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 field trip, with follow up labs in September and October. The teaching component will be complete by the end of October, and the course has no exams. However, there will be assignments due throughout the Fall semester.

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 ($316) by July 30th

You do not need any previous field trip experience. The trip will consist of a training day on the UTM campus (27th August), four days / three nights of fieldwork in the Gravenhurst to Parry Sound area (28th to 31st August) and one day trip to the Hamilton area (1st Sept). 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.

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 protection 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 evenings on the field trip. It is advisable to bring a sufficient supply of clothes for the duration of the field course, 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
  • 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.

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

Accommodation for the field course

For the 4 day / 3 night field trip (28th to 31st August) we will be staying at a hotel in Parry Sound. You will not need to bring bedding or towels as these will be provided on the trip. The hotel will provide breakfast (included in the cost), but you will be responsible for buying lunches and evening meals. We will be staying within walking distance of grocery stores and a variety of dining options in Parry Sound, but the hotel will have little to no cooking facilities (likely just a kettle).

Cost for trip

The cost for the trip, on top of tuition, is $316 which must be paid by 30th July, by e-Transfer to You can also pay by cash or certified cheque (written to University of Toronto) and given to Jess Slomka (; Office – DV1162a). This covers the accommodation (plus breakfast) and some transport for the entire trip. However, you will need to arrange you own food for lunches and dinner while on the trip (available from grocery stores or dining options close to hotel accommodation). If you cannot cover the cost of the field course by the date listed above, please email Paul Ashwell and Jess Slomka so we can arrange an alternate date of payment. Payment will need to be made prior to the field course however.

Experiential Learning Bursary

As a field course, enrollment and attendance to ERS225 may mean you are eligible to receive an experiential learning bursary to help offset the cost of the course ($316) as well as potentially some of the required items listed above. You can find out more information, as well as apply for the EL bursary here: We encourage all students in the course to apply for a bursary.

Forms required

You will need to fill out the following forms:

This form should be filled out and returned via email to Paul Ashwell ( and Jess Slomka ( as soon as possible (deadline is July 30th). Please send completed forms to both of the above email addresses to ensure that your registration is logged. Please also make sure that you clearly label your forms as “ERS225” so they do not get mixed up with the other field courses we run.

All ERS225 students must complete the participant Health, Accessibility, and Consent form no later than Friday August 25 (11:59pm). If you encounter an error when completing the form, please contact the ERS Lab and Field Coordinator (