomplished through field trips to the Black Hills, SD.

Field Camps:

Geology 470 Field Geology 1 and

Geology 471 Field Geology 2

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Department of Geology offers a two part field program which is unique in the United States. Replacing a traditional six-week summer field course, the UW-Eau Claire model introduces students to field geology earlier in their program, provides a logical break between introductory and advanced exercises, and provides a low-cost alternative to traditional summer field camp courses. UW-Eau Claire students also need not sacrifice summer employment opportunities due to field camp obligations.

Research Opportunities in the Field:

In addition to the strong field component in our curriculum, a number of ongoing research programs encourage students to pursue independent research projects in the field, including field areas such as:

British Columbia


Lake Superior

Southwestern Montana

Central Montana

Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho


West-central Wisconsin