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Geology in Greece: Natural Environment and Civilizations

Geology in Greece: Natural Environment and Civilizations
The program visit sites of historical and geologic interest in the mainland of Greece and the Aegean Sea islands
Multiple Locations, Greece
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Program Type: 
Fulfills KU Core 4.2
Open to non-KU Students
Faculty Led
  • Visit sites of historical and geologic interest in the mainland of Greece and the Aegean Sea islands
  • Study how the natural environment influences civilizations, from Ancient Greece to present-day.
  • Make field observations of natural processes and how the earth works.
  • Gain experiential education abroad and exposure to varied world views.
Program Summary: 

The program examines the profound influence of the natural environment on the development of civilizations and the course of history. Students will make field observations of how the earth works, gain appreciation for the impact of the natural environment on society, and experience ancient and contemporary Greek cultures. Greece with its rich history and varied geology offers an ideal location for a field-based experiential study abroad experience. Geologic processes responsible for natural resources, water, landscapes, natural hazards and climate are presented in the context of their impact to the ancient and present-day Greek society. The class visits sites of geologic and historic interest in the mainland of Greece and the Aegean Sea islands. Examples from other eras and regions of the world are discussed along with present-day analogues.

Geology majors are eligible to apply for departmental field travel scholarships. The Geology Field Travel Scholarship application deadline is in mid-February 2022 Contact Prof. George Tsoflias (tsoflias@ku.edu) for additional information.

2022 Itinerary:
Depart U.S for Athens: Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Arrive in Athens: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Depart Athens & Arrive in U.S. Monday, June 6, 2022                                                  


May 18 – 21: Athens

The group will arrive in Athens and spend three days at the seaside suburb of Palaio Faliro. They will visit the National Observatory of Athens (earthquake and natural hazard monitoring center), the University of Athens Department of Geology, the Athens city center and the old neighborhood of Plaka by the hill of Acropolis. They will explore the archaeological sites of Acropolis including the Acropolis Athens Museum, Greco-Roman Agora, the Temple of Zeus, and the ancient Panathenaic Stadium site of the first modern Olympic games.

May 21 - 28: Peloponnesus and Greece mainland

The group will travel to sites of geological and historical interest at Loutraki and Corinth, visit the Corinth Canal, the ancient boat road of Diolkos, the ancient theater of Epidaurus, Mycenae and Nafplio city. Crossing the Rio-Antirio Bridge will lead to Galaxidi, Delphi and the temple of Apollo. Active tectonics in the Gulf of Corinth and broader region will be discussed. The group will visit the historic Thermopylae.

May 28-30: Athens area

The group will travel south of Athens to Sounio, visit the ancient Lavrio mines and the temple of Poseidon, visit ancient Marathon and return to Palaio Faliro. The influence of natural resources on the Athenian civilization and significant historic events will be examined.

May 30-June 2: Santorini

The group will take a ferry from Piraeus (port of Athens) to Santorini where they will visit the Akrotiri excavation site as well as the Paleolithic and Archeological museums. Volcanic hazards will be discussed including the most violent volcanic eruption in the history of the Mediterranean (Santorini, 1610 BC). A full day excursion will examine the caldera of the volcano and observe past and present volcanic activity.

June 2-6: Crete

The group will travel by ferry to Crete where they will visit the city of Heraklio, tour Knossos Palace and learn about the devastating tsunami of Thera. Continue to the city of Chania and visit Falasarna, the site of the largest known earthquake and tsunami in the Mediterranean (365 A.D.), and hike the Samaria Gorge. The group will fly from Crete to Athens on June 7th and transfer to flights to the U.S.

Academic Information: 
  • Fulfills KU Core Goal 4.2 Culture & Diversity
  • Fulfills Geology Elective requirement for Geology Majors and Minors
  • Fulfills Geology introductory field experience requirement 
  • Fulfills Natural Science Elective for Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Majors

Students enroll in:

GEOL 370 Study Abroad in Greece: Natural Environment and Civilizations (3 hours)

Course instruction takes place primarily outdoors in day-long field trips. Geologic, historic and cultural information is presented and discussed. Students are responsible for actively participating through thoughtful questions based on reading assignments and presenting assigned topics to their peers. Students are also required to maintain a field notebook. Synthesis of information in the form of written reports is assigned throughout the course.


Students stay in centrally located hotels in program cities.


Open to undergraduate or graduate students from any accredited U.S. college or university. Minimum 2.5 GPA required. Students must have completed an introductory Geology course or have the permission of the instructor.

Further Reading: 

Course Visits Sites are shown at the YouTube Greek Tourism video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpKlUIDf4oY 

Program Faculty: 

Professor Georgios Tsoflias is a professor of Geophysics at the University of Kansas. He is a native of Greece with expert knowledge of the country, its geology, history and culture. He has traveled to Greece extensively, including all the sites the field course visits. He has established professional relationships with university faculty and researchers in Greece that serve as local resources to the program. Tsoflias led the study abroad program successfully in Summer 2017 and 2018.

Contact Information:

Georgios Tsoflias, Professor
Department of Geology


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