Geology Semester

*Now accepting 2020 applications on a rolling basis (reviewed as submitted). 

The Geology of New Zealand Programme (Geology) begins with a five-week field camp, which includes a series of interlinked modules that explore the stratigraphy, mountain building, and tectonics of the South Island, and the volcanology and geothermal geology of the North Island. Following field-camp, students transition to a campus semester at the University of Canterbury located in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. While at the University of Canterbury, students enroll in four courses, one of which is a research methods course based upon data collected in field camp. For 2009-2018 Geology Research Projects, please see Geology Research Projects.

Field Camp Fall Semester: June 7th – July 10th, 2020

Field Camp Spring Semester: Jan 6th – February 10th, 2020 (subject to change)

For 5 weeks, students will travel throughout the North and South Islands, deciphering the geologic evolution of New Zealand from a series of linked field modules. Our goal is to provide students with a skill base of field-focused techniques that will enable them to understand the fundamental causes and timescales of geologic processes. Field work is complemented by map preparation and exercises in the evenings, as well as lectures that highlight a wide variety of our staff’s field and laboratory-based studies.

2020 Field Modules (Modules Subject to Change)

Field Module 1

Introduction to Geologic Field Observations, Field Mapping Techniques and Igneous, Metamorphic and Sedimentary Rocks

Lodging at Westport Field Station, West Coast, South Island

Field module 1 introduces the various types of rocks, processes and stratigraphic relationships, and how to record these (field notebooks) and depict these in geological maps and cross sections. The module is based on the principles of in-field training utilizing and developing basic field mapping skills such as the observation, recording and interpretation. In this module you will learn basic field mapping skills, including the compilation of a detailed stratigraphic column and geological map of a coastal exposure. You will be introduced to the various rock groups, the particulars of and how to describe variations of these rocks, and how to start interpreting geologic processes.

Field Module 2

Volcanoes: Eruption Styles, Volcano Monitoring and Hazards

Lodging at Mt Ruapehu and Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand

Volcanoes bring to light a major problem in measuring and mitigating human environmental impacts. Volcanoes can be a threat to society, but they also provide a major source of geothermal energy that New Zealand relies upon to meet its energy demands. The North Island of New Zealand is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth. The magnitude, frequency, and environmental impact of eruptions from 300 ka (thousand years ago) to the present can be quantified spatially and temporally through careful field observations. In this module, we will observe and map the products of volcanic eruptions and then discuss their impacts on civilization. A special focus will be placed upon introducing field mapping, observations and recording these observations in field notebooks.

Field Module 3

Geomorphic Mapping of the Castle Hill Basin

Lodging at Cass Field Station, central South Island

This short module examines the geology and surgical deposits of Castle Hill basin, located in the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps, inland Canterbury. This part of the course will build upon your field mapping skills and include the compilation of a surficial geologic map with contacts, key structures, deposits, and geomorphic features. Geologic mapping of the basin relies on the complex folding best expressed by a middle Tertiary limestone unit. You will develop an understanding of both the structural and geomorphic evolution of the basin, and subsequent uplift, deformation and periods of Quaternary glaciation.

Field Module 4

Geologic Field Mapping in Kaikoura

Lodging at Dusky Lodge, Kaikoura, South Island

The fourth module of field camp will advance your field mapping skills on the tectonically-active Kaikoura Peninsula (the shore platform was uplifted 1 metre in the 2016 earthquake). Building on your field mapping skills you will map the Kaikoura Peninsula, including the compilation of a detailed stratigraphic column, geologic map with contacts, key structures, surficial deposits, geomorphic features, and cross section of Late Cretaceous to Tertiary (Miocene) deformed sedimentary rocks. You will develop an understanding of both the structural, tectonic and geomorphic evolution of the Kaikoura Peninsula, and interpretations of depositional processes and environments.

Field Module 5

Geologic Research – Field Objectives

Lodging at University of Canterbury, Christchurch, South Island

The final module of field camp will introduce you to various ongoing research tangents and themes of Frontiers Abroad and the University of Canterbury. In this module you be introduced to your research mentors and their research themes. You will then select a mentor and start the research process with research definition, methods and research parameters, and collection of field data sets. These data series will contribute to ongoing research and provide data series for your / or contribute to a semester long research project.

Semester at the University of Canterbury

Fall Campus Semester:  July 10th –  Nov 14th (approximately)

Spring Campus Semester: February 10th-June 24th (approximately)

The field camp experience will transition into a semester at the University of Canterbury. Students will enroll in 4 semester courses (2 Geology courses including a required research methods course). The research course is Geol 356 at the University of Canterbury but appears on your Skidmore Transcript as JNGE351D – Research Methods in Geology. In addition, you choose 2 courses from the University of Canterbury course catalogue).  See full description of Research Methods Course

Programme Director: Dr. Darren Gravley, Faculty – Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury

Darren is a volcanologist in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. Darren blends his globally-recognised volcano research with undergraduate and graduate education projects in earth systems science. He studies the largest volcanoes known to man, “supervolcanoes”, and his research spans the globe from Japan to the United States to South America and New Zealand. With a New Zealand mother and an American father, Darren has taken advantage of a unique opportunity to blend his Pomona College undergraduate education with his love of the New Zealand outdoors and a concern for its environment.

Programme Details:

Credits/Units: Five course credits transcripted by Skidmore College. 

  1. Geology Field Camp (JNGE309 – Geology of New Zealand-Field Course)
  2. JNGE351D – Research Methods in Geology *** Please note: This class is Geology 356: Field Focused Research Methods at the University of Canterbury
  3. One course within the Department of Geological Sciences.
  4. Two courses of your choosing

Tuition 2020: $21,000 USD   ***Subject to change

  1. Tuition includes all  field camp costs
  2. Semester tuition
  3. Travel and health insurance
  4. Academic advising
  5. Skidmore Transcript
  6. Pre-Departure Services
    1. Application and Visa Support Services
    2. Housing Support
    3. Course Selection

Housing:   Ilam Apartments: $4,750 USD

Ilam Apartments is a self-catered, fully-furnished apartment-style complex that offers independent living in a supportive environment to students of all ages, at all levels of their academic career, and from all over the world. Meals are self catered (you provide your own food) and not part of housing fee.

Other Program Costs:

  1. Return Airfare –  $1,500 NZD – $2,000 NZD (approximated)
  2. Board – self-catered approximately $200-250 NZD per week
  3. Books – approximately $400 NZD

Applications Close October 15, 2019  

Geologic Semester Courses and Course Descriptions
Follow this link for a full complete list of geologic courses offered at the University of Canterbury. Please note: Most FA students take 200 and 300 level courses. Prerequisites may apply.

Complete list of geology courses

Complete list of all University of Canterbury courses

The GEOLOGY programme has been one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I get to travel to New Zealand, an amazing experience in itself, but I was able to study geological field skills in some of its most spectacular settings, all while in the company of good friends and great instructors. I’ve found myself at the tops of volcanoes and mountains, I’ve rafted over and swam beneath waterfalls, and I’ve hiked and camped over glaciers, in forests, and on top of mountains. New Zealand is an awesome place to spend a semester, and Frontiers Abroad is the best way for a geology student to experience it.” – Bryan McAtee, 2009 Lafayette College and Frontiers Abroad student.