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spiritwolf922

Earthcache 'mentors'?

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I have an idea for an earthcache based on one I found in another state, but which can easily be replicated in my home state.  I have a location and some general information, but I'd like to discuss my topic with someone who is knowledgeable about earthcaches before I go through the process of writing it up and submitting it, in the hopes that I can do it right the first time.  Are there any earthcache 'mentors' out there who are willing to talk about submission guidelines and offer pointers on what makes a good earthcache?  I know that there are websites and some FAQ pages available, but I work better with discussion and feedback.

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Have you considered reaching out to the CO of the one you are replicating? Or another prolific Earthcache placer in your area?

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On 6/7/2019 at 8:13 PM, spiritwolf922 said:

I have an idea for an earthcache based on one I found in another state, but which can easily be replicated in my home state.

 

It's fine to be inspired by other earthcaches, but you should also take the time to make the lesson your own.  Please make sure you're taking a general concept and then customizing it for the specific geology in your area.

 

You should certainly take some time to look through the earthcache guidelines on the GSA site, as well as the geocaching help center articles on earthcaches, but I'll quote a couple guidelines here:

 

Quote

3. EarthCaches must highlight a unique feature. EarthCaches that duplicate existing EarthCaches or related sites may be rejected. EarthCaches must be developed to provide a unique experience to the location's visitors, and to teach a unique lesson about the feature at the site. Multiple EarthCaches on the same feature should be avoided. Content, rather than proximity, will be the guiding principle for EarthCache reviewers.

...

8. Respect trademarks and copyright information and only use text, images, or logos if you have permission. EarthCaches with information that is copied from other sources, plagiarized, or used without proper attribution will not be published. Limited amounts of text may be quoted, but must be properly attributed. Visit the Help Center for more information.

(emphasis added)

 

I have two different earthcaches based on the fall line that runs along the east coast of the US.  They are hundreds of miles apart, and I made sure not to duplicate someone else's cache listing, but I did duplicate parts of my own.  I  went back to change it up so they are similar but not identical.

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This is the earthcache I would be replicating:  https://coord.info/GC1VNRG, but in Missouri, as it applies here.  I would not be duplicating it, but the descriptions would be similar in that they are for the same earthcache feature:  horsetails.  These living fossils are also found in my region, along river areas, in abundance.  I definitely want to make the lesson my own, but I'm not an expert.  In searching for state-specific information, I've found that there's actually very little written about horsetails as it pertains to my state.  On the other hand, I'm not a Google master, and sometimes I just can't come up with the right combination of search keywords to come up with the jackpot of information.  If anyone can help me to find a good source of information, I'd really appreciate it.

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On 6/7/2019 at 8:39 PM, K13 said:

Have you considered reaching out to the CO of the one you are replicating? Or another prolific Earthcache placer in your area?

Yes, the CO of the one I want to replicate did offer some advice, but I need more.  I tried reaching out to one or two of the publishing reviewers and got no response.

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11 minutes ago, spiritwolf922 said:

This is the earthcache I would be replicating:  https://coord.info/GC1VNRG, but in Missouri, as it applies here.  I would not be duplicating it, but the descriptions would be similar in that they are for the same earthcache feature:  horsetails.  These living fossils are also found in my region, along river areas, in abundance.  I definitely want to make the lesson my own, but I'm not an expert.  In searching for state-specific information, I've found that there's actually very little written about horsetails as it pertains to my state.  On the other hand, I'm not a Google master, and sometimes I just can't come up with the right combination of search keywords to come up with the jackpot of information.  If anyone can help me to find a good source of information, I'd really appreciate it.

 I'm not at all confident that that earthcache task would be acceptable for publication now : it doesn't seem to me to be a geological feature at all, but a biological one, as it looks like the horsetails in question are alive, not fossilised . I imagine someone with a more authoritative opinion than me may well chip in about that ...

 

If you really want to set an earthcache, my suggestion would be to get in touch with a local educational establishment that teaches geology and ask for help , they will have specific knowledge about any useful sites with features used for fieldwork with students , and should be able to give you reliable geological  information. Another possibility is you might be able to  track down a local geology group , we have quite a few in the UK, but I don't know about your area !

