Earth, Mind, and Paper: Field Sketches as Expert Representations of the Hat Creek Fault Zone
Heather L. Petcovic, Carol J. Ormand, Bob Krantz, 2016. "Earth, Mind, and Paper: Field Sketches as Expert Representations of the Hat Creek Fault Zone", 3-D Structural Interpretation: Earth, Mind, and Machine, Bob Krantz, Carol Ormand, Brett Freeman
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Sketching, particularly in field settings, is a common but powerful means of communication and visualization in the geosciences. Here, we investigate the range of sketch types and annotations made by expert geoscientists and non-geoscientists during a field trip to the Hat Creek fault zone (northern California) taken during the 2013 AAPG Hedberg Research Conference. Participants (N=42) included geologists and seismic interpreters employed in the oil and gas industry (n=20), geologists employed in academia (n=16), and non-geoscientist software developers and cognitive scientists (n=6). A total of 361 sketches of the normal fault system were collected during stops at three field modules. Sketches were thematically coded by sketch type (e.g., map, perspective landscape view, cross-section, three-dimensional [3-D] block diagram) and annotation type (e.g., fault symbols, reference locations, questions, labels). Overall, two-dimensional (2-D) perspective sketches and maps were the most common representation type, whereas 3-D block diagrams were rare. Statistical analysis of code counts suggests that the choice of sketch and annotation types is largely driven by characteristics of the field trip stop and/or the particular task required. Non-geoscientists more frequently produced perspective sketches from their actual viewpoint, but were less likely to annotate diagrams. As compared to industry peers, academic geoscientists were more likely to create related sets of sketches. Conversely, industry geoscientists were more likely to explain their thinking and provide alternate explanations. This work is a first step in exploring geoscientists’ sketching practices in the field, and may have implications for both undergraduate education and industry training.
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Three-dimensional geologic interpretation of surface and subsurface data requires integration and application of both geologic knowledge and spatial cognitive skills. Much surface geologic mapping still employs pen and paper techniques, but subsurface interpretation is usually accomplished using sophisticated visualization software. In both cases, successful interpreters use mental models that bridge internal and external forms of 3-D visualization to construct 3-D geologic interpretations. This AAPG Memoir 111 sets out to understand more about the convergence of geology, 3-D thinking, and software, which collectively provide the basis for truly effective interpretation strategies. It should appeal to all geologic interpreters, and especially those who investigate and teach interpretation skills.