Geology is the science of planet Earth. Geologists use elements of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics in interpreting the evolution of the earth and its life forms. Applied geology addresses exploitation of earth resources, environmental quality and hazards and practical understanding of the planet on which we live.
Geology is a field-oriented science, and our curriculum emphasizes field studies. However, geologists increasingly employ advanced chemical and physical analytic techniques and use computers to model natural systems. Eastern has specialized laboratory facilities for analytical geochemistry. Extensive collections of minerals, rocks and fossils are available for study and research.
Geoscientists may be found sampling the deep ocean floor or collecting rock specimens on the moon. But the work of most geoscientists is more "down to earth." They work as explorers for new mineral or hydrocarbon resources, consultants on engineering or environmental problems, researchers, teachers, writers, editors, museum curators and in many other challenging occupations. They often divide their time among the joys of working in the outdoor environment, the laboratory and the office.
Field work may entail the preparation of geologic maps and collecting samples that will later be analyzed in the laboratory. For example, rock samples may be x-rayed, studied under a polarizing or electron microscope and analyzed for chemical content. Geoscientists may also conduct experiments or design computer models to test theories in order to provide data which will mitigate the effects of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flooding.
In the office, they integrate field and laboratory data to write reports that include maps and diagrams that illustrate the results of their investigations. Such maps can pinpoint areas favorable to the occurrence of ores, coal, oil, natural gas or underground water, or indicate subsurface conditions of construction sites.
Geoscientific work often includes an interesting mix of indoor and outdoor duties which are seldom found in any other profession.
Geoscientists are employed in a wide spectrum of academic, industrial, and governmental positions. Salary varies greatly, but is generally more than $30,000 a year for entering geoscientists. The high salary range is over $56,000 for beginning petroleum geologists.
Nationwide, approximately half of recent geology graduates are employed in environmental fields while a third go on to graduate school. Most of the rest go into the petroleum industry, teaching, government or mining. The Geology Department has close relations with geotechnical/environmental consulting firms, government agencies and mining companies in the Pacific Northwest. These relationships help to place students and graduates in jobs.
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