General - Safety in the Field

Field seminars are small group exercises in the field and not site visits (excursions). The purpose of traveling to remote regions nearby and abroad is to learn the geological skills to (i) observe, (ii) recognize, (iii) interpret and (iv) derive processes.

Preliminary meeting

In addition to the information given here in the course or via Ilias, a short preliminary meeting on organizational matters and general questions can be convened if necessary.

Safety in the field

The following aspects have to be considered in the field:

  1. Basic physical fitness and surefootedness in rough terrain.
  2. If any medical reasons could have an impact on your own safety or the safety of another group member, please give a confidential information to the leader before starting the field seminar.

Before the field seminar:

  1. Cclarify your insurance coverage in terms of health and for a claim.
  2. Check your vaccination protection and get vaccinated if necessary (see e.g. RKI). When traveling abroad, pay attention to the vaccination protection to be presented and the recommended vaccination protection (see e.g. German Foreign Office). Also consider a vaccination against TBE; Baden-Württemberg is a TBE risk area, transmitted by ticks.
  3. Inform yourself in advance about the place, especially about climate, ethics and general behavior on site, travel and safety instructions, as e.g. provided by the German Foreign Office, UK foreign advice, or your country of origin.
  4. Inform yourself in advance about dangerous animals and plants at the place of the field seminar.
  5. Take clothes suitable for the weather and take into account that the weather can change, i.e. long pants, sunscreen, rain jacket, rain pants.
  6. Take a small first aid kit, enough drinking water and food for the day.
  7. Take a rescue blanket, whistle, spare clothes, emergency rations if you are working in remote or mountainous areas.
  8. Exchange your mobile number with participants and leaders and save the Europe-wide emergency number 112 on your mobile phone.

During the field seminar:

  1. Follow the safety instructions of the leader. If desired, to leave the group, inform the leader before.
  2. Impairment of driving ability, off-road ability and potential threat to the safety of the group such as alcohol and drug use will lead to exclusion.
  3. We expect sturdy, ankle-high off-road shoes to the off-road seminar.
  4. You wear a helmet in regions affected by rockfall. This is mandatory in quarries, mines, and buildings or roads under construction.
  5. You always wear a safety vest during the field seminar. Participants wear a yellow safety vest and supervisors wear an orange safety vest so that supervisors can be found in case of emergency.
  6. If illness or injury has occurred, notify the leader immediately.
  7. You work circumspect and take care about your safely and that of your group members. Please note that not in all remote areas and quarries have mobile phone coverage and thus the help of third parties could arrive later than normal
  8. You carry your own geological field book, magnifying glass and geologist's hammer and safety goggles.
  9. Wear safety glasses or goggles when striking splintery rocks and using a chisel, never stand near others when you or they are working with the hammer.
  10. Use extra caution on steep slopes (e.g., loose boulders, cliffs, and quarries); on clayey slopes and slippery shoreline areas; and when working on road embankments and outcrops, especially during progressive construction activities.
  11. watch for traffic and be alert when crossing roads and railroad crossings.
  12. When working on shorelines, check the times of low tide and high tide. Be aware that tides can be higher than expected during high winds, and make sure you are familiar with locations where you can easily and quickly leave the shoreline.
  13. Be aware of the ethical and cultural characteristics of the region in which you are working.
  14. Do not go into the field alone and let the leaders know in advance the area in which you plan to work with your small group.
  15. Obtain permission from the owner or manager before entering private property. if applicable, permission to sample or special permits may be required especially for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's).
  16. Avoid being under overhanging and unstable rock faces, especially during the dew season, after cold showers or heavy rain. This is also important in quarries, mountainous areas, and coastal cliffs where large areas can fall without sign.
  17. Consider flora and fauna such as dangerous plants and animals. Keep your distance. If necessary, do not pick up rocks by hand but first turn the rock over with a hammer before picking it up.


  • For 1-day field trips: 1 daypack
  • For multi-day field trips: 1 daypack and 1 bag or 1 backpack, if overnight in tents then sleeping bag, mattress, towel, 1 tent for 2-3 persons

to bring

  • valid identity card or passport, visa if necessary, insurance coverage if necessary (especially health insurance)
  • medicines if necessary, small first aid kit, tweezers, depending on the region: emergency blanket, mosquito repellent
  • sturdy ankle-high (!) hiking boots
  • geological field book (no simple notebook, no loose paper work), pencil, eraser, waterproof pen e.g. Staedler Pigmentliner 0.3, hand magnifier, compass if available,
  • long trousers (no jeans, during continuous rain the jeans become heavy and do not dry again)
  • for cool and possibly damp areas: rain jacket, rain pants, a moisture-wicking plastic undershirt should be considered
  • food for the journey and the first day
  • local currency
  • If staying in a tent: sleeping bag, sleeping mat, washcloth, towel, stove, cutlery, plates, cups, after consultation with other participants: 2-3 person tent (costs for many campsites according to number & size of tent)
  • If you stay overnight in a youth hostel: washcloth, towel, if necessary a youth hostel sleeping bag.
  • Please check all items in-time BEFORE departure for functionality

The geological compass

If you have a simple hiking compass with clinometer and lid flap, please bring it with you (also helps for orientation in the field). For example, Recta DS 50G can be used globally as a geological compass. With a small, round circular bubble level (e.g., which is glued to the bottom plate of the compass (make sure that the lid can still be closed), the hiking compass becomes a geological compass.

