Introductory geology courses have the unfortunate nickname of “Rocks for Jocks.” The reality couldn’t be further from the truth—earth science is an incredibly complex field that encompasses subjects as diverse as volcanoes, oceans, minerals, fossils, climate, sediments, earthquakes, petroleum exploration, rock chemistry, and atmospheres, just to name a few.
Each of these has innumerable sub-disciplines on complex processes that interact with processes in other sub-disciplines. Tangible evidence of the breadth of the field can be seen in the attendance record of the American Geophysical Union fall meeting, the largest earth and planetary science conference in the world: in 2014, there were 24,920 attendees!
I explain all this because I strongly believe that geology deserves to be on the same pedestal that biology, physics, and chemistry enjoy. Part of what I love about geology is that I can go to a place I’ve never been before, observe it, and have at least a basic understanding of how the landscape came to look the way it does. Being a planetary geologist, I have the same feeling when I look at a picture I haven’t seen before of a planet, asteroid, or moon.
In fact, one of the perks of having a geology background is the ability—nay, the justification—to travel to some pretty incredible places for work and learn about the global geology. Here are some pictures from geology trips I’ve been on:
Okay, enough bragging. The next time you step outside, take a look around you. Is there a mountain? A river? A beach? Whatever you might see, remember that geological processes are interesting, everywhere, and happening all the time!