Vol. 50 No. 3 (2023)

Earth Science Education #7. GeoTrails: Accessible Online Tools for Outreach and Education

Katie M. Maloney
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University
Alexander L. Peace
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Joe Hansen
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Keira L. Hum
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Julia P. Nielsen
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Kate F. Pearson
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Shania Ramharrack-Maharaj
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Deana M. Schwarz
APGO Education Foundation, Suite 704, One Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1E5
Elli Papangelakis
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8
Carolyn H. Eyles
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8

Published 2023-10-03


  • GeoTrails,
  • Geoscience Communication,
  • Niagara Escarpment,
  • Outreach,
  • Teaching

How to Cite

Maloney, K. M., Peace, A. L., Hansen, J., Hum, K. L., Nielsen, J. P., Pearson, K. F., … Eyles, C. H. (2023). Earth Science Education #7. GeoTrails: Accessible Online Tools for Outreach and Education . Geoscience Canada, 50(3), 73–84. https://doi.org/10.12789/geocanj.2023.50.198

Funding data

  • Mitacs
    Grant numbers IT30289; IT30886


As geoscientists, we must prioritize improving our ability to communicate science to the public. Effective geoscience communication enables communities to understand how geological processes have shaped our planet and make informed decisions about Earth’s future. However, geoscience research outputs have traditionally been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at academic conferences. Consequently, essential information about local geology is rarely available in accessible, open access, and engaging formats. Here, we propose virtual field trips, or ‘GeoTrails’, as a possible solution to address the disconnect between geoscience research and public knowledge by improving our communication to the public. This initiative is largely driven by undergraduate students, who identify points of geological interest along selected hiking trails, write concise descriptions derived from scientific sources (e.g. longer peer-reviewed articles and government reports), and collect field data (e.g. 3-D LiDAR models, drone photography) to illustrate the characteristics of these geological features. The goal of the project is to communicate the importance of local geology on our environment and to raise awareness of how changing climates could affect us in the future; this information can empower communities to make better, more informed planning decisions. The creation of GeoTrails along the Niagara Escarpment offers a promising strategy to highlight the role of geoscientists and to engage the public in our ongoing research that aims to showcase Canada’s geoheritage.


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