The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences sponsors many field trips, some as parts of classes and some as extracurricular learning opportunities. Most trips are open to both undergraduate majors and graduate students.Many Department courses include required field trips as an essential teaching tool. For example, EARTH 442 includes a trip to Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes area to to investigate glacial and atmospheric geomorphology features. All the Camp Davis courses include extended field trips that take advantage of the Camp's location near Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Dinosaur National Park, and other sites in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.In addition, Department faculty often plan a field trip in May or August to the Southwest US, Florida, or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. International field trips often take place during the summer or over Winter vacation. These large trips are subsidized by the Department from alumni donations so that the cost to students is very low.
2019 Soft Rock Fied Trip
Another spectacular year for the Soft Rock Field Trip. Kacey Lohmann (Prof ) and Peter Knoop led a group of 22 graduate and undergraduate student on a 12 day excursion to explore the geology from Michigan to Dry Tortugas, Florida. The trip began with outcrop studies of the lower Paleozoic carbonate and shale sequences in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. Excellent exposures helped to give students practice in measuring stratigraphic sections and learning how to observe and document sedimentary features in the fi eld. While it is true that Kacey Lohmann loves carbonates the most, he was blessed to find phenomenal localities of Pennsylvanian foreland basin clastics to share with the students.
While passing through the Appalachian Valley and Ridge and up into the Smoky Mountains, the geological complexity and structural diversity associated with the Alleghenian Orogeny was the primary focus, replete with the Late Paleozoic synorogenic sedimentation.
On the journey through South Carolina and Georgia, river and road outcrops of Mesozoic and Tertiary Coastal Plain sediments provided a contrast in depositional settings to those characteristic of Paleozoic sequences. The final focus of the trip was to provide the group with a better understanding of active depositional systems in Recent environments. This included clastic dominated beach and shallow marine coastal localities that were compared to those seen in the Coastal Plain sediments of the Carolinas. Further travel southward led to the transition from clastic to carbonates which were visited in both outcrops of the 125,000 year Anastasia Limestone and local beaches around St. Augustine, FL.
This year we were also fortunate to have Robert Portell provide a guided tour through Haille Quarry where Eocene aged limestones contain abundant shallow marine fossils. This sequence also possesses excellent Neogene solution crevasses containing terrestrial vertebrate fossils.
We were off to southern Florida to examine Miocene phosphate deposits and Pliocene-Pleistocene shallow platform carbonates. This, of course, included stops in the Everglades and on the beach of Florida Bay before finally arriving at Key Largo. While in the Florida Keys, two snorkelling trips gave the group an appreciation and understanding of active carbonate deposition in reef dominated environments. This included trips to Key Largo Dry Rocks and to Dry Tortugas. Such experiences provided the framework necessary for the group to examine and interpret the diverse set of limestones that were seen on a day long trip through the full length of the Florida Keys, ranging from oolitic limestones formed in high energy shoals to patch reefs exposed in Windley Key Quarry. Next year, Michigan is off to the Grand Canyon!!!!
The students thank all who have helped make these trips possible with your generous donations to the FieldExcursion Fund. Thank you from all of our hearts....
This trip was generously supported by a grant from Shell Oil Company and by the Endowed Field Excursion Fund established by an anonymous donor. THANK YOU!!
2019 EARTH 467 Field Trip
Naomi Levin (Assoc Prof) took the EARTH 467 (Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis) students on two field trips this Winter term. The first was a day trip to the Pennsylvanian strata in Grand Ledge, MI in mid-March to practice measuring section and making fi eld observations. Although it was sunny when the group left it was a cold day to be measuring section, especially next to a frozen quarry pond. But the students persevered, digging through the frozen clay-rich units and staying warm enough to make field observations in sub-ideal conditions and hone their skills with Jacob staffs and Bruntons. All of this practice made the weekend trip to the Paleozoic outcrops in Ohio in early April easier and more productive. The warm weather and clear skies were also a help. The group (13 undergrads and 9 grad students) made stops in northern Ohio along the Maumee River and then focused on the Paleozoic rocks exposed east of Dayton. The trip’s focus on field observations of lithology, thicknesses, water depth indicators and paleogeography culminated in a final report on the paleogeography and subsidence history of the region.
