Geologists Toolkit

What you bring with you in the field will depend on what you aim to achieve, whether it be collecting palaeontological specimens, mapping an outcrop, going for a scenic walk or… creating a blog post. Do some research before your fieldwork so that you are always safe – get a good map and reference guide, establish a primary and (if necessary) secondary means of communication and ensure you have enough water.

Have a scientific approach to your field work, don’t just pick up random rocks and take photos of cool outcrops – think! Why is this rock here? What does it mean? Are there any structures? Make observations in a field book, note the position on a map and do some research online or at the local museum.

SAFETY

Other safety equipment, such as protective goggles, a hard hat, gloves and long pants are all task-dependent. Constantly assess any hazards and their associated risks (many a geologist have walked up to an interesting cliff face only to find an angry brown snake!). If looking at road cuttings, always exercise caution with cars. It might pay off to wear a hi-vis vest.

ORGANISING YOUR COLLECTION

Once back in the lab (your home), you will have the task of cleaning and organising your specimens.

Whilst some specimens are too good not to show off in bookcases and cabinets, most will have to be stored in boxes and drawers. It is recommended to keep delicate specimens in individual card trays, like the impression of a trilobite from Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island below.

IMG-1187
Trilobites (Estaingia bilobata and Redlichiida takooensis at best guess) from Emu Bay Shale, Kangaroo Island. Stored carefully in cardboard tray.

The card should have specified: name, location, date of collection and a catalogue number. If your collection is big enough, you may also want to include location number (e.g. cabinet, drawer). Catalogue numbers are best stored in a spreadsheet (and backed up). This allows you to better perform searches for localities and specimen types at a later time. Other important information to include: geologic formation, key identifying features and rock type (i.e. metamorphic, sedimentary or igneous) or other minerals/fossils at collection location.

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Other methods of storing/displaying fossils and rocks are shown above, including: agates in old cigar containers, schist being used as a book-end, nice specimens on show and delicate minerals in square plastic containers.