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Earth Science Field Trips

Like most Earth science programs, the department at Vassar recognizes the incomparable benefits of going into the field to see natural processes at work. We are fortunate to have interesting and varied resources in the Hudson Valley and other nearby areas, which make excellent sites for field trips. Our region was crushed in numerous mountain-building episodes, which left behind metamorphic rocks that cut directly through the area. More recently, glaciers moved through New York, hollowing out the Hudson Valley and leaving behind the sedimentary deposits that built Long Island. Picturesque areas like Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve provide evidence for hundreds of millions of years of geologic time that can be explored in an afternoon hike.

In addition to local resources, Earth science classes visit Niagara Falls, the Adirondack Mountains, limestone caves near Albany, the coal fields of western Pennsylvania, barrier islands off Long Island, and the wide range of gorges and waterfalls of western New York. With such a broad collection of landscapes available, students are frequently treated with living, vibrant examples of the topics they are studying. The intersection of all of these factors can also be fascinating: how a Quaternary glacier reshaped an Ordovician conglomerate or how the underlying bedrock determines watershed ecology. With so many interesting locales, the region offers a unique range of opportunities to study the Earth and its processes.