Bedrock Geology of Northern Vermont

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Stephen Wright
July 10 – 11, 2021 | $265
Please Contact Us to request scholarship assistance

Adaptations and Expectations for our 2021 BioU Programs:

We are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic response carefully, and adjusting our policies and protocols accordingly. The following considerations are subject to change:

  • We will no longer be serving food or drinks this season. We ask that you please bring your own food.
  • Courses have been designed to take place largely in the field or in our event tent, but there may be 60-90 minutes of lecture per day in our large indoor classroom.
  • Course size has been reduced to 12 participants or fewer.
  • If you will be traveling from out of state, please contact us at least 30 days before the start of the course to evaluate the safety of your participation. NBNC may decline your participation according to state guidelines.

In order to keep you, our staff, and our community safe, NBNC is adhering to strict safety protocols based on CDC and VT Department of Health guidelines. We’re in this together, so here’s what you can expect from us, and what we ask of you as a participant of an in-person NBNC program:

What you can expect of us:

  • Breathing Room: We’ve capped all our BioU programs at 12 participants or fewer, and designed them to take place outdoors, with the exceptions of bathroom access, thunderstorm contingencies, and (in some cases) short-term use of the community room.
  • Cleanliness: All potential shared surfaces will have been sanitized before and after each program. No two programs will share the same indoor space (including bathrooms) on any given day. We’ll start each program with a briefing to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding behavior, expectations, masks, distancing, etc.
  • Professionalism: We have completed state-mandated safety trainings, established a staff/board safety committee and a COVID-19 Task Force, and are adhering to strict workplace guidelines to make sure we are taking appropriate measures to make NBNC a safe place to work, learn, and play.
  • Honesty: Our instructors will be following state safety guidelines, and complete health screenings prior to each program to ensure a healthy staff and a safe space for each program.
  • Respect: Our staff and instructors will wear a mask at all times (inside and outside), and maintain at least 6’ distance from all other people throughout all programs. 
  • Transparency: We want to make sure you are comfortable. If you’ve got questions or concerns about our programs and policies, please reach out to us at [email protected].

What we ask of you:

  • Honesty: Do not come to the program if you are feeling ill in any way. You’ll be asked to sign a waiver and health screening document upon arrival acknowledging that you are symptom-free and haven’t been at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus recently. If you develop COVID-like symptoms within 14 days after the program, notify NBNC immediately.
  • Respect: Wear a mask at all times (inside and outside), during NBNC programs. Maintain at least 6’ distance from all other people, including staff, during the program. Follow all safety guidelines explained by our staff.
  • Cleanliness: Sanitize bathrooms and other common surfaces before and after use, according to our guidelines posted in each space. Bring and use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Flexibility: Please understand that programs may be cancelled on very short notice, and that our protocols are continually adapting to best available science and expert recommendations. Refunds will be provided in the event of program cancellation.

Thank you for your support in keeping our community safe!


his course is designed to introduce participants to the geologic materials and processes necessary to understand the framework of northern Vermont’s geologic history. Multiple field trips will take students to areas where key aspects of the area’s geology can be observed. These field trips will introduce students to many of the different rocks underlying the area and the sediments overlying the rocks that were largely deposited there by a large continent-scale ice sheet. Great emphasis will be placed on making observations and learning how to interpret different geologic processes from those observations. Using several fundamental geological concepts, students will be able to piece together some key aspects of the area’s geologic history.

Course Objectives and Goals

  • Introduce students to fundamental Earth materials occurring in northern Vermont; the common minerals, sediments, and rocks that make up Earth.
  • Introduce students to a variety of geological processes, e.g:
    • The erosion and deposition of sediments by moving water
    • The formation of different types of rocks
    • The deformation of rocks when mountains form
  • Geologic Time and Rates
    • How do we know when things occurred in the geologic past?
    • How do we know how fast things occurred in the geologic past?
  • Geologic history of northern Vermont
    • Understanding the fundamental events that formed the rocks and mountains in the region

About the Instructor(s)

Stephen Wright is a Senior Lecturer with the University of Vermont’s Department of Geology. While his early work focused on deciphering the deformational history of rocks in the Adirondack Mountains, Colorado Rockies, and northern Sweden, his current research utilizes extensive field work to further our understanding of the glacial history of northern Vermont. This work includes understanding the dynamics of ice flow and water flow within the big ice sheet that once covered Vermont and the histories of the many glacial lakes dammed by that ice sheet. Wright uses his background in both bedrock geology and glacial geology to unravel the geological underpinnings of Vermont’s many landscapes. Wright teaches field-based classes ranging from the introductory-level for non-majors to those restricted to graduate students.

Lodging Options

Biodiversity University is no longer offering lodging for participants. However, there are several nearby options at a similar price point. We recommend the following options:


Meals are not provided in our 2021 season due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Required/Recommended Readings

The Nature of Vermont - Charles Johnson
Please read Chapters 1 and 2. (Copies available for lending at NBNC)

The Geology of Vermont - Doolan

Please read this article in its entirety. **

Bedrock Geology of the Montpelier Area - Walsh
Please read the introduction. **

Guidebook for Field Trips in the NE Kingdom of  VT - Westerman Coish
Please read the introduction. **

**Don't be frightened away by the advanced content level. Just see if you can familiarize yourself with some of the big-picture concepts.

Other suggested references related to our field sites

Mehrtens - Stratigraphy of the Cambrian Platform of NW Vermont

McHone - Mesozoic Dikes and Tectonic Features

Lecture Materials

Vermont's Geologic History PDF - Wright

Required Materials

Other than standard gear needed for spending most of the day outside, please bring a hand lens for examining rock samples up close.


Course begins 9 AM on Saturday at North Branch Nature Center. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on Sunday.

Academic Credit / Professional Development options:

This course qualifies for 1 graduate-level science credit for an additional $150 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. It is each student’s responsibility to ensure that their home institution will transfer the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, and/or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are included in the course fee, and are available upon request.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund. If the course needs to be cancelled within 30 days of the program, NBNC will provide a full refund. If you need to cancel due to concerns related to COVID-19, a full refund will be provided up to 48 hours before the course.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7