Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

        Experience    Field Note Book
Site Map   
Experience Handle Bones   sample page  

If you don't write it down, then it never happened....        
charting admonition for physicians and nurses


The Field Note Book is a vital part of the recording and documentation process.
Always keep it with you and use it!
Field Note Book

Each person working in the quarry should have a Field Note Book in which important information is recorded.  Generally, you will have your own; however, for those that are working only for a few days, a shared one will be supplied.  If you have one from previous years, then please continue using it.

The Field Note Book may be obtained from the director of the project.  The cost is $5.00.

Since there will be many in use and they all look similar, write your name on the cover, especially the spine, with a dark permanent marker.

The Field Note Book should be a chronological record of your scientific research work.  It is not a diary of your personal life.  It is not notes from the class presentations—for this you will need a separate notebook.  It should document your work in the field and other relevant observations from museums, other sites, etc.  It is both for your use as a permanent record and for others who need details about your work.  All entries are to be recorded with the date—a date entry at the beginning of each day's consecutive entries is sufficient.

As the fossils are uncovered, the primary data record will be the GPS equipment to record their location and the digital photograph to record their visual images (along with Field Labels); however, your notebook is also a primary source of information that is just as valuable.  It should complement the other data records.  Indeed, sometimes a simple sketch with some written notes can emphasize certain details that are not easy to discern in a photograph.

The Field Note Book should be filled out with pencil or waterproof pen.  Each page should be numbered consecutively.

You should record in your Field Note Book the date and times (beginning and ending) you are working, where, and what activities you are doing.  You do not need make comments about lunch!  You should describe environmental conditions that affect your work.

Coordinates in the quarry are given in terms of N and E distances measured in meters from some specified point.  You will normally be working in a given square meter.  These generally will be defined by spikes driven into the ground at the corners with coordinate information attached.  A quarry grid square is designated by the actual coordinates located in the south-west (Southwestern) corner; that is, the smaller of the two N coordinates and E coordinates at the four corners of the square.

N111 E840  N111 E841

  o o  
N110 E840 N110 E841

The square illustrated is the N110-E840 square.

All bones, teeth, bone fragments that are given an HRS field number are to be recorded in the Field Note Book.  You should also describe the bone, sketch its position and orientation relative to the grid points.  Write down any pertinent information as to the condition of the bone; e.g. was it fractured and separated, its general condition; and the location of the ends as estimated to the nearest tenth of a meter.  Record any unusual situations; e.g. the dip angle of the bone if it is not horizontal.  If the bone occurs with others, then a single sketch showing several bones may suffice.  Describe the vertical arrangement relative to other bones.  Generally the expectation is that half to a full page is "about right" to document a major bone.  A shorter amount may be sufficient for a tooth or bone fragment.

Note that every HRS field label that you deal with should be recorded.  It is probably a good idea to document it whenever one is given to you.  Therefore, at any given time there is a complete accounting of all field labels even if the specimen has not yet been removed from the quarry.  The page number where the information is recorded in your Field Note Book is to be written on the Field Label Card.

The last few pages of your Field Note Book should contain a two-column list of the HRS field numbers and the page in the Field Note Book that it is recorded.  Start with the last page and continue on a previous page when it gets filled.

The matrix around the specimen should also be documented.  This may also include the presence of shells, carbon inclusions, or other unusual features.

You should also document when the bone is removed from the quarry and what you did with it.  (See  The Handling of Bones .)  For small intact bones this may involve wrapping it aluminum foil and placing it in the quarry bone bag.  For large bones document the casting process, etc.  All specimens should be clearly labeled on the bone as well as on the wrapping.  Note that you may wish to leave some room in your Field Note Book at the point you record a large bone so that you can add a dated note about the casting, removal, etc. if this occurs at some later time.  In your chronological record, write a reference; e.g. "25 Jun 00, cast and removed HRS00666 (see 21 Jun 00, page 37)."

Keep your Field Note Book neat and up to date!  It is not an activity to be done at the end of the week or even at the end of the day.  Take time during your work to document things as you go.  You are not expected to be an artist, but do take some care with your sketches, and remember that others will be reading your notes.  A possibility is to scan the originals into the computer so that the original notes may be available to other researchers on the web.   In all cases, the pages of your Field Note Book will be copied and retained as a permanent part of the research work before the Note Book is returned to you at the end of the course.

The research leaders may at any time during the project review your Field Note Book.

The Field Note Book should record all information about the research that you think is relevant.  As examples: you may wish to sketch the general layout of the quarry area in which you are working; you may discover or observe techniques, etc. that are helpful—write them done.  Keep in mind that several years in the future you may wish to refresh your memory of the experience.  This is possible if the data are recorded!

All Field Note Books will be collected and retained by the project director until an opportunity is available to make a copy of the contents.  If you purchased the Field Note Book, it will be returned to you.


© 2001-2017 by Southwestern Adventist University and Earth History Research Center