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The Problem with EarthCaches

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When I first read about EarthCaches, I was excited. The idea of encouraging people to learn about earth sciences was gratifying and exciting. However, when it comes to the reality of setting up an EarthCache, the truth is far from exciting. In fact, the restrictive nature of the rules ends up precluding the use of MANY types of actual earth sciences! The bias towards Geology is evident in the caches allowed for inclusion.

 

Definitionally, earth science incorporates, all of the following:

 

The following fields of science are generally categorized within the geosciences:

Geology

Physical geography covers the aspects of geomorphology, oceanography, climatology and biogeography - PARTS NOT ALLOWED

Geophysics and geodesy investigate the shape of the Earth,

Soil science

Oceanography and hydrology - NOT ALLOWED

Glaciology

Atmospheric sciences - NOT ALLOWED

 

Strangely, many of these are not even allowed as EarthCaches yet here we are, excluding some sciences that are rightly called Earth Science in favor of geology. If we look at the purpose of the EarthCache, it is one of both education and entertainment. Excluding valid Geosciences eliminates many avenues of education. I would ask that Groundspeak reconsider allowing these sorts of EarthCaches to give cachers a richer educational experience.

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EarthCaches are administered by the Geological Socieity of America. They set the items allowed and not allowed for EarthCaches. I teach high school and AP earth science classes and agree, the difinition of earth science is very restrictive to geological processes only. Once I realized that GSA set the rules and administrates EarthCaches, it made it easier to start to develop them.

 

I was asked by a land trust to set an EarthCache on their property. They wanted people to visit, but not tromp through the underbrush to find a physical caches. They wanted information on the plant sepecies as well as the geology, so it took some creative writing and discussion back and forth with the earthcache reviewer but it finally was published and has been visited quite often. I set up a 14 stage multi and was very easy to visit each stage. There are a couple stages that require some extention from what they have read in the write up and information they find along the trail.

 

I hope that helps a litte as you set up more EarthCaches. I would love some time to come to your part of the world to visit the unique ones there.

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I think one of the issues here is the name "Earth Cache." It does seem to imply that the scope of the topics would be more broad. But as markcase mentioned, the program is supported by the Geological Society of America. I agree that the limitations are unfortunate as there are so many wonders to explore....maybe some day there will be another category or type of cache developed to help us shine a light on some of the planets other wonders.

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I think one of the issues here is the name "Earth Cache." It does seem to imply that the scope of the topics would be more broad. But as markcase mentioned, the program is supported by the Geological Society of America. I agree that the limitations are unfortunate as there are so many wonders to explore....maybe some day there will be another category or type of cache developed to help us shine a light on some of the planets other wonders.

How about GeoCache? Oops, that's already taken.

I'm with you regarding the limitation, but it will never be changed. :ph34r:

Edited by Konnarock Kid & Marge

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I'm Ok with the name but I do recognise that in some instances there should be a little more latitude given to the cache developer when topics fall in that grey area where you can't get the full picture unless you delve into other branches of the natural sciences.

Having said this I don't think that the term "NaturalCaches" would ever catch on :laughing:

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I have to agree w/the concensus so far. I feel sorry for anyone trying to use the EC educators guide. From one who has a degree in Geology as well as Earth Scince, it still protrays a more traditional definition and usage of Earth Science. But others have the "approal stamp" in their hand...

As an after thought prehaps the term Geoscience Caches could be used??? This may minimize the confusion w/the interpretation of "Earth Science".

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I have to agree w/the concensus so far. I feel sorry for anyone trying to use the EC educators guide. From one who has a degree in Geology as well as Earth Scince, it still protrays a more traditional definition and usage of Earth Science. But others have the "approal stamp" in their hand...

As an after thought prehaps the term Geoscience Caches could be used??? This may minimize the confusion w/the interpretation of "Earth Science".

Good points. Never happen though! Thanks. :ph34r:

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EarthCaches are administered by the Geological Society of America. They set the items allowed and not allowed for EarthCaches.

