Callan wonders if Google Maps (or, indeed, Google Earth) could be used to create a spatial directory of interesting geological localities:
One thing that I found frustrating and limiting in my first few years of teaching was that there was no good single source to go to find out about relevant outcrops. It took time and experience to find out where the cool rocks were. Is it a good idea to put this information online in a publicly-accessible format so beginning instructors and interested students/amateurs can visit interesting outcrops?
I’ve picked up a truly excellent book out here which describes the general geology, and highlights particularly interesting outcrops, along the major highway routes here in South Africa – a wonderful resource for anyone interested in what’s going on in all those road-cuts. I’ve often thought that an on-line version which tries to do a similar thing – a kind of geo-spatial wiki – would be a wonderful resource: you can check to see if your journey takes you close to anything interesting, or look up information on something that you’ve just driven past, or even conduct virtual fieldtrips on other continents.
Obviously there are potential issues with geovandalism (and the exact locations of certain rare fossil sites should probably never be disclosed in this manner), but is this something that we should consider doing (or starting, anyway)? Ron surely has some ideas about this, if he hasn’t set something up already. Let me know your thoughts.