Sampling in Geographical Fieldwork Using GIS Techniques


Sampling is a fundamental and essential component in geographical fieldwork. Sampling is the process of gathering data from purposefully selected sites, such that the data collected best represents the general phenomenon being studied. In geography education, teachers often have to look for suitable sites for students to conduct fieldwork, for example, which location to conduct interviews. However, many teachers are afraid to venture out into unchartered territories where the potential site for fieldwork is unfamiliar. This paper seeks to illustatre the use of GIS techniques to determine the suitability of an unfamiliar site for sampling in geographical fieldwork through coastal research done on a coastline along Cha-am, Thailand.

Unfamiliar territories

The research conducted was about the impact of coastal erosion on Cha-am’s beach and Cha-am south beach and the shops along the coast. The research was conceptualised in Singapore, hence making it a challenge to visit the research site beforehand. In addition, there was no prior secondary research about coastal erosion and coastal retreat along Cha-am’s coastline. To overcome this challenge, GoogleEarth and GIS remote sensing techniques were utilitised to determine the suitability of various sites for research on coastal erosion.

Utilising GoogleEarth Satellite Imagery

Firstly, GoogleEarth was used to get an overview of possible sites along Cha-am’s coastline. Through GoogleEarth, the coastline was analysed using satellite images from various time scales through the time slider feature in GoogleEarth. The satellite images revealed that there was indeed coastal retreat along Cha-am coast over the years. Hence, by comparing the coastline in the different time scales, two sites along Cha-am’s coastline were identified - one at Cha-am beach as a ‘low erosion site’ and the other at Cha-am south beach as a ‘high erosion site’ (Figure 1).

The ‘low erosion site’ was identified for having the least significant coastal retreat compared to the rest of the coastline. In addition, the ‘low erosion site’ had the largest stretch of beach, which is a key coastal depositional landform (Figures 2a, 2b and 2c). 


An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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