Dartmouth College Department of Earth Sciences


College Home | People | Earth Sciences Calendar | Search the Dartmouth Web | Contact Us

Earth Sciences Off Campus Program - EARS 045, 046, & 047

The Earth Sciences Department has offered an Off-Campus field program, also known as the "Stretch", since the mid 1960’s. The Stretch is thus among the most storied and longest-lived Off-Campus programs at Dartmouth. The Stretch is a world-class opportunity for Dartmouth undergraduates to gain experience in traditional and emerging field techniques in the Earth Sciences, to learn about the spectacular geology of western North America, and to travel, work, and live closely with fellow students and Dartmouth faculty. The program typically includes six serial segments which, in recent years, has begun with an introduction to glaciology in the Canadian Rockies, subsequent geotours of many of the National Parks of the Western US, several 3-to-4-day geological mapping exercises in Wyoming, Nevada and California, projects examining the environmental geochemistry of streams and soils, geophysical studies of Death Valley, and a culminating and (literally!) breathtaking hike into and out of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, students are exposed to a wide range of ongoing research projects conducted by Earth Sciences faculty, graduate students, and senior thesis students. 

Program Aims:
  • To expose students to a broad overview of the geology of Western North America. When coupled with geologic experiences in New England, the Stretch provides students with an understanding of the important geologic processes that have shaped North America, and indeed the world in which we live.
  • To involve students in the scientific method in a field based setting.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to engage with their peers in challenging, collaborative science.
  • To introduce students to the many lifestyles and cultures of the Western US and Canada.
Learning Objectives:
  • To develop a working knowledge of geologic time and an appreciation of geologic processes and spatial scales.
  • To be able to generate, read and understand a geologic map and a topographic map.
  • To understand how to collect and interpret geological, geochemical, and geophysical data.
  • To develop an awareness and understanding of geologic resources and hazards.
  • To know how to employ the scientific method to answer field based questions.

Some Details:
The program is open to all Dartmouth undergraduates who have taken at least one of the prerequisite, introductory courses (Earth Sciences 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, or 9), as well as Earth Sciences 40 (Materials and Structure of the Earth), which is offered in the summer term. Students usually enroll in the Stretch during the fall term of their junior year. The Stretch is divided into a series of segments, each taught or co-taught by one or more Earth Sciences faculty, and each about 10-days to two weeks in duration. Segments are designed to expand a student's ability to map and interpret geologic structures and landscape features, to investigate physical and chemical processes in rivers and lakes, to observe volcanic rocks and volcanism, to undertake chemical analysis of environmentally fragile ecosystems, to investigate glacial processes, and to use field geophysical techniques to address structural and tectonic problems. Stretch segments currently typically take place in Alberta, Montana (Gallatin National Forest & Yellowstone National Park), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona. This program is thus a 'movable geologic feast' through the American West, and represents a marked departure from textbook and classroom instruction. Overall, the Stretch is exciting adventure in learning about the Earth. Fair warning—some field exercises take place in rugged terrain at high altitude and can thus be physically demanding and a source of exhilaration and persistent wellbeing. Common sense regarding participation in any one exercise is expected for all. For many students, the Stretch experience provides the intellectual stimulus and faculty connections that ultimately lead to honors research and a senior thesis.

For more information or to apply for the Stretch Off-campus Program please contact Edward Meyer. Note: Students will also need to apply online with the Off Campus Programs Office . In the mean time, check out photos of the Stretch through links below.

Please note that the program is only open to Dartmouth College students.

Other Stretch Information
Why you should go! - Student Stretch Presentation - 2010
Photos From Past Stretch Years
Stretch Photo Boards - 1960's to 2004


Dartmouth Earth Sciences | Site Map | Contact Us (1-603-646-2373) | ©2011 Dartmouth College - Last Updated