Guidelines for field experiments


This document is designed to give the researcher some ideas about managing and running a field experiment using portable instrumentation. It is not intended to be a final reference. Individual researchers may have their own procedures that they are comfortable with and that they know work.

Researchers who do not have as much experience may want to assimilate this information into their own set of procedures and guidelines.

Either way, I hope this provides some valuable insights to successfully running a field experiment :-)


Its extremely important to document your experiment. Field notes produced during the running of the experiment need to be understandable to someone who looks at the notes years later. Site installations and visits should be done as consistently as possible.

This website contains forms that the field researcher may find convenient to use. These forms are mainly designed for smaller scale studies where individual stations are widely separated and may have differing characteristics.


A primary coordinator should be chosen. Usually this is the PI or lead researcher. This person should coordinate all the field activities and procedures. This person should make sure that all field personnel are briefed on the chosen procedures.

Archiving Data

Whenever possible, data should be archived in its original raw form. Archiving intermediate processing steps in some other format is also advisable. Archiving the raw data allows you to correct for possible processing errors that are detected after your experiment has finished. With firmware and DAS options constantly changing, there are times when the processing software may not process the raw data block correctly because of a recent change that has not been taken into account yet in the processing software. Having the original data gives you your best opportunity to correct such errors.

The PBIC would like to receive copies of ALL logfiles (.log) and error (.err) files produced by ref2segy. They are kept online at ICS and are used for quality control purposes. They can be dropped off at the ICS anonymous ftp site or emailed as an attachment to If they are dropped off via ftp, please remember to send email to the above address notifying me that they are there.

Marking the Equipment and keeping track of it

If you are running an experiment with equipment from multiple institutions (SCEC, PASSCAL, UTEP etc...) it is very important to make sure tha the equipment is distinguishable between institutions. Usually serialized equipment is not as much of a problem as are cables. No matter how hard you try to separate the equipment, it WILL get jumbled together at some point. All of the PBIC equipment should be marked with yellow tape or paint. If you encounter some SCEC/PBIC equipment that is unmarked, please put some yellow electrical tape on it. Other institutions often will use other colors to mark their equipment.