Integrating computers into the field geology curriculum

Roy Walter Schlische, Rolf Vincent Ackermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Field Geology course at Rutgers University incorporates computers in all projects, including the use of an Electronic Total Station (ETS) and portable Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in collecting field data. The ETS determines the distance and bearing to sighted points and calculates their spatial coordinates and elevations; it then stores the results in a data logger. GPS receivers provide absolute coordinates for stations occupied by the ETS itself or for outcrop locations during mapping. The ETS is faster and more accurate than traditional surveying methods and virtually eliminates operator and transcription errors. Furthermore, ETS data can be downloaded directly to a computer, where it can be plotted, manipulated, and contoured. We use the ETS/GPS system to collect topographic data and map geologic contacts in a clay pit in the New Jersey coastal plain. Station locations are plotted and contoured by computer. A computer-aided drafting (CAD) program is then used to put the finishing touches on the geologic/topographic map. The ETS/GPS system is also used to construct a detailed topographic map of a stream channel and adjacent flood plain. Other computer applications include (1) using CAD programs to draw stratigraphic sections and to prepare presentation-quality geologic maps; (2) using spreadsheet and graphing programs to plot topographic profiles; and (3) using stereographic projection programs to plot and interpret fracture data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-40
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


  • Education - computer assisted
  • Geology - field trips and field study

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