A geologist is a contributor to the science of geology, studying the physical structure and processes of the Earth and planets of the solar system (see planetary geology).
Training / Schooling
Their undergraduate training typically includes significant coursework in physics
, chemistry and possibly biology
, in addition to classes offered through the geology department; historical and physical geology, igneous and metamorphic petrology
and petrography, hydrogeology
, 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 may spend portion of summers living and working under field conditions with faculty members (often referred to as "field camp"). Geology courses are also highly valuable to students of geography
, urban planning
, environmental studies
, and other fields.
Areas of specialization
Geologists may concentrate their studies or research in one or more of the following disciplines:
- 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 provided for;
- 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 create them
- 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 volcanological phenomena .
- Isotope geology: the study 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 formation.
- 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 erosive systems.
- Structural geology: the study of folds, faults, foliation and rock microstructure to determine the deformational history of rocks and regions.
- Volcanology: the study of volcanoes, their eruptions, lavas, magma processes and hazards.
Professional geologists work for a wide range of government agencies, private firms, and non-profit and academic institutions. Local, state, and national governments hire geologists to help plan and evaluate excavations, construction sites, environmental remediation projects, and natural disaster preparedness, as well as to investigate natural resources. An engineering geologist
(a geologist trained, experienced and certified in the field of engineering geology
) is called upon 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 utilize 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. Petroleum
companies use mudloggers
(or wellsite geologists) and large-scale land developers use geologists' and engineering geologists' skills to help them locate oil and minerals, adapt to local features such as karst
deposits or the risk of earthquakes
, and comply with environmental regulations. Geologists in academia usually hold an advanced degree in a specialized area within the discipline.