GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 90-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


MCCLINTON, Brett1, BROWN, Jeremiah2, HAMEL, James V.3, DUNST, Brian3, GROSS, Mary Ann3 and SCHIAPPA, Tamra A.1, (1)Geography, Geology, and The Environment, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA 16057, (2)Communications, Slippery Rock University, 1 Morrow Way, Slippery Rock, PA 16057, (3)Pittsburgh Geological Society, P.O. BOX 58172, Pittsburgh, PA 15209

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are useful educational tools when describing geologic phenomenon and features. In the changing academic and professional landscape brought about by the COVID-19 virus, many field experiences and in-person educational opportunities were postponed or cancelled. While many professional meetings and seminars were easily moved to virtual environments, there was a need to offer geology field conferences that could be adapted as well.

This field experience was originally planned as an in-person excursion for the 2020 Pittsburgh Geological Society’s 75th anniversary celebration. The field trip was designed to investigate three areas near Pittsburgh, PA, along a region prone to landslides. This area has been researched by Hamel since the late 1960’s. Field data along with historical information were used to develop a virtual geology field trip. Content and Global Positioning System (GPS) data were collected, and videos of field lectures were made while maintaining COVID-19 protocols. Points of interest were marked using GPS. Videos, still photographs, and figures were uploaded Google Earth environment and paired with the GPS data. A multi-modal component was added through the creation of GPS Exchange Files (.gpx) which were provided, along with instructions within the presentation, allowing the viewer to download the locations and use the fieldtrip guide to go into the field, locate, and view the points of interest first-hand.

Geoscience disciplines are traditionally field-based and traveling to remote areas to investigate the geology is common. It is customary for geologists to attend yearly field conferences and many undergraduate geology programs require a geology field camp. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many of these opportunities, the community developed techniques to continue to offer them to students and professionals attending virtual conferences. The virtual field experience cannot fully replace the traditional excursion, but it has made geology field trips inclusive and accessible to everyone.