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The Geology of New Zealand Programme (Geology) combines a 1 month field camp with campus semester at the University of Canterbury. Field Camp consists of 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. Due to COVID-19, field camp will occur before the semester starts while the final capstone mapping week will occur during mid-semester break.
The campus portion of the programme is hosted at the University of Canterbury located in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. While at the University of Canterbury, students enrol in four courses, one of which can be a research methods course offered only to FA students . Follow this link to learn about the University of Canterbury.
Please note: We are introducing a Hydrogeology stream that includes semester coursework with UC Waterways. Please get in touch if you are interested in Hydrogeology.
Field Camp Spring & Fall Semester:
For 1 month, 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.
2023 Field Modules (Subject to Change):
Field Module 1: Introduction to Geologic Field Observations, Field Mapping Techniques and Igneous, Metamorphic and Sedimentary Rocks. Westport New Zealand or Banks Peninsula New Zealand
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: Geomorphic and Bedrock Mapping of the Castle Hill Basin
This module examines the geology and surfical 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 and bedrock 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 3: Volcanoes: Eruption Styles, Volcano Monitoring and Hazards, Mt Ruapehu
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 4: Research Projects
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 research, or contribute to a semester long research project.
Field Module 5: COVID Replacement- Geologic Field Mapping in Kaikoura
Lodging at Dusky Lodge, Kaikoura, South Island
This module of field camp serves as a COVID replacement in case we need to cancel a week of field camp). It 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.
Geology Fall 2023 Dates: Jun 25-November 11
Applications due April 15th
Semester Courses: During the semester you may take up to 4 courses.
The Required Semester Courses are:
Courses at UC are normally 4 Credits per course transcripted by the Skidmore College. Field Camp is 5 credits. Total credits = 21
Tuition – 2023: $23,000 USD
Other Program Costs:
During the semester you may take up to 4 courses.
The required Semester Courses are:
Popular Courses at UC (based upon past student enrolment:
To view geology courses (Semester 1 is Spring):
In total you can receive up to 21 credits from Skidmore College. 5 for field camp and up to 16 for the Semester at UC.
The University of Canterbury is located on New Zealand's South Island in Christchurch. Located and within hours of campus world class hiking, climbing , camping and paddling - we recommend UC for adventurous students. Want to get out. Most of our students join a club that provides opportunities (and transportation) to get off campus on the weekends. There are hiking, climbing, canoeing clubs that offer trips every weekend. For more information about clubs visit UC's student association website!
Living:Students studying at Canterbury live in Ilam Apartments or Sonoda Apartments. Both apartments are located on campus and adjacent to large playing fields. On campus recreation centre is included. All apartments are self-catered, meaning you will cook for yourself.
Medical Information:Health Centre: The UC Health Centre is located on campus and is there to help you with medical (non-emergency) and counselling needs. When you arrive on campus you will learn how to enrol in the health centre. Click on the above link to learn more about UC's health centre.
Travel and Health Insurance: As part of your tuition you are provided with StudentSafe Medical and Travel Insurance. This is the preferred partner for UC. Please ensure you learn about the terms and conditions of the insurance we provide. You are usually required to pay for medical services and then submit a claim to be reimbursed. If you need to have a procedure that is covered we can help you get pre-approved so you do not have to pay. Remember, New Zealand has a socialised medical system. Medical and pharmaceutical costs are far less than in the US.