Grand Canyon presentation, 2007

Field Seminar in Geology and Tectonics

GEOL 4717/5717

2 credits, Spring 2017

Check out the announcement of the course

Instructor: Craig Jones, BESC 440C, x2-6994,

TA: Jenny Nakai will be helping us on the trip with logistics.

Next meeting: February 24, 2 pm, BESC 265. Sample presentation, Q&A.

Seed reference list is now online. You should find at least one relevant reference for each of your topics. Final selected topics online as well.

There are no formal office hours; class members are welcome to drop in as needed but encouraged to set up an appointment if you want to be sure of finding someone.

Most of the class will be a ten day field trip over spring break, Thursday 23 March 2017 - Saturday 1 April 2017. If you cannot make that trip, you cannot take this class. You are the one responsible for making arrangements with other classes that may meet on the 23rd or 24th. The earlier in the term you do this, the more likely you are to avoid a serious conflict (e.g., missing a required exam with no possibility of a makeup). Some other professors (outside Geological Sciences) have let me know that they do not regard this as a "legitimate" excuse for absence and so are not likely to make any accommodation for this class. You will want to know of this early in the term so that, if necessary, you can drop one class or the other.

DRIVERS: You need to register with the front office (Shana Mercer) that you plan on driving with GEOL4717/5717. For those drivers 25 or younger (less than 26), you used to have to take an online defensive driving course that CU offers.

Prerequisites: GEOL 2001 or GEOL 2700 and one of: GEOL 3120, 3320, 3430 or 4241. GEOL 2700 is strongly recommended.

A page discussing annotated bibliographies and another discussing the one page summaries are available.

Optional Text:

W. Scott Baldridge, Geology of the American Southwest, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0 521 01666 5, 280 pp., 2004.

Handy overview of the geologic history of the region. Most of you would probably find this handy as background, and it also forms a source of references for greater detail such as you will need for your presentations.

2017 materials:

2017 tentative meeting schedule:

2017 Deadlines:

Trip logistics overview:

This is dominantly a van/camping trip. There is a lot of driving so we can really get our hands around the tectonic evolution of the region. We will spend four nights camping, then a night in a motel, then another 4 nights camping. We will end up in a motel in Laughlin, Nevada for our motel night. Camps will range from perhaps 7000' down to near sea level; nighttime temperatures will generally be near or below freezing outside of Death Valley. Daytime temperatures can range from hot (90° possible in Death Valley) to cold (subfreezing) and weather can be sunny to rain to snow. We will usually try to camp in campgrounds, but a few nights might be spent in open country camping. We will travel in 4 4WD Suburbans with radios and laptops and iPads showing local geologic maps. There will be occasional hikes, so have at least one set of sturdy footwear.

We provide:

You bring:

Note that the outdoor program has rentals of some of these items. Reservations usually are allowed 30 days in advance.

Coolers should be available a day or two before the trip; each food group can then load them up. Block ice generally lasts longer than cube ice. Removing the bag around the ice makes it easier to drain the cooler. Stiff boxes are better for groceries than bags; the department has had some plastic boxes in the past (we will check on those).

Our routine is usually to get up around sunup, have a simple breakfast (cereal, fruit, bread, hot water for drinks or hot cereal, not a full hot breakfast), pack up, drive and look at things, eat a picnic lunch at a spot that suits us, drive and look at more stuff, stop for gas somewhere during the day, and then camp before sundown. Food will be bought before the trip for the first 4 nights (5 lunches, 4 breakfasts and dinners), then again in town (Laughlin) for 4 more nights. Don't expect to be able to hit a minimart in the evening for supplies! We are often far from such facilities. I expect to have two or three cooking groups (this is easier than trying to plan on cooking for 12 at once); we'll set up these groups at our logistics meeting the week before leaving.

Food items commonly overlooked include salt and pepper, paper towels, dish soap, parmesian cheese, toothpicks, salsa, toilet paper, and other spices for certain meals. (Sometimes there is salt and pepper and dish soap from previous trips, check with the TA). Best to plan meals with the survival of your food in mind: probably most perishable for the first dinner, least for last.

Field etiquette: Certain misadventures in the past indicate that some information should be clearly presented to the class. We are NEVER allowed to collect vertebrate fossils (I do not have a collection permit for any of the places we visit). We are not allowed to hammer on rocks or collect any samples in national parks or monuments (nor, usually, in state parks). So rockpicks stay in the cars in those locations. If in doubt, ask, and if you can't ask, don't collect. Elsewhere (generally BLM land) we can hammer on rocks and collect rock samples or non-vertebrate fossils. Cell phones should be OFF while we are travelling during the day; the exception is at lunch or at fuel stops so long as you do not delay our departure by using the phone (e.g., making a phone call and then, as we are about to leave, running in to use the toilet). Class is in session from the time we assemble to leave in the morning to when we roll into camp in the evening. In campgrounds, we need to be good neighbors to other campers: quiet time is usually 10 pm to 6 am. Mature behavior from all class members is expected. Even when we are camped alone, be considerate of other class members. The last one ready to leave in the morning should be the instructor. Misbehavior can be rewarded with a bus ticket back to Boulder and an "F" in the class.

What's here now:

From past years:


Map of field trip in 2005
Blue route is approximate 2017 route.

Please send mail to if you encounter any problems or have suggestions.

C. H. Jones | CIRES | Dept. of Geological Sciences | Univ. of Colorado at Boulder

Last modified at February 21, 2017 1:01 PM