ERS225 - Field Methods

ERS225 - Field Methods

ERS225 is designed for students entering the Earth Science program, with little to no experience of fieldwork. We will be visiting the area surrounding Bancroft and Gravenhurst, and studying the outcrops of the Canadian Shield, Grenville Belt and the Palaeozoic sediments of Southern Ontario. The majority of the course time will be during a week-long fieldtrip from the 27th August to 3rd September, with 4 follow up labs in September. The teaching component will be complete by the end of September, and the course has no exams. However, there will be assignments due later on in the term.

To be eligible for ERS225, you need to:

  • Have finished your first year at UTM.
  • Have completed ERS101 (Planet Earth) or ERS111 (Earth, Climate and Life) or ENV100 (The Environment).
  • Be enrolled as an Earth Science Specialist, Major or Minor. Other programs, such as Paleontology Major or Environmental Sciences may also enroll in the course, but priority will be given to those in Earth Science programs.
  • Be able to attend the entire trip, and be physically able to walk long distances over uneven ground.
  • Complete all forms, and pay the required cost ($300) by July 30th. 

You do not need any previous field trip experience. The trip lasts for approximately 7 days in late August and early September. The dates for the 2022 ERS225 trip are currently 27th August to the 3rd September. There is a small chance that these dates may change slightly, and you should not plan any activities in the 2 days preceding or after the trip in case these dates changed. The dates will be confirmed in July.

Required / Recommended Equipment

You will need to bring these things with you. Equipment in bold is required – if you do not have this at the start of the trip, you may not be allowed on the trip. If you do not have them – borrow, rent, or buy them:

  • Boots with ankle protection (i.e. a boot, not a shoe). You will be walking considerable distances over the course of the trip, so you will want lightweight, comfortable walking boots. Ankle protection is required – in the event that you trip or fall, ankle protection will stop you from breaking your ankle. Steel caps are not required. Buy the best boots you can afford.
  • A waterproof jacket (+/- rain pants). In the event of wet weather, we will still go out in the field. A waterproof jacket made of good quality material (such as Gore-tex or similar) will keep you dry, but will allow your skin to breathe, which will make you more comfortable when the temperature is still warm.
  • Outdoor clothes for sunny and hot weather (think ~30oC).
  • Water bottles that can hold at least 2 liters – reuse a plastic water/soda/pop bottle if needed.
  • Sun protection and bug repellent – we will be out in the field during the day, and having adequate sun protection (a wide brimmed hat and sun cream are a must). In addition, there will likely be bugs (mosquitos, black fly and deer fly) at the outcrops. Bug repellent (with Deet or equivalent) will be very useful in maintaining your sanity if surrounded by bugs. You may also consider buying a bug head net to protect your face. Bug repellent, when applied to your legs or pants will also help to prevent ticks, which may be present in the areas we visit.
  • A day pack which can hold your rain jacket (and rain pants), warm layers, water, and lunch. This does not need to be fancy, but it does need to be comfortable as you will be wearing it ALL day. If it doesn’t come with a rain cover, then consider placing a large plastic bag or a garbage bag inside your day pack to ensure your belongings stay dry.
  • Casual clothes for around basecamp. It is advisable to bring a sufficient supply of clothes for the duration of the camp, as we cannot guarantee that the facilities will be working and able to be used. There will always be the opportunity to wash clothes via a sink if full laundry facilities are not available.
  • Toiletries and towel.
  • Stationary equipment:
    • Pencil for making notes in the field. A mechanical pencil is best – it never needs to be sharpened, and produces a thin line which is great for drawing and sketching. Spare leads should also be purchased.
    • Coloured pencils (+ sharpener)
    • Eraser
    • Ruler
    • Protractor
    • A thin black and red ink pen.
    • Sleeping bag/blanket. We will be staying at AirBnBs – one of these provides sheets and pillows, but not blankets so you will need to provide your own sleeping bag or blanket.

We will provide you with the necessary geological field gear – notebooks, geological compass, hammer (when required) and hand lens.

Cost for trip

The cost for the trip, on top of tuition, is $300 which must be paid upon enrollment to the course, by cash or certified cheque (written to University of Toronto) and given to Professor Paul Ashwell (; Office - DV 4038). This covers the accommodation and transport for the entire trip. However, you will need to arrange you own food for the trip. We will stop at supermarkets throughout the trip for you to purchase the food you will need.

Forms required

You will need to fill out the following forms:

These should be filled out and returned to Professor Paul Ashwell ( as soon as possible (deadline is July 30th). Please make sure that you clearly label your forms as “ERS225” so they do not get mixed up with the other field courses we run. If you have any questions, please contact Professor Ashwell.

Back-up plan for ERS225

In the event that the August to September ERS225 trip is unable to run due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the course will instead run as a series of weekend trips throughout September and October. We will inform all those enrolled in the trip ASAP if the trips changes from what is described above.