Linking Cognitive Science and Disciplinary Geoscience Practice: The Importance of the Conceptual Model
Thomas F. Shipley, Basil Tikoff, 2016. "Linking Cognitive Science and Disciplinary Geoscience Practice: The Importance of the Conceptual Model", 3-D Structural Interpretation: Earth, Mind, and Machine, Bob Krantz, Carol Ormand, Brett Freeman
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This chapter integrates concepts from cognitive science with disciplinary geoscience practice, to illustrate how different disciplines can collaborate on research and expand what is known in both fields. We consider the practice and goals of structural geology within an observation-prediction framework, adapted from the perception-action framework of Ulric Neisser. In this framework, the geologist has a conceptual model, about which she or he can reason about the world, and that forms the link between predictions and observations. The scientist engages in predictions based on a conceptual model and seeks out observations to confirm or revise this model. This approach is applied to how geoscientists engage in both geometric reasoning (in the subsurface; volumetric thinking) and kinematic reasoning. We then consider how the three principle types of structural geology analyses (geometric, kinematic, and dynamic) and empirical vs. theoretical approaches to solving problems interact with the observation-prediction framework. Finally, we outline how this observation-prediction cycle might be generalized to geoscience education and the practice of other sciences.
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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.