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Field hydrogeology 2059: A contemplation

Abstract : Assas, Languedoc-Roussillon-Region, Europe, April 17th 2059. On this very day, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Hydrogeological Consultancy Firm specialising in integrated water management. The agency was set up in 2034 by Magali, my elder daughter, after a few years’ experience in her profession. Now, on the threshold of my declining life (although I can still expect a few more years thanks to medical progress) this event gives me the opportunity to revive memories and recall for all present at our small party for friends and colleaques, the scanty means used by the hydrogeologists at the beginning of the 21st century (a time when I personally was at my busiest), as well as our way of life, along with the questions we would pose concerning the future of our environment. In the early 2000’s, we were at the dawn of the technological revolution that was later to guide our activity and daily lives. What may sound paradoxical to you nowadays is that hydrogeologists’ tasks in the 2000’s used to be far less geared toward field activity than they are today. To start with, I would say that in field activity in those days the means available to us would neither enable us to instantly process the data, nor carry out the essential part of our conceptualization and interpretation tasks. All this has now become possible thanks to equipment—assisted decision—making. For example, regarding Geographic Positioning: In the early 2000’s, GPS was the only system at our disposal. The 15 governments making up the European Community of the time (which was far removed from the idea of a European federal government or presidency!) had just come to an agreement over the launching of the Galileo satellite constellation. And yet, under the most favourable conditions, provided the GPS signal was not degraded and our GPS was not hampered by vegetation or high buildings, our GPS’s accuracy would at best be a few meters! We were quite a long way from the instant millimetric data you are now used to. Besides, our GPS system was not integrated into our field laptop computers, as it is today. Moreover, constantly updated instant direct connections between the GIS’s used within our field laptop and the whole range of satellite pictures and world geographic, geological, hydrogeological, hydrogeochemical, etc. databases were unheard of. Therefore, we had to use paper topographic or geological maps! I can still remember the early stages of my professional career for example when we were expected to locate geological survey stations as accurately as possible: that meant handling tools that you will now see only in museums such as a compass, a decameter, or a device designed to help us measure distances between various points with a cotton thread that had to be unwound and was left behind in the field after use... etc
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Soumis le : lundi 29 août 2022 - 12:07:57
Dernière modification le : lundi 29 août 2022 - 12:09:29

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Patrick Lachassagne. Field hydrogeology 2059: A contemplation. Hydrogeology Journal, Springer Verlag, 2005, 13 (1), pp.47-50. ⟨10.1007/s10040-004-0392-7⟩. ⟨hal-03763126⟩

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