• Using ground penetrating radar for geological survey.
  • Exploring Death Valley, California.
  • Measuring mineral alignment in the Adirondack lowlands.
  • Hiking the Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii.

Facilities & Collections

Use the tools of the trade!

In keeping with the Hartwick theme of "Liberal Arts in Practice," the Geology and Environmental Sciences Department teaches both traditional and cutting-edge techniques for scientific data collection. By the time they graduate, most majors will have logged time on many of the field-mapping and analytical tools currently used by professional geologists!

Tools in the field

Since 2001, the department operates a small weather station on the Pine Lake Campus. This automated digital system records wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, precipitation, solar flux, temperature, and barometric pressure at hourly intervals. Data from the weather station have been incorporated into several senior thesis projects and the GEOL 202 Meteorology course.

Students can now investigate the shallow subsurface of Earth with the department's mobile cart-based ground penetrating radar device. The Noggin GPR has been used by Delta Delta G members to identify unmarked cemetery graves for several local municipalities, like Middleburg, NY (below).

Although students still spend some time mapping with traditional plane tables and alidades, the Field Geology class has been transported into the 21st century with the recent gift of a modern digital surveying station, nicknamed the Valder 5000 (below). Thanks Josh!


Not all scientific endeavors are field oriented. The department maintains a complete rock preparation lab, complete with rock slab and trim saws, a table lap polisher, a Chipmunk rock crusher (below), and a Spex shatter box used to powder samples for analysis.

The Emiel Freedman Geochemistry Lab provides students with research-grade chemical analytical tools. Students use the Rigaku X-Ray Florescence Spectrometer (below, right) for rock elemental analysis. Samples for XRF analysis can be prepared either by the Claisse Fusion Furnace (below, left) or by powder press. The Freedman Lab also provides precise mineral identification with a Rigaku Mini-Flex X-Ray Diffractomenter.


The department maintains map, mineral, rock, sediment, and fossil collections for use in many of its courses. Those who visit Johnstone Science Center commonly notice the mineral displays and huge slabs of dinosaur footprints in the hallway. The four large footprint slabs were collected by early dinosaur paleontologist Edward Hitchcock in the early 1800s. Taken from Triassic (roughly 210 million years old) rocks of the Connecticut River Valley, these slabs are premier examples of dinosaur fossils preserved on the East Coast. When these samples were collected, they were believed to be the tracks of ancient birds. Now, we recognize the close evolutionary relationship of dinosaurs with birds.