What is taking geology like? Is there a lot of math in the field? It seems interesting, but I don't think I could ever manage. Any advice for those looking into it?
The important thing to remember about geology is that it’s a huge subject. There are so many things that you can specialise things, and you have time during your studies to decide what your passion is.
Geology is a good practical science that has elements of the other main sciences and subjects in it as well. For example, broadly speaking…
- Geology + Physics = Geophysics
- Geology + Biology = Palaeontology
- Geology + Chemistry = Geochemistry
- Geology + Engineering = Geoengineering
So, what is studying geology like?
I think it’s great fun. I love being able to walk through a landscape and understand it. I love being able to understand the processes that happen hundreds and thousands of km below the surface. I love knowing what has happened over time for things to be the way they are. I love being able to think on time-scales of millions of years at a time.
You’ll tend to start studying geology by looking at the Earth as a whole and being introduced to it’s structure and it’s processes, as well as looking at the main rock forming minerals and a few key fossils. Please bear in mind that I study in England where the courses are accredited by the Geological Society, so things might work differently elsewhere.
Even during your studies, there are opportunities to start thinking about what your favourite bits of geology are. It might be volcanology (volcanoes), structural geology (folding and faulting), geohazards (volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides etc), palaeontology (fossils), whatever. There are so many choices and so many subdivisions of geology that I’m pretty convinced that there is something for everyone.
Another good thing about studying geology is the fieldwork. It’s a field science. You can’t study it properly if you just sit inside. Fieldwork is a great chance to see the country (and other countries), as well as the geology. It also means that you can learn how to produce a field map and determine the geological history of an area through practical observations, which is a key part of being a geologist.
Now, onto maths…
There isn’t a vast amount of maths from what I’ve seen. However, it plays an important role in geophysics and geochemistry as you would expect. A lot of it is done on computers these days so we can produce models and get accurate results. That being said, there will be some maths that you have to do yourself.
The important thing is not to get too hung up on that there might be some maths involved. It is not the main part of the course, and it is simple enough to pick up.
Advice for people who are interested in rocks
If you think you might be interested in studying geology, I recommend you do a little bit of research first. Find a book that gives you a good introduction to the subject and see if it kindles any secret passions to study the Earth. Take a look at degree programmes and see if any are of interest. If there are, apply for them and see what happens. Don’t forget to email people if you have questions about things. It never hurts to ask!
If you’re a person who’s worried about finding a job after they’re done with education, then geology is a good practical subject to go into. Everyone needs a geologist, and will always need one because the Earth isn’t going anywhere. I’ve added a short list of some of the industries and businesses that recruit students or that I’ve looked at for future job prospects:
- Geothermal energy
- Hydrocarbons (oil & gas)
- Geological Surveying
- Environmental Assessments and Monitoring
- Geological Risk Assessments
There are loads more, believe me.
The main thing is that if you are interested then you need to pursue it. You’ll have a much better time if you enjoy what you study.
If you have any more questions, feel free to send me a message and I’ll do my best to answer them ^^