Inside the classroom

In classroom lectures, our Earth Sciences professors will help you understand the processes and materials of the geosphere—also known as planet Earth—and how these interact with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. You’ll investigate the deeper processes that cause earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountains, as well as the surface processes that affect weather, cause erosion, and transport materials from place to place.

Because a record of these processes can be found in rocks and minerals, you’ll spend time in weekly labs studying samples, building your microscopy and observational skills. These rock samples, specially prepared by Dal's Earth Sciences technicians, are ready for you to examine under the powerful microscopes in our labs. You’ll learn how to recognize different types of rock and even their places of origin. And you’ll gain a better understanding of the Earth by applying what you’re learning in lectures.

But the learning doesn’t stop there. Even in winter months, you’ll gear up and get out into the field. Our professors organize exciting day-trips that give you first-hand observation opportunities of geographic features. You might travel to diverse regions of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or other Atlantic provinces to explore coastlines, cliffs, and ridges:

  • Jaunt to Joggins and investigate features of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs.
  • Spend the day rock-climbing and beachcombing along the coast of the Bay of Fundy at Rainy Cove.
  • Go to Arisaig, near Antigonish, and map part of Nova Scotia's Northumberland coast.
  • Venture to Cape Breton to examine evidence of ancient riverbeds.
  • Travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and scavenge the rocks for trilobites.

And then there are the field schools. During your studies in earth sciences, you’ll take two field school courses. In the summer after your first year, you’ll take ERTH 2000 and spend 10 days with your classmates and professors, observing first-hand the special geological features of the landscape. Or, your field school courses might involve taking a number of day trips to different locations, comparing various geological features.

Outside the classroom

On top of Mount Etna
stromboli_clark_earth sciences (69x69)

Wherever you go, field trips and field schools are an unforgettable and invaluable part of your studies in Dal's Earth Sciences Department. One group of honours earth sciences students travelled with their professor to southern Italy to learn about volcanology, visiting volcanoes such as Stromboli, Vesuvius, and Mount Etna. Find out more about this Advanced Field School class trip.