Teaching Petrology in the Field

Field experiences offer a unique way to apply classroom knowledge to real-world examples and have long been one of the foundations of geoscience education. These experiences are generally engaging and can also strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition to the general benefits to students of working in the field, Petrology provides special opportunities for students to learn to interpret the origin of rocks by linking observations at different scales with their geochemistry. Below, you will find links to references, case studies, and teaching activities presented by participants at several workshops that speak to a variety of ways they have taught geomorphology with and through field work.

Jump Down To: References | Field Guides and Databases

These resources came from the Teaching Geomorphology and Urban Students, Urban Issues workshops in 2008 and the Teaching Geoscience in the Field workshop in 2010.

Field-Petrology Teaching Activities

(Browse all petrology activities)


Petrology in the Field

Integrating Scientific Discovery in a Field-based Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology Course
David Gonzales, Fort Lewis College
Undergraduate Research: Case Studies

Melding Research on the Navajo Volcanic Field into Undergraduate Curriculum to Promote Scientific Literacy
David Gonzales, Fort Lewis College
Undergraduate Research: Case Studies

Evolution of the Precambrian Rocks of Yellowstone National Park and Surrounding Areas--an NSF/REU Project 
Dave Mogk and Darrell Henry, Montana State University, Bozeman
Undergraduate Research: Case Studies

An Inquiry-Based Approach to Learning Petrology Using Student-Generated Data: The Sonju Complex Project
Karl Wirth, Macalester College
Using Data to Teach Earth Processes 2003 






Boundy, T.M. and C. Condit (2004). Bringing the field into the classroom by using dynamic digital maps to engage undergraduate students in petrology research. Journal of Geoscience Education. v. 52, p. 313-319

Hoskin, W.O. (2000). Urban outcrops and the lunchtime petrology field trip. Journal of Geoscience Education. v. 48, p. 573 











Field guides and databases

The NAGT Field Trip Collection contains a number of petrology field trips and examples. The examples in this collection share information about the design of the trips and their important characteristics in addition to providing easy access to field guides.

  • Field Trip Safety: This page in the Cutting Edge Teaching in the Field module presents guidance and example policies and forms for addressing safety concerns when taking geoscience students into the field to learn. 
  • The Montana-Yellowstone Geologic Field Guide Database - The Montana-Yellowstone Geologic Field Guide Database is a pilot project for making the field guide literature more accessible and useful to geoscience educators, students, and researchers. While the database is not an exhaustive listing of every published field guide, nor does it provide direct links to the full text of each reference (except for a few unpublished field guides which are reproduced as pdf files), the database is a fully-searchable listing of 50 of the best references for exploring the geology of this fascinating region.
  • NAGT's Far West Section Published Conference Field Guides
  • Field Guides - Illustrated field guides for sites near Bozeman and Big Sky, MT.
  • Geologic Guidebooks of North America Database: This database from AGI and the Geoscience Information Society contains bibliographic references and location for published field guides.
  • The University of Texas at Austin has compiled a substantial e-library of field trip guides (more info) on their Walter Geology Library website.