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32 minutes ago, hal-an-tow said:

 I'm not at all confident that that earthcache task would be acceptable for publication now : it doesn't seem to me to be a geological feature at all, but a biological one, as it looks like the horsetails in question are alive, not fossilised .

 

This is exactly why I wanted to get some feedback from one of the geoaware reviewers, but I've gotten no responses when I've tried contacting them.  I don't know who else to ask.  :(

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"Living fossil" is not a fossil.  All I can say is that the earthcache guidelines have changed since 2009, and refer to this part of the guidelines: "There are no precedents for placing geocaches."

 

I am not the earthcache reviewer for your area, and I'm not putting on my reviewer hat for this, but unofficially, I don't see how this would be publishable today, unless there was an actual fossilized horsetail or two around for comparison to the living ones.  Now, if the stars aligned to have a fossilized horsetail next to a living one, I think that would be a pretty cool earthcache.

 

14 hours ago, spiritwolf922 said:

This is exactly why I wanted to get some feedback from one of the geoaware reviewers, but I've gotten no responses when I've tried contacting them.  I don't know who else to ask.  :(

 

Keep in mind that all reviewers are volunteers; some are even double volunteers (both geoaware earthcache reviewers and regular reviewers).   It's best to contact reviewers via email, and to give them some time to respond.

 

Keep in mind some earthcache reviewers have retired.  If you were trying to contact geoaware, the reviewer who published GC1VNRG, they are no longer active.

 

Here's a map of the reviewers for the USA.  Missouri is covered by geoawareUSA1. 

 

498012e0-95d0-421c-a801-52f399d0f657.png

 

 

Meanwhile, this forum is an excellent place to work out your questions on all things earthcache - that's why it's here.  That's not a substitute to communicating with your reviewer, but fellow geocachers can perhaps help shape issues and help you ask better questions.

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4 hours ago, hzoi said:

I'm not putting on my reviewer hat for this...

 

Then let me ask you this:  What are the various types of acceptable earthcaches these days?  In my area, they mostly focus on limestone, crinoids, seismic activity (how high is the upthrust at this location?!), and such, however, I have visited earthcaches on marshes and other non-rock (which is what a lot of earthcaches seem to be about... rocks).  Science was never my strong subject in school, but I've done enough earthcaches that I'd like to try my hand at actually learning something and presenting it in a way so that others can learn about it, too.  It would help if I know what's fair game for publication these days.  Someone else suggested I contact a local university's geology department for help, but before I can do that, I need to know what's okay to even be submitted.

 

I have to admit, I'm bummed about the horsetails because I thought they were very interesting and I loved that the earthcache wasn't about rill erosion in a karst topography with limestone nodules found in down-thrusted layers.  (Lots of that sort of thing in my state, which is why I was interested in doing something completely different, like the horsetails.)

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, spiritwolf922 said:

What are the various types of acceptable earthcaches these days?

 

I think I already answered that question, albeit indirectly:

 

On 6/10/2019 at 10:28 AM, hzoi said:

You should certainly take some time to look through the earthcache guidelines on the GSA site, as well as the geocaching help center articles on earthcaches

 

One of those help center articles has a list of what's an acceptable topic for an earthcache.  Another has a list of limited earthcache types.  Wetlands/marshes are now limited.

 

There are some older earthcaches out there that look pretty similar and don't have a lot of detailed information about the actual site - e.g., magnitude of springs, types of waterfall.  That doesn't highlight a unique feature, and an earthcache based just on that isn't going to fly.  But it's still possible to get a waterfall earthcache published if one focuses on what makes it unique.  Or a spring.  Or building material.  It just takes a little research.

 

While I'm happy to help answer questions, I would, again, recommend you read through the earthcache guidelines and help center articles.  They are there to help answer the questions you have, and reading them will help you ask better questions here.

Edited by hzoi
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2 hours ago, spiritwolf922 said:

 a lot of earthcaches seem to be about... rocks.

