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 Halliburton, 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 course from the 22nd to 28th August (dates are TBC, but are unlikely to change by more than +/- 1 or 2 days). The first 2 days of the course will be held on the UTM campus, training you in methods of rock and mineral description and identification, and on field methods. The third day will be in the Hamilton area, looking at the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment. From the 25th to the 28th August, we will be studying the geology of the Grenville Province, and staying at a hotel in Parry Sound. The course will have several follow up labs in the Fall term, where you will be taught to interpret the data that you collect in the field. The course has no exams.

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 ($400) by Friday, July 19th. This covers all transport to and from UTM, as well the cost of the hotel and geological gear (please see below for gear that you will be required to have).

You do not need any previous field trip experience. The preliminary dates for the trip may change, 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, and updated here.

The main part of the field trip will involve a 3 night stay in a hotel in Parry Sound (included in the course costs). You will be sharing a hotel room with other students, and the hotel will include a breakfast with the course costs. You will need to organize your own food in the evenings however; the hotel is located very close to several restaurants and supermarkets in Parry Sound.

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 may 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. In late August, the bugs are much more tolerable than earlier in the Summer.
  • 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. The hotel does have laundry facilities, but these are likely to cost money to use (e.g. coin operated laundry).
  • Toiletries (towel will be provided by the hotel). 
  • 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.

Cost for trip

The cost for the trip, on top of tuition, is $400 which must be paid upon registration to the course, by e-transfer to Paul Ashwell ( by July 19th. This covers the accommodation (which includes breakfast) and transport for the entire trip. However, you will need to arrange your own food (lunch and evening meal) for the trip. We will stop at supermarkets throughout the trip for you to purchase the food you will need, and there are plenty of eat out options close to the hotel we will be staying at. You will also need to pay for tuition and associated ancillary fees in advance of the course leaving.

The deadline for payment and completion of registration form is July 19th.

Requirements for enrollment in course

  1. Enroll on Acorn as you would for all courses. You will be automatically added to an interim list, from which we will select students for the field course based on their completion of #2 and 3 below, their program (Specialists will be given priority over Majors, and Majors over Minors). If there are not enough spaces on the trip for everyone, a full refund made of field trip fees will be made.
  2. Pay fees ($400) via e-transfer to by July 19th.
  3. Complete this form by July 19th. This will cover next of kin information, as well as any relevant medical information that you feel comfortable sharing. Please read and answer all questions carefully.