5 January 2018

Oh, StoryMaps, where-to-from-here?

Posted by Shane Hanlon

This is the third and final in a series of posts by Mike Conway about the use of StoryMaps to tell geologic stories.

State geologic surveys are jumping – both feet forward – into the StoryMap milieu. So this may be the ideal time to partner with teachers, ecologists, and social scientists to frame the intellectual foundation underpinning StoryMap applications to issues of geologic hazards, environmental geology, urban geology, and applications of geoscience to social justice.

Here at the Arizona Geological Survey, we are making StoryMaps the linchpin of our ‘Learning geology through StoryMaps’ program. We are experimenting with templates, content, mixed media, messaging, and how to better promote and circulate the finished product. The Washington Geological Survey’s ‘The Bare Earth’ StoryMap does an awesome job illustrating the power of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) for exposing landslide features and lava flows otherwise camouflaged by dense vegetation. Utah Geological Survey’s ‘Visitor Information Guide to Fossils in Utah’ showcases fossil locations, museums and quarries, thereby providing the intrepid tourist with the opportunity for a freewheeling multi-track experience.

The upcoming Geological Society of America’s 2018 annual meeting in Indianapolis may be the ideal time and place – the Indiana Geological Survey deploys StoryMaps –  for hosting a symposium and workshop to explore the potential for applied StoryMaps as a tool for communicating with policy and decision makers, civil authorities, and the public.

As geologic story tellers striving to capture the attention of decision makers and the pubic, we should heed the impatient Gryphon’s advice to the Mock Turtle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” And only after beginning the adventure should we pencil in the explanation.

Screenshot from Indiana Geological Survey, “Indiana Limestone”, StoryMap

For more information and some great examples, check out these state geological surveys employing StoryMap technology to tell their state’s geo-stories. Includes a representative StoryMap for each survey not mentioned above.

-Michael Conway is a Senior Research Scientist with the Arizona Geological Survey