A GEOLOGIST is a scientist who studies the solid and liquid matter
that constitutes the
Earth as well as the processes that shape it.
Geologists usually study geology , although backgrounds in physics ,
chemistry , biology , and other sciences are also useful. Field work
is an important component of geology, although many subdisciplines
incorporate laboratory work.
Some geologists work in the mining business searching for metals,
oils, and other
Earth resources. They are also in the forefront of
natural hazards and disasters prevention and mitigation, studying
natural hazards such as earthquakes , volcanic activity, tsunamis ,
weather storms. Their studies are used to warn the general public of
the occurrence of these events. Geologists are also important
contributors to climate change discussions.
* 1 History
* 2 Training / Schooling
* 2.1 Areas of specialization
* 3 Employment
* 4 Professional designation
* 5 See also
* 6 References
Scotsman James Hutton, father of modern geology
James Hutton is often viewed as the first modern geologist. In 1785
he presented a paper entitled _Theory of the Earth_ to the Royal
Society of Edinburgh . In his paper, he explained his theory that the
Earth must be much older than had previously been supposed in order to
allow enough time for mountains to be eroded and for sediments to form
new rocks at the bottom of the sea, which in turn were raised up to
become dry land. Hutton published a two-volume version of his ideas in
1795 (Vol. 1, Vol. 2). Followers of Hutton were known as _Plutonists _
because they believed that some rocks were formed by _vulcanism_,
which is the deposition of lava from volcanoes, as opposed to the
_Neptunists _, led by Abraham Werner , who believed that all rocks had
settled out of a large ocean whose level gradually dropped over time.
"Geologists at work" from the U.S. Geological and Geographic
Survey of the Territories. (1874 - 06/30/1879) Photographer: William
The first geological map of the U.S. was produced in 1809 by William
Maclure . In 1807, Maclure commenced the self-imposed task of making
a geological survey of the United States. Almost every state in the
Union was traversed and mapped by him; the
Allegheny Mountains being
crossed and recrossed some 50 times. The results of his unaided
labours were submitted to the
American Philosophical Society in a
memoir entitled _Observations on the
Geology of the United States
explanatory of a Geological Map_, and published in the _Society's
Transactions_, together with the nation's first geological map. This
antedates William Smith 's geological map of England by six years,
although it was constructed using a different classification of rocks.
Sir Charles Lyell first published his famous book, _Principles of
Geology _, in 1830. This book, which influenced the thought of
Charles Darwin , successfully promoted the doctrine of
uniformitarianism . This theory states that slow geological processes
have occurred throughout the Earth\'s history and are still occurring
today. In contrast, catastrophism is the theory that Earth's features
formed in single, catastrophic events and remained unchanged
thereafter. Though Hutton believed in uniformitarianism, the idea was
not widely accepted at the time.
TRAINING / SCHOOLING
A young geologist learns about flow banding
For an aspiring geologist, training typically includes significant
coursework in physics , mathematics , and chemistry, in addition to
classes offered through the geology department; historical and
physical geology, igneous and metamorphic petrology and petrography,
hydrogeology , sedimentology , stratigraphy , mineralogy ,
palaeontology , physical geography and structural geology are among
the many required areas of study. Most geologists also need skills in
GIS and other mapping techniques.
Geology students often spend
portions of the year, especially the summer though sometimes during a
January term, living and working under field conditions with faculty
members (often referred to as "field camp"). Many non-geologists often
take geology courses or have expertise in geology that they find
valuable to their fields; this is common in the fields of geography ,
engineering , chemistry , urban planning , environmental studies ,
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
A geologist working in the Arctic Geologists exploring
Jurassic sedimentary rocks in
Makhtesh Gadol , Negev Desert, Israel
Geologist explaining the importance of volcanic ash layers to
students on field in
Geologists may concentrate their studies or research in one or more
of the following disciplines:
Dendrochronology : the study of dating based on tree ring
Economic geology : the study of ore genesis , and the mechanisms
of ore creation, geostatistics .
