This is driving me crazy: how did the geologist in Prometheus get lost? He has advanced mapping technology (the flying robots), is an expert on caves, and the spaceship has real-time tracking technology, as evidenced by the fact the captain is able to tell him he saw "something moving" near him (what he later calls "a glitch"). They are also in constant communication with the ship (at least until the storm, I can't remember if it affected comms). In those conditions, it seems it would be impossible for anyone to get lost, let alone an expert.

The guy does seem a bit distressed when they find the alien corpses and artifacts, just before he decides to go back to the ship, but really -- an alien-finding expedition finds aliens. Is that the reason he freaked out and forgot everything he knew about caves?

Is there any in-universe explanation? Was the geologist simply a loose cannon and a lousy expert?

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    The IMDB FAQ speculates about this.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 7:25
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    Oliver_C: if you post that as an answer, I will accept it. It's not satisfying, but it seems to be the closest to an in-universe explanation.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 13:01

3 Answers 3


The best explanation is probably that what he was smoking in his suit wasn't tobacco. And that he was most likely hitting it earlier.

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    Pretty sure they made it clear he was using drugs Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 18:38
  • @Mondain The nicotine in tobacco is a drug, though I thought they implied he was consuming a drug that had an affect beyond merely the 'buzz' that nicotine provides. A likely suspect would be cannabis. Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 2:41

The IMDb FAQ says:

Why did Fifield and Millburn not return to the Prometheus?

At first given the mapping technology and Fifield's 'Pups' it would seem unlikely Fifield and Millburn would get lost. However, not only was Fifield panicked by the discovery there are a few factors that contributed to them losing their way. When Janek contacts them he states "between the static electricity and the wind speed were, well..." it is possible that the static electricity Janek mentions has affected the mapping technology. This coupled with Fifield's observation that "it all looks the same.."and that he may be disorientated due to his drug taking, it is plausible Millburn and him managed to get lost.

  • The pups were still in the process of mapping when Fifield gets lost, so I think they would have been of little use in finding the way out. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 17:59
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    @Mondain: I don't fully buy this FAQ answer. In the best case, perhaps the pups could have been sent back to lead them out. But if not, I would have thought they would at least have access to the already created maps to find their own way out.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 18:10
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    @Hugo Exactly. They don't need to map anything else: they already know how to get back to the ship! It's already mapped! They just have to backtrack. Keep in mind Fifield is a geologist who is an expert on caves (he says so himself).
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 18:18
  • Yeah, good point.. in 2079 things should be massively multithreaded Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 18:36

My take, while watching the film for the first time, was that Fifield and Milburn got sidetracked and/or had received orders to perform some task that the others scientists might have found objectionable. I still believe this, even after seeing other people indicate that they think Fifield and Vickers got lost. Summarily, I believe fifield and Milburn either faked their desire to go back to the ship in order to get away from the rest of the crew to perform their covert task, or they were interrupted on their way back by a distraction of some sort.

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    This might be an explanation, but it's not supported by the movie. We do not see that they are on any mission, and they don't mention it nor behave as if they were on a mission. So your explanation would have worked if only the script writer had thought about it ;)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 17:18

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