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Field trips from Southern California to the Caribbean


On a trip to Hawaii, geology students and faculty “run” from a “red hot moving surface flow” during a 12-mile hike across lava fields where lava tubes flow from the Pu’u O’o vent and enter the sea in firework-sprays.

Geology provides many opportunities for students to observe and study in the field.

This begins for first-year students with GEOL 105 Physical and Environmental Geology in the Grand Canyon, an environmental geology field course and motorized raft trip.

The department also offers major field trips each year to places of geologic interest. Winter trips usually venture to some place distant, exotic, and warmer than Illinois. Field trips provide a great way to learn geology, enjoy nature and make new friends around the campfire.

Recent departmental field trips

  • Summer 2024: Physical and Environmental Geology in the Grand Canyon, Ariz.
  • May 2023: Geological Society of America Meeting, Mich.
  • January term 2023: Geology of the Mojave Desert, Calif.
  • November 2022: Structural Geology of Baraboo, Wis.
  • October 2022: Igneous Petrology of the St. Francois Mountains, Mo.
  • September 2022: Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa; Udden Geology Club Allied Quarry trip, Ill.
  • August 2022: Physical and Environmental Geology of the Rocky Mountains, Black Hills, S.D. and Bighorn Mountains, Wyo.
  • April 2022: Geological Society of America Meeting, Ohio 
  • January term 2022: Sedimentology of the Caribbean island of Bonaire
red rock canyon, Nevada

Geology students interpreted crossbedded sandstones of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, wind-blown during the Jurassic 185 million years ago. The group is enroute to Southern California for the Mojave Geology January-term field course!

Bighorn mountains

Physical and Environmental Geology of the Rockies summer field course is open to all incoming first-year students! Here, students got an incredible view of the NE Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming after hiking the steep 450 million-year-old dolomite cliffs of Steamboat Point.

Death Valley

How low can you go? In this case, about 270 feet below sea level! The geology department spent spring break studying the rocks of Death Valley, California!

baraboo wi field trip

Geology students sitting on the 1.6 billion-year-old bluffs of Devil’s Lake, in the Baraboo Range, Wisconsin. During a field trip to the Baraboo, Wisconsin region, students explored incredible  geomorphic, structural and stratigraphic features, gained skills in making field observations, identifying rocks and formations in the field, and in developing interpretations of some of the paleoenvironments and ancient tectonic processes active in the midcontinent.

caribbean field trip

Students excited to explore the geology of the northern side of the Caribbean island of Bonaire at Boka Chikitu in Washington Slagbaai National Park.

caribbean reefs

Observing and comparing the underwater modern reefs to the on-land ancient, fossilized reefs is all part of the geology January-term Caribbean course Build Me an Island. Here, students are getting their sea legs and practicing being adept at concentrating on the intricacies of SCUBA while recording field observations. 

Elephant rock state park

A field trip to the geologic wonderlands of St. Francois Mountains, Missouri gave students a glimpse into the ancient magmatic and tectonic past and growth of North America. Here, they hold up 1.3 billon-year-old spheroidally weathered granites at Elephant Rock State Park. Later they geared up to travel 1200 feet underground to observe ancient fissures and fractures filled with sparkling, valuable ores, evidence of ancient fluid flow.

Allied Quarry

Augustana’s Udden Geology Club explored Allied Quarry in Rock Island. This quarry is a window into our local geology, with fantastic exposures of 400 million-year-old Silurian and Devonian strata and opportunities for fossil collecting and learning about the stratigraphy and economic significance of this local resource.

John Deere Planetarium

Planetarium and geology museum to host open house on May 11

Augustana College's John Deere Planetarium and Fryxell Geology Museum will be open to the public on Saturday, May 11, 2024, for an evening of stargazing and space shows. The planetarium, located at 820 38th Street, Rock Island, will be open from 8:30-10 p.m., with indoor and outdoor programs in the planetarium, observatory and geology museum.

Holden Village students posing for a photo before heading to the village.

Five years of Augustana’s January Term

Augustana College students take a break from their 15-week semester schedule to engage in a month-long period of intensive learning during January Term, or J-term. This three-and-a-half week course was added as part of the college’s transition to semesters in 2019-2020.

Makayla Thumb

Unearthing students' love for geology

Four Augustana students have hit the ground running with their summer geology internships. Projects include studying the formation and evolution of ancient mountain belts, paleontology research, studying geological maps in zinc mines and installing seismometers for earthquake detection.