Geology Field Camp



 GEOL 410 Field Geology - Six semester credits


Dates: May 22- June 23, 2025


Register online


Application Deadline: Dec. 31, 2024


Cost: $5,695.00. Deposit $300 (required upon registration). Cost includes tuition, fees, food, lodging and transportation to field sites and from Bozeman to Dillon and back to Bozeman. Cost does not include airfare to Bozeman.


Important Dates: Students will be picked up in Bozeman at 2:00 PM on May 21 and drive to Dillon. We will have drop off at Bozeman airport before 11:00 AM on June 23. If you are driving you can check in at Western Montana College in Dillon on May 21. Earliest you can leave camp is June 22, 6:00PM


Each session is limited to 20 students



Introduction: The scenic Montana Rockies of southwest Montana consists of rocks that span almost all of geologic time and are deformed and modified by a diverse set of geologic structures and processes. As such they provide an ideal setting for students to develop and hone their observational, mapping, and critical thinking skills during a. series of two day to one-week long geologic mapping exercises during this immersive 5-week field course.

Prerequisites: Physical geology, mineralogy and/or petrology and structural geology required; volcanology and geomorphology helpful but not required.

Projects: Students will develop skills and learn techniques for making geologic field observations and constructing geologic maps in the field, measuring stratigraphic sections, constructing geologic cross sections, making simple structural analyses from the field data, and interpret geologic history from both stratigraphic and structural relations examined in the field. The majority of the projects will involve mapping on topographic base maps at various scales. Maps and data will be compiled in the field. Interpretation of drone imagery and application of basic GIS techniques and software (provided) will also be included.

The mapping projects will include compilation of a composite stratigraphic section of Archean, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic formations. Geologic maps will be constructed in the field of:

·        Mesozoic folds and thrusts that deform these formations, as well as the Cretaceous sills and stocks that intrude them,

·        interference structures between thrust faults and uplifts of Precambrian basement rocks,

·        deformed Quaternary - Neogene strata and volcanogenic deposits that record a dynamic depositional, volcanic and tectonic history of the Montana Rockies in the border zone of the Yellowstone hotspot track,

Physical Demands: Fieldwork will involve traversing rugged and steep terrain. Some projects may include demanding hikes of considerable length and elevation gain. Students are expected to be physically and mentally prepared to work in these conditions.

Facilities: Lodging will be in the dormitories of the University of Montana, Western, in Dillon, Montana. Students are generally housed in double-occupancy rooms, depending on availability. Bedding linens (sheets, pillow, one blanket) are provided along with cafeteria food services. Laundry facilities (on campus), cell phone service, wi-fi, and shopping are also available.

Climate: Springtime weather in the Montana Rockies is capricious. Days can be warm and pleasant, but cold weather is not that uncommon, and nights are cold. Students should expect variable conditions with the potential for cold, windy, and wet weather. About half of our field studies will be at slightly higher (i.e., cooler) elevations. The average highs are low 60’s to high 70’s ˚F; the average lows are mid 30’s to mid-40s ˚F. Solar radiation is intense at the higher elevations (up to ~ 7,000 feet). Days can be warm and pleasant and even hot.

Textbooks: “Geology in the Field”, 1985, Robert R. Compton (Note: This text is now out of print, so please try to find on online if you don't have it already. It's out of date in some respects, but it's still about the best field manual out there).


Field Equipment: (items can be purchased on campus at UMW if necessary)

a.      Geologic rock hammer and hammer holder

b.     Hand lens (10x)

c.      Mechanical and colored pencils (#2 lead (or harder) and variety of colors),

d.     (2) Pilot extra fine (0.5, 1.0) black RT pens

e.      Weatherproof geological field notebook(s) (gridded recommended)

f.       Protractor, ruler (English and Metric units)

g.      Daypack and/or field vest for carrying field supplies

h.     Clipboard or map case with a clear plexiglass cover

i.        H2O bottles or hydration-pack

j.        Pocket knife (good for a lot of things as well as a scratch test tool)

k.      Grain-size chart

l.        Safety glasses

m.   Calculator

n.     Good quality digital camera

o.     Laptop computer

p.     Sunscreen

q.     Lip balm

r.       Sunglasses

Field clothing:

a.      Sturdy hiking boots (mandatory)

b.     Rain jacket

c.      Fleece jacket (idea is to dress in thin, light, and breathable layers that can be added or subtracted according to conditions)

d.     Light-weight leather work gloves,

e.   Field hat (full brim).

 Group photo



For more information contact:


Dr. Nuri Uzunlar

Director, Black Hills Natural Sciences Field Station 

Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering Department

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

 Phone:  (605) 431-1275


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