A graphic method for depicting horizontal direction data on vertical outcrop photographs

01 May 2018

Outcrop photographs which show two-dimensional representations of three-dimensionally dipping surfaces (e.g., bedding planes, cross-bed foresets) are commonly utilized in the description of sedimentary strata. In many instances, accurate depiction of the dip direction of such features is paramount for understanding their interpretation, and for visualizing the true form of three-dimensional bodies (e.g., conceptualizing the form of an architectural element in a cliff-face, preserved as a vertical slice that has been cut oblique to paleocurrent direction). However, as an outcrop photograph often presents information on a vertical plane and directional data refers to a horizontal plane, the accurate co-depiction of both sets of information may be challenging. There is presently no universal method for illustrating such measurements on outcrop photographs: techniques in common usage are often imprecise, and the lack of uniformity hinders comparison between different images. Here we present a method for accurately depicting horizontal direction data on vertical outcrop photographs which permits instant visualization of dip relative to the illustrated outcrop geometry. The method is simple to apply, does not compromise primary data, and is unobtrusive to other visual information within images; thus having utility across a broad spectrum of geological investigations.