MODERN DIGITAL FIELD METHODS: EQUIPMENT, SOFTWARE, TECHNIQUES
The modern world of iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and apps of all varieties has transformed how we access and process information in the field. This has profound consequences for field geoscientists, as techniques and methods for data acquisition and mapping in the field have been dramatically advanced and simplified by these new tools. At this digital poster station we will discuss new devices and apps for geologic fieldwork and demonstrate example workflows. Examples include iPads running the iGIS and GeoFieldBook apps, Open Data Kit for Android devices, and an app implementation of the Open source GIS program Quantum GIS on various platforms. These applications expand the capabilities of field data acquisition to virtually any mobile platform and largely supplant traditional paper maps and hardback field books.
A particularly useful digital tool for field geologists is GeoFieldBook, an iOS and Android based app that can be used to collect structural and other field observations. Records log location and date information, orientation measurements, formation names, text observations and photos taken with the tablet camera. Records are customizable, so users can add fields of their own choosing. Data are displayed on an image base in real time with oriented structural symbols. The image base can also be used for in-field navigation, replacing paper field maps. All data can be exported to a .csv file for use in other analysis applications.
For many geologists the only traditional tools that remain in their field kit are a hand lens and compass, and some would argue that even the venerable Brunton compass’s days are numbered! For example, most smart phones and tablets now contain magnetometers and accelerometers and several apps use these sensors to make routine measurement of orientations of planes, lines, or both in a single measurement. Nonetheless, the underlying inexpensive hardware in these devices is highly variable, and work is needed to determine the precision and variances among devices before they should be routinely used for geologic measurements.