Preparation for field work

Harmon D. Maher Jr., Dept. of Geography and Geology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2004

The audience for this document is students who are engaging in the EUR STEP funded Toadstool project this summer.

This is a straightforward argument that preparing for field work is well worth your time and is crucial to your and the project's success. The first part of the argument is to recognize that field work is expensive, and time in the field is limited. For some areas, like the Arctic, the field work eats up most of the project funds. It also may not be possible to go back and get more data, i.e. it can be a one-shot deal.

In addition, science and funding for science is a competitive endeavor. This means there isn't really a set goal to achieve - there is always better and more. The goal is perhaps to do the very best that abilities, understanding, effort, time, conditions and funds allow. You want to maximize your efforts and use your supporting funds wisely. In this context, the value preparation speaks for itself.

Given the above, it helps to have the understanding and tools you need in hand when you reach your study area. It especially helps to learn as much about the geologic units and history, and about the project methodology before you go. In our case, this means learning a bit about the geography, as much as possible about the geologic units and features, and as much as possible about the project goals and methodology. It also means learning how to describe the orientation of fault and vein features, and measure position.

My experience indicates that you can easily double your field data acquisition with preparation. However, perhaps the best argument for preparation is that you learn much more and derive more satisfaction from the field experience. It will be worth your time and effort!!