So….You Look at Rocks?

Hiking, camping and playing outside are my favourite childhood memories, and probably why I choose to study Geology. I love science and math, but being a biologist or chemist didn’t suit me. I wanted adventure, exploration and the ability to work outdoors. When you tell someone you’re going to study geology, it often follows by “Oh, how interesting…. what are you going to with that?”  or “So…. you look at rocks?” Over the past few years, these questions continue to bug me. There are so many jobs and directions you take with geography, geology or any of the geosciences. And yes, I do look at rocks, and yes they are amazing! The earth is billions of years old, dynamic, complex and full of resources, and it’s important that we understand these processes. This is why I followed my passion and finished an HBSc with a major in Geology at Lakehead University.

Rocks tell us the story of Earth’s history through their shape and chemical structures. And more importantly, they provide us with resources. If it can’t be grown and farmed, it has to be mined. So understanding how to find these resources and how they form is very important. But not only is it important, it’s fun to learn about too!

Some highlights during my four years, included a field trip to Alberta, which highlighted the processes of mountain formation, and the implications to the oil industry.  I also had the privilege of spending a whole summer working on a “Snowball” earth research project. The rocks we sampled and observed gave us clues about the environment 1.7 billion years ago, a time that scientists believe the earth was completely covered by ice. To conduct this research, I spent 2 months canoeing and camping in the interior lakes of Northern Ontario.

I also completed an honors thesis focusing on niobium mineralization and the importance of these critical metals.  To complete this work, I got to work with petrographic and scanning electron microscopes. My education was very rewarding and will allow me to go into exploration, mining, environmental sectors and many other specialized areas.

Currently, I have decided to continue my education by starting a Master’s degree at Queen’s University. This Master’s program will focus on the impacts mining has to the environment. I will study windblown tailings as a source of contaminants to surface water at a mine site in Nova Scotia.   I know I want my career to focus on environmental geology, but I also want to give back and show the importance of geology to the general public. I want others to see how amazing and important the earth is. I love how there is always more to learn, and I’m not sure where this will take me, but I can guarantee it’ll be fun.

Submitted by: Amy Cleaver

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