Geology Geologist

Geology and the Work of Geologists

Geology is the study of the Earth. The study can further be subdivided into physical geology and historical geology. Physical geology is concerned with the earth materials, surface and interior changes, and the forces involved. Historical geology considers the history of development and changes in the earth.

Geologists are primarily employed in oil and gas, mining, construction, water resources, environmental, and education endeavors. Formal geological training normally involves four years or more of college or university. Geologists are classified in accordance with their training specialty and the type of work they do.

Petroleum geologists are mainly employed in the oil and gas industries. Here, exploration geologists search for likely areas of oil and gas accumulations through the use of maps compiled from subsurface data, rock cuttings from drilled wells, and geophysical data. Development geologists are involved in the study and development of an oil and/or gas pool once it is discovered, and the economics of its production. Wellsite geologists examine and interpret rock cuttings as they are brought to the surface from a drilling well.

Within the mining industry, we also have exploration and development geologists. Exploration geologists spend much of their time in the field, where the methods used to find mineral occurrences range from basic prospecting to sophisticated geophysical surveys. Development geologists often have engineering training, useful in evaluating a discovery and determining its economic potential and production program. Specialists within the mining industries include coal geologists, gold geologists, and geologists concerned primarily with the location and development of industrial mineral products such as marble and building stone.

Hydrogeologists focus on the study of water resources. They work to solve water-related problems in society: problems of quantity, quality and availability. This can include finding water supplies for cities, or controlling river flooding or soil erosion. Or, they may work with environmental geologists in environmental protection: preventing or cleaning up pollution or locating sites for safe disposal of hazardous wastes. They are also involved in the prediction of flooding and the consequences of reservoir releases or the effect of leaking underground oil storage tanks.

Environmental geologists are concerned with the effect of the development of land, water and mineral resources on the environment and how to restore polluted or damaged land. They work with hydrogeologists regarding problems with water supplies and pollution. Included within environmental geology are studies of landslides, flooding, earthquakes and other natural events affecting the environment. They design systems for waste treatment, disposal and management, water and soil quality control, and land reclamation.

Geomorphologists study landscapes in order to understand the reasons for, and sources of their present form. Through an experimental approach and field observations they attempt to predict future changes. They are concerned with the role of water action in rivers and lakes and along coastal margins, the effects of climate changes, and the impact of other natural events on the landscape.

Paleontologists investigate the biological records left in the form of fossils of plants and animals from the geological past. These can be as lithified skeletal remains, tracks, eggs, and feces, and carbon imprints. Much of our knowledge in historical geology and patterns of evolution comes from the field investigations and research of paleontologists. Micropaleontologists study the preserved skeletons of tiny sea creatures of the past, as found in drill cuttings and cores. This work is important in the search for oil and gas for strata correlations in relatively undeveloped areas.

Glacial geologists study the records left by the continental ice sheets of the past ice ages. The areas of concern also include present-day glaciers, their relationships to climate changes, and their impact on the Earth’ surface.

The involvement of geologists in the construction industries ranges from studies of bedrock competency in the building of dams and bridges, to slope stability investigations for housing and factory construction in areas adjacent to cliff faces or steep slopes.

Other geologists are employed as educators in universities, colleges and technical institutes.

The study of geology and the work of the geologist are important in aiding mankind in understanding and preserving our Earth.