 

Yep, because geology is (to a great extent) about rocks !

Your horsetails might make a good virtual cache , keep your fingers crossed for another release next year !

 

Meanwhile, geology is a huge ( and fascinating ) subject, and without a decent grounding in it (pun not intended, but I'll leave it in anyway) , earthcache setters can make embarrassing mistakes, like the Jurassic rock in which the E.C tasks included looking for a specific fossil : when I emailed the owner, and said I saw a fragment of a brachiopod  he came back with , "actually it is a trilobite,  but you answered the other questions correctly so you can claim the find". Anyone with a little background in the subject would know it couldn't possibly be a trilobite . Or the eroded oolitic limestone where a different CO thought the little circles were fossil crinoid stem ossicles. . That was half an hour puzzling over what the C.O. meant at the location, before I realised the mistake he had made, and then a lot of time back home wondering how to compose the e-mail with my answers ...

 

Hzoi has given you the appropriate links, if you are serious about wanting to set an earthcache, you can read the specifics there , and need to either spend some time on research about your local geology, or find someone to help you who already has the knowledge.  That help has to be local, it's just not possible to assess a location's potential without actually visiting it.

 

The reviewer's task is just to review the finished earthcache you send for publication to ensure it meets the current criteria,  and whilst I'm sure they are keen to see more good earthcaches, we can't demand they go beyond their remit and help us construct our earthcaches . It is also true that earthcache rules have tightened up recently, and I'm happy that they have, the emphasis on them now being a proper geology lesson rather than little more than a virtual smiley keeps them distinct, interesting and worthwhile.

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While there might be a strong temptation to copy what has been done before, it's not generally how I approach the problem.  Geology is a huge subject, and every State in the U.S. has some kind of Department that concerns itself with cataloguing these sorts of features.   The first step I take in this process is to see if these State Departments or Agencies have something online that will help me refine my search.  Lucky for you, the Missouri DNR has lots of information.  I like the looks of this article, that talks about a number of geologic natural wonders in the State:

 

https://dnr.mo.gov/geology/adm/publications/documents/ocr-ed-004-geologic-wonders-2nd-ed.pdf

 

Circa 1990, but it's a good start.

 

My next step would be to locate these features on a map and see if their already Earthcahes developed at these sites.   A quick PQ of the State shows 42 active EC's in the State.  That seems like a reasonable number, and room for lots more.

 

At that point, it's simply a matter of getting gas in the car and going out for a road trip.  Even it there is already an EC developed for one feature, I never rule out the possibility that there might be some other geologic topic that could be developed nearby.   While on the road, I would try and make initial contact with the Land Manager to see if there is any issue with an EC on their lands.

 

I think it's more about keeping your eyes open for the possibilities, and not getting too locked in with any one idea.

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If you still want to tackle the EarthCache, it's often possible to learn the locations of the right kind of fossils.

 

According to this web page,  there are outcrops of formations that include the giant horsetail Calamites fossil in parts of the state. If you want to search for fossil locations for a specific area, the rock/fossil collectors clubs are a good source. They often publish reviews of their field trips to fossil rich locations with directions to the locations, and I've had good luck getting them to respond to emails or telephone calls. 

 

Another resource to look for creating any EarthCache is the Roadside Geology series, such as "Roadside Geology of Missouri" by Charles Spencer.  Specific sites are noted almost all of them legally accessible, and the write up is in clear, clean, easy to understand language for the average reader.  It might not have anything on horsetail fossils, but there will be other topics that might make a good EarthCache. Hopefully some ideas that aren't already made into existing ECs.

 

.

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Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions!  I have bookmarked several pages you have suggested and will look at them this weekend.  (They tend to frown on it during work hours... imagine that...)  :)

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On 6/14/2019 at 7:37 AM, spiritwolf922 said:

Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions!  I have bookmarked several pages you have suggested and will look at them this weekend.  (They tend to frown on it during work hours... imagine that...)  :)

 

Pffft... the best internet is the one you're being paid to use!

 

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