- The effects of erosion, sedimentation, and tectonic deformation
- Rock and fluid properties for hydrogeological assessment
- Structural components of rocks such as lineaments, faults, and folds
Geologists conduct geological surveys, subsurface studies, and field studies. They record and interpret geological information from sources that include:
- Maps and reports
- Well logs
- Geological samples such as drill cores and rock, soil, and sediment samples
- Air photos
- Satellite imagery
- Geochemical surveys
From fieldwork and lab research, they prepare geological maps, cross-sectional diagrams, and reports. They also conduct 3D and 4D modelling of geological data.
They use a wide array of instruments in their work, such as:
- Diamond drills
- Geopositioning devices
- Gravity meters
- X-ray diffraction equipment
They work with computers in both the field and the office.
- Participate in the study and mitigation of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mud slides
- Classify fossilized life forms, rocks, and minerals
- Supervise the work of technologists and technicians
They work in teams with:
Geologists may work in various areas.
Coal geologists locate and classify coal resources. They determine their fit for coal mining and coal bed methane (gas) development.
Computing geologists develop software such as database systems, geographic information systems, or statistics packages. They use it to study data and information.
Economic geologists locate, rate, and classify mineral deposits.
Engineering geologists study geological data. They advise government agencies and construction companies. This helps with choosing locations for buildings, dams, highways, airfields, and tunnels. They work with other engineers in oil, gas, and mineral exploration and production. They also work in environmental cleanups.
Environmental geologists assess the environmental impact of the development or use of mineral, hydrocarbon (oil, gas, coal), and water resources. They help to restore disturbed land to its original condition (reclamation). Some reclamation projects increase the financial value of the land.
Geochemists study the chemical makeup and interactions of minerals, rocks, and fluids. They strive to understand the distribution and migration of materials in Earth’s crust.
Geochronologists determine the age of rocks. They do this by studying the radioactive decay of key elements.
Geomorphologists examine landforms and processes such as erosion and glaciation. These processes cause Earth’s surface to change.
Hydrogeologists study the properties, amount, and makeup of groundwater and formation waters. They may search for potable water or address environmental issues. These issues can include:
- Groundwater contamination
- Landfill siting
- Liquid waste disposal by deep injection
To learn more, see the Hydrologist occupational profile.
Marine geologists study coastal and marine environments and their evolution. They explore ocean basins for mineral and petroleum potential.
Mineralogists study, identify, and classify minerals according to their makeup and structure. They study the properties of minerals. They also develop industrial and environmental uses.
Mining geologists locate and study Earth’s mineral and rock resources. They suggest ways to remove them safely and efficiently.
Paleontologists study fossils for a variety of purposes, such as to:
- Establish relative age
- Suggest places to explore for petroleum
- Study evolution and ancient environments
Petrographers describe and classify rocks, most often after a microscopic study.
Petroleum geologists determine the geological characteristics of an underground reservoir and the fluids in it. This helps them decide where to drill for oil and gas. It helps Petroleum Engineers optimize the extraction process. Petroleum geologists study research gathered from:
- Geophysical and geochemical data
- Geological maps
- Rock samples
- Remote-sensing imagery
Planetary geologists study the nature and history of planets and satellites in the solar system.
Sedimentologists study the processes that result in forming sedimentary rocks. They apply this knowledge to help locate coal, petroleum, and other types of mineral resources.
Shale-oil and shale-gas geologists locate and study oil and gas resources in very low permeability reservoirs and unconventional reservoirs.
Stratigraphers study arrangements of sedimentary rock layers. They do this by examining the fossil and geological makeup of boreholes and diamond drill cores. This helps locate coal and petroleum.
Structural geologists study the geometry and elements of brittle and plastic rock deformation. For example, they might study the evolution of mountain building. Or they might consider how to use earth structures in resource extraction.
Surficial geologists study sediments and rock layers close to Earth’s surface. Their findings apply to:
- Road and building construction
- Environmental contamination
- Global change studies
- Groundwater production
- Landfill siting
- Mineral exploration
Volcanologists study active and dormant volcanoes. They predict eruptions to minimize potential damage. They learn about the physics and chemistry of volcanic processes.
Well-site geologists work closely with drilling crews in the field. They make sure wells penetrate target zones. They also ensure coring samples are taken at required intervals.