Pedagogical Effectiveness of Using Digital Applications for Collection and Interpretation of Sed/Strat and Structural Field Data
Lawrence Malinconico, Lafayette College
David Sunderlin, Lafayette College
One of the most difficult hurdles that students, new to geologic mapping, have is the visualization of structure and stratigraphy as they learn field methodologies. Some of this stems from the steep learning curve of having to deal with maps, measurements and plotting of data. We have developed two tablet apps that help the students move more quickly to visualization and interpretation that helps them understand both the temporal and spatial relationships of geologic field data.
In StratLogger, the user records bed thickness, lithofacies, biofacies, and contact data in preset and modifiable fields. Each bed/unit record may also be photographed and location referenced by the iPad. As each record is collected, a column diagram of the stratigraphic sequence builds in the app, complete with color, lithology, and fossil symbols. The recorded data from any measured stratigraphic sequence can be exported as the live app-drawn column image.
GeoFieldBook, using the onboard gps and image base, records observations and then displays them in real time on the map base with strike/dip, fault or joint symbols correctly oriented. The app allows the user to select from five different structural data situations: contact, bedding, fault, joints and "other". Observations are stored as individual records within a user defined project folder. The exact information gathered depends on the nature of the observation, but common to all pages is the ability to log date/time, lat/lon and pictures directly from the tablet. Map images are easily captured for use in other programs.
Because analysis and interpretation of the geologic data is subsequently done using digital methodologies (GIS, Google Earth, Stereonet, spreadsheet and drawing programs), the collection of the data in digital form allows for a much easier transition to interpretation and display once the students have returned from the field. In addition to making it easier to visualize in the field, the students can more quickly progress to higher-order interpretation back in the lab without the tedium of analog to digital transfers. We now have seven years worth of data documenting the effectiveness of digital methodologies in the collection and analysis of structural and stratigraphic field data.