2019 Structural Geology Field Trip
The 2019 Earth Structure trip led by Professor Ben van der Pluijm took 29 undergraduates, 3 grads and a dapper professor to the Maryland Appalachians. There were torrential rains getting there and back, but we had glorious sunny days in the fi eld. We observed lots of folds, faults and fractures as we traversed from East to West, from the Blue Ridge into the Valley and Ridge. The image collage shows our walk to the first stop at folded and cleaved Bloomsburg/ Wills Creek sandstone at Roundtop, examining outcrop-scale structures in folded Tonoloway limestone, and a large ramp anticline in Tuscarora sandstone at Wills Creek overlook. Five star dinners at the Park’nDine and World Buff et offered welcome endings to each field day.
2018 EARTH 467 Field Trip
Professor Naomi Levin and a group of students spent the April 14 weekend looking into the geology and stratigraphy of Ordivician and Siliurian rocks in western Ohio. The trip was a culmination of the skills they learned in EARTH 467 (Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis) this semester and focused on making direct observations of sedimentary sequences to evaluate depositional environments and basin evolution.
On the way south, the group stopped to examine the Greenfield Dolomite at the top of the sequence and tried to make sense of the low-lowing mounds exposed on the bedding surface along the Maumee River in Side Cut Metropark. Everyone else along the river was taking advantage of the good fishing and had no interest in the 430 Ma rocks.
2018 Maryland Structural Geology Field Trip
Professor Ben van der Pluijm got lucky again on the 3-day Maryland Appalachians geology fieldtrip with Michigan undergrads (and a 5 grads support team). Cold, but the 2-4" of snow never came. Great group and all sites accessible, even with 6 minivans. We saw great structures, had nice group meals, and luxurious Super8 lodging. Group photo on day 3 at the NW-stepping ramp anticline (or fault-bend fold) of Willis Mountain, that is marked by ridge-forming Silurian sandstone/quartzite.
On the second day, the group got up early to beat the midday rains and spent the morning measuring multiple stratigraphic sections in Oakes Quarry Park, east of Dayton, to characterize temporal and lateral variation in the lower Siliurian Brassfield Formation. This part of the section was chock full of fossils (e.g., crinoids, brachiopods, corals, bryoazons, sponges, molluscs, and trace fossils). The group didn't need signs to find the fossils but this group photo seems appropriate in the context of topics on relative age dating that the students tackled earlier in the semester. (Picture by Meg Veitch)
2017 Ohio Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis Field Trip
Associate Professor Naomi Levin led her Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis class to southwestern Ohio to measure section and check out the fossils in outcrops of Silurian carbonates. On the two day trip, the group got glimpses of the nearshore and coastal facies of the Salina Group along the Maumee River near Waterville, OH and then examined lateral variation in near shore and deeper water facies from the lower the Silurian exposures at Yellow Springs and Oakes Quarry Park, east of Dayton.
2016 Field Trip-Sudbury and the UP
Kacey Lohmann, Adam Simon and Peter Knoop led a seven-day field trip for undergraduate and graduate students to Ontario and the Upper Peninsula during the last week of August. The students spent time near Elliot Lake examining diamictites and stromatolites that record oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere, and in Sudbury they examined evidence for a giant asteroid impact that resulted in ore deposits that are the source of platinum that is the base for synthesizing the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin, which is used to fight a wide variety of sarcomas, carcinomas, lymphomas, bladder cancer, cervical cancer and germ cell tumors. As on all of our field trips, students were encouraged to look at the rocks and develop their best scenarios for their field observations. Students also learned how to pack up camp really quick in the dark to avoid a thunderstorm, how to make wonderfully delicious shish kabobs over a camp fire, and spent a lot of time discussing life and career paths with the faculty. The trip provided a wonderful opportunity to connect the students to the geologic events that make humans possible and enrich the fabric of modern society.