The ability to infer and to infer correctly is the goal of training in field geology, for one's proficiency as a geologist is measured by one's skill at drawing safe and reasonable conclusions from observed phenomena.
Frederic H. Lahee, Ph.D.
Field Geology. 1916

Field camp builds competence and self-confidence in working outdoors, independently and in groups, drawing inferences and conclusions from evidence, and trusting your own judgment and reasoning. This capstone course is an outdoor laboratory for testing geologic concepts, interpret the rock and fossil record, visualize three dimensional geologic relationships, make and interpret geologic maps, and evaluate data used to make maps.

Geologic Skills

Rock Description
  • Describe and analyze sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • Describe and name sedimentary rocks
  • Describe and interpret contacts between beds
  • Recognize and describe interbedding of various lithologies

  • Orienteering in the field with map and compass
  • Become proficient with the Brunton compass to take bearings and shoot angles
  • Locating ones self on a map and in the field
  • Read topographic contours
  • Correlate between ground truth and the contour patterns on the map.
Geologic Mapping
  • Drawing and interpreting maps and cross-sections with analog and computing methods
  • Practice traversing and traverse mapping
  • Practice establishing stratigraphy
  • Practice recognizing structural relations in field
  • Map the geometric complexities of folded terranes
  • Draw an accurate geologic cross-section
Topographic Mapping and Geomorphology
  • Read topographic contours
  • Correlate between ground truth and the contour patterns on the map.
  • Make a controlled base map using plane table, alidade and total station
  • Learn to contour set of points in the field
  • Observe how topography influences expression of geologic units on map
  • Distinguish bedrock and surficial units by their topographic expression.
Stratigraphic Sections
  • Description, interpretation, and correlation of stratigraphic sections
  • Describe and measure a sequence of rocks
  • Construct columnar stratigraphic section

Inference and Soft Skills

Visual Communication: Mapping and Notetaking
  • Develop completeness and clarity of the notetaking.
  • Improve illustration, sketching, and visual representation of information
3D spatial concepts and inference
  • Become proficient in spatial, three-dimensional concepts and inference
  • Understand the geometries of faulted rock bodies, and the geometric complexities that result from faulting.
  • Understand how faulting and folding are interrelated and affect each other.
  • Learn how to extrapolate/infer critical relations to large areas
Self-reliance and group work
  • Become competent, self-reliant, and able to routinely function outdoors in unfamiliar terrain
  • Gain and utilize intellectual independence and initiative
  • Maintaining drive and intellectual effort
  • Helping and cooperating on teams
  • Maintaining group morale and building an inclusive and safe social environment
  • Maintaining safe field practices
Applied Skills and Assessments Field Equipment List


If you are ready to begin applying to the program, complete the online application form by February 1.

You will be notified if you have been accepted to the program by the middle of February. You must submit the required forms and payments by the following due dates. We must make early reservations and guarantee numbers to facilities used by the Field School.

Apply Here

Previous Field Camps (2013-present)



We thank donations from alumni and friends that have helped offset costs associated with running the program. These savings are directly passed on to our students through reduction of fees. We would particularly like to thank:

Our ability to study the varied geology of the Bighorn Basin and greater Yellowstone area would not be possible without the permission of landowners and federal agencies. Thanks are extended to: