Geology & GeoMetallurgy

Geology & GeoMetallurgy 2017-03-23T09:44:23+00:00
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Geology Apps and Compass for iPhone (36 replies)

Bob Mathias
1 year ago
Bob Mathias 1 year ago

Remember the days a geologist would go out for cumbersome field mapping? An exciting topics for any exploration and/or structural geologist working as an academic or industry professional. Are Geology Apps and Compass for iPhone and "smart phones" making us less-smart and resourceful? Are the classic geo tools a thing of the pass http://www.mve.com/filemanager/images/software/FieldMove_clino/FMCPro_Calibration_FINAL.pdf

Maya Rothman
1 year ago
Maya Rothman 1 year ago

Nope! Got an app for that! Don't think so!, no more than electronics and satellite positioning have replaced the compass and sextant on sail boats.....you still need the old instruments to get home when the batteries go down on your latest electronic gizmo.

GPS units, digital Bruntons etc have their place and are quite useful in many applications, but having tested them against the old methods, there are just places they don't work! More than once the high end, high resolution GPS failed to give a proper location due to electrical storms in the area, satellite arrays being below the horizon and presence of large magnetite bodies in the subsurface or the fact that I was simply up in a deep canyon. Not much better with cell phone apps and about the same problems. Compasses on cell phones just aren't accurate enough for field work anyway!. Result, we shot the locations in with an old fashion surveyors transit and rod. No electronics to go bonkers. Thanks, but I'll stick the old tools....they've worked for more than a century and they don't have batteries....and you can actually read the instrument faces in the sun! I can still close a transit within one foot or less, with or without a GPS and the cell phone stays in the truck where it belongs! Same reason I still know how to use a sextant and siting compass on my sailboat. Batteries can go down, but you still have to find your way home!

Nothing new under the sun, btw....we used to use a transistor radio (remember those? probably not! You are too young!) as a direction finder on the boat. Point in antenna more or less in the direction you want to go, tune in a station and when the signal got strongest, you sailed in that direction......worked every time and they even told you what town you were headed for onshore. Find two or three different stations in different towns along the shore and you could triangulate your position. Cheap and it worked!

David
1 year ago
David 1 year ago

I never had a compass that dropped its signal or had its battery die 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhcPX1wVp38

I would say it has replaced the compass of all the people who don't know how to use a compass. A phone is not a compass. Your Iphone is about as useful as those little bobble compasses on the ends of gimmick survival knives.

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

Brunton compass $200-$300, Geocompass app which I've just purchased $2. I'd say you've got to look at it. I've still got my GPS and Silva compass to cross check the phone as I'm sure the triangulation positioning on the phone is not so great in remote areas. At least I can now get dip measurements with my iPhone which I couldn't get with my Silva.

You know, There's an old saying of "you get what you pay for!" And, in this case, you should spend your $2 on a beer during Happy Hour.

Remember a Brunton is a pocket transit. You may get a compass with the app, but I'd love to see you shoot a transit of a mine tunnel with a cell phone, or a GPS for that matter. Don't think your cell phone can "see" underground. The term is "GIGO"

Helena Russell
1 year ago
Helena Russell 1 year ago

Is this a meeting of "when I were young" (insert crass pretend yorkshire accent)?
I tend to agree with the linked blog. It is just a matter of time. This same discussion is held every time a new application for technology pops up. Sure, it will take some fiddling and trial and error to get the best and most reliable versions of software and hardware for the specific job, but the time will soon come when the Brunton is kept in the glove box only for emergencies, if at all. We will get more and better information when mass data is collected digitally and compiled and displayed on the fly. Being an early adopter might even get your preferences into the developments!

Neither the precision nor the damping of any cel phone I have seen can compare with a Brunton for dip,azimuth readings nor a pair of Suuntos for surveying.

I have been trying out various (free) structural survey packages of late and cannot get a level of repeatability comparable to a brunton.

Also, when are we going to get a local positioning system which lets you put 4 transmitters around high points in/near your project and then use the GPS in your phone to get decimetric precision? At a cost of a couple of k.

Love the reference to "Monty Python". I prefer the Dead Parrot actually! Thanks for injecting a bit of humor, Michelle!

I agree with John Mcintyre....local position systems a must....we do it with Trimble gear talking to a fixed ground station in a nearby town. Tested some pretty high end high accuracy stuff, still not shielded from magnetic or natural electrical interference. I'll keep my Brunton on my belt and leave the cell phone in the glove box.

I love the younger crowd....if it isn't in the cell phone, or on the web it doesn't exist. Same applies to research! It's called a LIBRARY! and it isn't all online.

