Many people consider science-related courses, geology included, to be hard. Granted, most of these courses have complex processes and concepts that one needs to understand to excel. But is geology really hard?
Geology isn’t really hard. However, one must be willing to put in the effort to study and understand the concepts by studying on their own, attending classes, and even having group discussions with other students.
By reading this article, you’ll understand why geology isn’t as hard as you may think and other related subjects. I’ll expound on the definition of geology, discuss geology as a career, the branches of geology, where geologists work, and famous geologists in the world. Let’s go.
What Is Geology, and Is It Hard?
Geology is a branch of earth sciences, and it isn’t hard. This field of study focuses on the earth’s structure, dynamics, evolution, energy, and mineral sources. While many may think Geology is hard, it’s not, as long as they have the basic knowledge of math, geography, and science.
However, there’s something that makes geology stand out from the rest of the sciences. It digs deeper into processes that happened billions of years ago, and geologists study the evidence of what they see around and predict what will happen in the coming days.
Source: The Geological Society
Why Isn’t Geology Hard?
Geology isn’t hard because this field of study is easy to explore and understand as long as one has the basic knowledge of math, geography, and science.
For some people, math is a dealbreaker. If you’re that kind of a person, don’t fret because geology doesn’t involve too many calculations. In addition, as long as you have an interest, understanding geology won’t be an uphill task.
However, you still have to work hard and commit yourself to learn the subject since it’s a science that involves processes, some of which are very complex.
Here are some tips to help you study this course and understand all you need to learn.
Understand That It Takes Time
Knowing and accepting that it takes time to understand different topics in geology is very crucial. You might have to dedicate some more time after classes to read on your own and study what you didn’t understand during the lectures.
You might also need more time to understand certain topics, especially the complex ones. Also, you need to ask the experts for clarification if some concepts are too hard to comprehend.
Attending classes can play a big role in helping you understand geology better and more effectively. The lecturer will explain different things, and if you pay attention, you’ll understand the course better.
When you attend classes, you have the opportunity to ask questions in case something isn’t clear. You can also take notes and read later or revise for exams.
Additionally, the professors may share their experiences and real-life examples, which you won’t get from textbooks.
Source: State University
Form Study Groups
Study groups are usually very helpful, but only when every member is committed. A good study group should have a minimum of 3 members and a maximum of 5. A session shouldn’t be too short or too long. That will ensure everyone gets as much knowledge as they can without losing concentration.
You should also organize and plan what to study in each session before time. When joining a study group, discuss challenging concepts, develop presentations, and study for exams together.
You can also learn from others by discussing what lecturers taught in class. Make sure you’re dedicated to the group, as it can be very easy to get distracted and wait for others to do all the heavy lifting for you.
Source: The University of Utah
Prepare for Exams Adequately
There’s nothing worse than going to the exam room and finding you have no idea how to answer the questions just because you didn’t prepare adequately.
For example, if you waited until the night before the exam day to revise or grasp concepts that you didn’t when in class, you might end up reading too much and forgetting everything.
It’s advisable to start preparing for exams a week earlier to understand even the most challenging concepts.
Why Do People Study Geology?
People study geology to make discoveries and know more about the world. Geology focuses on issues affecting today’s world, such as climate change, mineral management, natural hazards, sustainability, and water management.
By clearly studying these issues, geologists can predict what will happen in the future and make decisions to control or prevent some things from happening.
Geologists can also identify natural/ physical disasters, such as landslides so that authorities can take the necessary measures. For example, if geologists discover that a landslide or volcanic eruption is about to happen, the authorities can advise the public to vacate the area and stay far from the danger.
Source: Geological Survey
What Geologists Do
When studying a certain course, it’s normal to be concerned about where you’ll end up working after your studies. As a geologist, the extensive knowledge you have acquired while studying about the earth’s surface and the related fields enable you to work in different settings.
The following explains the different paths you may choose:
Work for Your Local or State Government
When you’re a geologist, you can work for the government as a developer or a consultant.
As a developer, you can undertake various contracts, and as a consultant, you can give important insights before, during, and after projects involving infrastructures.
Meanwhile, as a geologist, you can ensure safety precautions are taken to avoid damage from natural processes that are happening or may happen in the future.
Teach at Universities and Colleges
Universities and colleges employ geologists to teach and guide students studying the same course. Normally, you’ll teach theoretical classes and practicals and guide students on how to undertake research.
In most institutions, you’re supposed to have qualifications to teach a geology class, such as advanced education.
You can still choose self-employment to offer consultation services instead of getting employed by someone. However, this isn’t something you can easily do immediately after school as it requires vast experience in the field first.
Most people follow this route after working for the government, private sector, or in learning institutions for several years.
Serve in the Private Industry
Before starting a project, private companies such as real estate firms and engineering firms hire geologists, mostly those specializing in infrastructure.
