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Procedure of the Geological Exposure Description

© Alexsander S. Bogolyubov, Sergey V. Baslerov, Russia, 1999

© Michael J. Brody, USA, 2003

Procedure of the geological exposure descriptionThis manual contains a procedure for description and analysis of geological exposure including: selection of a study site, preparation of the geological exposure under study, descriptions of the profile for the selected geological structures and interpretation and presentation of the results.

This field study has instructional video featuring real students conducting the ecological field techniques in nature. Each video illustrates the primary instructional outcomes and the major steps in accomplishing the task including reporting the results.


When conducting complex field studies with students, introduction to the geological structure of the studied area is an integral and important part of ecological research as well as environmental education. Properly organized geological studies will enable young researchers to understand the origin and evolution (developmental process) of ecosystems within the area, and to assess developmental perspectives of its vegetation, water regime and fauna.

As a result of field geological studies it is possible to characterize structure, age, conditions of formation and embedding of rocks; features of the relief, connections of forms and elements of the relief with geological structure; geological processes that take place now and that took place in the recent past.

The educational task is the study of properties of sedimentation, with stress on the study of alluvial sediments.

Studying sedimentary rocks and alluvial deposits, one can approximately judge geological structure of the given area, about conditions of its formation as a whole, and of each geological horizon separately.

The goal of this educational task is to introduce students to the geological structure of their region. One of the most important, meaningful (intellectual) parts of this study is not just detection and description of different geological horizons but also structure of the landscape relief.

General information on a subject of study

The procedure for studying the geological structure of plain river valleys flowing in loose sedimentary deposits is considered in this manual. Only in such conditions does the river have the possibility of free development, forming well-expressed valleys with sedimentary deposits many meters thick, which can be easily studied. The study of the geological structure of mountain river valleys is not provided by the given educational task, as their development is limited with flow-resistant rocks, furthermore, they are described differently.

Processes that take place in the flow of water determine how the relief forms of a river valley (floodplains and terraces located above flood lands) were shaped. These processes cause the river either to branch, forming islands, or to meander, i.e. to curve, forming ridges of river deposits within the channel (which are usually located from one peak of the meander to another). In the low-water period, peaks of these ridges can tower above the water level and can be overgrown with grass. A floodplain is formed by attachment of these ridges or islands to the bank with their subsequent overlapping with inundated alluvium.

The geological base of the fluvial plain is laid down by riverbed alluvium, overlapped by inundation, which is modified by the river during a period of regular inundation in flooding (caused by snowmelt) and high water (caused by rains). The floodplain is no longer a floodplain when it is not flooded any more – then it turns into terrace located above flooded land (further in the text TLF). It can occur when a river erodes further below the surface of the land, or there is a decrease in the river flow.

Three types of river alluvium are known: riverbed, inundated and old-channel. It is necessary to distinguish them, as different types of alluvium are formed under different conditions and their external shape (appearance) allows us to make conclusions on their origin.

For example, riverbed alluvium is formed in the channel of a river, under conditions of high current velocities and large depth. Riverbed alluvium has the largest sized particles (because they are deposited by a current with large lifting (elevating) ability, which is determined by water mass and stream velocity). Inundated alluvium is deposited at the flood plain during floods or high water. The river flow due to small depth (as a result of wide flood) has low velocity and it is not capable of transferring...


This was only the first page from the manual and its full version you can see in the

Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set:

It is possible to purchase the complete set of 40 seasonal Ecological Field Study Materials (video in mpg + manuals in pdf formats) in an attractive 4 compact disk set. These compact disks are compatible with Mac and PC computers. The teacher background information and manuals can be printed out for easy reference. The videos are suitable for individual student or whole class instruction. To purchase the complete 4CD set write a request to the authors (in a free form).

Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set

Some of these manuals you can also purchase in the form of applications for Android devices on Google Play.

Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk:

We also have a free and interesting demonstration disk that explains our ecological field studies approach. The demo disk has short excerpts from all the seasonal field study videos as well as sample text from all the teacher manuals. The disk has an entertaining automatic walk through which describes the field study approach and explains how field studies meet education standards.

You can also download the Demo Disc from This is a virtual hybrid (for PC and Mac computers) CD-ROM image (one 563 Mb file "CD_Demo.iso"). You can write this image to the CD and use it in your computer in ordinary way. You also can use emulator software of virtual CD-ROM drive to play the disk directly from your hard disk.

Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk


Other Ecological Field Studies Instructive Manuals:

Autumn Season

  1. Orienteering in the Forest
  2. Procedure of the Geological Exposure Description
  3. Plotting a Profile of a River Valley Slope
  4. Simple Procedure of Soil Description
  5. Assessment of the Vital State of a Forest Based on Pine-tree Analysis
  6. Study of Species Composition and Number of Fungi
  7. Study of Species Composition and Census of Birds Using the Line Transect-counting Method
  8. Integrated Study Based on Landscape Profile
  9. Complex Environmental Assessment of Human Impact on an Area
  10. Assessment of Air Pollution by Lichen Indication Method

Winter Season

  1. Making a Campfire
  2. Simple “Eye” Survey of the Field Study Site
  3. Study of Growth Dynamics of Trees Based on Annual Rings
  4. Mapping Forest Vegetation
  5. Green Plants Under Snow
  6. Methods of Observation of a Chickadee Flock's Territorial Behavior
  7. Procedure of Winter Mammals Route Census by Footprints
  8. Study of Mammal Ecology According to Their Tracks
  9. Physical and Chemical Properties of Natural Waters
  10. Study of Snow Cover Profile

Spring Season

  1. Let's Help Birds!
  2. Study of the Ecology of Early Flowering Plants
  3. Phenology of Plant Florescence
  4. Assessment of the Vital State of Coniferous Underbrush
  5. Study of Forest Invertebrates (Part I: Forest Litter, Wood)
  6. Studies of Species Composition and Abundance of Amphibians
  7. Studying Minerals and Rocks in Your Area
  8. Studies of the Day Activity of Singing Birds
  9. Studies of Bird Populations Size by Different Methods
  10. Study of Fauna of Spring Temporary Water Bodies

Summer Season

  1. Making a Herbarium
  2. The Study of Plants in Your Local Environment
  3. Study of the Vertical Structure of a Forest
  4. Study of Forest Invertebrates (Part 2: Grass Layer, Tree Crowns and Air)
  5. Study of Birds’ Nesting Life
  6. Complex Comparative Description of Small Rivers and Streams
  7. The Study of Water Invertebrates in a Local River and Assessment of Its Environmental State
  8. Study of Plankton
  9. Assessment of Ecological Features of Meadows on the Base of Vegetation Cover
  10. Assessment of Environmental State of the Forest Based on Leaves’ Asymmetry

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