Department of Geology


GEOL252 Field Studies and New Zealand Geology

Students intending to take GEOL252 in 2014 (Summer School or Semester 1) must fill out: Geol252 field orientation and safety 2014 by NOV 29 2013


Starting in 2014, GEOL 252 will be offered as both a summer school paper and a semester 1 paper. The content of the two field-based paper will be the same. The new format for GEOL 252 will enable:

  • additional numbers of students to advance to 200-level and
  • more international geology students to enrol in the paper to meet the requirements of their home institutions.

Some important documents (will be updated soon for 2014)

Key dates for GEOL252 Summer school

Date Event and location
Wed 15 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Fri 17 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Mon 20 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Wed 22 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Fri 24 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Mon 27 Jan 9-12 Practical, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Wed 29 jan (time:tba) Practical exam, (location tba)
Thu 30 Jan - Tue 4 Feb Maerewhenua field trip
Wed 5 Feb Maerewhenua write up, Stage 1 Lab (Gn6) and Stage 2 Lab (1n5)
Thu 6 Feb Maerewhenua report due prior to Borland Departure
Thu 6 Feb -Tue 11 Feb Borland Field trip
Thu 20 feb Borland report due

Key dates for GEOL252 Semester 1

Date Event and location
3pm Monday 17th February Preliminary meeting, Quad 1 in the Geology Department
Tuesday 18th - Sunday 23rd February Maerewhenua field trip
Saturday 12th April - Thursday 17th April Borland Field trip
First 6 weeks of semester 1 6 3-hour practicals (see details below)


You can contact us as follows with any queries about GEOL 252:

  • email:
  • telephone: [64] (3) 479-7519
  • mail: Geol252 Coordinator, Department of Geology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ 9054


  1. To learn the basics of field geology. The work here is the essential training that is taken further in GEOL344 in the third year. The basics include:
    1. How to plan and carry out fieldwork in a safe, environmentally friendly and efficient manner.
    2. How to make observations at rock outcrops and how to record those observations; most particularly, how to keep a good field notebook. This is the main focus of the Maerewhenua fieldclass.
    3. How to make reasonable interpretations of geological observations and how to test these (hypothesis testing). This will start on the Maerewhenua fieldclass and will be a major part of the Borland fieldclass.
    4. How to relate the geology on the ground to a geological map. This starts in Maerewhenua and is taken further through laboratory classes and the Borland fieldclass. You will learn how to make geological maps in the third year in GEOL344.
  2. To learn the fundamentals of using geological maps to understand geometry and stratigraphy. This is the primary focus of the laboratory classes and will be put into practice on the Borland Fieldclass.
  3. To learn how to write up geological field observations in the form of a report. Initial training will follow the Maerewhenua Fieldclass so that you can write a complete report following the Borland fieldclass.
  4. To use field examples to improve your knowledge and understanding of the basics of geology as taught in GEOL112.
  5. To learn something of the geology of the South Island, including the stratigraphy and the geometry (structure) of the Maerewhenua and Borland areas.


Fieldclasses (70% of marks)

Laboratory classes (30% of marks)

This comprises six 3-hour practicals in which you learn the fundamentals of geometry and stratigraphy and specific tools to aid interpretation of geometry and stratigraphy from geological maps. The classes will include synthetic problem maps to aid understanding and some real geological maps to appreciate the difficulties associated with real data and to further explore South Island geology. A practical test at the end of the lab course completes the assessment. Marks gained for completed practical classes are averaged with the test mark if this is to the student’s advantage.