 

One aspect of this has changed a bit since the inception of ECs: GSA no longer reviews the caches, Groundspeak volunteers do. If this trend continues and GSA throws more of the project over to Groundspeak, perhaps the focus can expand beyond geology.

 

Realistically speaking, there are a number of ECs that deal primarily with biology, just with a geological tie-in -- I've seen a couple listings that deal with regrowth of vegetation following a volcanic eruption. Not much of a stretch to allow a similar EC at the site of a particularly bad forest fire.

 

(I'm not holding my breath, though.)

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The one EC I developed for the land trust has several biology components but tied directly to the geological component. That is how the reviewer and I were able to meet in the middle and satisfy both parties.

 

A second EC I developed for an urban swamp/marsh question must include vegetation because the definition of depends upon the type of flora growing. I had to include that information for that EC developed for another land trust.

 

I am currently working on a series of EC for the county school system. The school system wanted and EC near each high school (16 in the county) but finding enough unique geological features to provide spacing and relevant questions for earth science is difficult. The project would be easier to do if the flora could be an equal component of the criteria. Still working on the creative geological component that will meet the needs of the educational program and cachers alike.

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I am currently working on a series of EC for the county school system. The school system wanted and EC near each high school (16 in the county) but finding enough unique geological features to provide spacing and relevant questions for earth science is difficult.

 

I can imagine. Good luck!

 

If you start to get stuck, there's always soil surveys. Not the sexiest earthcache material around, but if you need a pile of earthcaches in the suburbs, it might give you something. There's an interactive site here that lets you look up surveys by coordinates.

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When I first read about EarthCaches, I was excited. The idea of encouraging people to learn about earth sciences was gratifying and exciting. However, when it comes to the reality of setting up an EarthCache, the truth is far from exciting. In fact, the restrictive nature of the rules ends up precluding the use of MANY types of actual earth sciences! The bias towards Geology is evident in the caches allowed for inclusion.

 

Definitionally, earth science incorporates, all of the following:

 

The following fields of science are generally categorized within the geosciences:

Geology

Physical geography covers the aspects of geomorphology, oceanography, climatology and biogeography - PARTS NOT ALLOWED

Geophysics and geodesy investigate the shape of the Earth,

Soil science

Oceanography and hydrology - NOT ALLOWED

Glaciology

Atmospheric sciences - NOT ALLOWED

 

Strangely, many of these are not even allowed as EarthCaches yet here we are, excluding some sciences that are rightly called Earth Science in favor of geology. If we look at the purpose of the EarthCache, it is one of both education and entertainment. Excluding valid Geosciences eliminates many avenues of education. I would ask that Groundspeak reconsider allowing these sorts of EarthCaches to give cachers a richer educational experience.

I've got a couple of hydrology EarthCaches. I think one of mine also qualifies as an atmospheric science. Those are tough as it is difficult to find a location where the phenomenon can be seen predictably. I think that goes the same for oceanography. Climate is directly related to glaciation and carbonate formation so that should get through as well. Do you have an example of a climate related EarthCache that didn’t get accepted?

I think the current guidelines will allow for the publishing of all the subjects you list except for biogeography. But remember, I’m not a reviewer.

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Check here http://support.Groundspeak.com/index.php?pg=kb.page&id=292

 

Here is a clip:

 

Acceptable Sciences

 

EarthCaches focus on the solid earth and the processes that shape it.

 

Acceptable:

 

Geological materials - Rocks, minerals, fossils, sands, soils, etc.

Geological processes - erosion, weathering, deposition, volcanic activity, glacial action, etc.

Geological land form evolution - glacial valleys, reverse topography due to rock properties, waterfalls with geological explanations, use of geological materials - building stones, etc.

Geological phenomena (not included above) - impact craters, geysers, mineral springs, etc.

Tools used by geologists - index fossils, rocks, historical geology sites.

