Friday, January 28, 2011

A Geologist's Field Book

A geologist's field book is often a yellow or orange, bound or spiral book about 4⅝ by 7½ inches in size, with lined, columned, or gridded paper, often waterproof. The first thing a geologist writes in his or her field book on any given day is the date. The second thing a geologist writes is the place — town, mountain range, mining property, reconnaissance target, township and range (or UTM coordinates if you are using an up-to-date coordinate system), country, county, river, sampling area, name of the field trip you are on — whatever is the most relevant and identifying locality title or place name for that current subsection of your notes. The third thing a geologist usually writes (at least if you were taught back in the 1970’s or earlier) is the day’s overall weather.

Related Geoblogospheric Posts:
Tools of the Trade
Field notebook for the office
Stack of field notebooks
What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas


Anne Jefferson said...

You got it. Always write the weather. As I tell my students - if data from a particular day looks off and you just can't put your finger on why that is, your field notes might say something like "miserable. alternating hail and downpour." If they do, you have a plausible reason for questioning your data. If you don't note the weather, you'll never know what external factors could have influenced the quality of your data.

Silver Fox said...

Anne, that's a really good point, one I hadn't thought of. Weather - extreme heat- did affect my rock descriptions once upon a time while working in the Mojave in June. (I didn't need the field book to remember how hot it had been in that case, but it had been duly noted.)

I always thought that the custom of recording the weather info had come from a time when geologists were also more likely to record the vegetation and other environmental factors; they were, back then, also more likely to write a section about the vegetation in the beginning part of their reports, professional papers, and monographs. I know at least one consulting geologist who still includes this info in his geologic reports.

Rachel said...

I was always taught to write down the weather/conditions (within the last 5 years, no less! ;) ) because it helps jog your memory of that day/occasion in case you're later confused by something in your notes. And also, what Anne said.

Silver Fox said...

Rachel, that's another good reason to put in the weather - and I'm reassured to know that it's still being taught. :)