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Summer Geology Field Camp

*Now accepting 2019 applications on a rolling basis (reviewed as submitted). Apply as early as possible.


Summer Geology Field Camp:  June 5th to July 11th, 2019

The Summer Geology Field Camp is a 5-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.  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.

2019 field modules (modules subject to change):

  •  Module 1: Volcanoes – giveth life and taketh away: Introduction to field observations through volcanology, hazards, and geothermal energy. Volcanoes bring to light a major problem in measuring and mitigating human environmental impacts, and that is the void in our understanding of how the planet has been impacting itself. Volcanoes can be a threat to society, but they are also a major source of geothermal energy 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 thousand years ago to the present can be quantified in both time and space through careful field observations. In this module we will first observe and map the products of volcanic eruptions and discuss their impacts on civilization. A special focus will be placed upon introducing field mapping, observations and recording these observations in field notebooks. Finally we will look at how New Zealand is currently exploiting geothermal energy to meet its energy demands.
  • Castle Hill Basin

    Castle Hill Basin

    Field Module 2: Detailed stratigraphic and structural mapping in an uplifted and deformed succession of Oligocene marine strata (Castle Hill basin). The second module examines the stratigraphy and structural geology of Castle Hill basin, located in the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps, inland Canterbury. This part of the course will focus on introductory field mapping skills, including the compilation of a detailed stratigraphic column, mapping geological contacts and structures, geomorphic features, and preparing geological cross sections. The structural mapping concentrates on the complex folding best expressed by a middle Tertiary limestone unit, and we will be developing a structure contour map on this unit. This will develop an understanding of both the structural and geomorphic evolution of the basin, and subsequent uplift, deformation and glaciations

  • Look at that lineation!

    Look at that lineation!

    Field Module 3: Gondwanaland to New Zealand: reconstructing the geologic architecture of the South Island. Field module 3 integrates different types of geologic data to interpret a geologic history of the Buller District of the West Coast region, South Island. This part of the field programme is based in Westport. This model focuses on the examination of a metamorphic core complex, its less deformed cover and contemporaneous basin deposits reflecting the Cretaceous Gondwana breakup and related extension. Additionally, we will study the tectonic controls on the formation and evolution of the Cretaceous-Tertiary basins of the region, and how this has been subsequently folded and faulted. The field programme provides further field training utilizing and developing basic field mapping skills such as the observation, recording and interpretation of folded bedding-cleavage relationships, and furthers structural relationships at varying scales.

  • Lunch spot and geologic sketching lesson

    Mapping Kaikoura

    Field Module 4:  Geologic Field Mapping – Quaternary geology, glacial deposits and active tectonics. While at Kaikoura, students will further their field mapping skills, including the compilation of a detailed stratigraphic column and geological map of the peninsula including geomorphologic features related to recent glaciations and active deformation associated with the Hope Fault. Students will develop an understanding of the structural and geomorphic evolution of the peninsula while learning about Quaternary landform processes.

  • Field Module 5: Banks Peninsula Mapping Project. During field module 5, students will apply the skills acquired during the first four weeks of field camp on a group independent mapping project. Focusing on the Banks Peninsula, students will engage in volcanology and structural mapping projects.


Programme Directors: Dr. Darren Gravley & Dr. Samuel Hampton, Faculty – Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury

Darren and Sam are volcanologists in the Departement 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. Sam focuses his research on the volcanic evolution and landscape evolution of the Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand. Sam is also spearheading an effort to have the Banks Peninsula recognized as a UNESCO GeoPark – which would be the first such designation in New Zealand.

Programme Details:

Credits/Units: 5 credits transcripted by Skidmore College.

  1. Geology Field Camp (5 Credit Hours)

Tuition 2019: $5,250 USD   ***Subject to change

  1. Tuition includes all 5-week field camp costs
  2. Travel Insurance
  3. Academic advising
  4. Skidmore Transcript
  5. Pre-Departure Services
    1. Application and Visa Support Services

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