Geology Field Camp


Atlas Mountains, Morocco

GEOL 410 Field Geology (Six semester credits)


Dates: May 27 - June 29, 2019


Register Online


Application Deadline: December 31, 2018

  • Cost: $4,895 (Includes tuition, all fees, accommodation, travel insurance, food and transportation from Marrakesh). Airfare to Marrakesh is not included and ranges from $800 to $1200 depending of departure city. Deposit: $500 (required upon registration).  BHNSFS reserves the right to cancel the camp if the minimum enrollment is not reached. The full deposit will be refunded or applied to another camp in this case, and applicants will be notified by email by January 1, 2019.

  • No camping. The session is limited to 24 students

  • Important Dates: May 27, 3:00 PM - Meet at Marrakesh International Airport (exact location will be mailed to participants in May, 2019)

  • June 29  Drive back to Marrakesh Airport- Earliest you can fly out is 3:00 PM.

Location: A small village called Amskroud at the heart of the Atlas Mountains about 224 km south of Marrakesh Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco and 40 km from Agadir Al Massira Airport, Agadir Morocco.


The Atlas Mountains are part of a mountain chain in northwest Africa that stretches from Morocco to Tunisia. The Atlas Mountains first formed during Alleghenian Orogeny (~ 300 Ma) when Africa and America Plates collided, which also formed part of the Appalachian Mountains in North America. Next, their formation was influenced by onset rifting of the supercontinent Pangaea due to the extension of the Earth’s crust during Mesozoic (~220 Ma).  This tectonic event also formed large continental basins including Argana Basin and its North American counterparts, the Newark Basin (USA) and the Fundy Basin (Canada). Finally, during Paleogene and Neogene periods (~ 66 to 1.8 Ma) uplift created the modern mountains we see today in north Africa due to movement of Africa toward Europe. This collision is the same tectonic conversion that formed the Alps and Pyrenees in southern Europe.

This field camp will be focused on mapping Permian, Triassic, and Cretaceous sedimentary and igneous rocks of the Argana Basin in southern Morocco. This includes mapping stratigraphic units that record the transition from the end of Permian mass extinction and the opening of the Atlantic Ocean and Oceanic transgression during Cretaceous. These strata are terrestrial red beds, marine carbonates and basalt of the Argana Basin which have been correlated to the lacustrine and marine deposits of the Newark and Fundy basins in the USA and Canada, respectively. These units represent deposition environment changes from alluvial fans, braided rivers, meandering rivers, flood plain, aeolian dunes, lacustrine and tholeiitic basalt deposits overlain pre-late Permian schist, quartzite, limestone and granite.

In addition to extraordinary geology, you will have the opportunity to take in the magnificent culture of Morocco through local and regional interactions coordinated by the Moroccan-native instructor.

 Prerequisites: completion of junior year of study, Physical Geology, Mineralogy, Petrology, Stratigraphy/Sedimentation, and Structural Geology, or consent of the Director

Physical demands: We will be hiking and walking for most of the day and this requires you to be in good physical shape and good health. 

Climate: Moderate to subtropical, coastal regions are cooled by breeze from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. To the interior, hot temperatures during summer and cold in the winters. More arid climate to the south at the foothills of the Sahara Desert.

Textbooks: Geologic Field Techniques (1st edition) edited by Angela Coe;

 ISBN-13:  978-1444330625


Required Field Equipment*: 

Two hard cover rite in the rain or similar field notebooks

Good Rain Gear (doubles as a jacket)

Water proof hiking boots

Good boot socks

Geologic rock hammer, belt, hammer holder

Hand lens (10x)

Clip/map board

Daypack and/or field vest for carrying supplies

Two 1L Water bottles

Protractor and straight edge (marked off in SI units)

                Pocket knife

                Grain size chart

                Acid bottle

                Safety glasses

                Laptop computer

                European electrical adapter (cheap $2 from Wal-mart work better than more expensive ones)


*A more detailed list will be provided after you sign up for camp.

Field clothing:  Field Pants (most projects do not lend themselves to denim jeans, shorts, or leggings); Comfortable boots (see above); fleece jacket for layering; wide brimmed hat; thin, light, breathable clothing that can be added or subtracted according to conditions.


Topographic relief map of Atlas Mountains and its different subdivisions in north Africa.

Geological map and stratigraphic column of western Atlas Mountains, Argana Basin, southern Morocco. Map from Soulaimani and

Ouanaimi, 2007.

Permian red beds and Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) basalt of the Argana Basin, Morocco. These posits represent end of Paleozoic mass extinct.ion, onset of breakup of Pangaea and marine transgression during Cenozoic. Photos from El Hachimi et al. 2011



For more information contact:


Dr. M’bark Baddouh

Term Assistant Professor

Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences

George Mason University

4400 University Drive

Fairfax, Virginia 22030

(608) 957–9973


Dr. Nuri Uzunlar, Director, Black Hills Natural Sciences Field Station 

Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering Department

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Office Phone: (605) 394 - 2494 ; Cell: (605) 431-1275


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