Life as a Geocacher

Caching and Reviewing

This is made up of stories from my caching and my reviewing.  It is a collection of those along with comments and thoughts.  Photos, and maps of some adventures and lists of some of the oldest caches.

Part 3 - Topics for EarthCaches

This is one of those things that myself and the other Earthcache reviewers deal with the most.  It is the most problematic, and can doom the Earthcache before you start.  Pick the wrong topic and if you are not willing to change the topic, and there is nothing you can do to get your EarthCache published.

Guidelines and Advice

1 - EarthCaches must provide an earth science lesson.

This is the line that causes the problems and "earth science" is the phrase that actually causes that problem.  Remember who the sponsor of the EarthCache program is, the Geological Society of America.  Earth science is defined better defined in the Help Center:

An EarthCache provides an Earth Science lesson through a visit to a unique geological site, and generally focuses on one aspect of the site...

...EarthCaches focus on the solid earth and the processes that shape it.

The other section from the Help Center has the dos and don'ts of the process.


  • Geological materials - Rocks, minerals, fossils, sands, soils, etc.
  • Geological processes - erosion, weathering, deposition, volcanic activity, glacial action, etc.
  • Geological land form evolution - glacial valleys, reverse topography due to rock properties, waterfalls with geological explanations, use of geological materials - building stones, etc.
  • Geological phenomena (not included above) - impact craters, geysers, mineral springs, etc.
  • Tools used by geologists - index fossils, rocks, historical geology sites.

Not Acceptable:

  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric observations
  • Oceanographic observations, Geodesy (unless specifically linked to the location)
  • Archeology
  • History (unless it has a geological theme)
  • a building (unless it has a geological lesson)
  • Engineering (unless it has a geological theme).

Common Issues

We see a number of Earthcaches that focus on those and we have to push back.  The ones that get kicked back tend to be these (and the reason why):

Swamps/wetlands: Most of these focus on what they create; homes for animals, trees, plant life, etc.  A cache on a swamp or a wetland should focus on how they are created.  The trick with these is that the logging tasks should be on what you can see in the area of the wetlands.

Coral Reefs:  As you can guess these are the underwater version of the swamp/wetland above.  Coral reefs tend to focus on the living coral and the plantlife around them.  Once again having an obersvation for a logging task can be problematic.

Mountain Top/Hillside View/Lackshore: These tend to be caches that are "check out where I have been".  They usually do not have logging tasks that are very good.  In trying to get logging tasks they tend to scramble for a logging task. One cache that I reviewed said "tell me what kind of rock is here".  When I asked what the answer was, they said "I don't know, I figure they would tell me."

The Endangered Three Toesd Mole (or some other animal):  Well, you can guess here.  Someone wants to highlight the endangered animal, their plight, and their plight.  Sadly they do not fit in the program. 

Ancient Indian Burial Ground or Old ghost town: Archelogy comes in as another common one.  They are not related to geology, and would be better served by a Virtual if the door ever opens on them.

And yet more Advice

Make it something interesting.  Writing up a technical paper on the various geological layer names and babbling about the ages they were depositied will make peoples eyes glaze over.  Also try and avoid creating so many in depth questions that people just dont care about it.

I know of a few caches where people do not want to do them.  They are in a place that is not interesting, or they are Doctoral thesis papers that are too much for people. 

Part 1 - Happy 10th Anniversary to Earthcaches

Part 2 - Before You Begin Your EarthCache

Part 3 - Topics for Earthcaches

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