Are you looking at University courses? Not sure what to choose? Have you thought about a Geology degree?
‘Geology, it’s just about rocks’ I here you cry! And to some extent this true, but there is so much more to it than that. Rocks are simply the building blocks that Geologist use to understand how the world works. Geology enables you discover your own inner detective, peeling back the layers of time and discover something new.
So what is Geology? Well the Oxford Dictionary says it’s ‘the science which deals with the physical structure and substance of the earth, their history, and the processes which act on them’. By studying a Geology degree you will learn how to figure out what went on in the past, and perhaps more importantly – what will happen in the future.
There is lots of stuff that Geologists do. For example, one important thing that Geologists do is study the Earth’s processes, so keep a look out if you like for Volcanic eruptions, landslides, and Floods. Geologists need to understand what causes these events so they can figure out where to put important buildings so they aren’t damaged e.g. far away from an active Volcano.. Geologists create maps of where natural events like the ones I have already said happen, so Government/councils can decide areas to protect, plus it can form the basics of any new urban development projects.
Geologists also analysis the Earth’s history. With climate change becoming a bigger, and a more of challenging issue Geologists look back at pasts climates and see what has changed since then and now. This furthers the understanding of our climate, how it is changing, and what the consequences might be.
Another thing that Geologists do is look at the Earth’s resources. We use the Earth’s resources everyday, from when we wake up and brush our teeth with some good old Calcium Carbonate in the morning, the oil to make your car work, to the Copper in the circuit board of your computer. Geologists locate the important rocks that the metals are inside that we all need, then plan ways to extract them and ways to do it from the rocks. Geologists do similar sort of stuff when trying to find and produce natural gas, oil, and ground water.
There are tons of different areas of Geologists can specialise in. Here are just a few.
A Hydrogeologist is someone who’s job it is to look at water’s flow, quality, and distribution. This will involve understanding technical data and information from maps and old documents to create a model of the ground water flow and the quality. Hydrogeologists also carry out investigations; this can involve sampling bits of the environmental. This let’s them build a precise and accurate model. They also use modelling techniques so they can make predictions about what the ground water will do in the future, and the impacts it will have. Hydrogeologists starting salary starts at about £20,000 – £25,000, then with experience the salary rages from £30,000 – £60,000.
Geophysicists are split into acquisition, interpretation, and modelling. Acquisition is really cool because you go to the deserts and jungles with the seismic crew. The underground reflections are recorded using very sophisticated computer equipment. Interpretation involves as you would expect, interpreting data. The data comes back from the seismic crew. You spend several months using specialist computer software looking for features in the rocks that point to oil and gas. The new technology allows them to see the oil directly. Then there’s modelling. You use computer software to predict the earths response to the seismic waves. You have to write new mathematical algorithms to interpret the seismic reflections and convert them into computer code. Geophysicists starting salary starts between £25,000 – £30,000, then at senior level this goes up to about £40,000 – £75,000
Being a well-site Geologists is probably the job you associate the most being a Geologist. A well-site Geologist look at samples of rock from oil and gas wells to guide where the drilling should take place, and the appropriate tock formations to drill into. On the drilling rig the well-site Geologists has the say as to weather the drilling should be halted or stopped altogether. They also make reports and logs of what went on when drilling, and make the final well report. It’s worth mentioning this job is tough and it is not for the faint hearted. Well-site Geologists work in the some the most hostile environment our planet has to offer. The working conditions aren’t always the nicest of places either, they tend to be dirty and loud noise is standard, bad whether is the norm.
In the North sea you should expect to work 12 hour days for two weeks straight but followed by a 2/3 week break. Well-site Geologists can easily earn the mega bucks. For those employed in the oil and gas industry the starting salary ranges from £28,000 – £45,000; with experience a well site Geologist would expect to earn something between £35,000 – £120,000 alongside up to 50% of there salary in allowances and bonuses. It is not unusual to see Geologists in the oil and gas industry earning £200,000.
There is currently an international shortage of Geologists and the job prospects are very good. This is an important thing to consider when choosing your degree.
If you are the sort of person who has a natural curiosity into how the natural world you live in works, enjoys outdoor work and don’t mind getting your hands dirty then Geology could well the career path for you.