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Find Your Science at GSA
30 June 2011
GSA Release No. 11-40
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach

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EarthCache Discovery Awards Recognize Earth Science Learning

“Let the Earth be your teacher!” is the catch phrase of the global EarthCache program run by the Geological Society of America (GSA). GSA announced this week the new EarthCache Discovery Awards program, through which geocachers can be formally recognized at various levels for the numbers of EarthCache site visits they complete.

What is an EarthCache?

An EarthCache is a special place discovered with a GPS (global positioning system) while participating in a global treasure hunt called geocaching. EarthCache discoveries lie on every continent, and accommodate every age and outdoor skill level. EarthCache sites, unlike traditional geocache sites, do not hide a container of treasure. “Rather, the treasure at an EarthCache site is a lesson about the Earth itself,” says program Director Gary Lewis. “Earth EarthCache sites teach something about the Earth science of our dynamic planet — participants must actually complete a task to prove they have been observing and learning from the visit.”

How does the awards program work?

The five level program starts at 50 EarthCache visits and rewards continue up to 1000 site visits. Each level is names after a mineral — a fitting scheme for an Earth science program. “Diamond is the most exclusive icon, reserved for those who reach the 1000 EarthCache find level,” says Lewis. Acquired awards may be displayed in users’ online geocaching profiles, or coded, trackable, dog tags may be purchased online for geocache trading.

To be approved for awards geocachers must apply online at the EarthCache site ( for each new level achieved.

“Being able to reward those who take the time to learn more about Earth Science is very important to us,” said Lewis. “We want to encourage people to keep learning and to share their knowledge with their families and beyond.”


The first EarthCache site was developed by Lewis in 2004 on a headland in New South Wales, Australia. It leads to evidence in the rocks of an ancient ice age and amazing fossils to discover. Since then over 11,200 sites have been placed by geocachers around the globe and a staggering 1,250,000 people have visited those sites to date. More are added on a daily basis. Read more on the history of the EarthCache program in an interview with Gary Lewis.

Looking Ahead

In September 2012 the first international gathering of EarthCache enthusiasts will take place in Portland, Maine. Learn more at

For more information, or to find out about EarthCache sites in your area, contact:
Director, GSA Education & Outreach


The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 24,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 97 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.