GOOD FIELD NOTES continued
related to 3, consistent organization of your notes is very helpful.
Always organize your horizon observations so you can go through your
descriptive process in a way that develops repetition and order. You
will become less likely to forget the numerous little details. By
convention, and this means it is more of a guideline than a rule, soil
profiles are described from the top down. Soil-forming processes act
from the top down so soil descriptions tend to follow this vector.
Geologists frequently describe profiles from the bottom up (oldest to
youngest). Their interests are in the processes of
deposition/erosion. Although our interests cannot be completely
separated, ours are primarily in the processes of non-deposition/erosion
(those that occur in the absence of deposition and erosion).
6) A good profile description will be accompanied by a profile
drawing that shows the arrangement and relative thickness of each horizon to
scale. The drawing may also point out the location in the profile
of specific features like: the depth at which the best clay skins are
found, the point at which manganese stains occur, the location of animal
borrows, where samples/photographs were taken, etc.
7) Now that you've described the profile and have shown it in a
landscape and Catenary context with maps and diagrams it may be useful to
note how the soil morphology matches up/or doesn't match up with what you
expected. This is the time to address hypotheses for the genesis of
the soil properties you observed. Remember, in description and
classification we don't need to know genesis (why?) but as soil scientists
and geographers, the question of genesis is linked to landscape evolution,
natural vegetation, human land-use etc. We want to know about genesis
because it is a clue to past and present conditions on the surface of the
Earth (the home for human beings). Jot down your ideas or the
questions you still need to answer about soil genesis.
8) Your notes will be read by other professional from diverse fields
with vastly different levels of soil knowledge and understanding
(engineers, geologists, biologists, hydrologists, surveyors, tennis
pros). If you become embroiled in legal controversy the list of professionals
reading your field notes will include lawyers, judges and
accountants. No non-standard English abbreviations are
permissible. If it's not an abbreviation found in the Funk and
Wagnell's dictionary, you can't use it. Similarly, no allusions to
things not observable at the field site unless a reference is given to
direct the reader to what you're talking about. You can't say,
"looks like the hills by Grandma's house" (even if this is indeed
true). You can say, "landscape here at the such-and-such site
appears similar to that observed at the so-and-so site (see 1994 field
notebook 2, pages ??-?? or, see the description in Jones and Smith, 1996,
Title, Publisher, etc.)".
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