1. Clothing - Dress in sturdy, comfortable field clothing with roomy pockets and a belt to hold a hammer, compass, and small notebook. Wear durable ankle-high boots or tough rubber-soled shoes.

  2. Hammers - Geology or stone masons' hammers with one square blunt head end and an opposing chisel head are generally used; small sledge-hammers and lightweight trimming hammers are often useful as well. The handles may be of rubber-coated metal, fiberglass, or wood that has been water-swollen to prevent the head from flying off.

  3. Chisels - Tempered steel chisels are used for rock breaking and limit flying metal splinters.

  4. Bags and boxes - Use bags made of a tough material, such as canvas, with a drawstring top. Brightly colored fabric reduces the possibility of loss. Wrap small and fragile specimens in cotton or newspaper, or put in a cushioned box. Label specimens with an identification of the rock stratum where it was found; record such geological features as the fossil's position within the stratum, and note its detailed geographic location. Identification of the fossil may be made later.

  5. Maps - Topographic and geologic maps identify the rock unit, geographic position, and elevation. These maps can be down-loaded from such free websites as o r purchased from the U.S. Geological Surveyin Denver, Colorado, or local sporting-goods stores.

  6. Tape measure - A long steel tape helps locatethe level of fossil-bearing layers in a rock succession. Use a metric tape, and record measurements in meters and centimeters. Scientists rarely use English units like feet and inches.

  7. Notebook and markers - Bring a small brightly colored, hardcover notebook that can be attached to a belt, and a pencil, pen, or marker.

  8. Hand lens - Carry a small hand lens of 7x to 10x magnification to see small fossils.

  9. Camera - Bring a 35mm camera with closeup lens, lens cover, an d carrying strap. Use a metric scale ruler or a common object, such as a coin or pocketknife, to photo-record the size and occurrence of the fossil.

  10. Hardhat, gloves, glasses - Wear hardhat, gloves, and safety glasses to avoid hazards associated with splintering rock, falling debris, and the handling of rough rocks.

  11. Glues - Glues will help repair broken fossils and will preserve fossils. Do not coat fossils with shellac or other coatings, as these obscure details and only break-down and crack with time.

Next >> Preparation of Specimens and Cataloging


The New York State Geological Survey (NYSGS) is a bureau of
the New York State Museum in the New York State Education Department.