The Ohio State University Field Geology course was founded in Ephraim, Utah, by Dr. Edmund Spieker in 1947, and today, over 75 years later, we still operate a strong program from our Ephraim base. When Spieker selected Ephraim and Snow College as the location of the Ohio State geology “field station,” he envisioned the site for both a course providing professional training for undergraduates and a base for geological research by graduate students and faculty. Spieker’s goal to establish a base for research studies has been amply met; this can be attested by the long list of undergraduate and graduate theses and dissertations, as well as journal publications, about the geology of the Sanpete Valley region and beyond in Utah.
Snow College generously supports the Ohio State University Geology field camp by providing clerical support and access to classrooms and computer labs for office exercises, computer visualization, and computer structural analyses.
Read more about Dr. Spieker here.
Ephraim is a small rural Mormon community located in the Sanpete Valley of central Utah with a population that has grown from a population of ~2,000 to over 6,400 in recent decades, becoming the largest city in Sanpete County. The town is approximately a one-hour drive from Provo and a two and half-hour drive from Salt Lake City. Ephraim has maintained a quiet, rural environment, with the town's economy and the Sanpete Valley in which it lies, based mainly on agriculture and animal husbandry (sheep, turkeys, and cattle). There is a public library, a bowling alley, movie theaters, and grocery, drug, and hardware stores in town.
Medical Services: There is a medical clinic in town, and hospitals are nearby in Mt Pleasant, Gunnison, and Nephi.
Snow College: swimming pool, weight room, tennis courts, track, baseball diamonds.
Palisade Lake State Park (15 miles south): camping, swimming, and a 9-hole golf course.
Ephraim Canyon and Manti Canyon: camping and fishing.
Recent student recreational trips during field camp have included: river rafting; pontoon boating; visits to Arches and Zion National Parks; climbing Mt. Nebo (5,000′ climb to the highest point in central Utah); collecting trips to west-central Utah for trilobites and topaz; visits to Salt Lake City; Nephi Rodeo.
Read more about Ephraim here.
The field areas range in elevation from 5100′ above sea level at the south end of the Sanpete Valley to around 8000′ in the surrounding mountains. Ephraim is at an elevation of 5540′, and the Wasatch Plateau to the east rises to over 11,000′.
In the field, daytime temperatures will usually reach the 90s with low humidity, but the temperature drops at night into the 40s and 50s. At high elevations (11,000′), temperatures will be about 30°F cooler both in the daytime and at night. Rain showers are common in the afternoon.
The central Utah area provides exceptional exposures of rock units recording the Mesozoic and Cenozoic geologic evolution of the Rocky Mountain region. Ancient Precambrian crystalline rocks and Paleozoic sequences are exposed to the north and west. The spectacular landforms of Arches National Park and the Canyonlands region are a short drive to the east and south.
The field station is in the Sanpete Valley of central Utah, at the transition between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province. Field studies primarily focus on sedimentary rocks ranging in age from Jurassic to Eocene. Structures studied include folds, faults, and unconformities. Field trips to nearby areas are designed to illustrate regional stratigraphic and structural relations of Paleozoic and Mesozoic units in the Sevier fold-thrust belt and related foreland basin. Additional trips and map exercises include the study of tertiary ignimbrites, andesitic pyroclastic rocks, and rhyolitic flows; recent basaltic lavas and cinder cones; structure and metamorphism of Proterozoic crystalline rocks; tertiary granitoids and associated contact metamorphic rocks; metamorphic core complexes; and the stratigraphy (Permian-Cretaceous), sedimentology, geomorphology and structure at Capitol Reef National Park.
Read more about Utah geology here.