CSULB alumni, supporters save geology field course, giving students hands-on experience

The heavy rains turned the hiking trails in Elk Basin, Wyo., into long muddy rivulets and boots into dirt-caked waders.  

“We had a hard time cleaning our boots off. Everyone got muddy that day,” said Spencer Cooper ’22, a fourth-year student in the Department of Geological Sciences. 

But when the warm summer rains triggered a rapid snow melt in southern Montana, the group of Cal State Long Beach geology suddenly could not see a way back to their camp. The road had been washed out by the historic flooding. 

Yet, that didn’t deter the 20 hearty students who were mapping and documenting the region during the Summer Field Geology course. Residents stepped in to help the group maneuver around the river and get back to camp. 

The Summer Field capstone is a four-week research-intensive class where students and instructors travel across California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Montana studying the Earth’s geological secrets. And despite the elements, the group of students came away not only with the completion of the course that is critical for careers in geology, but a better understanding of how the Earth has transformed over millions of years.