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School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

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Geology 500 - Field Camp

Geological field techniques including the use of field instruments and the preparation of geologic maps
6-Week Session I (3S1)

Beyond the Classroom Experience

All graduates with a B.S. in Geological Sciences are expected to possess basic field skills in the geosciences. The GEOL 500 is a four-week ‘capstone’ course that is taught every May beginning in Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Acquired Skills

  • Location positions (geologic features) on a topographic map and aerial photo
  • Identify rock types from hand samples and how they relate to the field
  • Identify types of geologic contacts between two units
  • Measure the attitude of geologic features
  • Locate geologic contacts and accurately present them on a map
  • Collect and record relevant observations and interpretations

Course Format

This course is taught by Geology faculty members. Enrollment is limited to 20 students, which provides an excellent student-to-teacher ratio. The course typically runs from mid-May through mid-June. 

Field work is concentrated near the Grand Juction, Colorado area, where the geology is dominated by numerous geological features along the Rocky Mountain Front. In addition to Grand Junction, two one-week trips are taken to areas displaying geologic features. The course travels to the Arches-Canyonlands then to the Salt Valley in eastern Utah to study depositional environments, sequence stratigraphy and sedimentary basin analysis. Next, students travel to the Henry Mountains to study the igneous rock formations and local structures. The final stop on the tour is Del Norte, CO. Check out our StoryMap for a more in depth travel guide.


GEOL 325 - Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Basins
GEOL 355 - Structural Geology and Tectonics

Summer enrollment

6-Week Session I (3S1)*

*Check with the Registrar’s Office for current Summer Semester Dates

How to enroll

There is an instructor override with this course. You cannot register for this course until you have completed the following:

  1. Talk to your advisor to plan out when to take this course.
  2. Contact the lab manager,, to add your name to course list.  Provide your name, USC ID#, and when you are planning to graduate.

How to get there?

Transportation is provided by the University. A fleet of large SUVs will be available for students to commute from the USC campus (Columbia, SC) to and from all field sites. The vehicles will be driven by an instructor with driving certification. 


Students should prepare for self-sufficient dispersed camping on public lands (BLM, USFS) and briefly in developed campgrounds. Students will sleep in personal tents. All meals are provided by the University, except during transit days when, for logistical reasons, students are responsible for their own (usually fast) food.

Camping equipment can be rented through the University's Campus Recreation.

Course Prices and Fees

Summer Course Prices:
UofSC Resident (or Non-resident) Tuition for 4 credit hours**

UofSC Technology Fee**

UofSC Lab Fee (Arts and Sciences Dept Fee)**

Program Fee – Marketplace - $1,000: 

  • Deposit - $200 (non-refundable) Due by March 31st
  • Remaining $800 due by April 30th

Students with demonstrated financial need should contact the SEOE Director.

 **Check with the Bursar’s Office for current UofSC tuition and fees.

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