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Adventures from field camp

2023 was another excellent year for the School of Earth Sciences Field Camp.  Nineteen students, three GTAs, four instructors, and one instructor-in-training made the annual pilgrimage out west this year. Our students were a diverse group.  While most are concentrating in the Geological Sciences tack at OSU, two are on the Climate, Water, and Environment tack, one is a Civil Engineer, and two came from outside the university (Virginia Tech and Scripps College). Overall, this was an exuberant bunch, fed no doubt in part by pent-up frustration of years of COVID-19 limitations on classes and field trips.  Super alumnus and Alumni Board President Joe Newhart set the tone for the trip, meeting students at Vail Pass in Colorado on their way out to Utah and introducing them to Proterozoic gneisses, Permian sandstones, and an overview of Rocky Mountain geology. Our graduate teaching assistants were a stellar group, and they set an excellent example for students for the duration of the trip:  the whole group was ready to go every morning and eager to explore everything Utah has to offer. 

Our fearless GTAs (from left to right): Joe Schulze, Danika Mayback, and Datu Adiatma.

This year, Field Camp hit most of the familiar sites known to field camps of years past –  trips to Salina Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, the Pavant and Canyon Ranges, Marysvale Volcanic Field, mapping at South Ephraim Canyon, Temple Hill, and Fayette, grand traverses across the South and North Cross sections, and examining core at the Utah Geological Survey Core Lab – but a lot was new this year as well.  Thanks to the record-setting winter snowfall, continued precipitation into the summer, and unseasonably cool temperatures (for the first three weeks at least), the Sanpete Valley was green, and the Wasatch Plateau remained snowcapped the entire duration of Field Camp. This meant the North Cross Section was a muddy slog, Mt. Nebo was covered in snow for the duration of the trip, and Alta and parts of the Snake Range/Great Basin National Park were inaccessible. In place of these two trips, two new (and more accessible) field trips took students to Bryce Canyon, the Marysvale Gravity Slide complex (introduced on the 75th Anniversary Field Trip in 2022), the Kodachrome basin, and Antelope Island, expanding the already enormous catalogue of geological field trips and exercises built by over 75 years of past field camp instructors. 

B.S. students Claire Nidy, Matthew Idzakovich, and Sarah Brown (Scripps College) measure a section of the Upper Green River Formation at Temple Hill.

In what was perhaps the most exciting addition to Field Camp this year, Geodesist and Assistant Professor Demián Gomez spent the first half of the trip with the group, learning how field camp operates, flexing his field geology skills, and teaching students how to position themselves using the night sky.  We are all very excited to have Dr. Gomez join us in the future, and we can’t wait to integrate geodetic techniques into our curriculum in the years to come.

Assistant Professor Demián Gomez explores accessible solutions to transporting total stations and other geodetic equipment in the field by day (left), and teaches students to locate themselves by observing the stars at night (below)


Field camp group photo from 2023
The whole group at the Gooseneck's Overlook in Capitol Reef National Park.

Ohio State’s Field Camp is an enormous, complex undertaking that involves efforts from people from Ohio to Utah, from August through July every year, and I want to take a moment to extend a massive “thank you” to all who make field camp happen for our students. Above all, our loyal alumni and friends make Ohio State such a unique place for students through their support of our Field Camp program, and for the past few years, thanks to the generosity of these alumni and friends, all OSU students have attended field camp with scholarships that offset the cost of tuition, lodging, and travel. This year, we disbursed 17 scholarships to OSU students, including 13 from the School of Earth Sciences Field Camp Experience Travel Fund started by Mike and Cindy Morgan, four from the Zinni Family Field Camp Scholarship Fund (in memory of Dr. Henry Weldon) established by Ed Zinni, and one from the Jim Collinson and Jay and Laura Moffitt Field Camp Scholarship Fund established by Jay and Laura Moffitt.  As always, our dedicated field camp faculty, including Cristina Millan, Terry Wilson and Shelley Judge, work throughout the year to plan every field camp. Special thanks also go out to the Utah Geological Survey Core Lab staff, emeriti Tom Chidzi, and Mike Vanden Berg. And, of course, Field Camp would not be possible without the support of SES director Steven Lower and staff, including Soyoung Carpenter, Brittany Shelton, Ben Hildebrand, Brent Curtiss, Karen Royce, and Sue Welch.

Time to start planning for 2024!


Ashley Griffith, Associate Professor, Field Camp Director