JohnnyD
1 year ago
JohnnyD 1 year ago

I understand where you are coming from, but we are missing a major point about the perspective of old dog geologists. They are often early adopters of any technology that makes live easier and collects data better/faster because they know how difficult it is to do correctly. However, they retain a healthy skepticism (B.S. detector) for the hype and over-promises that generally accompany new technology. They rigorously ground-truth it first and always have a back-up

Maya Rothman
1 year ago
Maya Rothman 1 year ago

As I said in the other thread, no use below 1:2000 scale due to lack of GPS accuracy and precision. Ok for bulk structural measurements for statistical analysis, but that is very low percentage work for exploration and mining. Not easy to turn un-located statistical outputs into hard targets, which is why people often have a dim view of structure I think. Modelling structural controls from survey is more powerful, but you need more accuracy and precision, especially in the Z value, than a handheld GPS can give you.

I carry four compasses. A frieberg, a SUUNTO MC-2 and Suunto sighting compass and clino. I have an Iphone and Ipad, but I use one of the above compasses for accurate location (sub .5m) when needed, and if I am collecting bulk structural data, then I just record everything straight into some kind of portable digital device. I don't really find data recording to be a limiting factor in field work. I hear this a lot, and I think it really comes down to field methodologies, rather than a lack of processing power.

Old dog geologists have the capacity to compare old with new. I can do old and new, and new does not cut it, because the hardware and software are not quite there yet. Its important we all push on and keep trying to advance the gear, but there is also no point in declaring old tech obsolete because its is not modern enough.

To me, a compass is a fairly optimised tool. I think its lack of a battery and processor is a major plus. They are very reliable, and very trust worth pieces of analytical equipment.

Is giving people the capacity to record measurements by slapping a phone on a surface and pressing a button really such a good idea? I have seen no examples of people who needed more data, but many examples of people who need better data.

You can use stats to produce trends, but trends are one dimensional and not overly useful. What I think is more important than speeding up data collection, is improving the quality of data collection. I have spent some considerable time setting up digital structural data collection for various companies.

It is easy. Teaching people to see what to measure takes a lot longer.

David
1 year ago
David 1 year ago
John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

How many times have you come across subcrop that contains structure but does not have an obvious surface to slap a digital device on to. Take the compass without batteries, a bit of daylight to read it, and an educated human brain to do the processing and you have everything you need. 

There is a definite desire for a lot of people who have grown up in the digital age to seek digital solutions. If the time comes when your pocket computer (aka phone), like calculators before them, charges via exposure to light and gives a gps location accuracy measured in cm the good old compass may be left at home. That time is yet to come.

Victor Bergman
1 year ago
Victor Bergman 1 year ago

Don't go counting us "old foggies" out regards early adoption of technology. In fact some of us actually developed the technology. That said, Tim's comment of "Teaching people what to measure takes a lot longer"....is a far more important concept than the tools those measurements are taken with. And, while this diverges from the topic of cell phones, this needs to be a message to universities: train your students to do actual geology and field work. You cannot sit in the office with a computer and find minerals! Too many times I've seen the youngsters come in with no clue of what to do in the field, where to begin, what to measure, what's important, what's not, and moreover, how to do it. They've never seen a Brunton, or a digital brunton, Trimble Geoexplorer for that matter, they can't produce a map, paper or digital, or a three-dimensional model....and you can't produce the latter without understanding the reality of field geology and try to transfer that to a reasonable model.

It is Interesting to see the discussion evolve, and how some folks trying a bit too hard to make their point. A few comments:

While a Brunton may cost >$300, mine is now 45 years old and works as well as on day 1. Excellent ROI for a piece of equipment that never needs a battery or software upgrade, has a fully transparent operating system, doesn't get bugs, and handles inclement weather in any part of the world without needing a signal. However, the day I can leave it behind for something as bullet-proof and better, I will.

Digital snobs tend to be worse than the analogue ones because of their blind faith in systems that are often not transparent and that they do not fully understand. I would never do a manual mine plan again, but there are still errors and defects in the software packages that are out there. Back in the 1990's, when you could still get into Fortran subroutines in systems like Meds (now Minesight), I would have some of our new engineers look into one or two as an exercise, and they were able to find math bugs in the geostats routines that the developer missed. I certainly didn't throw out the program, but I didn't drink the Kool-Aid either. Many new grads accept anything digital as better without question.

JohnnyD
1 year ago
JohnnyD 1 year ago

I find that I can get my smartphone lined up on a vein in a boulder, the problem is that the compass and tilt meters are inadequate for purpose, their damping is poor and the tilt meters seem to have some random problem which I can't explain because I don't know how they work, but about 10% of the readings seem to be WAAAY off.

I cannot see that the bulk market is going to sweat over this, how many geeks need a dampened compass, or even a decent tilt meter? Perhaps the solution is a bluetooth device which will send the readings to your phone when a button is pushed and beep once the damping makes the reading acceptable.

For me, that would be fine, provided my $80 forms package will let me enter a bluetooth string to a field. At the moment it does the GPS but won't poll external devices.

