5 Things everyone should know about geologists

<This article was originally published sometime in 2014, but after making some changes to it (based on feedback from some angry readers), it is being re-published today. Enjoy.>

EVERYWHERE, Known Universe – The word geologist is derived from the modern Latin geologia, from Greek  ‘earth’ + -logia, meaning the study of earth.  We don’t presume or assume our cleverness or intelligence; as earth scientists, we see no reason to falsely raise our self-esteem so we can get out of bed every morning without regreting our life choices.

Accordingly, people who perform engineering mope around most days mumbling about a formula or number, and what it means to their partial quantum off-space continuity results. (**Ahem** Engineering: 1, Geology: 3)

There is no question that geologists are a fun loving bunch. In some way or another your everyday life has been affected directly or indirectly by geology. In this fun Friday opinion piece, the 2P News staff, which comprises a few personality-challenged individuals (I mean engineers) and geologists, who pretty much run the show around here.  In rebuttal to last Friday’s article, I figured I would let you in on a few things that you really should know about geologists.

Deep down, every geologist you know is a very happy person.  Geologists basically coast through their degree looking at rocks, hiking, drinking beer and taking naps.  We also do labs and spend time looking through microscopes at samples (and pencils and sugar and boogers).  We study hard, but we also play hard.  Some of our classes would go like this:

  • In class: How did the reservoir get there?  What do you think?
  • Find the sandstone on the gamma log.  Why is that sandstone a drilling target?  Here.  And because Exxon said it was.  But this lower Shale has oil too?
  • Homework: What is 2 + 2?  Somewhere between 3 and 5, what do you want it to be?
  • Exam: After 16 beer, you throw a tennis ball 25km/hr at the windshield of an approaching police car traveling at 55km/hr.  It ricochets at an upward angle of 34°.  How long until you get arrested?
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All things geology – in one simple photo!

People usually think that engineers drink a lot of beer.  And Darcy Flowman was right that the only other group that consumed more beer are geologists. But the difference is that engineers know math, and it’s really too bad because they might be nice people if they weren’t always playing Pong on an HP.  The geological society of which I am a member is a predominant entity in the geological world as well as the consumption world.  We know how to party.  18 hole golf course?  No.  18 beer mini golf?  Yes.  Calculate the volume of a cone?  No.  Drink the volume of an upside down funnel?  Yes.  Theorize deltaic depositional environments in a storm dominated transgressive setting?  Yup.  With a bottle of scotch and 3 grad students.

Everything is… until it isn’t.  The cardinal rule in geology is that we’ll never really know what happened until we cut the earth in half and take a look.  Much of our education is the study of things that no one ever really knows for sure, and that understanding will almost definitely change a few times within our lifetime.  Despite the notion that geology is a science, it is far more of an inventive art form.  Geological history is plum full of complexities and slight nuances effected by millions of variables.  Geologists have to think outside of the proverbial box to make sense of any of it, let alone most of it.  This helps to define geologists as incredibly creative and inventive individuals.  Combine that with our keen intellect and striking god fashion sense, and geologists become suited to all manner of worldly tasks.  We can take on small home projects, discover new oil plays,  AND run an oil company.  Let’s try and see an engineer or a lawyer do that effectively.

Geologists NEVER feel the need to objectively run cost-benefit analysis on ANYTHING – no matter how big or how small the decision may be.

  • I really  want that candy bar!  I like the color of that Prius, I should buy it!  That’s a great idea!  I love that theory!  It might even work!  We can deal with results later when we get enough data!  That’s all it takes to make a geological decision. Done.”

Geologists have a very ductile toolbox to apply in their daily lives.  Who doesn’t enjoy the mountains, oceans, and staggering monuments we see in nature everyday.  All have ties to geology in one way or another.  Geology has a far wider audience than say, a theoretical engineering physics problem no one really cares about.

If you know of anything else that people should know about geologists, please share it below.

P.S.:  One last thing, no matter what they say or what they do, geologists do not actually like engineers. If enginerds weren’t so stiff and boring, they might be alright.  We could run this business, or most businesses without them, but who would we joke about when they get distracted by the new Calculus App and walk in front a C-Train.