69262 - Field Geology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Oceans Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course provides the basic knowledge for unravelling the local geological setting and for reconstructing the geological history of the study area. In the field, students will be able to describe and interpret the rocky outcrops, to measure the spatial orientation of both stratigraphic and tectonic elements. Then, students will be able to detect and to draw up geological maps, to build up geological sections, to read and interpret geological maps, to create legends and brief geological reports.

Course contents

The Course contents include:

  1. Introduction to the field: the geological survey as a basic tool for defining and reconstructing the subsurface model. The geological survey according to the objectives and the scale of the investigation. The field equipment. The field notebook and its compilation.
  2. The use of compass-clinometer to measure (i) the orientation of geological planes and lineations with respect to north, and (ii) the dip of geological features with respect to the horizontal (dip-direction vs. Right Hand Rule).
  3. Stereographic projections (Schmidt and Wulff nets) of geological features (planar and linear). Kalsbeek net for contouring. Projections of faults with slickenlines; beta and pi-greek methods for folds.
  4. Recording features of sedimentary rocks: sedimentary units and sedimentary features.
  5. Recording features of igneous rocks: spatial distribution of intrusive bodies and their relationships with the surrounding host rocks.
  6. Recording features of metamorphic rocks: internal fabric of metamorphic rocks; spatial distribution of metamorphic units in an orogenic setting.
  7. Recording structural information: orientation, geometry, and kinematics of faults; orientation and geometry of folds.
  8. Geological mapping: reading and understanding geological maps. Anatomy of a geological sheet: maps, legend, and cross-sections. The CARG-project.
  9. Elements of stratimetry: relationships between topography and lithological/structural limits (the V-rule). Tracing surfaces on topographic maps and reconstructing their trend from the geological map. Bedding, dip, and thickness (true and apparent). The direction lines method. The three-point problem. Drawing structure contours.
  10. Geological cross-sections: constructing or sketching cross-sections at different scales. Projecting map data on cross-sections. 
  11. Writing a geological report.


  • G. Cremonini, 1994 - Rilevamento Geologico. Pitagora Ed.
  • A.L. Coe, 2010 - Geological Field Techniques. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
  • C. Venturini, 2012 - Realizzare e leggere carte e sezioni geologiche. Flaccovio Ed.
  • B. Simpson, 1994 - Lettura delle Carte Geologiche. Flaccovio Ed.
  • K.R. McClay, 1987 - The Mapping of Geological Structures. John Wiley & Sons

Teaching methods

The teaching methods include:

  • frontal teaching;
  • classroom exercises;
  • daily (or two-days) field activity;
  • Geological Survey Field (7-8 days): teaching activity in collaboration with the colleague Prof. Giulio Viola of the BiGeA Department, who will be responsible of Module n° 2.

In consideration of the adopted activities and teaching methods, the attendance of this course requires all students to carry out general and specific training modules on safety in the field laboratories. Please contact the responsible for the safety modules.

Assessment methods

Students will be evaluated on:

  • contents from the frontal teaching;
  • practical proofs by exercises;
  • daily field activities (cartographic products and reports are included);
  • activities during the Geological Survey Field, as well as the provided cartographic products and report.

The evaluation includes practical-written and oral examinations.

Teaching tools

During classroom teaching:

  • power point slides
  • geological maps
  • research articles
  • technical reports

During field activities (including the Geological Survey Field):

  • topographic maps
  • field equipment
  • essential drawing material for mapping

Office hours

See the website of Gianluca Vignaroli

See the website of Giulio Viola