I am having some trouble with bluetooth device vendors. Since, a couple of years ago, my $50,000 Minolta XRF device kept disconnecting itself whenever a car drove past, I have been pestering vendors to tell me where they purchase their bluetooth drivers and they don't like it.

Bill Fraser
1 year ago
Bill Fraser 1 year ago

I do object to the reference to those who may be interested in this technology as 'geeks'. I have never advocated blind faith in this technology "drink the cool aid" without testing the veracity of results (follow the thread).

I'm starting to understand a bit about how Galileo must have felt all those years ago 🙂

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

I already have four compasses. The frieberg cost as much as an Iphone and 100% if its development was focussed on creating a compass. I tested my Iphone geological compass against my regular compass and the measurements were shambolic. Anyone can see the value of a digital compass that logs its location. These exist and are of commercial quality.

Have a good hard look at your phone. See a mirror? I you don't you are going to have a hard time sighting a bearing or using it as a sighting clino.

There is a scary number of geologists out there who cant take a strike and dip. Those that can don't generally complain about it being challenging. Giving people who cant work a compass the ability to populate fields in database faster may not be such a good idea.

We spend billions and we don't have or can't afford our own hardware. Yes a location recording digital compass with a data logger is a good idea. But for a professional, it should be a precision instrument.

Bob Mathias
1 year ago
Bob Mathias 1 year ago

The discussion shouldn't be about type and quality of tools we're adopting, it should be the people using them. If you're dumb enough to put your faith in an iPhone app only then you probably shouldn't be in this industry. But on the other hand, if you're too short-sighted to see that innovation and new tools are the way forward then you're going to be left behind pretty quickly.

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

Don't use the free apps. The paid for ones, like Fieldmove will, become industry standards with time. But you must make sure the phone you are using has a reliable GPS system and that it is calibrated. I'm sure it wont be long before the GPS manufacturers are offering structural geological functions as standard.

Helena Russell
1 year ago
Helena Russell 1 year ago

I'm not so sure about "standard", even the GIS behemoths don't do that, and they are in every geos toolbox these days. But there will be good, reasonably priced apps that do the job reasonably. An industry list of the most trusted bits of hardware will evolve as well. I look forward to the threads that dissect the shortfalls and benefits of the most commonly available versions and recommendations for conditional usage. That will be very useful for everybody. We might even see geos moving onto a preferred platform based on structural mapping integrity issues. Then you could tell a field geo from their phone, rather than their shoes and haircuts!

Bill Fraser
1 year ago
Bill Fraser 1 year ago

In theory, it is a new technology, bypassing an old one, slowly and slowly. In practice, you can be in some places without power to recharge. And after a day.

I read one time an optimistic comment about solar cells. They are not working in a equatorial jungle, as an example.

During a raid in the jungle, a week, I was carrying more than a kilo of batteries only for the Garmin.

Another thing: any cell phone without network is working at the maximum with the internal radio unit, trying to find an antenna. Again, less battery. We will need to wait better accumulators and more tough devices fore some of the b the field works

John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

Whilst I agree that there is a discussion to be had about people, this discussion is about a specific tool, and that is, I think a legitimate discussion to have. It has become about the use in general of immature and barely fit for purpose technology in the field, and that does not seem to much of a leap. And yes I agree that the people matter more than black boxes.

All the paid for packages I have read about seem to offer either analysis on the fly or better annotation than the free packages. Whilst I can see the benefits, can you tell me how the paid for packages solve the simple hardware problems?

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

We will need to wait better accumulators and more tough devices fore some of the b the field works.

Sure, there are checks and balances needed, but for my money (the tiny bit available), I would rather have a couple of good geologists out there taking hundreds of structural readings and photos from multiple sites that could be a degree or 2 and 10 metres out than a few contacts/planes/lineations/trends in 2 outcrops measured very accurately."

This is just two different ways of working.

What use will you make of hundreds of structural measurements? Its essentially exactly as Rene put it. What the outcome of that exercise is, will depend on who you send. There are more than two approaches to structural geology, but you describe the two major sub sets relevant to industry.

Bulk data and statistical analysis, or selective data and reasoning. I can take a measurement and say "the fabric orientation = shear zone orientation, shear zone = ore, measurement = ore". 500 measurements taken without bias can tell you a lot about what's going on geometrically, but like all statistical outputs, it has a hard time telling you where it is going on. If my one measurement is a good one, then I get get the where, to within a few meters. Something I have done many many times.

On the "who you send" issue, I had to teach 12 geologists structural geology. I took the huge number of measurements they had taken, and as always, immediately plotted poles to planes of fabric on a stereonet. I got one small cluster. Alarm bells rang. So I went to the geos and I said, "what do you measure" and they said "the main fabric". In other words, any fabric within a few degrees of X value, did not get measured.

Then I went to the exploration manager and told him I was going to delete his structural file in its entirety. He was not that happy as you might imagine. But I explained that toxic biassed data could never be fixed, and it had to go. A resource estimation had been soured by that data, one done at a reputable structural consultancy.

