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Indiana University

College of Arts and Sciences
courses – G429


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DATES: June 22 - August 6, 2014 (6 credits)

NOTE: This course is full. We are no longer accepting applications for the 2014 field season.


Students are expected to have completed at least the first two–three years of a standard undergraduate program in the geosciences. This would normally include an introductory course and two or more courses in the disciplines of mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and structure/tectonics. Additional topical coursework is beneficial for some of the areas of concentration which are available.

Students with alternative backgrounds are encouraged to apply and will be considered on a case–by–case basis.


The G429 curriculum is divided into two parts. The first part consists of closely supervised instruction with a 7:1 student:faculty ratio. A typical schedule for a week would run as follows: one to two days of close instruction (e.g. descriptions, measurement, and field examination of the stratigraphic section, use of topographic maps and air photos for location and as base maps) followed by two to three days of work applying this information to a problem (e.g. regional deformation patterns involving the lower Paleozoic stratigraphic section). Additional topics included in this first part of the course are techniques of mapping simple structures on aerial photographs and topographic maps, reconnaissance mapping of a relatively large area of moderate structural complexity, the study of sedimentary rocks through detailed description and measurement of stratigraphic sections, detailed mapping and reconstruction of the geologic history of a highly complex structure characterized by numerous folds and faults, and field studies of igneous and Archean metamorphic rocks.

As a culmination of the intense instructional portion of the course students are given the option to select a particular focus for the final week of intense instruction. Options for this week include an emphasis on crystalline rocks (G429c); and emphasis on hydrologic and environmental studies (G429e); or the integration of different geophysical techniques (G429g). This work is set within the overall framework that has been developed up to this point in the course allowing students to explore how more in-depth techniques can be adapted within a field setting.

The second part of G429 involves a Final Study Area project composed of mapping in an area characterized by both geologic diversity and complexity. The student works independently in one of several FSAs and produces extensive sets of different types of supporting data; geologic maps on aerial photographs (stereographic pairs) and a topographic base maps; geologic cross sections; other appropriate projects of data as determined by the student; and a summary of the geologic history of the region as a final project. The maps and written report for the project are due on the last day of the course.

In addition to the teaching projects, there are four one–day field evaluation exercises. Students, working independently of other students and faculty, collect basic observational and stratigraphic data, construct a geologic map and cross sections for the area, and decipher the geologic history of a structurally and stratigraphically diverse area that they have not previously visited.


To take advantage of the range of geology available in the northern Rocky Mountains, two field excursions are included within the course. The first takes place at the start of the courses, using localities encountered on the drive to the IUGFS to develop a sense of the regional stratigraphy and structural and tectonic setting of the region. This involves stops in the: Black Hills, Powder River Basin, Big Horn Mtns, Big Horn Basin, Owl Creek Mtns, Wind River Basin, Wind River Mtns, Absaraka Mtns, Jackson Hole, and Teton Mtns, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. As a break between the two part of the course a second excursion to NW Montana is taken to study the: Montana Overthrust Belt in Sun River Canyon, Glacier National Park, Flathead Valley Continental Glacial History.


G429 officially begins in Rapid City, South Dakota on June 24, 2014. Students can choose to transport themselves to Rapid City or may opt to drive from Bloomington, IN in a caravan of vehicles. Students who opt to depart from Bloomington should plan to arrive in Bloomington by Sunday, June 22nd and attend the mandatory organizational meeting at 6:00 p.m. that evening. The caravan departs from Bloomington at 7:00 a.m. Monday, June 23rd. Students planning on joining the group in Rapid City will need to arrive there by 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24th.

Returning, the caravan leaves the Field Station on August 4th, arrives back in Bloomington on August 6th, stopping in Bozeman and Rapid City to drop off students who choose to customize their return travel plans. Further travel details can be found under travel information on this page on the right tool bar.

field station routine

Upon arrival at the Field Station you will receive instructions regarding dormitory assignments. Each student will find a bunk, a pillow, a locker, and two drawers in a small chest for his/her use during the field course. You need to provide your own twin size sheets and blanket and/or sleeping bag.


All students housed on the lower campus will use the wash house facilities located in the steel building to the north. Students housed on upper campus will use the wash house facilities on upper campus.

You will find washing machines, dryers and laundry tubs as well as ironing boards and irons. Clothes lines and clothes pins are available on both upper and lower campus. We have found that a little planning in doing your laundry will avoid inconvenience in overloading. During a normal Montana day clothes dry very rapidly, a few hours often being sufficient; therefore, students are urged to remove dry clothes from the clothes lines so that others may take advantage of the good weather. It is necessary for you to purchase your own laundry supplies and keep them in your dormitory. You will need quarters for the washers and dryers at the Field Station.


