Earth Science 6: Mountains, Boots & Backpacks!

An 8-day, field course (Sep 17-24, 2017) to investigate earthquakes, volcanoes and related geologic, geomorphic, and hydrologic processes in the beautiful and dramatic Owens Valley, Sierra Nevada, Mammoth Mountain, and Mono Lake area. Earth-science problems and processes are approached through hands-on, problem-solving, data-gathering, and field-based studies using the natural landscape as an outdoor classroom. Satisfies both the Area C, Science, Mathematics and Technology and Writing General Education Requirements. Every day is spent outside and includes 1-2 hours of hiking; lodging is at UC research stations in the shadows of the majestic Sierra Nevada and White Mountains. This class focuses on understanding Earth processes in the field. It is a wonderful class and you will learn a lot!

Employers tell us that the three most important things they look for in recent graduates are the ability to think, interpret data, and communicate. This class will help you develop those skills.

Dr. Bradley Hacker
Webb 2120.

Office hours: anytime. Please come and talk to me when you want help--I do care about your education. Note, however, that I conduct field research during the summer, and so am at UCSB erratically during that time.

Teaching Assistants
Robert Holder
Amy Moser

Course Fees: Approximately $500; includes all room & board, transportation, and class materials. We have to BARC you $300 Jul 1 to reserve your space in the dorm.


UC Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab on the east side of the Sierra Nevada
UC Crooked Creek Station atop the White Mountains

Class Meetings
Are in the field (see below).
The class is physically rigorous, with 1-4 hr hiking each day, and one all-day hike. There is no backpacking; we will be back in the dorm/lodge every night and we will carry only daypacks during the day. We will get up every morning at 7 AM, go to the field at 8 AM, and return sometime in the late afternoon to evening to do more work.

There are lectures most evenings.

Class Projects

  • Climate change, glacial responses, and glacial deposits
  • Active faulting and seismic hazards
  • Stream dynamics and discharge
  • Volcanoes, volcanic hazards, volcanic processes
  • Hydrology, lakes and water supply
  • Evolution of life
  • Plate tectonics and deformation of Earth
  • Subduction zones and magma generation
  • Metamorphism, natural resources and ore deposits

  • Exams
    There are no exams.

    None, but you may enjoy Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley by R.P. Sharp and A.F. Glazner.

    Letter grades will be assigned according to total points earned:

    • Field notebook: 60%.
    • Class participation: 10%.
    • Writing assignments: 30%.
    The course syllabus and reading material will be distributed in the field.

    Logistics; Read carefully

    All your equipment (see list below) must be packed in a few easily handleable bags and brought to the Webb Hall loading dock (south side, toward the ocean) 30 minutes before departure: 8:30 AM Sunday Sep 17. If you want to bring your stuff a day or two early, you can store it in the "Tectonic Workroom", which is the room immediately to your right when you enter Webb Hall from the loading dock.

    We will leave for the field from the Department loading dock at 9:00 AM Sunday Sep 17 at the latest. It is about a 7 hour drive to our Bishop with a couple of stops at sites of geologic interest on the drive north. Bring a lunch to eat on this first day. We will return to campus by the evening of Sep 24.

    Each day we will have breakfast early, make a portable lunch, spend the entire day in the field, and spend most of the evening working, including discussing topics in preparation for the next day.

    At our field station the temperature averages a high of 71 F and a low of 37 F that time of year. In 2017 the temperature dropped to 18 F at night.

    Things you will need to pack and bring to class
    'Camp' Equipment (we stay in a dorm/lodge)
    • sleeping bag (a liner/sheet is optional)
    • special foods (e.g., a few Clif bars just in case)
    • casual shoes
    • camera etc.
    • flashlight or headlamp
    • toiletries
    • soap, shampoo, towel
    • calculator
    • laptop computer
    • USB drive/memory stick/jump drive
    Field Equipment
    • daypack
    • swimsuit
    • warm clothing (T may drop below freezing)
    • shorts and light shirts (T may get very hot)
    • sunglasses
    • sunscreen
    • water bottles or camelback
    • hat
    • hiking boots (well broken in)
    • clipboard
    • clips/rubber bands/tape to hold paper down in the field
    • notebook
    • pencils, erasers
    • colored pencils: yellow, red, green, blue, purple, orange, brown
    • protractor
    • see-through plastic metric ruler
    • geology hammer (optional)
    • geology handlens (optional; we will bring some)