Capturing digital data with handheld devices to determine the redox regime, lithology, and provenance of siliciclastic sediments and residual deposits—a review and field manual

  • Harald G. Dill
  • Andrei Buzatu
  • Andreea Elena Maftei
Original Paper


Geomagnetic (magnetic susceptibility), geoelectrical (resistivity and conductivity, self-potential/SP, induced polarization/IP), and radiometric measurements (gamma radiation of K, U, and Th) are well adapted to the needs and wants of geoscientists and exploration geologists, in particular, who widely use them in wireline tools and for ground surveys. Miniaturization of technical components resulted in the production of handheld devices which enable field geologists to an improving of the mineralogical and chemical database and the efficiency of the routine work in the field or at a drill site. The tools and devices used by a field geologist are categorized and presented in a tripartite set. The tools for routine field work with “hammer and laptop” belong to the A-level kit. The handheld devices under consideration constitute an intermediate level (B-level) to enhance the mineralogical and chemical database using physical methods. More advanced level applications make use of short-wave infra-red mineral analyzers or portable X-ray fluorescence devices (C-level). Handheld tools are designed for one-dimensional (cross-sectioning) and two-dimensional (mapping) surveys as well as drill core and cuttings examinations during terrain analysis. They can be operated in foot-borne surveys by one field geologist and the obtained data interpreted without an exuberant computing capacity. In the present overview, siliciclastic rocks and residual deposits have been singled out for their good response to the afore-mentioned methods. Their practical use is demonstrated by means of some case histories, each standing for a particular sedimentary lithology and discussed in combination with similar applications from literature: mixed-type (calcareous) siliciclastic rocks from Mesozoic–Cenozoic basins, SE Germany; residual argillaceous/kaolin deposits on top of granites of the Variscan basement, SE Germany; Neogene red-bed sediments from the promontory of the Tien Shan, East Uzbekistan; and Cretaceous gray-bed sediments with coal seams from the Baganuur basin, Central Mongolia. Cobweb diagrams, histograms, ternary diagrams, simple x-y plots and x-y plots in combination with spider diagrams have proved to be the most suitable ways when it comes to combine the data obtained from various methods and to illustrate these results for further interpretation on screen. The geophysical methods are discussed as to their strong and weak points to cater for a solution in three important subject matters of applied and genetic sedimentology: (1) constraining the redox regime, (2) determination of the lithology and mineralogy, (3) and provenance analysis and lithostratigraphy. Magnetic methods have proved to be useful for all objectives (1, 2, and 3), gamma spectrometry can successfully be applied for objectives 1 and 2, and micro-resistivity contributes significantly to solutions of objective 2. Magnetic and gamma spectrometric methods do not need any direct contact with the sedimentary rocks and therefore can be correlated with equivalent airborne surveys and are less depending on the wetability of the substrate and climate than the geoelectrical methods under study. The final goal of this review is to create a matrix of applicability of the methods and enable the field geologist to select the most suitable type of geophysical measurement or combination of tools for a solution to one of the three issues as a function of the sediment types under study.


Magnetic measurements Radiometric measurements Geoelectrical measurements Siliciclastic sedimentary rocks Residual deposits 



The senior author thanks all his colleagues accompanying and helping him in the field of applied geophysics and during field work for almost 40 years. Our special gratitude we would like to express to S. Kaufhold for his support during the micro-resistivity measurements. We thank an anonymous reviewer for his comments of a first draft of our paper and the Associate Editor John S. Armstrong-Altrin as well as the Editor-in- Chief Abdullah Al-Amri for their editorial handling of this review for the Arabian Journal of Geosciences.

Supplementary material

12517_2017_2936_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (5.7 mb)
ESM 1 Topography and geological setting of the sites selected for capturing digital data in the NE Bavarian basement and its foreland. a) The geological framework of the residual deposits near Tirschenreuth on the top of a granite in the NE Bavarian basement (Dill et al, 2014). The framed area denotes the position of the open pits for kaolin (see Fig. 1b). The geology has been modified from Rohrmüller (1998). b) The geological setting of the two kaolin open pit mines c) The geological key to S1a and S1b. d) The foreland along the western edge of the NE Bavarian basement with reference study sites: (1) mixed-type siliciclastic rocks, (2) + (3) siliciclastic gray and red beds, (4) residual deposits (see also S1a, b, c). e) The position of the study areas in the basement and the foreland in SE Germany (PPTX 5869 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (1.5 mb)
ESM 2 Study areas in Uzbekistan and Mongolia a) The position and geological setting of the red-bed sequences of the Parkent–Nurekata basin, East Uzbekistan b) The position and geological setting of the gray-bed sequences of the Baganuur basin, Central Mongolia (Jargalsaikan, 1998) (PPTX 1528 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM3_ESM.pptx (15.1 mb)
ESM 3 The handheld devices applied during capturing data in the field which are categorized as B-level devices a) Kappameter KT-5 to measure the magnetic susceptibility b) Micro-resistivity measurements with the “4-Point-light” device developed by Dipl. Geol. E. Lippmann (LGM company). The SER method (SER = specific electric resistivity) at outcrop in a pit exposing brown and gray Cretaceous claystones at Sarstedt, Northern Germany c) Portable gamma-ray spectrometer. Exploranium GR-256 with separate detection (1) and control units (2) (PPTX 15504 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM4_ESM.pptx (415 kb)
ESM 4 How to do geological field work from planning through interpretation and the stages appropriate for the application of the “ABC-tools” referred to in this overview (PPTX 414 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM5_ESM.pptx (2.7 mb)
ESM 5 A-level equipment. “My Geo toolbox” for A-level field work including cross-sectioning (1-D), mapping (2-D) and examining cores and cuttings (3-D) as a basis and prerequisite for capturing digital data in the field using B-level devices discussed in this review (PPTX 2739 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM6_ESM.pptx (1.6 mb)
ESM 6 Handheld C-level devices as a supplement of B-level devices discussed in this review a) UV lamp b) Heat-conductivity meter c) Portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) d) Portable infra-red mineral analyzer (PIMA) with graphs showing reflectance (y-axis) vs. wave length (x-axis) and enabling the operator to quantify different compositions of quartz, feldspar, kaolinite, and illite/muscovite. (PPTX 1593 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM7_ESM.pptx (948 kb)
ESM 7 Geophysical methods bridging the gap between B-level methods based on micro-resistivity measurements and geoelectrical surveys and tools used during airborne surveys a) Measuring array of geoelectrical (DC) deep-sounding in stratified sedimentary units. The flow direction of current goes from E1 towards E2, the measurement of voltage is performed at S1 and S2. The Wenner-Array shown here is also applied in S3b and basics depicted here can be applied also to describe the measuring setting in the downscaled SER method. b) Self-potential method applied to in an overburden of glacial till. The arrow heads denote the flow direction of the current caused by the oxidation of sulfides and within the surrounding rocks. The potential difference may be measured by means of a voltmeter. c) Helicopter-based electromagnetic tool and chopper in preparation for take-off (source of photograph: BGR) (PPTX 947 kb)
12517_2017_2936_MOESM8_ESM.pptx (1.2 mb)
ESM 8 Comparison of gamma ray log and micro-resistivity HDT log with lithology and texture (De Serra, 1985). (PPTX 1244 kb)


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harald G. Dill
    • 1
  • Andrei Buzatu
    • 2
  • Andreea Elena Maftei
    • 2
  1. 1.Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz UniversityHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Geography and Geology, Department of GeologyAlexandru Ioan Cuza” University of IaşiIaşiRomania

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