Further geological compasses of the companies Freiberger and Breithaupt will be lent by the institute and distributed in advance.

Daily schedule

The field seminars start in the morning, depending on weather, tide and other factors, and end in the evening. Food and drinks for the day are taken by the participants themselves.

In an evening meeting the observations of the day are evaluated and the field book is revised.

Travel abroad

A valid identity card or passport and, if necessary, a valid visa are required for entry into the country. Please note that the entry documents must also be valid on departure. Therefore, please check the completeness of the documents in advance and bring the documents with you. In case of missing documents, entry and exit problems, such as a missing, invalid passport or passport that becomes invalid during the field seminar, non-observance of import and export regulations or similar, participants must unfortunately manage their return themself at their own expense.

What are the costs to be calculated?

The paid-in costs should cover travel and accommodation costs. Overpaid contributions will be refunded only after the event and after settlement of all costs incurred.

Which threats can occur during field work?

Following lists are not complete and miss details. Please consult the respective information source and your doctor.

Threat = Potential of health impact

Risk = probability of entry x extent of damage

what where reason Symptoms First Aid Prevention
Dehydration everywhere not enough water intake dark urine, lethargy, headache drink enough water, take rest carry and drink enough water
Demineralization hot climate expsure to hot temperatures, not enough mineral intake lethargy, headache take enough minerals carry and eat/drink enough minerals
Sunburn everywhere exposure to the sun red skin shadow , cool down, water long slleves, hat, sun cream with sun protection factor >30
Heatstroke hot climate expsure to hot temperatures exhaustion, headache, red skin shadow and cool down, water, seek medical attention Acclimate to height slowly, drink enough, take rests
Frostbite cold climate exposure to cold temperatures waxy, whitish numb skin, swelling, burning, deep pain as the skin warms  warm up the area slowly, don't rub the area,seek medical attention dress in layers, cover extermities with headgear, glooves, socks and warm booths
High altitude illness altitude from  2000 m and higher lower oxygen in air headache, nausea, weakness decrease altitude, supply oxygen if possible acclimate
Drowning sea, rivers inhalation of water apnea (no breathing), death take out of water, turn head to side to allow water to drain out, perform CPR if needed, seek medical attention keep distance to waters, be able to swim
Hunting season everywhere hunting season gunshot wound, death first aid, seek medical attention avoid hunting areas, wear a signal vest, don't behave animal-like (hide behind bushes, ...)

Select animals: Please consult the respective agency/literature for the possible threat in your area.

Tier wo gefährliche Arten Abwehr Erste Hilfe Vermeidung
tick D BW is high risk region long trousers, tuck pants into socks pull out with tweezers, when red skin around biting point consult doctor get vaccinated TBE
wild boar D   keep distance in injured seek medical treatment avoid thicket
wolf D   keep calm, langsam rückwarts gehen, bei nahem Kontakt laut rufen und sich groß machen if injured seek medical treatment avoid thicket
bear D   don't run, move slowly, speak calmly, if attacked lie down in fetal position and play dead if injured seek medical treatment store food away from campsite, carry bear bell to make noise




Kreuzotter (viper berus)



and others

don't touch, move away let wound bleed for 30s, apply cooling pack, immobilize area of biting point at heart level, seek medical attention walk in open areas with sturdy high boots, use a stick to disturb the brush in front of you
scorpion W not in Germany don't touch clean wound and apply cooling pack, immobilize area of biting point at heart level, seek medical attention shake out cloting, boots, sleeping stuff and tent, avoid logs and rock piles

selected deseases:  A complete overview is provided e.g. by the Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung BZgA. and their vaccination suggestions (Impfempfehlungen). Country-specific health-warnings are provided by the Websites of the German Foreign Ministry. Please also consult your family doctor.

sickness where Infection Symptoms First Aid Avoidance Vaccination
tetanus D via wounds and scratches schmerzhafte Muskelkontraktionen, Erstickungstod, Herzversagen seek medical attention vaccination possible possible
rabies W via bites tödlich ohne sofortige medizinische Versorgung immediate medical attention vaccination possible possible
typhus W bite by tick, mite, flea, louse headache, fever, rash seek medical attention provisional vaccination prossible, long sleevels, long trousers, tuck pants into socks possible
TBE (FSME) D bite by tick fluelike symptoms, paralysis, neuritis, not contagious medical attention if symptons appear long sleeves, long trousers, tuck pants into socks, regularly check yourbody for ticks possible
Borreliosis D bite by tick red skin aound biting point (migrating red color), arthritis, neuritis, not contagious medical attention of migration red color long sleeves, long trousers, tuck pants into socks, regulary check your body for ticks no vaccination to date available
Hantavirus D in D via salival, urine or vices of bank vole (Rötelmaus) fever, head- and muscle pain, body aches, not contagious seek medical attention, reportable wash hands no vaccinaton to date available

table adapted after:

Safety Guidelines for Fieldwork, University of Georgia, Link

Erregersteckbriefe Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung BZgA.

and their vaccination regulations Impfempfehlungen der Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung BZgA, or the information provided by your country of residence.

Travel advice of the German Auswärtigen Amt and the UK government, or your country of residence.

Please consult your doctor.