Synopses & Reviews
Christopher Scholz, an internationally recognized expert in the geological fields of seismology and tectonics, here offers a captivating memoir of a three-month-long field expedition to northern Botswana. Fieldwork tracks the adventures of a group of American scientists trying to gather critical data in some of the wildest and most inhospitable parts of Africa. Scholz effectively captures the unique challenges and obstacles faced in this kind of scientific endeavor, including mysterious encounters with a primitive bushman tribe and unavoidable dealings with belligerent local officials and even near-fatal stampedes by rampaging elephants. It is through this absorbing tale that Scholz offers a paean to the long and unique traditions of geological fieldwork, and provides readers with an inside view of the trials and joys of scientific fieldwork.
The goal of the Scholz expedition was to determine, by recording tiny natural earthquakes, if a previously unknown arm of the East African Rift system had propagated into the Kalahari Desert from the north. Fieldwork tracks the quest of the scientist for a solution to a specific geological problem from the motivations of the scientist, to the initial formulation of the problem, through to the data collection, and finally, the assembly of the critical evidence.
Originally published in 1997.
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"Fieldwork is delightful. Like Bill Menard's The Ocean of Truth, this book gives an account of how earth science works. However, it also has a story to tell. Often the logistical problems behind a scientific expedition are as captivating as the science itself. Christopher Scholz's primary objective is to spell out the logistical planning and execution that is required to make a scientific discovery."--Terry Engelder, Pennsylvania State University
"In Fieldwork, we learn about aspects of science and about the motivation of a scientist as well as about the problems facing a country emerging from a colonial past. The book makes a bridge between various kinds of human endeavors. It's very well-written, very readable, and hard to put down."--Alfred G. Fischer, University of Southern California
About the Author
Christopher Scholz is Professor of Geological Sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He is the author of The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting, and many technical articles that have appeared in leading science journals, including Science and Nature.