People walking along a river

Field trips

Fieldwork is the essence of Earth Sciences.  Here at the Research School of Earth Sciences, we offer our students many opportunities to study in the field. From traversing Kosciusko National Park, constructing geological cross-sections of geological sites around NSW,  making measurements and observations about the geology around the South Coast, diving into the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef, to climbing Mount Fuji, Japan, participating in field trips can be the highlight of your university experience. 

Our field trips

Coral Reef Field Studies - Great Barrier Reef

This intensive field course aims to provide students with advanced knowledge of modern and fossil carbonate environments, and the role of biological processes in reef building and erosion. Several days will be spent at a coral reef location studying a modern reefal setting, fossil reef depositional environments and relevant biological processes. This field trip is usually held in late November / December (Spring Session) or early January (Summer Session) with a location of either One Tree Island or Heron Island, Queensland. 

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EARTH: The Chemistry and Physics of our Planet - South Coast

Colorful rock specimen with green mineral inclusions

The skills needed to identify minerals and rocks, the building blocks of this planet will be taught through lectures, practicals and our field trips. Over a 5-day field trip to the South Coast of NSW, students will spend each day at a different locality making measurements and observations about the geology of the area. Students will learn valuable field skills such as how to use a compass for measuring strike and dip, geological mapping, how to put together a stratigraphic column, and how to take detailed field notes. 

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Fundamentals of Geology - Wee Jasper & Molonglo Gorge

Do you want to learn how to recognise and interpret rocks in the field and laboratory? In this course you will learn about basic geological concepts around the formation, evolution and deformation of rocks and geological structures in the solid earth. Over the first week of the mid semester teaching break (usually in April) you will spend six nights mapping at Wee Jasper. On this six day field trip, students visit a range of geological sites near Wee Jasper, west of Canberra. Students participating in this field trip will be constructing geological cross-sections showing the complexly folded structure of the sedimentary rock layers in the area, and working in small groups to produce geological maps.

Students will also be able to attend an afternoon trip to Molonglo Gorge, Queanbeyan.

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Magmatism & Metamorphism - Cooma

Details of a Pegmatite rock

In this two day trip, students learn about the formation and evolution of rocks in the Lachlan Fold Belt near Cooma. Students will be making and recording observations of formations in the field. By analysing these data and linking them to geochemical data, they can develop models of how the structures formed and evolved over time. Seeing these structures in the field provides an extra level of information over what is available from hand specimens, and allows the large-scale geological relationships to be observed.

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Marine Biogeochemistry - Narooma


This overnight trip to Narooma provides students with the opportunity to collect water samples which will later be analysed at ANU. During the 3-4 hour boat trip, students will collect the samples and operate instruments to make seawater measurements.  Contributing to the sample collection process enhances students’ understanding of the marine environment and help students appreciate how marine biogeochemists collect samples. This is advanced course explores the relationships between marine chemistry, marine biological and geochemical processes - with a focus on developing an understanding of the interplay and responses between ocean chemistry, marine biology and global change. 

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Planetary Science - Mount Stromlo

Astronomy RSAA Building

How did the Earth form? How do planets form? How can we search for life beyond Earth?  Students will participate in a number of evening and day trips to learn about different aspects of Planetary Science. Typically, we will visit Mt Stromlo (night sky viewing), UNSW-Canberra (Impact Dynamics Research Laboratory) and field sites in the Canberra region (Martian analog field sites). During these visits, students will make observations that will be used in the assessments and have the opportunity to ask practicing planetary scientists about their work and career.

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The Blue Planet - Snowy Mountains

The Blue Planet incorporates a two day trip to the Snowy Mountains region. You will explore a variety of landforms, discovering exposures of bedrock, discussing the processes that have formed and modified the landscape and vegetation. Emphasis will be on the nature of environmental change, and the power of combining field observation with critical analysis.

Students will also attend a one-day field trip to Wee Jasper.

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Understanding Geological Hazards - Japan Field Trip

EMSC3050 (places are limited and are awarded based on a short application process)
Recent large-scale geological events, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, have placed natural hazards at the forefront of scientific research. As part of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan, ANU and the University of Tokyo hold a joint two-week field course; “Understanding Geological Hazards” in September each year. This 6-unit course provides an immersive educational experience that considers geological hazards, risk communication, and mitigation strategies in Japan; a country that has experienced many natural disasters affecting its citizens, infrastructure and economy. The course involves a number of activities in Japan with a strong focus on collaborative teamwork designed to foster interpersonal and communication skills, knowledge sharing techniques, and strategy development.

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