12 October 2012
On keeping good field notes:
If someone is giving you the “answers” about an outcrop, keep those separate too (under some heading like ‘lecturer notes’). This is important, because you have not done the work that led to those answers. If you don’t indicate where they came from, you may go back to a set of notes years later and you won’t know how you knew all this cool stuff about the site.
On standing around/hammering/collecting:
Be aware of where you are. Are you at a roadcut (likely)? There are going to be cars. Stay out of the road unless you’re crossing it. Pay attention to where you’re standing – the road is not your personal lounge area.
Be kind to the outcrop and don’t hammer unnecessarily! Hammering on things is fun, but when you use your rock hammer, you are destroying an outcrop that others may want to see. If possible, do your collecting from material that has already fallen off (there will almost always be bits laying around).
Be aware of where other people are when you hammer. Breaking rocks creates a lot of flying material which can (and does) end up hitting people in the eyes, face, whatever. Tell your colleagues to back away or go hammer on your rock somewhere away from the rest of the group.
Hammer wisely. Pick a bit of the outcrop that you are reasonably sure will break off. Don’t just whale away at a flat or massive rock face, because it’s a waste of time and makes it look awful.
Be aware of whether or not collecting is allowed. It isn’t? Don’t have your hammer out and don’t go around stuffing your pockets. Respect local, state, regional regulations – and if it’s a special outcrop, remember that we want it to be there for future geologists to see as well.
For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to come on geology field trips with us, don’t worry – I’ve got some advice for you as a passer-by!
Give us a little space – if you can, slow down and/or move over a bit! We’ll try to park out of the way of traffic, but sometimes we have to use narrow shoulders when we’re visiting a roadcut. We really appreciate it when we don’t have to reattach mirrors or scrape careless students up off the pavement.
Please don’t honk at us! We know you’re there, really. We can hear your car coming, often long before you see us. But honking is startling and no one likes that adrenaline rush when they’re trying to measure something or take detailed notes. If you feel the need to acknowledge our presence, wave instead – you’re a lot less likely to end up with a field notebook plastered across your windshield because you’ve scared a student.
We’re happy to talk to you, especially if you own the land near the outcrop we’re looking at or are just interested in geology in general. Try to approach the instructor of the trip (usually the person waving their arms and shouting more than anyone else) and introduce yourself before talking with the students – they’re often busy with their notes. If you are concerned about ‘geologist erosion’ at the outcrop, let us know politely, without being confrontational. We try to make sure that we have permission to be on private land or collecting at our stops, but occasionally we slip up. We’re only human!