What does a Geologist do?
Do you think geologists play with rocks all day? Wrong! Geology is an exciting and diverse science
which includes training in physics, math, chemistry, paleontology (fossils), biology, and even astronomy.
Geology is the study of the physical structure and processes of the Earth and planets of the solar system.
That's right; Geologists even study the other planets in our solar system!
When Martian meteorites are found, they call in geologists to study and analyze them.
Searching for the presence of microbes or bacteria in these rocks-from-space could be the
discovery of all time - that life exists elsewhere in the universe! Geologists are currently
working with NASA to determine if liquid water once flowed on Mars by studying images,
maps and other data. When New Horizons gets to Pluto in 2015 NASA will call in Geologists to
examine the first ever photos of the dwarf planet.
Geologists also work at meteor impact sites to help unlock the secrets
of how the space rocks got to us and how they formed.
And right here on Earth, geologists study
the processes that shape our planet so they can better understand what might happen in the future.
Events such as landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and mudflows, not only shape the
landscape but can be dangerous by harming or killing people. By understanding these events,
geologists can help avoid building important structures where they can be damaged, and even warn
people of an impending volcanic eruption. What is a geyser? What causes a tsunami?
How do diamonds form? Geology is probably the most diverse of all the sciences.
Geologists are the scientists who discovered that oil and natural gas are created
from organic (living) materials deposited along the edge of continents and other areas.
By identifying certain types of rocks they are able to recognize potential oil and natural
gas sources hiding in the earth below, bringing heat and electricity into our homes and
filling the gas tanks in our cars and trucks. There are great science fair projects kids can
do that are unique and fun!
Geology also includes paleontology - the study of fossils and the ancient geological
record. After all, fossils are rocks that used to be bones! A paleontologist studies
prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils.
A paleontologist will hunt for dinosaur bones and analyze the life and cause of death of
the animal based on many things.
A career in geology can be high paying and very
rewarding! A college education is required so be sure to study hard and get good grades!
A geologist can spend lots of time in laboratories, classrooms, and out in the field.
They prepare reports, do calculations and use computers.
Geology careers can include:
Economic geology: The study of ore genesis, and the mechanisms of ore creation.
Geochemistry: The study of the chemical makeup and behavior of rocks, and the
study of the behavior of their minerals.
Geochronology: The study to determine the date of past rock formation,
metamorphism, mineralization and geological events (notably, meteorite impacts).
Geomorphology: The study of landforms and the process that create them.
Hydrogeology: The study of the origin, occurrence and movement of water in a
subsurface system, primarily groundwater.
Igneous petrology: The study of igneous (rocks formed by solidification of cooled
magma - molten rock) processes such as igneous differentiation, fractional crystallization,
intrusive and volcanological phenomena.
Isotope geology: The study of the isotopic composition of rocks to determine the
processes of rock and planetary formation.
Metamorphic petrology: The study of the effects of metamorphism (the solid
state recrystallisation of pre-existing rocks due to changes in heat and/or pressure
and/or introduction of fluids) on minerals and rocks.
Marine geology: The study of the sea floor; involves geophysical, geochemical,
sedimentological and paleontological investigations of the ocean floor and coastal
margins. Marine geology has strong ties to physical oceanography and plate tectonics.
Palaeoclimatology: The application of geological science to determine the climatic
conditions present in the Earth's atmosphere within the Earth's history.
Palaeontology: The classification and taxonomy of fossils within the geological
record and the construction of a palaeontological history of the Earth.
Pedology: The study of soil, soil formation, and regolith (the layer of loose
rock resting on bedrock, constituting the surface of most land. Also called mantle rock.)
Petroleum geology: The study of sedimentary basins applied to the search for
hydrocarbons (oil exploration).
Sedimentology: The study of sedimentary rocks, strata, formations and the
processes of modern day sedimentary and erosive systems.
Structural geology: The study of folds, faults, foliation and rock microstructure
to determine the deformational history of rocks and regions.
Volcanology: The study of volcanoes, their eruptions, lavas, and magma processes.
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