Week day meals are scheduled as follows:

  • Breakfast - 7:00 am
  • Lunch - Field lunch packed before or after breakfast in the lodge.
  • Dinner - 6:30 pm

A bell will be rung about 5-10 minutes before mealtime to alert students to come to the dining hall. Students may be seated after the second bell rings. Dining table assignments will be posted each week. Breakfast and dinner are served family style. Each person is responsible for taking his/her own dishes and table service to the proper locations after the meal. As in any large group, your promptness at mealtime will help eliminate confusion. On certain occasions like Saturday, dinner may be served at 5:30 pm in order to accommodate those who wish to get an early start to town. These changes will be announced at breakfast and posted on the bulletin board.

The Sunday schedule will normally be as follows:

  • Breakfast: Continental breakfast available 8:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Lunch: Items available from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Dinner: 6:30 pm

Mail addressed to the Field Station is brought from the Post Office at Cardwell and distributed in the mailboxes located at the southwest corner of the lodge. The mail will be picked up at Cardwell by authorized staff of the Field Station. Only outgoing mail should be placed in the box on top of the mailboxes. This mail will be taken to the Post Office each morning.

The student address at the Field Station is: IUGFS
Attn: Student Name
633 S. Boulder Rd.
Cardwell, MT 59721


The overall multi–disciplinary background of the G429 faculty permits all students at the end of the third week of closely supervised instructional phase of the course to opt for 6 days of focused field study in one of three geoscience sub-disciplines under the guidance of a faculty member with specialized training in the sub-discipline.

Each option maintains a link with the fundamental principles previously developed. This is followed by 8 days of closely guided, but more independent mapping and reconstruction of geologic history in a final study area. Skills, techniques, and instrumentation learned during the 6-day period are uniquely applied in the final study area.

Students are encouraged to indicate on their application which option they would prefer, because assignments will be done on a first-come, first-served basis.

G429c–Crystalline Rocks and Economic Geology

G429c explores the topics associated with crystalline rocks, both igneous and metamorphic, from an intergrated field and geochemical approach. A number of extremely well exposed areas within the region allow for detailed mapping of a zoned plutonic complex associated with the regional late Cretaceous igneous activity of the western cordillera. Mapping is augmented with a suite of whole rock and isotope geochemical data that permits a more robust analysis to be completed than might be possible with field work alone. A second project focusess on the 3.4 Ba Archean metamorphic suite that the Field Staion is located on. Like with the igneous project, the field work is augmented by integrated sets of petrographic analysis, whole rock geochemistry, and isotope geochemistry for samples collected within the study areas.

G429e–Hydro and Environmental Geology and Geochemistry:

G429e addresses topic related to surface and near surface environmental processes, set within a traditional geologic framework; students will work with a variety of geologic settings including crystalline rocks, sedimentary rocks, poorly consolidated Tertiary basin fill, and modern sediments. The curriculum makes use of a network of permanent weather stations, ground water monitoring wells, stream gauging stations, a SNOTEL site, and soil sample sites in the Willow Creek Demonstration Watershed, an facility installed for use in this option. Students are also equipped with an array of portable instrumentation (e.g. current meters, mini-piezometers, Guelph permeameters, and portable meters for measuring various water chemistry components such as pH, SpC, Eh, and temperature) to make point measurements as they work throughout the day. The time is spent doing integrative problem-solving exercises in environmental sciences with an emphasis on both surface and groundwater hydrogeology.

Please note that G433 - Geology, Hydrology, and Geochemistry in the Rocky Mountains was created as an alternative senior capstone experience for those students interested in pursuing careers within the environmental geosciences. While G433 emphasizes many of the traditional geologic field experiences, it does so in a way that maintains a direct connection to environmental applications.

If you are interested in enrolling in G433, please contact Bruce Douglas, ( with any questions you might have regarding this alternative course and to discuss how G433 would fulfill a degree requirement for a field course from your university. Find the full course description and application on the above courses tab under G433.

G429g–Geophysics and Neotectonics:

G429g utilizes geophysical tools (e.g. seismic, gravity, electrical resistivity, terrestrial laser survey, and GPS) to build data sets that can be used to interpret a number of geologic problems that exist within the region. Specific topics and techniques are chosen on an annual basis all of which are designed to integrate geophysical techniques with traditional geologic investigations. The emphasis is on field deployment of geophysical instruments with time spent learning about the instruments, defining how to best deploy the instruments to solve the problem to be addressed, working on data reduction and interpretation and finally, developing models to test and refine the geologic interpretation of the data. The problems, instruments, and deployment techniques selected are formulated to address questions that arise from the experiences leading up to this week. Concepts and information developed during this week will be applied during the final study area. A critical component of the work is to integrate traditional geological data (e.g. sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural analysis) into any interpretation. Recent work has focused on monitoring neotectonic activity in the vicinity of the Field Station.