/ Geological and Environmental Science Department

Facilities and Field Locations

The GES department is based in the A. Paul Schaap Science Center, which houses laboratory space, workshops, specimens, equipment and classrooms — but that's just the start.

Our courses and research extend beyond the classroom.

Research sites 

The Lake Macatawa Watershed
The Day1 Watershed course and the GES 401: Advanced Environmental Seminar course both concentrate on studying environmental issues in and around Lake Macatawa, right here in Holland, Michigan.student holds a pole with a sampling bottle on the end over a stream by a snow-covered culvert
Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area
An interdunal wetland that hosts a variety of rare plants and animals is an ideal place to document interactions between geological and ecological processes. This site has been the focus of four different environmental science and geology projects, ranging from the effects of storms on dune landscapes to ecological responses to a rising water table.
Lake Michigan Shoreline Dunes
Hope College researchers make frequent use of sites along Lake Michigan to examine the history of dune migration and stabilization, fluid dynamics of sand movement on dunes, and the effectiveness of wind in transporting sand away from high dunes, among other projects.
Morfa Dyffryn, Wales
Staff at Environment Centre Wales have teamed up with faculty from Liverpool Hope University and Hope College to study marine coastal wetlands in a large dune complex. Students can compare this site to the fresh water wetlands along Lake Michigan to better understand the processes that affect dune organisms and landscapes at each place.3 students giving their best Peaky Blinders looks while sitting on an outcrop
Ainsdale, England
Hope College and Liverpool Hope University are running a joint research project, monitoring changes in a sand dune blowout in coastal dunes along the Irish Sea.view of a deep sand depression with a prone student leaning out over the rim to hold a surveying rod while another student holds her legs
 The Hope College Campus
A set of monitoring wells on Hope's campus provides opportunities to find surprises in our own back yard, ranging from variations in the chemical composition of groundwater to the discovery of populations of groundwater dwelling insects.students guiding a 20 foot PVC pipe water well into a hole on a campus lawn

Field trip sites

Regional Geology Locations

Grand Canyon
The Regional Geology of Arizona course explores the geology of the Grand Canyon and other portions of Arizona, as well as visiting the Biosphere 2 research facility.students with arms raised looking across the rim of the Grand Canyon
Death Valley

The Regional Geology of Death Valley explores spectacularly-exposed geology in the Basin and Range desert of southern California.

Students hiking along a ridge line down into Death Valley

Northern California

The Regional Geology of Northern California examines a host of geological features from Pacific coastlines to the mountains of Yosemite National Park.

Students on a California beach by a rocky seaside cliff

Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas
Island Life: Biology, Geology, and Sustainability on Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas, is a regional geology course that focuses on the biological and geological processes on a limestone island and how these interact to create the resource base for the island. The course also explores how residents can live sustainably with the resources available to them.A crab on rock in the foreground watches as students in the background walk away down a white sand beach

Class field trip sites

Northern Michigan – GES 125: Michigan Field Geology/Michigan Rocks!

Students in the Michigan Rocks! Day1 program for incoming students enroll along with returning students in GES 125: Michigan Field Geology. The course features a 10-day field trip during August where students learn to describe and interpret the geology of northern Michigan.  Stops include Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Jasper Knob, Presque Isle Park, the Seaman Mineral Museum, the Cliffs Mine, Copper Harbor and Silver River Falls.

Michigan Fied Geology binder and field book on a student's lap with legs outstretched and hiking boots resting in beach sand

Alpena, Michigan – GES 351: Invertebrate Paleontology
Quarries and the Lake Huron shoreline near Alpena are prime collecting spots for Devonian fossils that lived in a variety of environments. Students collect corals, crinoids, brachiopods and other fossils for later study.student examines a rock pile with a quarry highwall in the background
Grand Ledge, Michigan – GES 453: Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Thestudent at base of towering sandstone cliff banks of the Grand River at Grand Ledge have exposed Mississippian sedimentary rocks that were deposited in varied environments. They are an excellent place to observe sedimentary structures and stratigraphic relationships.

