Carlin Canyon Geology Field School

Explore one of North America's best-kept secrets.

Carlin Canyon is one of the best-kept secrets in North American geology. This field school takes students to northern Nevada in the Basin and Range Province. Located west of Elko, a small mining town, the terrain of this arid climate zone provides an invaluable hands-on experience and the opportunity to acquire a wide breadth of knowledge in geological mapping. Students will be working along exposed bedrock outcrops to map different clastic and carbonate rock units, the history of which is complex and spans several tectonic phases.

In order to access the mapping area in Nevada, students will be driven from Calgary through regions of geological interest in Montana and Idaho. We will stop at several geological points of interest, culminating with the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in central Idaho – a unique site on an ‘ocean’ of ancient lava flows.


Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline


First come, first considered until
Programs fill quickly - apply today!


This program is limited to Geology majors with previous field school experience. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

November 7, 4 – 5pm, ES 524
November 20, noon – 1pm, ES 524

Student Experience

Students in Carlin

Have questions?

For program information, please contact professor Charles Henderson at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in one course:

    GLGY 435: Field Methods (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    Geology 323, 337 and 381; one of Geology 311 or 333; one of Geology 341 or 343; admission to the Geology or Applied and Environmental Geology programs and consent of the department.

  1. Predeparture

    May 3, 2020, University of Calgary: Mandatory safety briefing and pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs.

  2. In-field

    May 2, Depart Calgary for Idaho Falls: Leave Calgary at 7:30am

    May 3, Idaho Falls to Carlin, NV: Complete drive to location of field work; four-hour exercise introducing geology and field safety discussion; check-in at hotel in Elko, NV.

    May 4 – May 9, Carlin Canyon: Hiking and mapping exercises.

    May 10, Elko, NV: Complete map and cross-sections

    May 11, Idaho Falls: Drive to Idaho Falls with stop at Craters of the Moon park.

    May 12, Calgary: Drive back to the University of Calgary

  3. Post-field

    May 13, University of Calgary: Hand in maps and exercises by noon; begin Exit Surveys in afternoon

    May 14, University of Calgary: Complete Exit Surveys; course ends

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Carlin Canyon Geology Field School  Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $2,358.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:


    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    IDEAS Fund: All undergraduate students who are in good standing and enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty of Science are eligible to apply for financial support from the IDEAS Fund. find out more here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

All accommodations will be safe, clean and appropriate for student groups.

Students will stay at the Shilo Inn - Suites Hotel, where they will share rooms with upto 3 other program participants.

Please note that the accommodations also include daily breakfast and study space for program participants to work in. 

All accommodations will be arranged for students, we will have more details available prior to departure.

This program is open to Geology Majors. Participants must have completed a previous field school (either domestic or international) in order to be eligible.

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: What do I need to know about travelling to our field site?

You will be driven from Calgary to your field site. A valid passport is required in order to cross the border to the U.S. and return to Canada. Please ensure that your passport is valid at least three months beyond your intended return to Canada. If you are traveling on a Canadian passport, you do not require a visa. If you are not traveling on a Canadian passport, you may need to apply for a tourist visa. It is your responsibility to know what you need. You are welcome to contact for visa support.

Q: How physically demanding will this trip be?

A: Students will be required to hike in and out of the field site, which will include crossing uneven terrain and moderate hills. A typical field day may last 7-8 hours and cover up to 9 km. Students with a history of respiratory illnesses may find their breathing affected by the high elevation. Additionally, Nevada's arid climate means that the temperature range from day to night is more extreme than in Calgary, and sudden storms may occur. You are welcome and encouraged to contact the instructor at any point before or after applying for this program if you wish to discuss concerns regarding your physical limits. Significant portions of the program take place in an outdoor setting. Please contact the program instructor or your Study Abroad Advisor for specific questions regarding the physicality of the program.

Q: What about equipment and safety?

A: The instructor will demonstrate proper techniques for any tools used (e.g. rock and masonry hammers). Protective eyewear will be required whenever there is risk of rock chips or dust; you may bring your own or use the eyewear provided. Note that field school participants are never asked nor allowed to work alone. Students will be required to stay in sight of their partners, which will not be difficult as most areas covered in this program are on open ground. A full safety orientation will occur on campus prior to your departure from Calgary to go over other safety details, clothing requirements, etc.

Q: What kind of food will be available?

A: Students will be largely responsible for their own meals. The hotel in Elko is located close to a grocery and small restaurants. Some hotel rooms may include a kitchenette. Please contact the instructor if you have strict dietary restrictions and are concerned about your ability to procure suitable food during the trip.

Q: Will there be much opportunity for leisure time?

A: Like all field schools at the University of Calgary, your time away from the field site is expected to be largely oriented around completing work assignments. This is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged, and facilities will be provided at the hotel for the group to work together on mapping. The hotel is located away from the city centre, but participants keen on exploring Elko may find opportunity to do so. It will not be permitted for you to stay in Nevada after the program; you must return to Calgary with the group in order to finish this course.

You won't find more fascinating geology packed in a 4-by-5 kilometer area anywhere!

Prof. Charles Henderson

Carlin Program Instructor

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.