Geology 556 (Field Methods in Hydrology)

Geology 556: Field Methods in Hydrology is offered each summer. It is taught for one week at the Canon City field station, with online material before and after the field session. The course introduces field techniques and equipment methods used in water resource and environmental site investigations. The course is taught with both online and field components. Students complete readings and preliminary assignments online, two weeks before attending a week-long, in person, field session. The field work takes place at the Robert P. Harrison Field Station in Canon City, CO each year in late July. Students live in cabins at the facility and the field exercises are conducted on site, or during one-day field trips to local sites of ongoing environmental investigation.

The prerequisite for the course is GEOL 552 Introduction to Hydrogeology.


The objective of Geology 556 is to provide students with hands-on experience using tools and methods commonly used by environmental professionals. Topics to be covered typically include physical and chemical characterization techniques, such as: how to measure water levels; determine hydraulic conductivity and groundwater velocity; determine hydraulic properties of the vadose zone; inorganic, organic, isotopic, and dissolved gas characterization; and groundwater-surface water characterization techniques. These techniques will be viewed in action at sites of hydrogeologic interest and applied in the field.  Field trips to an operating gold mine and a former uranium mill Superfund site are part of the course.


Who Should Take this Course?

This course is ideal for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students who are seeking an environmental career. It may be used to satisfy the three-credit hour field-based workshop requirement of the Professional Science Master’s program. It may be taken by both online and traditional on-campus graduate and undergraduate students in geology and related disciplines.  


This is a three-credit course, but is classified as an off-campus course, so that undergraduate students pay the off-campus tuition rate. Students in the Professional Science Masters program pay the flat tuition rate associated with the program. In addition, there is a course fee of $600, which helps defray costs of gasoline, camping fees, admissions, and other costs directly associate with conducting the course. Students must provide their own food, but all other living expenses and transportation in the field and to and from Lawrence, are free.

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 typically scheduled for second half of the summer semester and begins around July 4th.  The field session will take place the third week of July. Students have until the end of the summer session to finalize any assignments that are not completed during the field session.

More Information

A preliminary meeting of likely trip participants is held during the end of the spring semester in late April or early May. At that time, a list of required materials will be distributed as will be applications for driver positions and scholarships. Those applications are due before May 1 each year.

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

Dr. Marcia Schulmeister

1475 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66046

Department of Geology

The University of Kansas