2021 Courses

Geoscience Courses at the IU Judson Mead Geologic Field Station

We have been teaching geoscience field courses at the IUGFS since 1949.  During that 70+ year history, more than 7,000 students from over 300 universities have taken our courses. 

Alumni routinely credit IUGFS as a key educational experience for their career success.  The top IUGFS experiences cited for career success are:

  1. Developing critical thinking skills to evaluate multiple working hypotheses and make independent decisions based on the available data;
  2. Integrating different aspects of the geosciences to solve complex problems;
  3. Thinking in 3- and 4-dimensions;
  4. Developing time management and project management skills;
  5. Applying the scientific method;
  6. Learning and/or refining geoscience skills.

2021 Course descriptions

Course Description

EAS X429 is an immersive, hands-on, field geology course designed to allow you to build and integrate a diverse set of geoscience skills to solve 4-dimensional geologic problems from outcrop to regional scale. 

EAS X429 utilizes four primary learning components.

  1. Detailed field instruction, typically with a 7:1 or better student-to-faculty ratio. The standard week includes two days of detailed field instruction in one or more of the following:
    1. Describing rocks and measuring geologic attributes in the field;
    2. Detailed descriptions of sedimentary rocks and measurement of stratigraphic sections;
    3. Mapping and analyzing geologic structures;
    4. Geologic cross section construction;
    5. Interpretation of the geologic history;
    6. Field studies of igneous and metamorphic rocks including cross-cutting relationships, compositional observations, and basic interpretation of pressure, temperature and depth conditions;
    7. Mapping of a geologically complex area.

Followed by three days of applying these skills to a solve a problem.

  1. A major, thesis style project – a 1-week geologic mapping, analysis, and interpretation project for a relatively large area with significant geologic diversity and complexity. Each student works quasi-independently to produce a report including geologic maps, geologic cross sections, relevant data and analyses, an interpretation of the geologic history, and an explanation about how it fits into the regional geologic context.
  1. Field exams - Students work independently during ~6-hour long field exams collecting basic observational data, constructing a geologic map and cross sections, and interpreting the geologic history of an area they have not previously visited. All materials are turned in prior to a debrief on the geology before leaving the field area.  There are three or four field exams during the course.
  1. A subdiscipline concentration – students choose the concentration that interests them the most and/or they want to develop more in-depth knowledge about. See X498 concentration descriptions.

In a typical year, EAS X429 students come from more than 25 different universities.  In recognition that not all students have the same background when they start the course, the curriculum is designed to allow students to have more or less faculty interaction depending on their experience, learning needs, and confidence working in the field.  EAS X429 grading is back-end weighted, with later projects counting more than earlier projects.


EAS X429 and EAS X428 require a minimum of two years of a standard undergraduate geoscience curriculum including one introductory course plus at least one course in each of the following: 

  1. sedimentology and/or stratigraphy
  2. mineralogy and/or petrology
  3. structural geology and/or tectonics

A course in Earth history plus additional topical courses are beneficial, but not required.

 Students with alternative backgrounds who do not have all of the prerequisites are encouraged to apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Subdiscipline concentration courses

Working conditions in the field