 

Not Acceptable:

 

Biology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology, Atmospheric observations, Oceanographic observations, Geodesy (unless specifically linked to the location), Archeology, History (unless it has a geological theme), a building (unless it has a geological lesson), Engineering (unless it has a geological theme).

 

Please note that the lists provided here are a guide and are not all-inclusive. Your EarthCache reviewer will address any concerns about a suitable choice of topic, location or lesson.

 

Two notes:

First - Many were approved in the past before these guidelines were set. So you may find that some were listed, while now they will not be. Remember that your cache has to stand alone, regardless of others around.

 

Second - Many times people make their pages needlessly long. They feel they must include ecology, or history, or something on the site, so by the time there is enough geology, the listing is four pages long, and will never fit in a GPS (and your questions drop off the GPS). The best Earthcaches are short and sweet on the subject. Teaching you, but are not a college paper.

 

GSA has sponsored the program, they determined what is acceptable. I don't expect that it will open up more, and doing so would dilute the current focus (i believe).

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They feel they must include ecology, or history, or something on the site, so by the time there is enough geology, the listing is four pages long, and will never fit in a GPS (and your questions drop off the GPS). The best Earthcaches are short and sweet on the subject.

 

I guess that's your subjective interpretation of best. I do not load caches into my GPS, but print out the part of the description I want to print. I do not care at all about whether a cache description does fit into as GPS. This also holds for caches with a container as well and is also exemplified in the way the caches I own look like.

 

Specifically, I appreciate if additional information on related aspects is provided on EC pages. Of course the key topic has to be Earth science as per interpretation of the GSA. If I do not want to read additional material, I simply skip it. I do not like at all if multiple caches are devoted to the same location, one telling me about geology, one about history, one about ecology etc. If an EC is set up at a location that is not only of geological interest, I prefer if this is mentioned in the EC description and thus discourages further separate caches at the same location.

 

Both my preference and yours are subjective and none is better than the other.

 

 

GSA has sponsored the program, they determined what is acceptable. I don't expect that it will open up more,

 

I agree with you here.

Edited by cezanne

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The best Earthcaches are short and sweet on the subject.

 

I guess that's your subjective interpretation of best. I do not load caches into my GPS, but print out the part of the description I want to print. I do not care at all about whether a cache description does fit into as GPS. This also holds for caches with a container as well and is also exemplified in the way the caches I own look like.

 

Specifically, I appreciate if additional information on related aspects is provided on EC pages. Of course the key topic has to be Earth science as per interpretation of the GSA. If I do not want to read additional material, I simply skip it. I do not like at all if multiple caches are devoted to the same location, one telling me about geology, one about history, one about ecology etc. If an EC is set up at a location that is not only of geological interest, I prefer if this is mentioned in the EC description and thus discourages further separate caches at the same location.

 

Both my preference and yours are subjective and none is better than the other.

 

 

That is a good point. Best is subjective, and differes from person to person. I prefer Earthcaches that are simple (not dissertations on multiple subjects) but have interesting information that teaches me. I want to be able to get the information on my GPS unit and know what the questions are. I usually plan ahead, and print them out. However I have been disappointing when I decided to do one, and the logging tasks were off the GPS string. I took 20 pictures of everything, hoping I could use them to answer it later, and gave up when I read the questions. I push people to place questions at the first of their listing now, not required, but it is nice.

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I have to agree w/the concensus so far. I feel sorry for anyone trying to use the EC educators guide. From one who has a degree in Geology as well as Earth Scince, it still protrays a more traditional definition and usage of Earth Science. But others have the "approal stamp" in their hand...

As an after thought prehaps the term Geoscience Caches could be used??? This may minimize the confusion w/the interpretation of "Earth Science".

