Winter 2016

New Zealand is an amazing place to study Geology. Plate tectonic processes are active and happen in real time. New Zealand also has a rich Gondwanan heritage. This program will travel throughout the North and South Islands, and visit a range of settings from mountains and glaciers, to terraced coastal plains and adjacent shoreline and shallow marine environments. We will stay and work out of rustic field stations and hostels.

The academic program will largely be centered on directed learning modules and fieldwork; teamwork will be emphasized. Visits to cultural sites and interactions with New Zealand scientists will be important aspects of our studies.

Faculty Directors

Clint Cowan, Professor of Geology

Professor Cowan is a sedimentologist with interests in paleoclimate and paleooceanography. He has previously lead or co-lead Carleton programs to the Bahamas and Australia (from Tasmania to the Great Barrier Reef). His field work and research interests have taken him to places such as Belize, Maritime Canada, the Pyrenees and the tidal flats of the North Sea, both with students and with professional geologists. He is a PADI certified Divemaster, with global travel experience.

Cam Davidson, Professor of Geology

Dr. Davidson's main teaching responsibilities are Introduction to Geology, Mineralogy, Petrology, and Structural Geology. His current research focuses on the tectonometamorphic evolution of south-central and Southeast Alaska.


The 2016 Geology seminar will use various sites across both the North and South Islands. Accommodation will range from rustic field stations to urban youth hostels. In some places participants will cook as a group, and a few sites, the meals may be catered.


The cost of instruction, room, board, all program events, and group transportation will be covered by the 2015-16 comprehensive fee. All major scientific equipment and supplies are provided.  Students are responsible for the cost of (1) the round-trip transportation from the U.S. to New Zealand, (2) the cost from the North Island to the South Island at the mid-term break (3) any personal travel during the midterm break within New Zealand. Participants are also responsible for purchase of books, personal items, independent travel during the mid-term break, and some personal field gear and clothing.

For further information regarding work-study contracts, loans, and other subjects related to financial aid, see the Off-Campus Studies website.

Learning Goals

  • To learn field techniques, including observing, recording, mapping and measuring geological features and phenomena
  • To interpret and synthesize complex geological histories across a variety of temporal and spatial scales
  • To experience how other cultures view earth science issues broadly
  • To garner understanding and insight into a dynamic geological system (New Zealand) through sustained study and investigation