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The ultimate goal of collecting outcrop data is to be able to understand the underlying physical controls on the formation of the rock record, and these techniques provide an essential step in the right direction towards this goal. In particular, development of new techniques for acquiring data from outcrops has led to an ongoing evolution in how outcrop data can be analyzed and utilized in the petroleum industry. Understanding which technique to use depends strongly on the problem being addressed, as the choice of techniques provides different cost-benefit outcomes to different problems. The key to adopting these techniques successfully is to understand their limitations and where the successes have been in applying them. This brief review defines the problems being addressed in collecting outcrop data, examines the role of the “digital” geologist and the collection, application, and deployment of three-dimensional data, and the future of outcrop studies. Reference is made to case studies described in other contributions in this volume.

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