2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 35-13
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


SCHARMAN, Mitchell R., MATTOX, Forrest and MARTINO, Ronald L., Department of Geology, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25755, scharman@marshall.edu

Gigapan photography has become an important tool for describing geologic outcrops. Applications of Gigapan panoramic photography are varied in the geological sciences, with the potential to be used in any type of field work. We have used Gigapan panorama photos to aid in the construction of detailed stratigraphic cross-sections from outcrops of the Devonian Berea Formation in eastern Kentucky. The Berea Formation is composed of alternating beds of siltstone and shale, with a wide range of laterally and vertically variable physical and biogenic structures. During construction of a normal stratigraphic column, geologic details and variations are potentially not observed that lie away from the chosen location of the section, even if the details are only a few meters away. The construction of a cross-section of comparable resolution would take significantly longer if a stratigraphic column had to be measured and described every 50 meters. In addition, several outcrops are mostly vertical faces, limiting easy and safe access to the entire exposure. With laterally extensive exposures, like those present in the Berea Formation, these details can be safely and efficiently documented with a Gigapan photograph of the outcrop, and cataloged and correlated with measured sections at a later time. This method of analysis allows sedimentary structures to be cataloged across an entire outcrop, leading to a more accurate and comprehensive interpretation of the depositional environment. Where time and money available for field work are limited, or where steep outcrops pose safety issues, even a few carefully planned Gigapan images can significantly increase the amount of detailed data that can be collected and analyzed.