Mammoth Cave area, Kentucky – GES 251: Surficial Geology
The limestone plateau in western Kentucky is a great place to study caves and karst formation, as well as observe other geomorphological processes that shape the Earth's surface.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan – GES  243: Mineralogy
Mines, museums and outcrops exposing a diversity of geological settings make Michigan's Upper Peninsula a rich destination for studying rocks and minerals. An extended fall weekend trip goes to the Keweenaw Peninsula and back.

students on mountain with forest below in fall colors


A. Paul Schaap Science Center

35 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423

Reflecting the College’s emphasis on outstanding undergraduate research, the Schaap Science Center is one of the nation's premier undergraduate science education facilities. It houses state-of-the-art research laboratories, hands-on classrooms and more. Learn more.

In addition to instrumentation available to the whole Natural and Applied Sciences division in the Schaap Science Center, the GES department has the following instruments, equipment and facilities.

Geographic Information Systems Computer Laboratory
Tcomputers in the Geographic Information Systems labhe geographic information system (GIS) lab is a computer lab with software that stores, manipulates, analyzes and displays any data that include a geographic location. Students and faculty use the GIS lab to create maps of study sites, assess changes in samples throughout an area of interest, model and measure landscape changes, and view and interpret remote sensing and air photo data.
X-ray Diffractometer
Rigaku MiniFlex x-ray diffractometerX-ray diffractometry (XRD) is a technique that uses the interaction of x-rays with the atoms in crystals to reveal the composition, spacing and structure of solid, crystalline materials. Students and faculty routinely use a Rigaku MiniFlex powder x-ray diffractometer to analyze clays and large organic compounds in geology and evironmental science research.
Liquid Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS)
Liquid chromatograph mass spectrometerThe liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer is an instrument that analyzes chemicals in liquids based on measurements of their mass. Students and faculty use the LC/MS for the quantitative detection and identification of potential pharmaceutical contaminants in groundwater.
Leica Total Station
Students surveying dinosaur quarry with Leica Total StationThe total station is a surveying instrument that uses an infrared laser beam to measure the distance and angle to a target.  It is useful for creating site maps and locating the elevation and position of sampling points.
Petrographic Microscopes
a binocular petrographic microscope on a lab tableA petrographic microscope passes plain or polarized light through thin slices of rock (thin sections) to identify rocks, minerals and fossils. The GES department uses petrographic microscopes in several geology courses and in research projects that study rocks from around the world.
ThermoForma Environmental Chamber
Environmental chamberThe environmental chamber allows plants to grow under controlled atmospheric conditions where temperature, carbon dioxide and other factors can be regulated.
Dionix Ion Chromatograph
dionix ion chromatograph on bench topThe ion chromatograph (IC) is an instrument used for detecting and quantifying charged particles in aqueous solutions. Students and faculty use the IC for analysis of groundwater samples in laboratory classes and research projects.
High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph
High performance liquid chromatograph on bench topHigh-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separates and identifies compounds in the liquid phase. Hope College students and faculty use HPLC in groundwater research, environmental science, chemistry and biology research projects.
Rock Cutting and Thin Section Equipment
The GES department has a varity of saws and polishers to prepare rock and fossil samples for analysis.
  • oil cooled rock saw
  • rock crushing equipment and dust handler in prep lab
  • Thin section making machine
  • water cooled rock saw in prep lab
Samples for Lab and Classroom Use
The GES Department houses collections of rocks, fossils, sediments and thin sections from different time periods and places around the world.
  • floor to ceiling bins holding rock samples for classroom use
  • Shelves of rocks for use in teaching
Camping Gear
The department maintains tents, cots, coolers, and other camping equipment to support weekend field trips in a variety of upper-level classes, Spring Break or May Term regional geology courses, and the August field component of the Michigan Rocks! Day1 course.