 

Well we have been using the term "geocaching" for about eleven years now. What about a twist on that with "GEOcache" or "GEO-cache"? As for a type of earthcache that actually encompasses ALL types or earth science, whether GSA or Groundspeak approves them, Groundspeak has the ability to simply add an additional type of cache to the software any time they want to. GSA can't stop that. So it seems to me that the people to complain to is Groundspeak. So forget trying to change the earthcache guidelines--just add another category of cache for ALL earth sciences.

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...just add another category of cache for ALL earth sciences.

 

I'm not in favor of "Balkanizing" the sport into increasingly smaller categories. When it comes to Geocaching, I'm a proponent of KISS :)

 

Besides, there's nothing stopping people from putting interesting content in Descriptions that is related to other fields of science is there?

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...just add another category of cache for ALL earth sciences.

 

I'm not in favor of "Balkanizing" the sport into increasingly smaller categories. When it comes to Geocaching, I'm a proponent of KISS :)

 

Besides, there's nothing stopping people from putting interesting content in Descriptions that is related to other fields of science is there?

Touchstone, I agree with your KISS principal.

The only thing I have trouble with is your assumption of "Besides, there's nothing stopping people from putting interesting content in Descriptions that is related to other fields of science". I wish it were true, but it isn't. I have had to remove content that was not related to geology, but to other fields of earth science. It has gone so far as needing to remove such content when I appealed an initial 'unapproved'. The EC was finally approved, but not until I removed a lot of the 'write-up' which related to other aspects of earth science.

I certainly appreciate what the GSA has done for earthcaching. Heck, they started it and I have no problem with their influence. Past problems with the powers that be have nothing to do with the geological slant to ECs.

A simple and narrow geological definition of earthcaches is fine. For those who want a broader definition, which would include other branches of earth science, allowing such content would answer that question, but it ain't happening.

Thanks. :)

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The only thing I have trouble with is your assumption...

 

Sorry, I should have been more explicit. I was referring to other cache types (i.e. Traditional, Unknown/Puzzle, Multi etc.).

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It would be great if Groundspeak would once again allow "virtuals" or some other similar new category, call it wonder,science, nature-caches... whatever.. the main point being we could again create caches to bring people to see some amazing places,phenomena or unique things in the world, but not be required to leave a physical cache, tub/logbook/junk.

Some areas are fine to visit, but it is taboo,insensitive, impractical or environmentally detrimental to have a physical cache there.

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I think the problem is that monitors require questions that can only be answered by trained geologists, whereas I would think questions should be answerable by any interested visitor. Otherwise, what is the point of bringing people to a specific place?

 

Another issue is that information gathered on site is often somewhat different from what monitors can find online, and without much support they insist that their sources are better than the contributor's.

 

This will lead to a closed and small community of people that shows any interest in earthcaches. Getting Groundspeak to allow virtual caches, maybe with certain limitations, sounds like a good option.

Edited by Terpen Tijn

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I think the problem is that monitors require questions that can only be answered by trained geologists,

 

My personal experience differs from that. Can you provide some examples where you feel that questions are asked that can only be

answered by trained geologists?

 

whereas I would think questions should be answerable by any interested visitor.

 

I would add "who is willing to invest some time and energy for learning".

 

It's like claiming that a physical cache should be findable by any interested visitor. There are caches of various diffficulties and there will

always be failures as well. I have collected quite a number of DNF logs over the past months and up to now I only needed a second attempt for a single

EC (but not due to a problem with a geological question, but due to failing to find a number in the darkness).

 

I agree, however, that Earthcaches are not the ideal medium for those who just want to enjoy locations of geological interest and the wow-effect generated by the more spectacular among them. I wonder why hardly anyone tries to use challenges as an alternative to the more intellectually orientied EarthCaches.

 

Cezanne

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I think the problem is that monitors require questions that can only be answered by trained geologists,

 

My personal experience differs from that. Can you provide some examples where you feel that questions are asked that can only be

answered by trained geologists?

 

Cezanne

My experience stems from a discussion with a monitor about an earth cache that I have proposed, and the example questions provided in that discussion.

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