Then I taught them from scratch. I made them take measurements every 2m in their >30km of trench and core. I did this for two reasons. The minor reason was it was useful data for statistics. The major reason was in order to train them to read the fabric properly, they needed to spend a lot of time working really hard for measurements. I was a stickler for those measurements. I did not really care if they got them or not, but I wanted them to take thousands of measurements till it was second nature, and I wanted them to try get measurements from very subtle fabrics. That is how you learn. You learn, because it is a challenge. I also made them chain and compass map endlessly, till they could do that in their sleep, by making them map the same locations over and over, till their transects came out with acceptable error. Someone familiar to the Kenex/RSC crowd once did this to me.

The end result is someone who's compass is an extension of their arm, and for whom the increased ease of measurement of an Iphone is less of a big deal. Structural productivity comes from familiarity. I think if you look for productivity in the device, not the geo, you will make inferior structural geologists. Stats are great, but taking very tough measurements and quantifying their individual value is absolutely critical for economic geology, because it opens the door to the potentially ultra productive data + reasoning approach.

If much use of one measurement is to be made, its location must be spot on.

I have been working on hardware to take measurements exactly as an Iphone does. But it is the ease of measurement of the iphone that I find a concern. You are likely to see a lot of "we just measured the main one" data sets appear, as the level of structural skill required to populate a database hits zero, thanks to there being "an app for that".

I want to make a teaching tool out of said app, that helps geos know what to measure. It is what is measured that matters.

it really makes no difference what device you get familiar with, providing it does everything it needs to do. Without a mirror for sighting, an Iphone is limited. Maybe someone wants to make an Iphone case with a sighting mirror and solve that. If you learned to take hard measurements with an Iphone, and all other issues could be corrected (batteries, fragility, GPS error, assurance of inherent reliability, need to calibrate etc), then there is no difference.

But put a Suunto, Freiberg or Brunton in the hands of one of the industries vast number of structural illiterates, and they just can't operate it. That is a great blessing.

Victor Bergman
1 year ago
Victor Bergman 1 year ago

The battery thing has been going on since I was eight years old. Thirty years ago I was charging my PC and AA batteries using a motor bike battery, solar cell and inverter in the jungles of the Solomon Islands (Guadalcanal for the Americans with a geographical disability). When you are outside network, or jack of inane phone calls from head office, put the phone in airplane mode. The problem is not the esoteric, it is fitness for purpose.

Helena Russell
1 year ago
Helena Russell 1 year ago

This is where some of the push-back on mobile apps is coming form. "Old school' tools (hardware) were designed and rigorously tested for purpose. An issue with cell phone hardware is it that was designed (and rightly so) for mass consumers in urban environments, or at least areas of habitation. Apps are, and will continue to be, developed for other uses including geology. However, when you are working in remote areas like John and Tim do, 100% reliability is essential, and cell phones are not that robust. Yes, there are fixes around battery life and so on, but the more equipment you need to carry and the more workarounds necessary become a high hurdle when you are in the bush.

John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

I stand corrected. There is an app for BlackBerry. I installed RockLogger by RockGecko. Its is an interesting app in the BB OS10 platform. Still have not field test it, intend to do it soon in an upcoming activity. In the meantime my impression it is a promising tool. That's it: a tool. Not a replacement for traditional techniques, tools or instruments. Basically is a mean to collect information, but as several contributors have affirmed, the operator (i.e. the field geologist) must know what he/she is doing. Of course that is also true of using a Brunton. Cheers.

Maya Rothman
1 year ago
Maya Rothman 1 year ago

I'm not disagreeing with anything about the "fit for purpose" part, and there will be areas where iPhones (for want of a better, low end, mass generic term) won't be reliable for many years yet. But, there are already places where they are close enough for some jobs now. Checks and accuracy needs dependent, of course. Not every exploration site is hundreds of miles from techno links.

Teaching someone how to map structures isn't a matter of what they use to measure, as you rightly point out Tim, and taking lots of measurements with photos gives the reviewer a better chance to see errors. If they are plotted on the fly and sensible interpretations made about where to get the next lot of idea confirmations from, then the work can really speed up. Having hundreds of measurements and photos from good geos (I did specify that part) is better than only a few. But, just like the Husky I used to log holes a long time ago, the tech needs to be fairly specific for what we want to do (it would have been useless away from power sources and for logging anything complicated). Hence my comment about the differing software development paths. But regardless of how anyone feels, the path to techno wizardry in the field will be walked, and quite quickly now with the new generations of geos. So we had all better get on board making sure it's walked as sensibly and reliably as possible. Encouraging it maybe by paying more for the best versions (it still wont be much in the scheme of things).

