• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


MILLER, Marli B., Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403 and BISHOP, Ellen M., Geology Department, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Ave, Walla Walla, WA 99362,

Despite greatly increased outreach efforts by the geological community, public understanding of geology and its principles remains elusive. While we make our information available and freely accessible, people generally must seek it out before they can benefit from it –and those who take advantage of the information typically know something about the science already. The general public is unfamiliar with the language, terminology and processes of geology. However, they are intrigued by landscape and aesthetics. Geological photography is one way we can reach people who may otherwise be unaware of the origins and history of landscapes.

As geologists, we frequently visit and photograph geologically significant landscapes. Some are places familiar to the public. Others are more remote --places that few people have seen but would love to hear about. Our images provide a powerful tool to engage non-geologists in thinking about places or natural forms in a geologic context. Carefully rendered photographs coupled with geologic information can lure people into understanding geology in a variety of forums, including public lectures, fine art exhibits, printed material, or the internet. It is up to the geologist-photographers, however, to provide geological context as interesting and compelling as their images. In public lectures, printed materials, or the internet, the photographer can provide context explicitly and address certain topics in detail, such as geologic time, landscape evolution, or hazards. In art exhibits, the photographer can also make the connection to geology but is generally restricted to a brief statement and the piece’s title. One printed example might be the annual GSA photo calendar, which uses artistic photographs from members to showcase geological themes.

Just as photography has long been an effective and necessary tool of the conservation movement, we can, and should, use photography as an outreach and educational tool in the geosciences.

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