We view our planet using different scales.  Most people use just the local scale – they see what is immediately around them.  Sometimes they maybe expand that field of view so that it expands out to the horizon, mountain range or cityscape.  But for many, they never see beyond cubical, edge of the desk, walls of their homes or fences of their backyards.

Geoscientists, however, need to see things in scale – and scales beyond just the local.  They need to see the everything from the global scale (and sometimes even beyond), to the tectonic plate scale, regional scale, local scale, outcrop scale, hand specimen scale, microscopic scale and in some cases the atomic scale.

Geoscience scale

Global Scale

Many times the way for us to understand what we are looking at requires us to look at a global scale.  Where does this rock fit into global plate tectonics?   Is this part of an ancient continent or mountain range, or once part of a sea floor? What can this sample tell us about the ancient planet?

Tectonic Scale

tectonic plate scale?

Regional Scale

basins, mountains

Local Scale

Large local structures – folds faults

Outcrop Scale

Hand specimen scale

Hand lens Scale

Microscope Scale

Atomic Scale



Scale – fields of view in geoscience

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