Geology » Course Information » Field Camp

Field Camp

The Department of Geology at Florida State University offers a 6 semester-hour course in Field Geology (GLY4751) based in northern New Mexico. Our camp has been housed in northern New Mexico for over three decades and offers a spectacular setting to indulge in learning "hands-on" geology. The area is a classic region for viewing and interpreting Earth history.

Our camp is designed to give upper level undergraduate and beginning graduate students the observational skills and experience, the interpretative framework, and the self confidence to undertake detailed field studies in a variety of geologic settings. We believe that students learn the most from hands-on experience, working daily to observe and measure geologic features, to place these data into a larger geologic framework, and to build hypotheses that they can test with further work. We expose the students to projects in which they learn and apply basic principals of stratigraphy, paleontology, structure, mineralogy and petrology to solving problems of varied complexity in a number of common geologic settings.

The camp is located in a very scenic area where the Rio Grande Rift splits the Sangre de Cristo and Brazos Mountains. Wheeler Peak (elevation 13,161 ft), the highest point in New Mexico, dominates the Taos Range. The historic community of Taos offers a unique mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo cultures.

If Google Earth is installed on your computer, click here to view FSU Field Camp sites in New Mexico and Colorado and to take a flying tour of the sites. To view it in Google Maps, click here.

Accommodations for the camp are in the Hacienda de Valdez at the edge of the Sangre de Cristos in the Taos Ski Valley. This is a condominium complex which houses two students per bedroom, and includes a kitchen and kitchenette for each six students, cable TV, phone, outdoor gas grills, and hot tubs. Each student has work space for drafting and project preparation. An outdoor amphitheater is available for lectures.

High instructor/student ratio:
Our dedicated staff of two faculty and two graduate students offers extensive individual instruction on a daily basis in the field. This staff has broad experience in a variety of geologic terranes and is equipped to provide topical instruction on a variety of problems and field techniques.

Opportunities for off-days:
The Taos area offers numerous recreational activities for students during their off days. These include white water rafting on the Rio Grande, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, biking, tennis, basketball, golf, and art galleries.

  • The first several days involve review of basic field techniques and small projects to familiarize the student with these techniques.
  • The students measure, describe, and interpret a Quaternary volcanic/alluvial stratigraphic section in the Rio Grande rift basin.
  • Trip to the Jemez caldera to observe features associated with large eruptive centers and large ignimbrite sheets.
  • Two-day mapping project in gently folded Mesozoic strata.
  • Three-day field trip to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, visiting the mineral district around Silverton, then to Gunnison, and back down through the Sangre de Cristos to the Great Sand Dunes, where we do a sediment transport project.
  • Comprehensive mapping project in strongly deformed Paleozoic carbonate and clastic units nonconformably above Precambrian basement.
  • Comprehensive mapping project in the polydeformed Proterozoic metasedimentary units of the Picuris Range.
  • Field exam.

In the field, the students map in groups of three. We generally have 15-25 students in the camp with two faculty and two graduate teaching assistants experienced in geologic mapping. We emphasize independent work on the part of the student and the 3-4 instructors spend each day in the field rotating among the field parties. In the evenings at the field station (a condo complex at the base of the Taos Ski Valley) we commonly have lecture and discussion sessions, and the instructors are always available for consultation.

Pre-requisites are mineralogy, stratigraphy, petrology, and structure. This class is commonly taken toward the end of a student's undergraduate career. Costs for the camp currently are $1,150 (excluding tuition), which includes transportation (including to and from Tallahassee), supplies and lodging. Food is extra and is prepared by the individual or in small groups. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students for this 6-semester hour credit course is currently between appeoximately $650 and $800 depending on several variables. A $200 deposit is required by March 15. The camp starts in New Mexico on May 7 and ends on May 12-2009.

A printable information sheet and application form for the up-coming camp is available here. If you would like more information, please contact the Field Camp Director at:

Field Camp Director
Department of Geological Sciences
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4100

Department of Geological Sciences, 108 Carraway Building, Florida State University, Tallahassee FL 32306-4100
Last modified: January 15, 2009 ***
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