DEAPS: Discover Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences


There are two options for participating in DEAPS: one is a trip to Yellowstone National Park, and the other is related to Extreme Weather and Climate. Both of these options are described below.

Yellowstone National Park

With half of the earth’s geothermal features, Yellowstone holds the planet’s most diverse collection of geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. The various geothermal features owe their origin to cataclysmic volcanic eruptions over the past 2 million years, which have left hot rock and magma beneath the area. The purpose of the trip is to teach students basic earth science, including the nature and causes of volcanic eruptions, the origin and diversity of microbial life in hot springs, and what we can tell about past climates from the fossil record. Weather permitting, we will also travel to the Tetons to explore their geology.

The trip will involve flying from Boston to Bozeman, Montana on August 18. Upon arrival, we will load our gear into rental vans, drive to Yellowstone, and set up the camp that will act as our home base while we explore the national park and surrounding region. We will leave Yellowstone, spend the last night in Bozeman, and then fly back to Boston on August 25.

The activity level will range from walking on boardwalks for a half hour to all-day hikes on trails with occasionally steep inclines. Most of the trip will take place at 5,000 to 9,000 feet. You do not need camping or hiking experience to have a great time on this trip, but you should be willing to hike and explore for most of the day in conditions that can be difficult.

To learn more about the geology of Yellowstone you can visit the US Geological Survey’s page on Yellowstone National Park. To see photos from last year’s trip, check out the EAPS flickr.

DEAPS Yellowstone Specifics

  • Dates: Saturday, August 18 returning Saturday, August 25. All students must arrive on Friday, August 17 and will depart to Montana as a group early in the morning of the 18. No exceptions will be made.
  • Place: Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park
  • Supplies: All students are asked to bring a daypack, tent, sleeping bag and pad, water bottles, rain gear, and hiking boots. Some gear will be available for those that do not have it and request it. 
  • Available Spaces: Limited to 20.
  • Cost: While the cost of the trip is much higher, we ask each participant to contribute $500
  • Website: http://twelve.mit.edu/deaps-yellowstone/

The program will include the following:

  • Exploring the volcanic history of the Yellowstone area
  • Participating in informal lectures from faculty, staff, and graduate students
  • Learning about the geological history of the Tetons
  • Studying the chemistry and biology of hot springs
  • Visiting a fossil forest that is approximately 50 million years old

Extreme Weather and Climate Program (Mt. Washington Observatory, New Hampshire) 

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences provides a unique environment to study the multi-faceted nature of the science of the Earth and other planets. The EAPS five-day exploration program in "Extreme Weather and Climate" will cover some of the most interesting and challenging aspect of weather and climate research. 

The first day of the program will be dedicated to extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and winter blizzards. What do we know about their nature and their frequency? Are they getting more extreme and more frequent? 

The second day will focus on current issues of climate research. What have we learned from the past climate, what do we know of the present and what can we say about the future? Lectures by experts in the field will be accompanied by rotating fluid laboratory experiments, intended to illustrate the behavior of fluids on the rotating earth. Students will have the opportunity to work in small groups and get their hands wet, discussing their results with faculty, graduate students and peers. 

The final two days of the program will be spent on a trip to the Mt Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. The 6288 ft mountain peak is known as the place where "extreme weather" is the norm. Here the students will be exposed to the challenges of observational meteorology together with a direct experience of the mountain environment and geology. To see photos from last year’s program, check out the EAPS flickr. 

DEAPS - Weather and Climate Specifics 

  • Dates: Wednesday, August 22 – Sunday, August 26 
  • Place: EAPS - Green Building (Bldg. 54) Wednesday, Thursday. First year students will be housed in their assigned dormitory. On Friday students, faculty and staff will travel to New Hampshire for a two-night stay. 
  • Available Spaces: 20 
  • Cost: No charge. The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences will cover all costs.
  • Website: http://twelve.mit.edu/deaps-extreme-weather/