Geological Field Techniques

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-10-25
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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The understanding of Earth processes and environments over geological time is highly dependent upon both the experience that can only be gained through doing fieldwork, and the collection of reliable data and appropriate samples in the field. This textbook explains the main data gathering techniques used by geologists in the field and the reasons for these, with emphasis throughout on how to make effective field observations and record these in suitable formats. Equal weight is given to assembling field observations from igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types. There are also substantial chapters on producing a field notebook, collecting structural information, recording fossil data and constructing geological maps. The volume is in a robust and handy size, with colour coded chapters for ease of use and quick reference in the field.This textbook is designed for students, amateur enthusiasts and professionals who have a background in geology and wish to collect field data on rocks and geological features. Teaching aspects of this textbook include: step-by-step guides to essential practical skills such as using a compass-clinometer, drawing a geological map and making a field sketch; tricks of the trade, checklists, flow charts and short worked examples; over 200 illustrations of a wide range of field notes, maps and geological features; appendices with the commonly used rock description and classification diagrams; a supporting website hosted by Wiley Blackwell.

Author Biography

Dr Angela L. Coe specializes in sedimentology and stratigraphy and has over 20 years of experience of collecting geological field data in Europe, Asia, North and South America. Over this time, she has also designed and taught field geology courses for several UK universities and has led many field trips for international conferences and petroleum companies.

Dr Tom W. Argles is a geologist who has conducted structural and metamorphic fieldwork in several mountain belts (Alps, Himalaya, Betic Cordillera, Caledonides, Basin and Range) for 20 years. He has set up and taught field courses in a range of locations across the UK and Europe

Dr David A. Rothery is a volcanologist and planetary scientist. He has taught geology in the field for 30 years and has research experience of igneous rocks (including active volcanoes) in the Oman, Cyprus, Italy, the Andes, central America, NW USA, Hawaii and Western Australia.

Professor Robert A. Spicer is a palaeobotanist and sedimentologist with over 30 years field experience working in remote regions of Northern Alaska and northeastern Russia, China and Tibet, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

Table of Contents

A selection of general books and reference material on geology
Books on geological field techniques
Field equipment and safety
The hand lens and binoculars
The compass-clinometer
Orientation of a dipping plane
Orientation of a linear feature
Triangulation: Determining location using a compass
Global positioning systems and altimeters
Measuring distance and thickness
Standard thickness and distance measurements
Use of the Jacob staff to measure the thickness of inclined strata
Classification and colour charts
Hammer, chisels and other hardware
The hardcopy field notebook
The laptop, netbook or PDA as a notebook
Writing equipment, maps and relevant literature
Writing equipment
Maps and relevant literature
Comfort, field safety and field safety equipment
Clothes, backpack/rucksack and personal provisions
Field safety
Field safety equipment
Conservation, respect and obtaining permission!
Further reading
Introduction to field observations at different scales
Introduction: What, where and how?
Defining the fieldwork objective
Deciding where to do the fieldwork
Locating your position
Scale of observation, where to start and basic measurements
Regional context
Whole exposure
Hand specimens
Overview of possible data formats
The field notebook
Introduction: The purpose of field notes
Field notebook layout
Preliminary pages
Daily entries
General tips
Field sketches: A picture is worth a thousand words
General principles: Aims, space and tools
Sketches of exposures
Sketching metre- and centimetre-scale features
Sketch maps
Written notes: Recording data, ideas and interpretation
Notes recording data and observations
Notes recording interpretation, discussion and ideas
Correlation with other data sets and interpretations
Recording palaeontological information
Introduction: Fossils are smart particles
Why are fossils important?
Collecting fossil data
Fossil types and preservation
Body fossil classification
Body fossil preservation
Trace fossils
Molecular fossils
Fossil distribution and where to find them
Transported or life position?
Sampling strategies
Sampling for biostratigraphic or evolutionary studies
Sampling of bedding surfaces and palaeoecology
Estimating abundance
Presence/absence and qualitative abundance estimates
Quantitative measures of abundance
How many samples are required?
Further reading
Recording features of sedimentary rocks and constructing graphic logs
Description, recognition and recording of sedimentary deposits and sedimentary structures
Recording sedimentary lithology
Recording sedimentary structures
Graphic logs
Conventions for graphic logs
Constructing a graphic log
Rocks in space: Reconstructing sedimentary environments and their diagnostic features
Using sedimentary rocks to interpret climate change and sea-level change
Climate change
Sequence stratigraphy and relative sea-level change
Further reading
Recording features of igneous rocks
Equipment, basic tips and safety
Field relationships of igneous rocks
Relationships with surrounding rocks
Internal architecture: Joints and veins
Internal architecture: Other exposure-scale fabrics
Mineralogy and small-scale textures of igneous rocks
Petrologic type
Mineral texture and fabric
Recent and active volcanoes
Equipment and safety
Further reading
Recording structural information
Equipment and measurement
Structural measurements and notations
Brittle structures: Faults, joints and veins
Planar brittle features - orientation
Determining past motion on brittle structures
Ductile structures: Shear zones, foliations and folds
Orientation of ductile planar features
Direction of shear/stretching: Stretching lineations
Sense of shear: Kinematic indicators
Magnitude of shear strain
Fold analysis
Further reading
Recording features of metamorphic rocks
Basic skills and equipment for metamorphic fieldwork
Field relations and context
Grain textures
Reaction textures
Identifying common metamorphic minerals
Using mineral assemblages
Classification of metamorphic rocks
Unravelling metamorphism and deformation
Pre-kinematic features
Syn-kinematic features
Post-kinematic features
Further reading
Making a geological map
Principles and aims
Preparation and materials
Base maps and other aids
Equipment for mapping
Location, location, location
Using base maps
Making a field map
Information to record on field maps
The evolving map
Sketch cross-sections
Mapping techniques
Traverse mapping
Contact mapping
Exposure mapping
Using other evidence
The geological map
Inking in the field map
Fair copy maps
Digital maps and GIS
Further reading
Recording numerical data and use of instruments in the field
Data collection
Instrument calibration and base stations
Survey grid
Transport and protection of the instruments
Correlation with other data sets
Further reading
Selecting and labelling samples
Samples for thin-sections
Orientated samples
Samples for geochemical analysis
Samples for mineral extraction
Samples for fossils
Sampling for regional studies
High-resolution sample sets
Labelling samples and their packaging
Practical advice
Packing and marking materials
Extraction of samples
Concluding remarks
Further reading on scientific report writing
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