THE COMMANDMENTS OF STRATIGRAPHY AND OTHER GEOLOGIC APHORISMS
XXI Thou shall have no other gods but Steno, Sloss, and Wheeler.
XXII Thou shall not erect craven cross sections with vertical exaggerations.
XXIII Do not take thy rock’s name in vain.
XXIV Keep stratigraphy holy, even in volcanic and metamorphic rocks.
XXV Honor thy unconformities and sequence stratigraphic units.
XXVI Thou shall not adulterate synthems by creating small basins from them.
XXVII Originally, have thy strata upright, horizontal, and continuous.
XXVIII Thou shall not correlate across an unconformity.
XXIX Do not bear false witness by invoking faults instead of unconformities. Paraphrased by Cheney as: “The first refuge of a geo-scoundrel is a fault.”
XXX Thou shall prohibit petrographers from defining stratigraphic units.
Other of Cheney’s pithy sayings and favorite aphorisms involve the nature of geology, geologic mapping, exploration geology, mineral economics, PowerPoint presentations, and the tectonics of Washington State, including:
The present is not the key to the past; the past is the key to the past.
Every outcrop is a chance to test a hypothesis.
Structures are larger and younger than you think they are.
The best place to preview your slides is from the back of the lecture hall.
Allen's Law: The shorter the Conclusions and Recommendations sections, the more likely they will be read and approved by management.
Wallace's 1st Law: There is no substitute for the geologic map and section, absolutely none. There never has been and never will be.
Wallace's 3rd Law: If you have your choice between being smart or being lucky, take luck...it's way ahead every time.
The Socratic teaching style of Cheney lives on in many of us. How many times have we heard, and said, “what do you see”? And how many of us now think in terms of unconformity-bounded sequences. Perhaps Cheney’s best lecture was entitled “The Non-Geologic Parts of Being an Exploration Geologist” (e.g., “you should take a course in accounting”). Cheney’s bedrock-focused teachings apply to Quaternary (overburden) mapping.