Digital field data acquisition: towards increased quantification of uncertainty during geological mapping
Traditional methods of geological mapping were developed within the inherent constraints imposed by paper-based publishing. These methods are still dominant in the earth sciences, despite recent advances in digital technology in a range of fields, including global positioning systems, geographical information systems (GIS), 3-D computer visualization, portable computer devices, knowledge engineering and artificial intelligence. Digital geological mapping has the potential to overcome some serious limitations of paper-based maps. Although geological maps are usually highly interpretive, traditional maps show little of the raw field data collected or the reasoning used during interpretation. In geological mapping, interpretation typically relies on the prior experience and prior knowledge of the mapper, but this input is rarely published explicitly with the final printed map. Digital mapping techniques open up new possibilities for publishing maps digitally in a GIS format, together with spatially referenced raw field data, field photographs, explanation of the interpretation process and background information relevant to the map area. Having field data in a digital form allows the use of interpolation methods based on fuzzy logic to quantify some types of uncertainty associated with subsurface interpretation, and the use of this uncertainty to evaluate the validity of competing interpretations.