For the Budding Geologist: How to Take the Dip Measurement of a Slope

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Introduction: For the Budding Geologist: How to Take the Dip Measurement of a Slope

Tired of looking at sloped rock beds and not knowing the angle at which they are tilted? Allow me to help you put your curiosity to rest.

Materials You Will Need:
1) Compass with clinometer
2) Water
3) Sloped Surface

Note: Place your cursor arrow over the yellow boxes in most pictures for further explanations.

Turn the compass dial so the East and West symbols are aligned with compass markers. Make sure the N (North) symbol is aligned with the 0 degree marker on the clinometer.

CAUTION: Your compass markers and other compass features may be different from mine. However, they should be similar enough that these directions will work for any compass.

Step 2: Pour Water on Slope Surface

Pour the water on the sloped surface so you can see the exact way the slope is dipping. This ensures greater accuracy in the measurement.

Step 3: Place Compass Parallel to Water Flow

As you align your compass parallel to the water flow, make sure that the North symbol is pointing down, this ensures your clinometer is also placed correctly.

TROUBLESHOOTING: If your N symbol and clinometer are not in the same quadrant of the compass, you have your E and W symbols backwards. Just twist the compass dial 180 degrees to switch them.

Record what the clinometer arrow indicates (see picture for details). In this case our slope is dipping about 22 degrees.

Step 5: Find the Direction the Slope Is Dipping

To find the direction your slope is dipping:

1) Align your North symbol to true North.

Record the direction as either N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE, SW. In this case our slope is dipping in a South-East direction so we will choose SE.

NOTE: If, for example, the direction is only slightly off of East, you need to record the direction as East. The slope direction needs to be close to half-way between two directions to justify a SE, SW, NE, or NW.

The measurement of dip is always written with the number in degrees and then the direction of dip. In our case we would record:

22SE

CONGRATULATIONS! You're on your way to uncovering the secrets of the earth!

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