Home > SEMINARS/FIELD TRIPS > 2014-2015


Junior Class Field Trip

East Coast Infrastructure: Tunnels, Bridges, Water (September 23 – September 28, 2014)

Sponsors: University of Notre Dame, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences


Organizers: Diane Westerink, Joannes Westerink

Purpose of this trip: To expose students to some of the biggest and most innovative infrastructure design and construction efforts going on in the United States; to provide an opportunity to see first-hand that the need to rebuild our often failing infrastructure is huge; to learn about the complexity of the structural, transportation, water resources, and environmental projects that keep our nation productive, efficient and healthy; to interact one on one with project and design engineers. These trips help students see the wide range of opportunities available to become innovative leaders and also help connect the classroom to the outside world.

 2014 Fall Geology Field Trip - Appalachian Mountains

Sponsors: University of Notre Dame, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences


Organizers: Jeremy Fein

Purpose of this trip: The 2014 Fall Geology Field Trip introduced students to the geology of the Appalachian Mountains and the continental margin before, during, and after the mountain building events. The main emphasis of the trip was to show students the rock types and geologic structure of the Appalachians, and to give the students an idea of the types of geologic observations that led to the hypothesis that explains the formation of the mountains.

2015 Spring Geology Field Trip - Big Bend and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks

During Spring Break week (March 7th- 14th, 2015), 14 undergraduate students, 3 teaching assistants, and Professors Antonio Simonetti and Chongzheng Na spent time investigating the geology of southwest Texas and the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Prior to entering Big Bend National Park, the undergraduate students were first exposed to the metamorphic rocks belonging to the Marathon Orogeny, which occurred ~360 million years ago. The students were encouraged to examine structural features such as tilted and folded beds, and honed their skills of strike and dip measurements with their Brunton compasses. The group then spent several days exploring the geology of Big Bend National Park, which included investigating the massive Cretaceous limestone formations at both Boquillas and Santa Elena Canyons, and the relatively young Eocene- to Oligocene-age (~30 to 40 million years old) volcanic extrusive and intrusive rocks located within the Chisos Mountains. The students had the opportunity to see massive exposures of predominantly rhyolite, welded tuff, and andesite. The group then drove northwards towards Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains, which are also Cenozoic-age felsic volcanic rocks. Along the way, the students obtained a firsthand look at the oldest rocks in West Texas, just west of Van Horn (Van Horn Mountains), which consist of mafic and pelitic schists of Grenvillian age (~1.1 to 1.3 billion years old). These ancient metamorphic rocks formed as a result of an ancient subduction event that occurred at the margin of the Laurentia Craton. During one of our roadside geology stops proximal to Fort Davis, we were interviewed by a reporter (and photographer) from the “Odessa American” newspaper – a web link to the online article is provided below. The last 2 days of our field trip consisted of visiting Texas’ Permian Basin (approx. 250 million years old) and the Guadalupe Mountains (New Mexico), which culminated in the visit to the caves/karst system preserved at Carlsbad Caverns.

In summary, the undergraduate students examined a wide variety of rocks types that were produced from differing tectonic/geological settings, and spanning a large range in ages from ~1.3 billion years to ~30 million years. The field trip truly provided the students with an invaluable experience since it gives them an opportunity to apply concepts/principles covered in classes at Notre Dame into the field – there is no better method of instruction!

Web link to news article in “Odessa American”