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

Paper No. 332-1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM


DIECCHIO, Richard J., Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, rdiecchi@gmu.edu

Compared with the other sciences, geology is poorly understood by the general public. Of those who are somewhat knowledgeable about geology, most often have a factual understanding, without fully understanding the basic concepts.

Geoscience is an inexact science, and often deals with multiple complex variables. Geoscience knowledge evolves as more data are collected. Our knowledge is often the result of modeling, and we all know that models are only as good as the data available. Models change as new data are introduced. Uncertainty is therefore integral to our science.

The general public and most of our public officials do not understand the uncertainties inherent to the geosciences. They expect us to provide black and white answers. Engineers, for example, transform the information we provide into numerical values that can be used for their calculations. We understand the data and maps we produce, but non-geoscientists do not.

The saying goes that the most informed and educated consumers are the best consumers. The information we provide can best be used by those who understand the inherent uncertainties. We should therefore communicate the uncertainties, and not try to hide or embellish them.