February 5, 2023

Geology Word of the Week: N is for Notebook

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

My favorite type of geological field notebook. Picture by my husband.


def. Notebook:

A small book for recording notes, such as geological data. Since geologists often have to record notes in rainy (and sometimes snowy!) conditions, they prefer to use notebooks made with special paper that is water repellent and can be written on with a pencil or special pen even when there is precipitation.


When I was a geology student, I quickly learned that conducting geological fieldwork with a normal notebook is only possible on sunny days. When there is rain, snow, or sleet, it is nearly impossible to take notes in a notebook with normal paper. Fortunately, I soon realized that there are a few companies that produce special notebooks made with marvelous paper that is essentially waterproof. This paper is thick and feels a bit waxy. You cannot write on it with a normal pen, but you can write on it with a pencil or a special type of pen. The paper almost seems magical – it does not become weak or tear when it becomes wet. I have managed to successfully write in these special notebooks during the most horrible weather conditions, such as during heavy rain or sleet. I have even accidentally dropped my entire notebook in a stream and picked up my completely soaked notebook to find that my notes were in perfect condition. I’m not quite sure how these magical notebooks are made, but I do know that I use them whenever I conduct fieldwork of any sort.

There are a few companies that make waterproof notebooks. However, my favorite brand is Rite in the Rain. In particular, I like to use their Geological Field Book product (and, no, I am not being paid to sponsor this product – it’s just my favorite). This notebook has great lined pages for filling in geological information and making geological sketches. In the back, it has several pages of useful geological information for reference. The book also has a small plastic ruler that is located in a little pocket on the inside of the back cover. The ruler is perfect to use as a scale in geological photographs.

When I only need to make a few short notes in the field, I sometimes use a smaller, simpler notebook. For example, this little spiral notebook can fit in the pocket of my field shirt. I generally use a pencil for taking my field notes. However, I also sometimes use one of the special pens that are made for writing on the water repellent paper.

Here are a few more pictures of my favorite geological notebook:

The front pages of the Rite in the Rain Geological Field Book. Picture by my husband.

Example of the geological reference pages in the back of the Rite in the Rain Geological Field Book. Picture by my husbamd.


The book even has a geological timescale! Picture by my husband.


The best part of the book: the little ruler! Picture by my husband.