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Geosciences LibreTexts

1.5: Activity 1D - Making Geological Observations

  • Page ID
    14599
  • How Do Geologists Make Observations regarding Hand Samples or Specimens?

    Recall that observations involve the five senses:

    • sight (visual) - geologists will typically utilize a hand lens, magnifying glass, or microscope to see more detail.

    • touch (kinesthetic)

    • sound (auditory)

    • smell (olfactory) - waft the smell to your nose, like in a chemistry class.

    • taste (gustatory) - NEVER taste an unknown sample.

    Always record any observations made. This ensures accuracy when you revisit your notes later.

    1. To practice your observational skills, select a sample provided by your instructor. Document your observations in the table below.

    Sample number: Observation My observation
    visual
    feel
    smell
    sound
    taste N/A; never taste an unknown sample.

    How Do Geologists Categorize Specimens Based on Similar Observations?

    Geologists frequently group similar samples together. Oftentimes, samples are grouped together based on observations about them. For this question, consider your sample and those of your classmates. Examine each sample and compare your observations.

    1. To practice your categorization skills, develop categories for all the samples used in the previous question. Each category should contain more than one sample that shares some observable characteristic (i.e. color, feel, smell, etc.). For example, if you notice multiple samples are pink, place them all together in a “pink category”. Use as many samples as necessary, however, it may not be possible to categorize all samples. Samples may exist in multiple categories.

    Shared characteristic Sample numbers included in this category
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