Activity Hazards


  • Expect daily hikes in the field areas that cover several miles and up to 1000 ft (300 m) of relief. 
  • Hikes typically cross rough, steep, and/or unstable terrain. Good judgment and extreme care for yourself and those around you are critical. Many people have been injured (some seriously) or even killed (fortunately, not our students) wandering through the areas we work in. A former student carelessly stepped backwards on one such steep slope and literally blew apart his knee and had to be removed from the field with a helicopter. 
  • Unsafe cliffs, overhangs, and steep slopes are common in field areas. Stay away from these hazards and be aware of the people above and below you. A former student broke both legs in an accident when another student unintentionally kicked loose a boulder. She also required an airlift.
  • Many students have limited experience working in the outdoors and with the tools of a field geologist. Misuse of field gear (e.g., hammers, chisels, GPS units, etc.) may create unexpected hazards. When used improperly, personal gear may provide less than optimal protection from the elements (e.g., improperly laced boots, hats in backpacks instead of on head, etc.).
  • The most common injuries at field camps do not occur in the field where geologists are all generally fully aware. On the contrary, most serious injuries occur when students are relaxing: playing ultimate Frisbee, soccer, mountain biking or even walking home from “an evening out”.
  • Reckless behavior in the field (running and jumping over gullies, wandering away from the group, etc.) or at camp (roughhousing) that compromises the safety of yourself or the others on the trip will not be tolerated and could result in dismissal from camp.


Associated Safety Hazards

  • Trip and fall hazards are extremely common, especially along ledges and steep slopes. Loose rocks and overhanging rocks exist on hillsides and trails. Remember that an injury to your knees, back, etc. could seriously limit or end your career as a field geologist, certainly for the summer.
  • Inadequate footwear commonly results in a range of avoidable injuries, including puncture wounds (from thorny brush, cactus spines, and sharp rocks), severe ankle injuries, and slips and falls.
  • Improper use of hammers and/or chisels can result in serious injury to yourself or those around you. Common injuries include crushing wounds and metal shards and/or rock chips in eyes.
  • Reckless behavior creates a wide range of completely avoidable hazards.


Mitigation of Hazards

  • While each person is primarily responsible for his or her own safe conduct, they must also contribute to the welfare of the entire group. In each field area, the leaders will brief participants on expected and potential hazardous situations and conditions.
  • If you are not comfortable participating in any of the particular activities for any reason, you are encouraged to notify an instructor. There are no negative implications for this decision.
  • Sturdy, close-toed boots are required in the field at all times. Boots with Vibram-type soles, good tread and sturdy leather (or similar) uppers provide excellent protection against injury. Participants without adequate hiking footwear will not be allowed to enter field sites and will be barred from participating in some activities. For example, Newmont Mining Corp requires boots, long pants and shirts with sleaves at all times. Please contact an instructor, ideally before camp begins, if you have any questions regarding the field boot policy.
  • Long pants are recommended in the field although several staff members regularly wear shorts nearly every day.
  • When breaking rocks, move away from others and turn your back towards them. Always warn those around you when you plan to use your hammer! Never use another hammer as a chisel. Always protect your eyes with some form of safety glasses (e.g., shatter resistant sunglasses). Once again – an injury to your eyes (and those of your classmates) could seriously limit a career in geology.
  • Please be careful when not in the field. When relaxing, remember that you’ve been working hard and are probably more tired than you realize. You have spent a lot of time and money to get to this stage of your geological education - don't screw it up with a careless injury that prevents you from completing the course. 
  • Reckless behavior is unacceptable.  If your behavior becomes a significant problem, you may be dismissed from Field Camp and will be responsible for your own trip home.


Last revised November 2017