Geology is a broad field and encompasses all the structures and its components. You can ask twenty different geologists what they do and they will all give drastically different answers. To look at why we study geology it’s important we first know what geology is.
History of Geology
Geology was once an applied component of other sciences such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geography. Leonardo Da Vinci took interest in the formation of rocks and made many observations in the nature of rocks for accuracy in his paintings and drawings. Even before Da Vinci, Aristotle took note on the nature of rocks as well as other greek philosophers of the time. Some of them even went on to write solely on minerals and metals they’ve seen.
A notable geologist of the past is Shen Kuo in China during the second century. His work as a naturalist encompassed observations on the Pacific Ocean, siltstones, fossils, deposition, and even soil erosion. Some geologists consider Shen Kuo the father of contemporary geological thought.
It wasn’t until the 17th Century that geology began making headlines in Europe and the west. Many of the discoveries occurring in the west were involved with either mineralogy or the brow-raising time scale geology must occur in.
Today, geology studies topics beyond the Earth and includes the moon, mars, solar mechanics and even meteors. NASA has, in fact, ,become one of the most prolific sources of geological research, despite their reputation as astronomers, physicists, and mathematicians.
What do Geologists Study?
Geologists study the mechanisms and processes occurring between various systems. These systems include the Earth, the Earth’s surface, the oceans, the moon, water systems and the atmosphere. Geologists might look at bedrocks to understand a regional history, while another geologist might look at ocean behaviour to better understand the shifts in climate. The forms of geology that are covered in the media are often meteorologists, volcanologists, and planetary geologists. Even South Park features a geomorphologist as one of its main characters.
Geology can be broken into several categories:
- Hard rock geology
- Soft rock geology
Elements of chemistry, biology, physics, geography, and mathematics are involved with all fields of geology. Geologists often times work in conjunction with other scientists as well as city planners, engineers, politicians, and educators. Geology is also an important component of science fundamentals and an element that helps relate some more abstract sciences back to our living experience.
So why study Geology?
Why geology is important is different for every field but most geologists will agree geology is important because it allows humans to observe events that happened long before we were here and these observations allow us to make predictions of our future. Every rock is an individual story, each aspect and property of that rock reveals something about its history and the history of its source. By looking at the rocks made in the past, we can make assumptions about the rocks we are seeing formed today. These predictions might help us find vital resources, or redirect climatic disasters, or maybe just entertain our ever-wondering imaginations. Many geologists talk about the “Big Picture”; a vast narrative of interlocking and intricate stories that all eventually lead to our current state. Geologists have a lens into a world no longer here and a scope into what tomorrow might become.