Summer 2018 Geology Field Camp

Sul Ross State University Field Camp Information
...Space is Limited

Please send your application to be received by March 2, 2018.
We will begin processing applications that day (no sooner.)



Ms. Jesse Kelsch, MS

Thomas A. Shiller II, Ph.D.

Dates:  May 30 - July 5

Course Number:  GEOL 3601; Credit: 6 semester hours










Field course fee




$300 (deposit applies to Field Course fee); nonrefundable after April 4


-Structural Geology

-Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (Sed/Strat)


No exceptions will be made regarding prerequisites.  Your transcript is required to register. If you are enrolled in the prerequisites during registration time, documentation from your instructors that you are on track to pass the courses (C or better) will suffice.

Other Requirements:

-Valid permission from medical doctor (MD) or certified nurse practitioner (CNP) confirming physical fitness for full-day hikes at elevations of 7,000-8,000 ft amsl on slopes of 10 to 30o carrying a ~40-lb backpack. This documentation is due on March 27.
Please use this form.

- Minimum of C grade in all geoscience courses. Preference will be given to applicants with higher GPA if more students apply than fit in the course.

Cap:  17 students

Location: The SRSU 2018 Field Geology course will start and end at the Alpine campus in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.  The course departs Alpine for a 2-week-long driving loop to northern New Mexico through the Sacramento, Sandia, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The second half of the course will take place in Big Bend National Park, Texas and includes a 4-day-long river trip. The primary focus of this class is geologic mapping and construction of geologic cross sections.  Even if you, a geology major, don’t intend to be a professional mapper you will benefit in any field from developing your ability to visualize and solve problems in three dimensions and in the subsurface—whether that is in the mining, geologic-hazard, petroleum, or water industries, or whether you go into further research. You will be smarter, and all future employers will be impressed with these visualization skills—this is the focus of our field camp. The major exercises based in these ranges include:

  • Geologic mapping of deformed Mesozoic sedimentary strata near the Jemez Mountains in NM
  • Geologic mapping of deformed Mesozoic-early Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic rock on the margin of the Rio Grande rift and Colorado Plateau in NM
  • Geologic mapping of Proterozoic metamorphic rocks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in NM.
  • Analysis of the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Rio Grande rift
  • A tour of the late Tertiary volcanic complex that is the Jemez Mountains volcanic field, including the Valles Caldera and Jemez Springs
  • Measuring stratigraphic sections within Tertiary volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks
  • Investigation of mountain-front geology and hydrogeology on the western flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, NM
  • Geologic mapping of Cretaceous-Neogene rocks and sediment in Big Bend National Park, TX
  • Mapping and measuring structures related to the Laramide Orogeny and Basin and Range tectonics in Big Bend National Park
  • Fluvial geomorphology studies on the Rio Grande and a tributary in Big Bend National Park

Logistics:   We’ll have two nights in Alpine, then 14 nights camping at 3 different locations in NM (driving university vehicles—no personal vehicles), then two nights in Alpine, then 14 nights camping at 2 locations in Big Bend National Park, then four nights on a river trip (also camping), then one more night in Alpine. Sul Ross dorm rooms will be available for out-of-town students for the Alpine nights for $30/person.

  • For the camping parts of the trip, you are responsible for your own personal camping gear:  tent with useful rain fly (it WILL rain,) strong tent stakes, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, camp chair, flashlight(s), etc., plus your own drink cup and coffee mug (all other kitchen gear is provided.)  Dry bags will be provided to students for the river trip. When not on the river we will be car-camping so you can even bring a pillow, but try to sensibly minimize your personal-gear footprint as there will be 21 of us plus our gear.  (However, you are welcome to bring the extra comforts you deem important.)  In the past, students have brought hammocks to sleep in, for the few sites where there are strong, mature trees.  (This is in addition to a tent, because not everywhere are there ample trees.)  Shower facilities will be available only at some of our camp sites—we will have three separate five-day camp sites without a shower.  There will be a cook/ camp steward traveling with us who will set up a camp kitchen and provide us with three meals a day (sack lunch into the field) plus water and gatorade.  Students will rotate through kitchen-help duties.  Work tables will be set up at each camp for completing field assignments.  
  • You must also bring your own personal gear for comfort and safety:  sturdy, broken-in hiking boots, plenty of good socks, outdoor clothing for all-day sun and for cool summer nights at ~7,000 ft amsl and for rain both in the field and at camp; waterproof shoes both for fluvial geomorphology work (wading in a shallow stream) and canoeing as well as a suit for optional recreational swimming.  Sunscreen, a large-brimmed hat, and refillable water bottles are also required. Temperatures in Big Bend will likely exceed 100°F during the day, so you MUST carry at least a gallon of water into the field with you (there are no refill sites in our remote field areas).  Camelbak or similar bladder-type backpacks work well, as do Nalgene or Klean Kanteen bottles.  In addition to three meals per day, snacks will be provided daily but we will also intermittently stop for gas as we move between campsites, so you should bring spending money if you’ll want extra treats or soda.
  • There will be commercial laundry facilities available on a few of the days off, so you should also bring quarters and soap.  
  • You also need to bring gear to operate as a field geologist:  a map board, colored pencils, quality mapping pencil(s), a scale and protractor, grain size card, a comfortable and sizeable back pack, and rock hammer with holster.  A field belt, and a field pouch to hang on your belt next to your hammer holster is VERY handy as well.  (Plateau Designs of Flagstaff, AZ has been providing good cheap field pouches to field camp students for a couple of decades.)  What will be provided to you:  an empty Rite-in-the-Rain field book; a collection of literature pertinent to the geology on our traverse; stereonet paper; base maps and mylar.  Bruntons and hand lenses will be checked out to you at the beginning of the course, to be returned in exchange for your letter grade at the end of field camp.  Also, a copy of “Geology Field Methods” by Tom Freeman will be available for purchase when you arrive in Alpine for $15.  You can pick one up early to study it (, or find Compton’s “Geology in the Field,” which costs a bit more but is far more robust, and is the classic.   
  • Campground fees, food and entrance-fee costs when we are on the road are provided.  Students are responsible for their own board and lodging during the nights in Alpine at the start of the session before we depart, 2 nights in the middle, and one night in Alpine at the end of the session when we return.  SRSU dorm rooms will be available for rent to visiting students for the Alpine nights, and Alpine has a few nice campgrounds as well.

Application:  Print, complete and mail the one-page application form with your $300 deposit and your unofficial transcripts to SRSU Department of Biology, Geology and Physical Science / Attn: Geology Field Camp / Box C-64 / Alpine TX 79832.  Applications must be received by March 2, 2018. We will send notifications of receipt and acceptance shortly AFTER March 5.  If you are not accepted, your deposit will be returned to you. If you are accepted, your deposit will be held until you register and pay for the class.

Registration:  If you are not a Sul Ross student, you’ll have to apply to SRSU through ApplyTexas.  Contact Virginia Carrillo, secretary of the SRSU Department of Biology, Geology and Physical Science, for assistance in how to proceed, as well as whether there are places remaining.; 432-837-8112