Bob Mathias
1 year ago
Bob Mathias 1 year ago

It might be true that technology may replace the old school way of completing geological fieldwork. Like yourself, I'm not too keen on relying just on technology measurements, so I much prefer using a compass clino. But who can say either measurements will give you an accurate reading? They both have pros and cons, such as, technology collected data could be lost, or papers could be lost or damaged on the field. I must agree that technology does reduce the amount of time spent on the field, but would it really improve the quality of the work produced?

I would say to keep a balance of either skills, it's good to know both ways for circumstances like, when the mobile phone dies, there is always an alternative, and vice versa if you coincidentally lost your pens/pencils on the field.

I tend to use my mobile as a GPS, since I do not own a GPS device yet.

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

We are talking about the next generation of geologists using the next generation of technology in the field. As usual it seems to break down to "old school or the future".

The next generation of geologists, apart from a small minority have not had formal field training. Universities, bar a few exceptions don't do this any more. Geological mapping is out of vogue academically, and health and safety makes fieldwork prohibitively difficult.

I agree we should be going forward technologically. I also agree a lot of new technology is being used. But it is not our technology. Leapfrog from the medical imagery industry, our other packages are re-hashed surveying packages. GIS is not resource industry specific or geologically functional. The geological portion of the industry, bar the hammer and the compass, has none of its own gear. We re-hash other things with varying degrees of fit for purpose.

We are not arguing against technology. I personally am arguing for it. But lets not call re-hashed consumer junk the future. We know the capabilities of modern LIDAR, RTK GPS, tiny accelerometers and gyroscopes, mobile devices etc etc.

We don't have any. No one has ever set out to build geological software and hardware. Each time new geos learn their geology on a limited platform designed for another purpose, they lose skill. GIS has removed the third dimension from geological mapping. I have lost track of the number of geos who have told me maps are 2D. That is a lot of skill to lose.

The numbers don't lie. Since the industry has gone digital, we have got worse at everything we do. It costs a whole lot more to find a whole lot less. Over the same period, every other industry realised significant gains by going digital. I'm going to suggest that is because while we have technology, none of it does what its supposed to do, if you use it the way it was designed to be used. In order to create a work around to get it to do what needs to be done, you need to know that first, and universities don't teach it any more.

Anyone who suggests our re-hashed medical, engineering, surveying, social media etc etc equipment might not be suited to economic geology is a called a Luddite.

As shown by the de-evolution of Leapfrog, a software company caters to what the bulk of people do, rather than what the best people do. Instead of the best operators creating perfect software, and the rest learning to use it, the software is built to the wants of the masses, when we know 9 out of 10 exploration companies fail, and the majority of mines are never profitable. We also know the 1 in 10 operator who succeeds will likely be the same one every time.

Traditionally, the 1 in 9 came up with a new technique, like soil sampling, and the 9 followed. In the modern, technology based industry, methods are about licence sales. Software is built for the 9 companies who fail, because they buy more licences.

Leapfrog geo is less capable than the now non-updated and soon to be abandoned Leapfrog mining now only for "advanced users". Instead of advanced users setting the standard, and others striving to achieve it, the software is simplified to suit the larger market.

We need good geos taking good measurements. Not constructing complex work arounds for dysfunctional software or resorting to using near disposal phones to populate databases worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

You are right about some of that spiel (I don't think going digital has anything to do with us finding less!!), but what chance, and at what cost do we get specific hardware OR software? The software might come more easily (and is) as there are more proficient geeks in our ranks now than ever before. Maybe this current cycle, some of the unemployed will up-skill as needed to become design engineers instead of teachers and taxi drivers. But even then, exploration is a small client base in the big picture, with potential sales of a few thousand, tops, unless it is cheap and/or hits a mining sweet spot as well. That's not going to entice anybody to do much. I suspect we will be stuck with making do with techno spin offs. We just need to make sure it leans the way we want it to.

Victor Bergman
1 year ago
Victor Bergman 1 year ago

"The next generation of geologists, apart from a small minority have not had formal field training. Universities, bar a few exceptions don't do this any more. Geological mapping is out of vogue academically, and health and safety makes fieldwork prohibitively difficult. "

All I can say to that fieldwork is a good part of a degree course. I am reminded of an old comment (paraphrased) that if only geologists had got out and looked at the rocks much debate may have been saved.

"Having hundreds of measurements and photos from good geos (I did specify that part) is better than only a few. "

This is the more is better argument, it is false, it is behind the QAQC Frankenstein, the overdrilling of resources, and a number of other horrifying geological indecencies. Poor data is much harder to correct (or better, delete) when there is a lot of it.

As usual much of the commentary has missed the central question - the answer is NO! It may be yes one day if properly damped compasses and inclinometers ever become part of the geek toolbox, otherwise we must await fit for purpose technology.

John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

First I fail to see the reason for higher rates of data production at the cost of lower quality readings. A geologist in the field mapping has to take his time to unravel the picture on the ground. Sure there may be new tools available to him but the process remains the same. The outcome is dependent on his skill and not the rate at which he collects data points. Unlike soil geochemistry structural mapping is not a statistical exercise.

