Monday, April 2, 2007

Didactic Disclaimers

Geological Gadflies and Didactic Disclaimers

As a prelude to the annual report for Earth Science Hikers on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, I should mention that the principal author (ME) is an engineer, with Earth Science training and teaching in three universities. Since I studied Geology only as an appendage, I am not very much influenced by the Geologic Method- which is to classify everything and place it in a niche which may be compared to everything else in the Universe. Seeing very little understanding (of the processes that proceed in the Earth) derived from using this procedure, I try to read as little as possible in the literature in advance, so that I am not influenced significantly. However, after reaching conclusions in the field, I read some of the published work, so that I eliminate the possibility that something of importance might have been overlooked. After all, this is a field where the most important theory for Oil Geologists- the geosynclinal theory- was subdivided into many categories (Euo, Mio, etc) for years before the realization that the theory was deceiving operational geologists, and later discarded (Dead as a Dodo bird, as they say). Further, I recall one of the two Nobel winners (in categories other than Geology, which has no standing- and a true profession should have physical under-pinnings beneath it, that is to say understanding), the recipient went on to assert that the Moon had been expelled to form the Pacific Ocean. These examples led me to watch the accuracy of exploration geologists and to determine that the success was somewhat random.
My method is to measure entities on the earth’s surface (and subsurface wherever possible), to determine geological anomalies- which are departures from the normal observed in the area of interest. The anomalies tell a story different to that derived from mere classification. This pertains to dynamics, and can be gotten from the usual strike, dip, orientations of fractures, faults and structures, analysis of water and its contents, geophysical parameters (such as resistivity and Potentials in the earth), temperatures, mineralogical changes, magnetics and others easily measured with portable field equipment. These have to do with things that move three-dimensionally in the Earth, as distinct from stationary entities, which may be more easily classified than understood.
Fortunately, geophysics has entered the mosaic, and a unified theory has now been articulated by other Earth Scientists- that is to say Plate Tectonics and its subordinates such as Petrophysics, Geothermal Appraisals, Formation Evaluation, and Geochemistry. HLO