Frequently Asked Questions

The following information is relevant to your participation in field camp this summer.

How physically demanding is this going to be? – Geologic field work frequently involves strenuous activity. These activities may occur at elevations higher than customary and in weather conditions that are less than ideal. While you do not need to be a marathon runner, you must be able to hike off trail. We recommend that in the time remaining you increase your level of physical activity in preparation for field camp. Vigorous walking, hiking, jogging or biking will pay dividends. Learn to drink fluids regularly while exercising. This will be crucial during field camp.

What will the weather be like? – We will be in northern New Mexico operating at elevations above 6,500 feet. Anything you might imagine (and then some) is possible for weather conditions. We have been snowed on for Memorial Day (daily max. temp. < 40 degrees F) and a few days later experienced 100 degrees F. We have had years when it rained virtually every day (bring rain gear!) and others when the countryside was so dry that forest fires were a threat (bring sunscreen). The bottom line is prepare for the worst – extremes of heat/cold and wet/dry.

What dangers might I face?  

How much stuff should I bring? – The list provided is intended to guide you in the acquisition of equipment for the field camp. Notice that the list is subdivided into equipment that is essential (required), desirable (recommended), and optional.  Do not bring ice chests, bicycles, desktop or tower computers (laptops and PDAs are allowed), and the like. Luggage space during field camp is limited. Normally you will be limited to two luggage bags and your backpack during travel.

What sort of camping will we be doing? – Most of the time we will be staying in dorms. We will camp in various locations for seven nights. This will be car camping or while rafting.  You should have a sleeping bag that is comfortable down to the mid 40’s (F), a sleeping pad/mattress, and access to a tent.  Shared tents are fine.

How should I arrange my flight into Albuquerque and departure from Albuquerque? – If you are planning to fly to Albuquerque the following information will be useful in planning your flights. I will plan to send a department van to the Albuquerque airport to pick up students arriving there. That van will depart Albuquerque for Socorro in the late afternoon or early evening of Friday, May 19th, 2017. I can set the time more firmly as I have information on arrival times for all students. In making your travel plans assume that the van will leave Albuquerque for Socorro no later than 8:00 pm on Friday, May 19th, 2017. At the completion of the course, we can drop you off at the Albuquerque airport by 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 2nd. Return flights from Albuquerque may be arranged for the afternoon or evening of Sunday, July 2nd. If you return to Socorro, you will need to make arrangements to return to Albuquerque or other points.

What kind of field notebooks do we need? Regular school notebooks or Rite in the Rain notebooks from Forestry supplies? Spiral, bound, ring binder? – Notebooks should be bound (not ring binders or spiral binders. I don’t care much for rite in the rain field books (and they are expensive), but prefer bound transit books like the Sokkia Field Books at

Do we need a ruler with English units or an engineering scale where the inches are divided into even numbers of units? – Not engineering scale. Again, I prefer metric and English in 10ths of inches.

Do we need HCl and a container or just the container?  And, if both, where can I get the HCl? I know I can order the container online? – You need the container. I don’t like to travel with acid in a plastic bottle and I suspect you won’t either and who knows what the TSA will say. We’ll have acid on that first Saturday.

Should I bring my laptop? – Yes.  Internet will be accessible from many of the locations where we will be staying, allowing you to access the WWW and email.  There will be a color inkjet printer available to those who would like to print written reports.  The printer will accommodate nothing wider than 8½” media.   There will be a small charge to cover paper and toner costs.

What about my cell phone? – By all means, bring your cell phone.  It will be useful at many locations during the course.  Your cell phone will have limited use in the field.  We will be in several locations where signal strengths are too weak to use the cell phone and we do have some expectations about cell phone use in the field.  While you are encouraged to carry your phone, we will expect that your use of the device will be limited to emergency and priority  communications.  You should not expect to be exchanging routine calls or text messages with friends and family back home throughout the day, and the cell phone is not to be used to communicate with your field partner.  

If you have any questions, regarding any aspects of the field camp, equipment, etc., do not hesitate to give me a call (575-835-5864), or email