Field Trips

Field trips provide extended professional experiences and opportunities for networking with colleagues or potential graduate students or graduate programs. Field trips are typically one to three days long and may feature one or more themes.

Field Trip Registration is now closed.
Please contact the Field Trip leaders to inquire about space availability.


1. Emerald Crystal Pockets of the Hiddenite District, Alexander County, North Carolina, USA
9 April: one day
Ed Speer
Join us for a unique opportunity to visit the only operating emerald mine in the United States and North Carolina's premiere gem locality: the world-famous Hiddenite District. The type locality for hiddenite (discovered 1879), this district has also produced North America's 20 largest emeralds—we'll be visiting the site of 15 of those emeralds, including the largest: a 1,869-carat crystal found in 2003. A new five-acre, 50-ft-deep pit on the North American Emerald Mines property offers exposures never before seen in the district. Emeralds occur in open pockets in late- to post-metamorphic Alpine-type quartz veins. Pockets range from <1 to >200 ft3 and are often two-thirds filled with breakdown crystal breccia. Migmatitic(?) biotite gneiss host rocks are derived from Cambrian(?) meta-siltstones that have undergone multiple continental-collision deformations. Geology, mineralogy, tectonics, and mining history will be covered. No emeralds will be on display. Collecting in the pit is allowed. Participants must provide their own hardhat and sturdy boots.
Cost: US$99; transportation, continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments included. Max.: 40.
2. Inner Piedmont Geo-Traverse from the Brushy Mountains to Lincolnton, North Carolina: Architecture of the Cat Square and Tugaloo Terranes
7-9 April: two days, two nights
Robert D. Hatcher, Jr., University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Arthur J. Merschat; William G. Gilliam; Heather E. Byars
The objective of the trip is to examine the key elements—boundaries, plutonism, metamorphism, and deformation—of the Cat Square terrane in a NW-to-SE traverse across the North Carolina Inner Piedmont. We will compare the lithostratigraphy of the Tugaloo and Cat Square terranes, examine rocks of the Brindle Creek fault zone and evidence of the close temporal relationship of Devonian plutonism and metamorphism in the Inner Piedmont, and discuss the significance of the Newton window in the eastern Inner Piedmont. Day 1 will begin near Lenoir in the western Inner Piedmont to examine Tugaloo terrane rocks, followed by a traverse of the Brindle Creek fault zone into the Cat Square terrane. We will then move southeast into the Cat Square terrane to examine several internal components. Day 2 will focus on Cat Square and Tugaloo terrane rocks, and the Brindle Creek fault framing the Newton window. Exposures will include the Brindle Creek fault, the Vale charnockite xenolith in Walker Top Granite, an Tugaloo terrane rocks inside the Newton window.
Cost: US$185; transportation, two nights lodging, two lunches, and two breakfasts included. Max.: 35.
3. The Heart of Carolinia: Stratigraphic and Tectonic Studies in the Carolina Terrane of Central North Carolina
7-9 April: two days, two nights
James Hibbard, North Carolina State University; Jeff Pollock; Matt Brennan; John Allen
Participants will visit the Carolina terrane in central North Carolina—the heart of Carolinia, an amalgamation of peri-Gondwanan terranes along the east flank of the southern Appalachians. The trip will address two timely concerns: the stratigraphy and the tectonics of the Carolina terrane. Day 1 stops will focus on recent stratigraphic and structural controversies within the Albemarle Group; it will include stops (1) at a new Ediacaran fauna locale, (2) along northerly segments of the Gold Hill fault zone, and (3) at igneous rocks related to the rifting of Carolinia from Gondwana. Day 2 stops will concentrate on central and southerly segments of the Gold Hill fault zone and the nature of rocks to the west of the fault zone.
Cost: US$197; transportation, two nights lodging (Mon. and Tues., 7-8 April), two continental breakfasts, two lunches, morning and afternoon snacks, and a wine tasting included. Max.: 20.
4. Floodplain Geomorphology and Depositional Environments of Congaree National Park
9 April; one day
David C. Shelley, Congaree National Park; Art Cohen; Bradley Johnson
Congaree National Park encompasses a spectacularly preserved mosaic of late Quaternary floodplain deposits that are home to the largest, last, and best-preserved example of old-growth bottomland forest in the southeastern United States. This field trip will focus on features and environments in the northern Congaree River Floodplain, with an emphasis on interrelationships between geology, hydrology, and forest ecology. The morning will involve a canoe tour of Cedar Creek, a major floodplain tributary and South Carolina's only stretch of Outstanding National Resource Waters. The afternoon will start as a hiking and hand auger tour of Holocene peat and muck deposits of a groundwater rimswamp, with detailed pollen, stratigraphic, and petrographic data available for discussion. Participants will then hike ~1.5 miles to examine a subtle but stratigraphically and ecologically distinct (Holocene?) alluvial fan. Participants should bring insect repellent, change of clothes, wear shoes that attach to your feet (i.e., no flip-flops), and be prepared for wet, muddy conditions while hiking in the rimswamp.
Cost: US$49; participants will be responsible for their own food (sack lunch) and water. Max.: 14.


5. Depositional Environments from the Newport River to Cape Lookout, North Carolina
12-13 April; one night, two days
6. Wine Country North Carolina: Vineyards, Soils, and Climate
12 April; one day


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