Field trips are a part of our planetary sciences curriculum, as our own planet is the best lab to see the outcome of processes common to many planets. All the Department-sponsored field trips are camping trips, typically in primitive conditions (i.e. no showers or bathrooms at the campsite). We use University vehicles to carry ourselves and our gear. You will need to provide your own food and camping gear; talk to the other fieldtrip participants to obtain lists of what to bring. Typically, students form food groups of 3-5 people for convenience in obtaining common groceries and other food preparation necessities. Vehicles and other expenses are taken care of by the department. If you plan on attending a semester trip, please register for the credit! The course is called Planetary Sciences Field Practicum, PTYS 594a, and is graded S,P,E. Up to 10 credits from PTYS 594A will count toward your requirements.

The destination and duration of these trips is determined by student interest. A typical field trip will last anywhere from 3 to 5 days. Previous field trip locations have included: Canyonlands, Baja California, Death Valley, and other locations within Arizona, New Mexico, and the Southwest US. As a field trip participant, you are required to prepare a short, 10-minute talk out in the field about a relevant topic that will be discussed during the trip. The faculty coordinator that will run the trip will encourage discussion among the group at all of the stops during the field trip. This way, each student learns a lot about one part of the trip and will hear a little bit from everyone.

Every few years, the department funds the students to go on extensive field trips in distant locales in order to study planetary geology analogues that are not accessible around the Southwest. Previous destinations have included Yellowstone National Park and Washington State. These trips are typically a week long and normally include motel accomodations.

The Planetary Surfaces (PTYS 554) core class has one weekend field trip, to Meteor Crater and other points around Flagstaff, Arizona. The Surfaces instructor commonly lectures throughout these trips, and students are not required to give talks but are encouraged to participate in discussions.

You can see some of the field trips we've taken on the Field Trips page. Check out some of the places we've been!