Entry Requirements

Students intending to take GEOL252 in 2014 (Summer School or Semester 1) must fill out: Geol252 field orientation and safety 2014 by NOV 29 2013

Entry requirements for Otago Students

Pre-requisite: GEOL112; pre-requisite or co-requisite EAOS111. If your pass grades in GEOL112 are <60% (that is, C or C-), and you have comparable low grades in other 100-level papers, you will probably struggle with GEOL252. In that case, we will normally advise that you do not take the paper, and we may endorse your enrolment form to that effect. See notes below on "Restrictions in class size for GEOL252 "

Entry requirements for International or Transferring Students

You may not enrol in GEOL 252 until we have assessed your previous courses and approved enrolment. You must have some experience and understanding of these topics:

  • Main rock types – characteristics, recognition: sedimentary (e.g. sandstone, limestone), igneous (e.g. basalt, granite), metamorphic (e.g. schist); main rock-forming minerals; documenting simple observations on different rock types.
  • Topographic maps: basic reading skills including use and understanding of contours, map grids, grid references, and scales.
  • Strikes and dips, folds, faults.
  • Geological mapping and stratigraphy: basic interpretation of geological maps and cross sections, including understanding of how dipping strata intersect with changing topography; superposition and younging direction; conformable and unconformable contacts; formations.

For students from overseas (study-abroad, or exchange) or transferring: you must have passed approved classes/courses that cover appropriate introductory geology (see GEOL112 page for example), and we must be able to check details of those courses from your official transcript. Normally we also check your class/course content from the relevant university or college web page. If web details are not available, you may need to provide details in hard copy.

If you apply via the International Office to take Geol 252, you will be advised whether your past courses are appropriate.

If you make your own arrangements to attend Otago, we in Geology must approve your academic record/transcript to see that you have completed appropriate courses before accepting you in Geol 252.

Restrictions in class size for GEOL252

For health, safety and logistic reasons, we must restrict the total number of students who can take the GEOL 252 field schools to 65 per field school (130 students per year). We will accept enrolments according to these priorities.

  1. University of Otago students who are majoring in geology, with a GEOL112 grade of >C.
  2. University of Otago students who are minoring in geology and with a GEOL112 grade of >C;
  3. International students majoring in geology (or equivalent, or relevant major e.g. engineering, oceanography) and with GPA 3.0 or better.
  4. Other students who meet the prerequisites in order of their application being received.

Students will get full consideration for places if they have been accepted conditionally and have completed orientation and safety documents by the stated deadline (29 November 2013, for entry in 2014). If the number of students applying causes class numbers to exceed 65 (for either the summer school or semester 1 paper) the students will be ranked on the basis of their GPAs and the top students offered places.

Teaching Staff

The academic staff involved will change from year to year. David Prior co-ordinates this paper.


  • We recommend strongly that you buy the Geological Map of the South Island 1:1,000,000. This is sold by John Williams, Department of Geology.

  • We recommend strongly that you buy:
    Coe, A. (ed.); 2010. Geological Field Techniques.  Wiley-Blackwell

  • The following books are also useful:
    • Fry, N. The Field Description of Metamorphic Rocks. Wiley.
    • Jerram, D. & Petford, N. The Field Description of Igneous Rocks. Wiley.
    • Lisle, R., Brabham, P & Barnes, J. Basic Geological Mapping. Wiley.
    • McClay, K.  Mapping of Geological Structures, Wiley.
    • Tucker, M.E. Sedimentary Rocks in the Field: A Practical Guide. Wiley.

Note: This information is for 2014, and may have been updated since the Guide to Enrolment was printed.

Title Field Studies and New Zealand Geology
Code GEOL252
Subject Geology
Points 18 points
Teaching Period(s) Summer school, first semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZ$) 931.80
International Tuition Fees (NZ$) 3,984.75


Practical work in field observation, geological field mapping, field interpretation; basic geometry of structures; principles of lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy; New Zealand geology and geological map interpretation.

Prerequisite: GEOL 112 or GEOX 112

Prerequisite or corequisite: EAOS 111 or EAOX 111

Schedule C: Science

Note: Two field classes: Maerewhenua exercise (preliminary meeting in the Department of Geology, 3pm Monday 17 February; fieldwork, 9am 18-23 February); Borland exercise (12-17 April).


Location Dunedin
Practical Thu : 14:00-16:50
Location Dunedin
Other Teaching Times to be arranged
Practical Mon, Wed, Fri : 09:00-11:50