Field Experiences

Field Experiences in Earth and Environmental Sciences at UK

Working outdoors is one of the great aspects of being a geologist.  How many majors or careers are there where you HAVE to work outdoors and even get paid for it!? There are a number of field experiences within the Department where students can travel, see North America, and learn something as well.


EES 230/235 Fundamentals of Geology: these courses introduce students to the techniques and methods for geological mapping.   Large chunks of class time are spent in the field in central Kentucky mapping in flat-lying Ordovician carbonate strata and in the Kentucky River Fault zone.  In EES 230, we spend many fine fall days tramping about in the woods near the Kentucky River.


EES 323 Field Geology: this is the mother of all field experiences for the geology major.  A capstone course taken in the summer of a student’s junior or senior year, the course pulls together all the methods learned in the classroom in other core courses.  UK’s “Field Camp”, as it is also known, is held in Gunnison- Crested Butte area of southwestern Colorado, high in the Rocky Mountains.  UK has held a field camp in Gunnison for over 50 years.  Most geologists will state unequivocally that field camp was the most thrilling experience they had as a college student. Learn more about UK’s Field Camp.


EES 220 Physical Geology: this first course (4 cr) for geology majors makes a one day trip exploring the fossiliferous limestones, faults, and karst features of the Bluegrass region.

EES 350 Regional Historical Geology: Students in this class reconstruct the paleoecology of Ordovician strata in northern Kentucky during a one-day field trip. Each student makes an extensive collection of fossils and lithologic samples for further analysis in the classroom. It's a fossil scavenger hunt!

EES 420G Structural Geology: Students in this class spend at least one weekend mapping structures in the Appalachians.

EES 450G Sedimentary Geology: the Friday afternoon laboratories in this course involve examination of stratigraphic and facies relationships, and depositional structures, in central Kentucky.   If schedules permit, a Sed-Geo regional weekend field trip is piggy-backed with the Ig-Met field trip.

EES 461 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology: An annual 4-day field trip to the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mtns. of western North Carolina is used to explore classic Appalachian geology in one of the world’s most thoroughly studied mountain belts.  We camp in Great Smoky Mtns. National Park and in campgrounds in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina.

EES 480 Advanced Topics: Week-long field trips to New England, Canada, and the southeast coast are offered on a regular basis.

EES 585 Hydrogeology: a 3-day weekend field trip is made in the late spring to western Kentucky to examine hydrologic features in the Land-Between-the-Lakes area.









EES 395 Bahamas Field Trip: Professor Frank Ettensohn takes students to the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas to explore modern carbonate depositional environments - a modern analog for the depositional setting of the limestones that underlay central Kentucky.  But don’t be misled by the location!  San Salvador (the landing site of Christopher Columbus) is an undeveloped island with no fast food or exotic resorts.  Students spend the week diving on the coral reef, wading in the surf along the white sand beaches, mucking about on the tidal flat or in knee deep mud in the shallows, and exploring caves. This course is usually offered in alternate years.  The field trip is also offered to freshman as part of the UK Discovery Seminar course series.



Undergraduate and graduate students at UK complete research and thesis projects that generally involve field-based research.  These projects have been based in diverse locations from the Lexington area to Colorado or Canada or the Blue Ridge Mtns or Greenland or India.

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