Geology Trip Gives Students Context

Jun 06, 2019

Stops included sites in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.

geology trip

Dr. Kyle Fredrick speaks as students take field notes at Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park.  


Geology is inherently field-based,” said Dr. Kyle Fredrick, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cal U. 

“Data is gathered outside, and it’s difficult to put it into context if you haven’t seen it at scale or in different environments.” 

In order to see the real things, Fredrick, Dr. Daniel Harris, and 11 Cal U students hit the road once the spring semester ended for Cal U’s annual cross-country geology field trip. The prerequisite for the three-credit special experience course — held this year from May 14-June 1 — is Introduction to Geology.  

The group visited sites in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Highlights included camping, sampling and exploration at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the base of Mount Whitney, Zion National Park, the Grand Staircase-Escalanta National Monument and Bryce Canyon. 

“We had a student on the trip who had never been farther west than Cal U,” Fredrick said. “A trip like this is life-changing — it has implications for your career and for your major. I loved all my classes when I was a student, but when I took a trip, it completely changed my attitude toward my discipline. I had more context, and I became more interested. My students’ experiences mirror that.” 

Jobs in geology fit into three broad categories: environmental, geotechnical, and oil and gas. 

Careers within each category are often quite different on the plains of Kansas than in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

“There were windmills and oil wells everywhere,” Fredrick said as the group traveled to the first spot on the trip. “So even as we drove, we had conversations about where resources are, how to use them, the limitations in accessing them. It broadened our students’ horizons.”