Our Dynamic earth is changing in nature. Geology is the ever-evolving discipline of paramount importance: a subject that encompasses a huge manner of issues, is concerned with the real world beyond the classroom and has direct relevance to the needs of modern society. It underpins the demand of reliable low-carbon energy resources, the monitoring of geohazards and the provision of mineral resources for global Industry.
As a Geologist you are required to deduce from a specimen of rock to unlock clues to the Earths Ancient Heritage. You are required to deal with ambiguity, to draw conclusions from incomplete information, and to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. I am now in my fourth year of studying Geology as an academic subject. I am particularly fascinated by the contrasts in scale (from isotopes to slabs etc….) and the fact that even now, despite centuries of study and research, there is still a lot unknown about the formation of the Earth and the processes that have created the wide range of rocks and minerals that is consists of [uniformitarianism] It was very straightforward decision for me to specialize in Geology at Degree level.
Until the age of Eleven I lived in the urban environments of Hong Kong and Beijing. Throughout my childhood I visited a large number of countries across Asia which has deep-rooted a love for travel and exploration. This has given me a wealth of cultural understanding, linguistic ability in mandarin and has led to a greater appreciation for the natural world. My love for outdoor pursuits has flourished since relocating to Cornwall in 2012. Participating in a World Challenge Expedition to Norway, The Ten Tors 45mile event and completing the Duke of Edinburgh award to a Gold Standard. As I navigated this dramatic new landscape of Granite Tors and sheer-drop cliffs, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy from being out in the elements and surrounded by a dramatic landscape of headland and moorland. Fueled by an inquisitive nature and thirst for knowledge, I couldn’t help but develop an interest in my new terrain.
My Interest of physical geology developed when I was taken on a Geology fieldtrip to Bude. Seeing the exposed Bude formations for the first time posed many questions: how had huge alternating beds of sandstones and shale been deformed into spectacular chevrons and, more intriguingly, what forces of tectonic pressure were able to manipulate this rock to cause this formation? I was determined to understand the complex processes that were responsible for the intricate patterns of strata. As a Geology prefect I am required to mentor younger students, dedicating time to aid their learning and understanding of the subject.
An interest in the scientific fields has been greatly beneficial in such an interdisciplinary subject. Amalgamating my A level subjects has enabled me to understand rocks from a chemical aspect, in the full spectrum of scales from the isotopes of an element in subatomic levels of a crystal to magmatic differentiation by assimilation in conduits.
The A level Rinsey Cove Mapping exercise required me to draw my knowledge from all aspects of the course and apply it practically, interpreting the field and recording all my observations as annotated field sketches and rock descriptions. I love any opportunity to get out of the classroom and into hands on field work, producing a hand drawn field map with strike and dip readings in my field notebook. I was able to secure a placement at ‘Geothermal Energy Limited’ during the summer holidays. The Company is responsible for an exciting pilot project: developing the first commercial geothermal power project in the UK, here in Cornwall, using the heat stored in the local Granites. During the experience I observed many of the tasks involved in the preparations for the drilling rig that was imminently arriving at the site, from site examinations of the injection and production wells to meetings discussing the drilling of boreholes for seismometers. During this placement I applied my knowledge of The Geological Society graphs and statistics to interpret data on seismographs from microseismic monitoring systems, installed to detect any ground movements that might occur as the result of the geothermal operations.
Not all local residents are pleased to see this technology being deployed in Cornwall, fearing that the same issues that have impacted fracking will occur. I can understand their point of view but believe it is important to develop techniques that will help us generate renewable energy. Recent local protests against the geothermal power plant show that geology does not currently have the answers to counter society’s negative views or alleviate the energy crisis. While I agree with protesters’ opinions that should the project be viable, further geothermal plants may cause surface instability and potentially release sulfur dioxide and silica emissions, research and innovation in low carbon technologies and the sustainable production of energy providing economic growth and societal well-being to me, outweigh the negatives. These sensitive public relation meetings demonstrated the wide range of issues underpinned by Geology. I am the only female student studying Geology in my year but I determined to do well in what has historically been a male-dominated field. I attended a “Girls into Geoscience” event held at Plymouth University earlier this year. This was an opportunity to meet female experts in a wide range of Geological sectors and exposed me to the plethora of career pathways that are available to a Geology graduate.
Although I have decided to pursue a career in Geology, I am yet to form a view as to which are to specialize in. I am therefore looking for a degree course that will offer me some flexibility, via a modular system that would enable me to specialize during the degree, allowing me follow my interests as they develop. It is therefore with great excitement that I look forward to an opportunity for further reading in Geology. I am fascinated by the study of revolutionary discoveries in the field, and look forward to continuing to research the ever evolving discipline, while continuing to not only excel with my studies but to participate fully in university life by taking advantage of all the social and community opportunities on offer.