Pedagogy in Action > Library > Field Labs > How to use Field Labs - Logistical Tips > Equipment Sources and Tips > Specialized Equipment

Specialized Equipment

This section lists and describes some of the specialized equipment that might be purchased for mid and upper level courses, but which can be used for field labs in introductory geoscience. It is by no means comprehensive.

  • Augers and other drilling/sampling equipment for soils and sediments - There are several kinds of equipment available. Sturdiness is probably the most important characteristic to look for in whatever equipment you buy (we've lost auger tips down holes, broken metal shafts in two and lost flimsy equipment in a variety of other ways). We've also found it less important for most field lab purposes to get undisturbed subsurface samples than to get big samples, so we use auger bits that are two-three inches across. Dutch head augers tend to be the most versatile for a variety of loose and cohesive materials; a sand auger bit would probably be most useful in dry loose materials, like sands. Attachments (auger bit to shaft, shaft to shaft, shaft to cross-handle) can be either screw ends or "quick-connect" buttons. Note that either kind can rust making the augers difficult to disassemble. Because a one meter length is useful for many introductory field projects, we've kept the augers assembled between uses.
  • Mike McCulloch demonstrates surveyor's tripod
  • Survey equipment - Survey equipment lies along a range from the decidedly low-tech (pace and compass or tape and compass) to the decidedly high-tech (total stations with customized software). For field labs in geoscience, with multiple student groups working simultaneously on similar problems, it's important to have multiple sets of low and moderately priced equipment. The metric tape measures and compasses described earlier will be enough for plane surveys using pace or tape and compass techniques. If the compasses are Bruntons or equivalents, they can be used as hand levels to add elevation data (or separate hand levels can be purchased). For more accurate surveying work on flat or gently sloping ground (total elevation changes of six meters or less) "automatic levels" with surveying rod and tripod work well and are only moderately costly. It takes student groups about one-and-a-half to two hours in the field or lab (on a rainy day) to learn the techniques well enough to work without supervision, so think about whether this is time well spent in introductory geoscience labs. If a surveying lab extends through more than one scheduled period, students will need flags and/or flagging tape to mark locations from the previous session.