University of Alberta Geology Field School

folded metamorphic rock with lake in the background Since 2003, the Northwest Territories Geological Survey has collaborated with the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to deliver a two-week bedrock mapping course in the NWT.  The course is offered to six students entering their fourth undergraduate year. The field school mainly targets mapping of deformed and metamorphosed Precambrian rocks located somewhere in the NWT. It has become increasingly difficult for university undergraduate students to gain geology field experience prior to graduation.  The field school provides students with a unique, northern Canadian perspective on working in remote, logistically complex settings.


geologist on the tundra looking at rocksThis experience is important to provide for a number of reasons, one of which is to help create the next generation of field geologists.The program is held in a different field location each summer. The regional geologic setting is known but existing geology maps may not be modern or detailed.  Most field schools occur in the Slave Geological Province, a very old portion of the Canadian Shield. Students map an area typically measuring five to 10 square kilometres.  They gain first-hand experience in bedrock mapping techniques, data collection and interpretation, field logistics, field safety, and working with more senior geologists. 

students standing on a rock Students and instructors alike have not mapped the area previously so everyone learns together. Student mapping teams become increasing independent as the field school progresses. Once back at the University of Alberta, the students collaborate on a final bedrock geology map and write a Current Research-style report.  We are always interested in attracting industry and other partners who can help to support field mapping activities and logistics. Past partners include the Diavik Diamond Mine, GGL Resources, Avalon Rare Metals, Tyhee Gold, and Aurora College.