Field Camp


8 Semester Credits

Field camp in Alaska offers students a geological experience that few places can match. (Field camp is offered odd years only).

View from Tent in Limestone Gap

Geology field camp in Alaska is truly a unique experience. Members of the department faculty have projects in many remote parts of Alaska, and they are among the most field-oriented earth scientists in the nation. The field geology course takes advantage of the great variety of different geologic settings offered by Alaska’s complex geology. Our field camp gives students the opportunity to develop field mapping skills in regions with gold-bearing plutonic rocks, metamorphic rocks, clastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks, and complex structural relations. Different members of the faculty will join the students in each area to share their knowledge and experience.

Limestone Gap Trekking

Students are exposed to many different geologic problems and challenges because Alaska offers such a wide variety of geologic terranes. Ongoing investigations of Alaskan geology by various agencies and academic entities makes Alaska an exciting place to work and study, because understanding of the regional geology is rapidly expanding.

The UAF field camp will appeal to students who enjoy remote wilderness camping. The camp is unique in that the main study area is reached by bush airplane. In this remote and mountainous setting, strenuous hiking is a daily activity, and field mapping and camp life in general require cooperation and teamwork.

Close Landing in Limestone Gap


                                                                           Scope of the field camp

The primary focus of our field camp is geologic mapping. Mapping projects in Interior Alaska, the Alaska Range, and the Talkeetna Mountains allow students to develop, in stepwise fashion, advanced skills in topographic map reading, geologic observation, the construction of geologic maps, and map interpretation.

We will start with small mapping projects within Interior Alaska to build basic field mapping skills such as:

  • Pace measurement
  • Pace and compass navigation
  • Measuring, recording, and plotting structural data using a Brunton compass
  • Field identification of major rock types and structures
  • Use topographic maps of various scales
  • Navigation, point location, TRS, & UTM coordinates
  • Use of air photos and geophysical maps
  • Effective note-taking strategies
Working Hard!

Next, we will move to the Healy area in the northern foothills of the Alaska Range.   Here students will work on defining and tracing contacts in well-defined stratigraphy.   A focus will be on developing skills in locating contacts on topographic maps and visualizing structural relations in three dimensions.

Students will continue to develop geologic mapping skills in the Alaska Range in Denali National Park.  The class will work out of wall tents in the campgrounds in Denali National Park and access the field areas by van and back-country hiking, in order to map Cretaceous and Early Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic rocks north of Sable Pass.

Mapping at Limestone Gap is the capstone portion of the field geology course. This field area is located in the Talkeetna Mountains about 20 miles north of Sheep Mountain, and is reached by bush aircraft. The campsite is located on a meadow at 5000 feet elevation, and is an area with abundant wildlife (Dall sheep and caribou).

Geology in the Limestone Gap area is well-exposed. The section consists of a Late Jurassic to Cretaceous mostly marine sequence, including black shales of basin origin, storm deposits, near shore and beach deposits, and lagoonal or non-marine calcareous clastic rocks. The section is unconformably overlain by a thick section of Tertiary basalts. Basaltic dikes related to the extrusive rocks intrude the clastic section. The sedimentary rocks are highly fossiliferous; ammonites, belemnites, and bivalves are common in parts of the section. The area is located near the eastern limits of the Castle Mountain - Caribou fault system of south-central Alaska, and the layered rocks are faulted and folded in patterns that are a challenge for students to map and explain.

Work in the area begins with measuring and describing several stratigraphic sections, defining map units, and interpreting the depositional history. The remainder of work at Limestone Gap is devoted to completing a geologic map of the 6 km x 6 km study area at a scale of 1:12,000. The structure of the area is diverse and complex, but well-defined marker units, good exposures, and easily negotiated terrain allow students to focus their efforts on locating and tracing contacts on their maps. Students must map contacts of folded and faulted units, faults, and fold axial surfaces, identify different types of faults, and evaluate whether their maps make geologic sense. The conclusion of the project involves compilation of a complete map, preparation of cross sections, interpretation of geologic history based on the mapped cross-cutting relations, and preparation of a report.

Field camp is a writing-intensive (W) course, thus emphasis will be placed on effective report writing, including organization, clear, concise, and grammatically correct writing.

The prerequisites for our summer field camp are :  Petrology, Structural Geology, and Stratigraphy with a minimum grade of C in each class.   All students must have Junior Standing and permission of instructor. The instructors will evaluate applications to determine if students meet prerequisites and students will be admitted until the available spaces are filled.


                                                            2015 Location and Schedule 

13 June 2015: Introduction in Fairbanks

18 June 2015 - 24 June 2015: Interior Alaska mapping projects.

26 June 2015 - 6 July 2015: Alaska Range/Denali mapping projects and travel.

10 July 2015 - 31 July 2015: Limestone Gap mapping projects and final reports.

These dates are fairly firm, however slight changes might be necessary to accommodate weather and other variables. We will return to Fairbanks on or about August 1. Students should count on at least 4 days of office work to write final reports. A safe departure date from Fairbanks would be August 5.



During the Fairbanks portion we will use facilities at the UAF Department of Geology and Geophysics for the preparation of field reports. We will travel to the Alaska Range sites in UAF vans. Meals will be provided while in Denali Park/Alaska Range. We will then travel to Sheep Mountain on the Glenn Highway and fly from there to Limestone Gap on a chartered bush plane. Office tents, a cook tent and meals will be provided during the Limestone Gap portion of camp, with students staying in their own personal tents. After the Limestone Gap project, students will travel in UAF vans to finish their projects at UAF.

                                                                                      2015 Cost - $3,990

This includes undergraduate tuition of eight credits (in-state and out-of-state are the same) and Geology department fees ($3,850), accident insurance (mandatory for remote field locations - $140) and all transportation to field sites. Each student must provide proof that they have medical insurance coverage.   Meals and housing while in Fairbanks are the students' responsibility and can be arranged through UAF Residence Life.  Three meals per day will be provided by a camp cook while in the field. Students must bring their own tent, sleeping bag and personal gear. The Geology department will provide a cook, cook tent, and office tents while in the field.

Applications are due January 19, 2015  for UAF students and January 26, 2015 for non-UAF students.

The form is designed to allow you to type in all the required information. After you type in your information, print the form, sign your name, and email, fax or deliver to the Field Camp Director. Jochen Mezger.

*Non-UAF Students ONLY : Give the evaluation form to a professor who has agreed to serve as a reference for you, and ask them to fax or mail their evaluation to the department. Any questions? E-mail Jochen Mezger at

These forms are in Adobe pdf format

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