Paper No. 17
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
GEOLOGIC FIELD TRIPS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
Field trips provide an excellent and attractive method of introducing the general public to the geologic features and processes that surround them. Field trips were part of what attracted many of us to the profession and are equally appealing to non-geologists if trips are aimed at a general audience. These field trips can focus on a variety of topics. The geology of any particular area imposes constraints on what humans can do. These constraints are generally thought of as geologic hazards, but access to the natural resources we all use, from sand and gravel pits to water resources to oil and gas wells to large open-pit mines, may pose local issues as well. Landfills and other waste-disposal sites also have both geologic and public-policy consequences. Other geologic features around which whole field trips or individual stops could be built include fossil and mineral collecting trips, water resource issues, examination of how different bedrock types provide for different soils and growing conditions, etc. Field trips for the public can be adapted from existing technically oriented field trips. Determine which features of each stop would be of interest to the public and focus the explanations and discussions to these features. Field trips of this type can be offered and promoted through a variety of groups such as service clubs, scouting and similar groups, school alumni associations, religious groups, local museums, etc. Our field trip, The Consequences of Living with Geology, presented in connection with this meeting, provides an example of such a trip. This trip visits sites where the relevant phenomena can be viewed and provides for discussion of how and whether mitigation efforts are needed along with the consequences of acting or not acting. The goal of such field trips is public education about and appreciation of geology. These trips can also serve as a basis for providing a politically neutral examination of geologically related political issues so that their debate can focus on geologic realities rather than wishful thinking about how things ought to be or other uninformed opinions.