Geologists as a group have and use above-average spatial thinking skills to interpret and communicate complex geologic structures. Interpretation challenges, especially with petroleum industry subsurface targets, come from abundant but still ambiguous data volumes, challenging geologic forms, powerful but difficult-to-learn software, and under prepared staff. In June 2013, 70 participants in an AAPG Hedberg Conference met to discuss these and related issues and to explore how spatial cognitive science can help to better understand and develop geologic interpretation skills, software tools, and education strategies.
The chapters in this volume derive from presentations, discussions, and research conducted during the Hedberg Conference. Like the conference itself, these chapters provide an unusually broad spectrum of topics that have important connections and implications for geologic interpretation, and from an equally broad range of author affiliations and backgrounds.
Three-dimensional geologic interpretation of surface and subsurface data requires integration and application of both geologic knowledge and spatial cognitive skills. Much surface geologic mapping still employs pen and paper techniques, but subsurface interpretation is usually accomplished using sophisticated visualization software. In both cases, successful interpreters use mental models that bridge internal and external forms of 3-D visualization to construct 3-D geologic interpretations.
This volume is organized into four sections: papers focused on spatial thinking, geologic cognition, and 3-D visualization; papers focused on aspects of geologic interpretation, especially in the subsurface; papers that look at the interpretations of fault systems, with a particular focus on the Hat Creek fault zone; papers that consider how concepts of spatial thinking and geologic interpretation affect education and training. This Memoir should appeal to all geologic interpreters, and especially those who investigate and teach interpretation skills.