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Field Methods in Environmental Sciences (GEOL 477)*

An environmental field camp designed to train students in field methods and integrative problem solving related to environmental geosciences. The course will cover topics such as field methods in hydrogeology, surface-water and vadose-zone hydrology, water quality analysis, ecosystem health, environmental surface geophysics, site evaluation and techniques and regional landscape history and environmental change. Offered during summer session only.

Prerequisites: GEOL 320, GEOL 325, GEOL 330, GEOL 335, GEOL 390/490
Cost: $900 + 4 credit hours (approx. $2800)
Summer 2017 dates: May 15 - June 9
Optional 40-hour OSHA HAZWOPER: June 12 - June 16
Application deadline: February 1, 2017
* Field course may be cancelled or change dates at any time. Cost of camp is subjected to change.

Course Content

Regional landscape history and environmental change (NIU Site)

  • Local and regional Quaternary geology
  • Surficial geologic mapping
  • Core drilling
  • Stratigraphic section/soil classification
  • Regional context of soils and soil mapping
  • Climate history and change

Environmental geophysics

  • Seismic methods
  • Resistivity
  • Conductivity
  • Ground penetrating radar

Field methods in hydrogeology

  • Water table contour maps
  • Aquifer testing
  • Local and regional hydrogeologic framework
  • Drilling and well installation

Field methods in surface water and vadose zone hydrology

  • Stream flow
  • Stream dye tracer test
  • Measuring soil tension and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity

Water quality

  • Groundwater and surface water sampling techniques
  • Field measurement of water quality parameters
  • Field analysis of water chemistry
  • Inorganic water analysis
  • Organic water analysis
  • Microbiology of water

Field trips

  • Drinking and waste water plants
  • Lake Calumet (Superfund site)
  • Quaternary deposits of northern Illinois


Undergraduate Advising

Geology Emphasis
Jim Walker

Environmental Geosciences Emphasis
Justin Dodd

Earth Science Education Emphasis
Nicole LaDue