As far as the loss of quality is concerned - an investigation in the accuracy and repeatability of fluxgate magnetometers and MEMS accelerometers in cell phones will quickly convince the scientific minded person that these are not precision instruments meant to do precision measurements. Apart from that I have not seen the use of the word "calibration" used by pro-cellphone lobbyists even once on these threads. It should be expected that the word be used often since this is rather an important word in any scientists' vocabulary. I have yet to see a cellphone app that can be calibrated. I therefore will not yet rely on a cell phone to give me precision data as I will not employ a gadget fanatic to perform a structural mapping excercise or rely on a computer gamer to protect my camp against attack.

Alan Carter
1 year ago
Alan Carter 1 year ago

The answer isn't yes or no, it's in between. This really isn't, and doesn't need to become, a yes-no discussion. Like everything else it is shades of grey. Digital devices and smartphones are already used for some purposes that once needed a compass. Not just in geology or exploration. They will be used more and more as they become more reliable and the problems are identified and ironed out.

So will it transfer to a mobile phone? Yes, it will and is. Will it replace a compass completely? Maybe yes. Eventually it probably will, at least for some applications. That seems to be the way the world is going. Not today, but it wont take 20 years either. If we help direct the development instead of trailing along picking up the scraps and complaining, we might be in a position of getting a good digital compass that has a good GPS and a basic phone function faster, instead of just a phone with a digital compass. Or a digital sighting compass with various "tricks" that links seamlessly to the phone that collects and checks the data and voice notes, shows it and uploads it. There will be some variation that fits most purposes. It's already there for some uses.

Calibration was discussed in the blog from the OP. It is a given for everyone in here, and just becomes part of the required training. But that's just evolution and details. Everything we use has to be calibrated or verified and the limitations known. You don't map structures in a highly magnetic unit without taking that into consideration. The accuracy required varies from place to place and the outcome required. Precisely measuring 2 cleavage relationships in 2 places won't accurately tell you regional or local the fold orientations. Unless you work in terrains unknown to most hard rock geologists. I can think of several cases where having more spatially located data with less accuracy would be far better than a few precise measurements. It's horses for courses. A good geo with the right tools to speed up his work is always going to be better value. Having a phone in hand doesn't turn the brain off (unless you have Facebook open). It's just a tool.

It may not be time to ditch the manual compass this year or next, but it is coming for a broad swathe of the industry. There will be a place for good old fashioned head scratching, with compass in hand for some time, but there will also be a place for accurately located, more quickly collected, structural information. As long as the details are collected as well, there is little downside. Assays done 30 years ago with less accuracy are not useless for exploration purposes as long as you know what you are looking at.

As seniors in the industry, rather than constantly downplaying the digital generation for their predilections, we need to work with them to get the best outcome. Marrying their digital comfort and understanding with your experience to make sure they know what to measure more reliably and why is far better than teaching them to use a piece of equipment they will ditch at the first opportunity if they don't understand why not.

Maybe it's time to start a thread dedicated to just the benefits of going digital. That might get more of the younger generations in to discuss things. On a thread like this, even I feel like it's very hard work wading in, and I WISH I was young enough to count as a different generation.

John Koenig
1 year ago
John Koenig 1 year ago

I believe you misunderstand what the older generation is saying. We will gladly go digital but only with tools made for the job, capable of doing the job as well or better than the analogue tools. I think you will find that it is this generation that can see the benefit and are willing to embrace RTK GPS with digital data capture devices, mapping drones and the latest 3D software. We are simply refusing to put up with toys. Put the smart phone capabilities within the realm of the scientific and you will find this generation gladly using it. After all we are using smart phones for the purpose it was created.

Helena Russell
1 year ago
Helena Russell 1 year ago

There is no earthly reason why the geeks who buy a smartphone would ever want a quality compass or inclinimeter.

I have been down on Bluetooth ever since an unpleasant experience a few years ago where a bad bluetooth driver rendered a $50,000 if not useless, certainly labour intensive and error prone. However, I have since played with bluetooth connections for my mag sus meter and a couple of other things and I am convinced that the future requires custom designed black boxes which talk to my smartphone. Probably a multi purpose compass/clinometer/rangefinder and a locator of one sort or another.

The answer to the original questioin remains no.

As to the notion that a lot of corrupted data is of any value at all, I would say that it is only so if you are producing garbage.

Victor Bergman
1 year ago
Victor Bergman 1 year ago

I concur that the future is digital devices talking wirelessly to the processor in your pocket, and the smartphone has many useful attributes which make it a pretty good processor in a pocket (unless you are in extreme conditions, wet or fall down sort of stuff).

At the moment, I build up a data table of Site No, E, N, RL on my GPS, and use that site number to merge field observations to location. If my GPS talked to my Galaxy, I would do the same. Where a bluetooth compass/clino would be good is if my forms package could page the bluetooth port.

