Using StraboSpot for Field Sedimentology & Stratigraphy

Casey J. Duncan, University of Utah (

Marjorie A. Chan, University of Utah (

Basil Tikoff, University of Wisconsin-Madison (

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This module uses StraboSpot (free mobile app for iOS and Android devices and web API, backend database) and two Utah datasets to facilitate teaching field methods related to sedimentology and stratigraphy. The data sets include an exposure of fluvial clastic sediments of the Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation near Green River, UT and a double road-cut exposure of the mixed clastic-carbonate Jurassic Carmel Formation in the Justensen's Flats area of the San Rafael Swell, UT. The exercise is composed of three sequential parts. In Part 1, students use StraboSpot as a field notebook and map to locate a position on the map (locale for a sample of their choosing) and add general sedimentological observations. Part 2 focuses on the differentiation and description of lithofacies using either the Justensen's Flats or Green River Channels data set. Finally, in Part 3, the Justensen's Flats data set can be used in two different ways to teach about stratigraphy: a) on a conceptual basis comparing the provided measured section already in the StraboSpot data set with a nearby roadcut; and b) in a hands-on way using the lithologic data and provided maps and drone model images to allow the students to construct and interpret a measured section.

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This module is designed to be flexible to allow students to experience a digital field notebook. The field notebook introduction of Part 1 would be appropriate for a wide variety of classes, however the sedimentological and stratigraphic tasks of Parts 2 and 3 are best suited for upper division sedimentology or field courses, guiding students through traditional workflows and reinforcing hierarchy of sedimentary terms.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have knowledge of sedimentary rock description, classification, and interpretation. Previous experience in measuring/describing stratigraphic section is not required but would be very helpful.

How the activity is situated in the course

This module is a stand-alone exercise, but could be easily adapted to fit as a part of a longer sequence or advanced research projects.

Activity Length

Due to its flexible nature, the time required to implement the module varies from ~2 hours if using only the first activity outline to a full day if using all three activities. In addition, the module could be extended further if written reports and/or additional data sets are incorporated.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This activity includes:
- Map location and interpretation
- Lithologic description
- Lithofacies differentiation and description
- Measuring/describing stratigraphic section
- Sedimentary succession interpretation

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will use the following higher-order thinking skills for this activity:
- Application of background sedimentological knowledge to make sedimentologic/stratigraphic observations.
- Analysis of data across varying scales to describe the lithofacies from grain- to outcrop-scale.
- Synthesis of observations to interpret the sedimentary succession.
- Creation of a measured stratigraphic section through incorporation of combined observations and interpretations.

Other skills goals for this activity

Nominally, Students will:
- Gain familiarity with StraboSpot and the sedimentary vocabulary and workflow
- Produce a measured stratigraphic section
However, depending on how this flexible module is implemented, this can reinforce other skills (including short answer to full report writing, group team work, presentations, etc.).

Description and Teaching Materials

Supporting materials for this module include 1) the pdf outline of this activity, 2) the pdf 'Field Book' export of the data set (data input in chronologic order) from StraboSpot, 3) Annotated 3D outcrop model posters, 4) the Carmel Formation stratigraphic section export from StraboSpot, and 5) outcrop images from the Carmel Formation measured section. Materials can also be found at (note: Requires setting up a free account)

Module Outline: StraboSpot Module Outline (Acrobat (PDF) 329kB May19 20)

Justensen's Flats field book: Field Book (Acrobat (PDF) 13.2MB May19 20)

Justensen's Flats outcrop model posters: OutcropInterval1.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 6.9MB May20 20), OutcropInterval2.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 9.8MB May20 20), OutcropInterval3.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 8.6MB May20 20), OutcropInterval4.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 13.9MB May20 20)

Green River Channel outcrop model poster: CedarMountainModelScreenshot.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 8.8MB May20 20)

Justensen's Flats measured section: JustensensFlats_Stratigraphic_Section.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 389kB May20 20)

Justensen's Flats Outcrop Images: CarmelOutcropImages.pptx (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 33.9MB May20 20)

Technology Needs

StraboSpot account (free)- While the mobile iOS and Android apps are usable without an account, data uploads and exports to/from StraboSpot require an account The StraboSpot app- Accessible through iOS or Android mobile devices (tablets are ideal due to increased screen size). Alternatively, the app can be accessed through a web browser on an internet-connected PC (


Since this module is designed to be flexible and the module outline simply intended as a framework for activity implementation, specific assessment strategies are left to the instructor.

References and Resources - help guide that includes specific instructions for using Strat mode - help guide for general use of StraboSpot

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