Oh Take Me Out to the Field: Geological Excursions at the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering University of Missouri-Rolla


Geological field excursions are recognized to be an essential and necessary component of the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. This is because a true personal connection to many fundamental concepts in our disciplines, including, the appearance of rocks in the wild (in contrast to neatly trimmed rectangular specimens caged in a box), spatial/temporal relationships of contacts, the presence of heterogeneities/discontinuities, a feeling for the range in scale, (to name a few) as well as the true meaning of "The present is the key to the past." is achieved for many students on field trips. Furthermore, for many students field trips represent important "Life Experiences". These trips present more than just academic challenges, they push the envelope of a student's comfort zone, such as leaving the pavement for the first time, navigating with a map, operating complicated equipment, planning and successfully executing a project, and just plain surviving in difficult terrain. The confidence and knowledge acquired on field trips defines the "Geological Soul" of all in our profession: people compare where they went to field camp, what field trips they went on, rather than what assignments and tests they took in class. Recognizing this, our field trips are designed to present multiple opportunities for students to grow both academically and personally as they move towards completion of their degree(s) in Geology and Geophysics, Geological Engineering, or Petroleum Engineering. Field trips include traditional day trips and overnight trips that augment a course (e.g. Physical Geology, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology). Other semester long courses are specifically designed around a culminating field trip, such as observing carbonate deposition in the Bahamas, or integrate multiple trips throughout the semester (e.g. Geological Engineering Field Methods). Field courses designed specifically towards application of Geological Engineering principles to improve living conditions in foreign countries or Geophysical methods to monitor hazards in this country have been highly successful. Our "Geologic Field Camp" (a capstone course with a long history in Utah) was recently offered in South Africa. We feel confident that these venues, in conjunction with the classroom, will offer our students the best preparation for a successful career in their chosen profession.

Meeting Name

Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (2004: Nov. 7-10, Denver, CO)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Curriculum; Field Excursions; Geology

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2004 Geological Society of America (GSA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2004