Engineering geology : application of the geologic sciences to
engineering practice for the purpose of assuring that the geologic
factors affecting the location, design, construction, operation and
maintenance of engineering works are recognized and adequately
Geophysics : the applied branch deals with the application of
physical methods such as gravity, seismicity, electricity, magnetic
properties to study the earth.
Geochemistry : the applied branch deals with the study of the
chemical makeup and behaviour of rocks, and the study of the behaviour
of their minerals.
Geochronology : the study of isotope geology specifically toward
determining the date within the past of rock formation, metamorphism ,
mineralization and geological events (notably, meteorite impacts ).
Geomorphology : the study of landforms and the processes that
Hydrogeology : the study of the origin, occurrence and movement of
groundwater water in a subsurface geological system.
* Igneous petrology : the study of igneous processes such as igneous
differentiation , fractional crystallization , intrusive and
Isotope geology : the case of the isotopic composition of rocks to
determine the processes of rock and planetary formation.
* Metamorphic petrology: the study of the effects of metamorphism on
minerals and rocks.
Marine geology : the study of the seafloor; 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
Petroleum geology : the study of sedimentary basins applied to the
search for hydrocarbons (oil exploration ).
Sedimentology : the study of sedimentary rocks , strata ,
formations, eustasy and the processes of modern-day sedimentary and
Structural geology : the study of folds , faults , foliation and
rock microstructure to determine the deformational history of rocks
Volcanology : the study of volcanoes , their eruptions, lavas ,
magma processes and hazards.
"Picturesque camp made by a lone geologist on the cinders of
Inferno". This photo was taken during a U.S. Department of the
Interior Geological Survey in 1921
Professional geologists work for a wide range of government agencies,
private firms, and non-profit and academic institutions. They are
usually hired on a contract basis or hold permanent positions within
private firms or official agencies (such as the
Local, state, and national governments hire geologists to work on
geological projects that are of interest to the public community. The
investigation of a country's natural resources is often a key role
when working for government institutions; the work of the geologist in
this field can be made publicly available to help the community make
more informed decisions related to the exploitation of resources,
management of the environment and the safety of critical
infrastructure - all of which is expected to bring greater wellbeing
to the country. This 'wellbeing' is often in the form of greater tax
revenues from new or extended mining projects or through better
infrastructure and/or natural disaster planning.
logging , common in petroleum and water-well drilling
An engineering geologist is employed to investigate geologic hazards
and geologic constraints for the planning, design and construction of
public and private engineering projects, forensic and post-mortem
studies, and environmental impact analysis . Exploration geologists
use all aspects of geology and geophysics to locate and study natural
resources. In many countries or US states without specialized
environmental remediation licensure programs, such as Rhode Island and
North Carolina, the environmental remediation field is often dominated
by professional geologists, particularly hydrogeologists, with
professional concentrations in this aspect of the field.
mining companies use mudloggers and large-scale land developers use
the skills of geologists and engineering geologists to help them
locate oil and minerals, adapt to local features such as karst
topography or earthquake risk, and comply with environmental
Geologists in academia usually hold an advanced degree in a
specialized area within their geological discipline and are employed
The rock hammer and hand lens (or loupe ) are two of the most
characteristic tools carried by geologists in the field.
National Instrument 43-101 requires reports containing
estimates of mineral resources and reserves to be prepared by, or
under the supervision of, a Qualified Person (QP) who has at least
five years of experience with the reported minerals and is a member of
a professional association. The QP accepts personal liability for the
professional quality of the report and underlying work.
The rules and guidelines codified in
National Instrument 43-101 were
introduced after a scandal in 1997 where
Bre-X geologists salted drill
core samples at a gold exploration property in Busang, Indonesia. The
falsified drilling results misled
Bre-X investors and upon discovery
of the fraud, the company collapsed in the largest gold mining scam in
List of geologists
* ^ James Hutton: The Founder of Modern