So I locate, open a new structural observation in my forms package, key it to the current site no, and when I get to the prompt "Orientation" I touch the button and the programme waits.

Then I put my digital compass on the right orientation, push the transmit button and it bluetooths a string to the forms package. I can parse that string later in Access.

Then I fill in the width, length, termination, type, infill, blah de blah.

At the moment I read the dip and dip azimuth and manually enter them into two fields of the forms package, a process which is rife with opportunities to get the number wrong.

David Kano
1 year ago
David Kano 1 year ago

I am really looking forward to the opportunity next month to run a test in the form of a small pilot survey to check the accuracy, convenience and reliability of the smart phone system. Of course the project will not rely on this, we will use the traditional methods and instrumentation. I agree, the manual recording of the field data is tedious and prone to errors in recording, digitization, transcription. But paying careful attention to the job at hand is key to avoid these errors. 

Smart phones contain moving neodymium magnets hence the convenient vibration in your pocket during meetings. MOVING MAGNET! It just doesn't go well with flux-gate compasses. People have done these tests before and variations of up to 15 degrees between phones of the same model was noted. So beware of carrying your smartphone when doing magnetometer surveys or any serious scientific measurement involving magnetic fields.

JohnnyD
1 year ago
JohnnyD 1 year ago

A detailed structural mapping exercise, needs precision instruments fit for task. No one is disputing that. One part of the package will likely be a tablet or smartphone to collect, do basic verification, display and upload the information. That's just because they are getting better at what they do. But we can't get past the reality that the smartphones are and will be used in many cases that compasses were previously. Not every geo will carry a compass these days. Some don't already. Including senior geos making too. In some cases they don't need to because they have a smartphone that can give them a basic idea of what they are looking at. The Brunton will stay in the glove-box (or even at home!). So surveys like are really important to do and distribute. And we do need to keep doing them as technology changes. One day soon, the iphone will have a good enough selection of gizmos and apps that really do the job you want done. We need to be ready to notice it when it does. Anything that makes mapping easier and more attractive to do is good.

In the meantime, the issue you mention with incomplete attribution is huge. It's one of the biggest issues we have with data collected from all sources. Even that collected by professional structural geologists with Brunton in hand. Unless I have the field notebook itself, much of the info doesn't make it past the geos desk and map doodles, into databases, even today. If using a smartphone helped fix THAT issue, I would live with some accuracy variations. That can be helped with the linking to verification "Apps" on the fly. When Siri says "Oi you, what's lineation plunge on this one" and makes you tap "none" to get past it, everyone will know it meant none, not just "didn't look".

Just like the HH XRF that don't do as good a job as a lab, they have their advantages and a big place in our industry for collecting geochemistry. You just need to keep track of what and how the data is collected.

David Kano
1 year ago
David Kano 1 year ago

Ok, so when I take a measurement, instead of my brain scanning images and vague references in my skull with a processor 30 years ahead of anything we can even dream of, I'm going to stand there for two whole days tapping "none" till I have gone through all possibilities?

I agree on all counts. But there is a tendency to put less faith in geos, who are themselves very short on skill from constantly working in extremely limited settings. If someone makes apps tries to force me to do structural geology in the way that someone who makes apps does structural geology I will be upset. Then I will do what I always do. Spend 10 hours populating pointless fields I am paid to populate, and another 8 do something that works while everyone else drinks beer.

It is not the apps that is the problem. It is the poor sensor configuration. It is designed for imprecise but functional dynamic movement, not static measurement. Apple likely does not know or care people are trying to use it for geology. I don't use things with sensors if I don't know exactly how and when they work. No one has even differentiated between Iphone models even thought there is a vast difference between hardware in each.

A better app for structural geology would follow a diagnostics sequence with keywords and images, to guide someone to what they are looking at, and what should be measured in that instance. This is how my structural logs are constructed. A total novice can log advanced structure with them (very slowly admittedly) because its tied to Ken McLays manual. A complimentary app that ASSISTED would be great. Forcing data collection only forces exclusion. Data exclusion is very very bad in exploration, and also considered industry best practice......

In my humble opinion a geo who does not carry a compass is really not a geo. There has to be a definition somewhere, and if you don't want to be a geographer or a chemist, you need to be able to survey. If you don't carry a compass with a mirror on it, you are likely not aware of just how much you can't do. I have laid out a $10,000,000 irrigation system with my SUUNTO MC-2 after the designer and surveyor botched it (and the budget).

We are really arguing structural geology vs "exploration geology" as the original blog these threads are copied from talked about using the Iphone to produce a structural trend. Structural trends only occur in exploration geology, they are not part of structural geology. An Iphone will do a perfectly acceptable job of developing a structural trend.

