Most of regions we work in are large basins. Trails are often far and few in between, so creative driving is often required to reach hilly sites.
Once we get to an area that looks promising (based on its geology and topography), we set a time line for the day's work. If the terrain looks treacherous, we will pack individual lunches and split up for the day. Otherwise, we report back to the vehicles at lunchtime for the expedition leaders to evaluate potential for discovery, and whether to move on to a different site in the afternoon.
(Zhada Basin, near the foot of the Himalaya mountains; the terrain ranges from rolling hills to steep cliffs. One could spend anywhere from 20 minutes to half a day walking from one hill to the next)
(the fish-rich site of Naoge; the fossils are so concentrated that there is little need for strenuous hikes)
Our day packs are often stuffed with enough water for both drinking and making field jackets using plaster bandages if we find delicate specimens. In addition to the default GPS, rock hammer, acryloid hardener, brushes, awls, field notebooks, and occasional geologic maps, we also bring extra clothes in anticipation of unpredictable weather. A few of us are also equipped with two-way radios in case communication between sub-groups is needed.
(Yuki Tomida [National Science Museum, Tokyo, Japan] scans the surface for small mammal fossils [more in next part of the series])
Mammal and fish fossils, our main foci, usually weather out as fragments on the plateau; the more complete specimens are often fragile, and thus require care and time to extract using plaster bandages.
At the end of the day, before we begin a long drive back to our camp / village, we often splurge ourselves on watermelons. They are excellent snacks for fieldwork, and are priced items that we reserve vehicle luggage space for (at the expense of other valuable things like gasoline).
(crew members "slaughter" a watermelon to celebrate a good workday under our belts)
The next in the series will be Part III: screen washing for microfossils