Geology, Hydrology, & Geochemistry in the Rocky Mountains


getting there

Staff and students caravan to the field station in IU vehicles departing on Tuesday, June 20th at 7:00 a.m.


Students from all universities are invited to apply. Click on the links in the table below to go to the course application and scholarship application.


Cick on the icon or on this link to see the tuition and fees for X479

Course description

NOTE: This course is physically demanding. Students should be in good health, capable of strenuous hiking on rugged terrain while carrying daypack and field gear.

1Prerequisites: Students are expected to have completed at least the first two to 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, hydrogeology and structure/tectonics. Additional topical coursework is beneficial including chemistry, biology/ecology, calculus, or physics. Students with alternative backgrounds are encouraged to apply and will be considered on a case–by–case basis.

2Training: The practical training provided will have a strong interdisciplinary science base and will include contributions from geoscientists with a broad range of backgrounds in geology, hydrology and geochemistry. The techniques and methods employed will require students to apply basic principles from chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics to solve the problems they encounter.

3Study Sites: GEOL X479 addresses topic related to surface and near surface environmental processes, set within a 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, a facility installed for use by classes at the IU field station. This area will serve as an outdoor laboratory for multiple teaching modules. Students will benefit from the use of the same general field area for different themes (e.g. bedrock geology, sediment and soil characteristics and groundwater hydrology) so they can mentally and physically interrelate the components of the watershed system. The course includes trips to pertinent localities including Superfund sites and Yellowstone National Park.

4Curriculum: The curriculum is organized into two components. The first part involves extensive teaching designed to review basic field skills and to provide background concepts and introductions to instrumentation and computer applications that will be used during the course. Field instruction takes place in small groups, in one-on-one situations and in short lectures at the field station and field. Individual exercises have specific, focused themes that reflect the various disciplines within geology and geology-based environmental science (e.g., hydrogeology, soils and geomorphology).

Logistics & field trips

Logistics: GEOL X479 officially begins on Monday, June 19, 2017 in Bloomington, IN with a mandatory organizational meeting at 6:00 p.m., held in Geology room 143. Staff and students will caravan to the field station in Indiana University vehicles departing on Tuesday, June 20th at 7:00 a.m.

The return caravan to Bloomington will leave the Field Station on Monday morning, July 31st. Arrival in Bloomington is planned for late afternoon, approximately 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1st.

Field Trips: As a break during the course a three-day field trip to Yellowstone National Park allows us to observe another water system in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

course topics & curriculum

Topics covered in the first part of this course include:

Curriculum:   Students will develop skills in field notebook descriptions, measurements with Brunton compass and other field instrumentation, and field examination of stratigraphic sections, use of topographic maps and air photos for location and as base maps, use of field instrumentation and construction of geologic maps and cross sections for an area of study.

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

Final Project:   During the latter portion of the course, students work on a final project where they apply the skills and techniques learned in the course to two very different final study areas characterized by geologic and hydrologic diversity and complexity. Students apply the skills, techniques and instrumentation learned throughout the course to collect, analyze and interpret structural, hydrologic, geomorphic and geochemical data to advance their understanding of the integration of these sub-disciplines. This project emphasizes independent work and critical thinking.

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


If you are interested in an environmental component for Summer 2017, please consider adding X429e, Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology as a discipline-specific option for G429.

Read more about X429e


Q. How much does a course cost?

The total cost includes tuition, transportation fees, room and board, and miscellaneous field station fees. IU has a tiered tuition rate distinguishing between in-state and out-of-state students. Generous scholarship support is designed to offset out-of-state tuition costs.

Q: Can I bring my laptop to the Field Station?

A: Yes, you can bring your laptop to the Field Station. However, internet access is limited. A number of Field Station laptops are available for use for specific projects during the course.

Q: Will I have access to email at the Field Station?

A: Yes.

Q: If I drive my personal vehicle to the Field Station, am I free to leave on the weekends?

A: Absolutely not. Any personal vehicles driven to the Field Station will be parked upon arrival and will not be allowed to be driven for the duration of the course. Anyone driving to the Field Station is responsible for getting themselves from the Field Station to Rapid City, SD for the beginning of the course. Public transportation is not available anywhere near the Field Station. Using a personal vehicle as transportation to get to and from the course is not recommended. More

contact information

department of earth and atmospheric sciences
indiana university
1001 e. 10th st. bloomington in 47405

phone: 812-855-1475


field station address:
633 s. boulder road, cardwell, montana 59721
phone: 406-287-3528