Oil companies, for example, employ geologists to explore and extract oil from its natural setting and make it ready for usage.
Geology as a Career
After obtaining a geology degree, your career will be focused on the earth, climate change, and the environment. Mostly, you’ll be doing fieldwork, but you can also work in a laboratory or an office.
Most entry-level positions require a person to have a degree. However, most geologists advance their education by enrolling for masters or doctorate degrees. They’ll specialize in different fields, such as volcanology, mineralogy, and paleontology.
Source: University of Wisconsin
Branches of Geology
There are different geology branches, from geochemistry to sedimentology. Let’s take a look at them.
Geochemistry is the branch of geology that applies the principles of chemicals to further understanding the system of the earth and other planets. This branch of geology works on the basis that geological materials and processes can be regarded from a chemicals point of view.
Geochemistry has enabled the exploitation of various resources, such as petroleum and metals. This geology branch has also made it possible to understand different processes and why they occur, such as global warming.
Understanding these processes is crucial as it helps scientists develop and implement control measures.
Source: Yale University
Paleontology is the study of the earth’s history based on fossils. It focuses on living things that existed years ago.
Paleontologists use fossils to get more information about creatures that were present in the early days. Fossils are the remains of animals, plants, single-celled living things, bacteria, and fungi already replaced by rock material.
Oceanography is the scientific study of the ocean, including its biological, physical, and chemical features. The role played by oceanographers is particularly important now since occurrences like climate change and pollution are threatening the ocean.
One of the most important branches of oceanography focuses on the relationship between the animals and plants in the ocean and the marine environment.
Oceanographers use the findings from this research to make critical choices regarding ocean life. Apart from focusing on the living things inhabiting the ocean, oceanographers also focus on the seafloor. For example, they research how the seafloor was formed, its changes over time, and the causes of these changes.
Source: National Geographic
Geophysics is the study of physical processes and properties of the earth together with its surrounding environment. It’s through geophysics that we get to learn about things like how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
It also involves the exploration of the interior of the earth using physical properties measured at the surface or above the earth. Some of its applications include locating and getting minerals, hydrocarbons, and groundwater, archeological surveys, and assessing risks caused by natural calamities such as tsunamis and earthquakes.
Sedimentology is the study of sedimentary rocks, including how they were formed, transported, deposited, and lithified.
Sedimentary rocks cover a very big percentage of the earth and carry a lot of information that scientists use to get more information about the earth’s history.
Career Advancements in Geology
After finishing an undergraduate degree in geology, you can advance your education to gain more knowledge and skills. This is made possible by studying for a master’s degree in a specific area, such as waste management, petroleum engineering, earth sciences, among other courses.
You can also go further to study for a Ph.D. to develop specialist knowledge and become a researcher. Further studies are usually a qualification for some careers such as teaching, meaning that you not only become an expert in the field but qualify for some positions undergraduate degree holders cannot.
Source: Marshall University
World’s Famous Geologists
People have been studying the earth and its components for many years. However, advancements in geology were made in the 18th century when people wanted to answer various questions that had remained a mystery for years.
In the quest for knowledge, certain people made discoveries that greatly changed the field of geology. Some of the most notable people include:
Many people consider James Hutton as the father of modern geology. He was born in Edinburgh and went ahead to study medicine and chemistry, and later on, he became a farmer.
His most notable achievements include discovering that the planet earth was only a few thousand years old. He was also famous for uniformitarianism.
Charles Lyell was both a geologist and a lawyer. He was raised in Scotland and was widely known for his radical ideas about the age of the earth.
His book, Principles of Geology, was published in three different versions. The book presented the idea that the earth was formed through natural processes that are still in operation and that the processes still operate in the same intensity even today.
Lyell greatly opposed James Hutton’s uniformitarianism idea. His ideas greatly influenced Charles Darwin’s evolution theory.
Alfred Wegener was a German geophysicist and meteorologist and is remembered as the originator of the continental drift theory. He greatly excelled in physics and even studied a Ph.D. in meteorology and astronomy (source).
However, Alfred’s hypothesis was greatly rejected until the 1950s, but later, numerous discoveries provided support.
Georges Cuvier — a French zoologist and naturalist — was regarded as the father of paleontology by many. Cuvier studied anatomy and also learned how to dissect.
After graduating, cuvier worked as a tutor in a noble family. During that period, he wrote studies related to marine invertebrates (source). Cuvier opposed the theory of evolution and believed in catastrophism.
Geology might seem hard at first, especially when looking at the concepts and processes it involves. However, if you put in the effort and have the will to learn, it won’t be hard for you.
It’s a wide field, and you can decide to specialize in one of its branches if you want to advance your education. Geology is also fun since scientists always come up with discoveries, helping us understand natural processes even more.