A structural trend was produced from one of my targeting models once. They started with the 6 major ore bearing planes I gave them, each of which had a dip and dip direction to define them. So 12 numbers in total. 12 bearings and inclinations were reduced to a single "trend" azimuth. The hit rate on the 12 number model was 100% (5 holes) vs 3.2% for the "trend" (350 holes) so I was not sold on trends.

Maya Rothman
1 year ago
Maya Rothman 1 year ago

We did our test during a structural mapping project I am involved with. The software used was RockLogger for BlackBerry. The equipment is the Z10 smartphone. In general it is a nifty tool but for very specific purpose and by no means is a substitution of a professional geologic compass. Specific comments: (a) The general fragility of the instrument. Although I have an Otter Box protecting case, I am always concerned of drops, humidity and the general hostile environment; (b) setup: care has to be taken into the proper parameters are set up specially the Right Hand Rule convention, select measuring system (dip/dip direction or strike/dip-dip direction); and (c) the position of the instrument when measuring. Although the instructions state that the dip and strike are the same independent of the attitude of the phone on the plane, I found that this is not quite so and had to be careful to be consistent in having the bottom of the phone always pointing to the down-dip direction. There is also an arrow symbol that is leveled when the phone is in the upright position, that helps.

Benefits: to collect a large number of measurements on an specific spot to carry out stereo net plots in very good. Once you are setup, to zip through 20, 50 or more readings is a breeze. The accuracy of the GPS is ~5 metres, so I don't expect super precise locations, but is good enough for me. The sensitivity of the phone gyroscopic sensors look more than needed, and I believe that they can be moderated to more realistic levels (I don't believe in 0.1 degrees accuracy). Anyways the actual readings match the ones taken with the Brunton. The format of the files is plain simple CSV and has a KML export function. Also the email capability: I can send out the log files as soon as I get a cell or wifi coverage.

Bottom line: I personally would and will continue making use of it in the future but, repeat: it is NOT a substitute for my Brunton.

David Kano
1 year ago
David Kano 1 year ago

I’m always keen to give new technologies a go and see how they stack up against traditional methods. For me, a cellphone compass is great for collecting lots of measurements at a regional scale when I’m happy for the accuracy to be +-5 degrees; let’s face it, at many outcrops the bedding or foliation can have a natural variation of +-5 degrees anyway. They're also very handy in poor weather or when the surface I’m measuring is in a tight spot. If I want a precision measurement, to site a drill hole or to map a traverse accurately I’ll use my Brunton or surveying equipment. But to be honest, when it comes to structural measurements at outcrops I more frequently use my compass and notebook because I know I can trust the measurement and I know the data is stored safely. That said, any measurements I take above 40oC, while it's snowing, during torrential downpours or before my morning coffee has soaked in should be treated as +-5 degrees! I’ve spent weeks on outcrops taking thousands and thousands of vein and foliation measurements; would that data have been any better or worse if I’d had an iPhone and the right App back then? 90% of the data would probably have been just as good from the iPhone as my compass, but I would certainly have covered more ground and been home sooner if I’d used a digital device; although, I would quite possibly have missed some of the subtleties in the rock by measuring and moving on too quickly.

One of my biggest problems with digital structural measurements is that I don’t know how accurate the measurements are at any given time. With a GPS I get an accuracy reading based on the satellite data my receiver is getting, but with a digital clinometer in a cell phone I can only assume that every reading is within the manufacturers or calibration limitation of +-5 degrees for example. If the needle in my compass gets stuck on the frame or glass I can see it and fix the problem immediately, if the gyroscope in my cellphone gets stuck or if a magnet in the phone is buggering things up at certain times I’ll never know! How much do I trust the gyroscope in my cellphone? …not much at the moment, but I trust it more than I did 5 years ago, and I have hope for future devices.

I encourage all of my third year structural geology students to use a compass and a notebook and leave the iPhone back at camp (READ: if I see them with a digital device in the field or taking a 'migmatite selfie' for Facebook there’ll be trouble!). I want them to learn about the structures they are measuring by looking at the rocks and making meaningful sketches in their notebooks. Cellphone applications detract from that experience and quite honestly slow the whole field day down as people try to select data from pull down menus and annotate digital data. But I never want them to leave the field camp without having a go with a field tablet or software on their phones so I let them loose with the technology on the last day if they’re keen to have a go. Frequently they come back from a day with the technology and have lost data (usually operator error!) or have struggled to collect descriptive data (rock types, sketches, outcrop notes etc.) as fast as they could in a notebook; they have had trouble seeing the screens clearly with sunglasses on, got their precious phone muddy, dusty or wet, or have had the batteries running dangerously low by 5 pm. A valuable lesson. The structural measurements however were often better quality and of greater quantity than when they were using a hand compass - students! When the weather is good and the technology is working well and accurately enough for the job then I want my students to know there are tools out there that can help them collect data fast. But when the situations change I want them to remember the tools you can use in all weather conditions to collect data, know how to use a waterproof notebook to store the information, and read a map to find their way home.

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