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Geology & Geologists

What is Geology?

Our planet is dynamic. The movements of lithospheric plates are responsible for creating many of the surface features of the planet including large mountain ranges such as the Andes and Himalayas, and are also responsible for the formation of deep oceanic basins in which sediment eroded from these mountains is eventually deposited. Also the origin and evolution of life on Earth is intimately related to the geological evolution of the planet.

Geology aims at documenting and understanding how the surface and the interior of the Earth have changed through time. Geologists study rocks - their composition and properties, the sequence in which they occur, the minerals and fossils they might contain, their age and their relationships to one another. Every rock contains a record of its history and the process by which it formed. Scientific investigation allows us to reconstruct the history and the processes that have formed Earth as we know it.

The understanding of how the Earth as a planet evolves is not only of scientific or academic interest, it also has high economic importance. Geologists locate and estimate the potential of most resources important to humankind. These are not only limited to mineral or hydrocarbon deposits, the supply of which is the basis for the world economy. It also involves the discovery and management of groundwater resources.


Careers in Geology

Geology graduates worldwide are educated in a fundamentally similar range of subjects, which encompass the breadth of geological subdisciplines. These include mineralogy, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary geology, the deformation processes recorded in rocks, geochemistry, palaeontology, the geology of ore deposits, hydrogeology and geophysics. Geologists may specialise in specific subdisciplines at post-graduate level, especially through advanced research during MSc and PhD studies.

Fields of employment of geologists cover a wide range, such as:

  • exploration or mine geologist
  • geologists working in the field or laboratories of geological surveys
  • researcher at universities or research centres
  • groundwater geologist
  • environmental geologist
  • museum curator / researcher
  • engineering geologist

Geologists are applied natural scientists. With their broad education in natural sciences they often work hand in hand with environmental scientists, engineers, metallurgists, computer scientists or geophysicists and GIS experts. In advanced career stages geologists often find themselves in managerial positions. Well-educated geologists are able to develop their abilities and to take on a large variety of new obligations and roles throughout their career.

Last Modified: Mon, 09 Nov 2020 15:33:14 SAST