GEOLOGY 360 (Field Investigations)

Geology 360: Field Investigations, offered each summer, is a two-week field trip visiting sites in Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and returning through Nebraska. It generally takes place during the last two full weeks before fall classes start at KU in August. Travel is by state vans. The group camps in public campgrounds except for two nights in Lake City, Colorado, where the group will stay in cabins. 

The prerequisite is an introductory course in geology, such as Physical Geology, Introduction to Geology, Historical Geology, or Earthquakes and Natural Disasters. Students will find that Geology 103 (Laboratory in Geology) is helpful, but not necessary.


The objective of Geology 360 is to provide students who are beginning their study of geology with field experience observing rocks, structural features, geological processes and their results, and the evidence upon which geologic history is written. Students will learn rudimentary field techniques during the exercises that are the major work of the course. As a result of this course, students will have mental images and experience that will help them to understand concepts and definitions in all future geology classes. Course readings are intended to provide background for geological features they observe and to review material discussed in introductory geology classes that is germane to the areas they visit. Writing assignments encourage the student to understanding the features observed and the assigned reading.

Specifically, the course will examine structural, lithologic, and geomorphologic features along the trip route. Reading assignments and discussion will emphasize geologic history and tectonics of Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming: the Great Plains and several tectonic provinces of the east-central part of the mountainous west of the US. Students will examine Pennsylvanian and Cretaceous rocks in a number of places and discuss the tectonic, environmental, and climatic controls on their character. The class will discuss use of features in rocks, including sedimentary, plutonic, volcanic, and metamorphic rocks, to interpret aspects of their origin and history. We will observe, illustrate, and discuss effects of erosion and deposition by water, ice, and wind.


Who Should Take this Course?

This course is required in all undergraduate degree programs in geology at KU, and the design of the course emphasizes the needs of this group of students. Several other groups of students will find this course appropriate: beginning graduate students in geology who are not from the US or who do not have undergraduate degrees in geology, geology minors, students majoring in Earth and space sciences in the School of Education, students studying physical geography, and students in civil or petroleum engineering. Students in any discipline are welcome, provided they have passed the prerequisite course.

Geology 360 is also listed as Geology 591, Field Investigation for Teachers, which allows students to earn graduate credit.



This is a two-credit course, but is classified as an off-campus course, so that all students pay the off-campus tuition rate. In addition, there is a course fee of $550, which helps defray costs of gasoline, camping fees, admissions, and other costs directly associate with conducting the course. Students must provide their own food.

Scholarships and paid positions as drivers are available. Much of the support for this trip, including the scholarships, comes from the Geology Associates Program of the Department of Geology and the KU Endowment Association.


The trip is generally scheduled for the last two full weeks before classes start at KU in August (KU Classes generally begin on the third or fourth Thursday in August; Geology 360 is scheduled to return to Lawrence on the previous Sunday). In 2023 the dates are 7/30-8/13

More Information

A preliminary meeting of likely trip participants is held during the second or third week in March. At that time, a list of required materials will be distributed as will be applications for driver positions and scholarships. Those applications are due about April 1 each year.

To be placed on a list of prospective students, to be notified of the initial meeting in March, or for answers to questions, contact:

Dr. Diane Kamola

1475 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66046

Department of Geology

The University of Kansas

785 864-2724