The Accretionary Wedge #1: Why I Study Geology


The first edition was hosted at Clastic Detritus on September 3rd, 2007


Welcome to the 1st edition of the geology blog carnival The Accretionary Wedge.

For this inaugural edition we decided that it might be interesting for all of us to write a bit about why we became geologists/geophysicists.

As the host I get to compile (and read) all the submissions as they come in. I was so preoccupied (in a good way) by all these great essays that my own fell through the cracks resulting in a later publishing time than I originally planned! Sorry about that.

I definitely urge everyone to read all of these…it is a great collection of stories. And there is definitely a common theme regarding how many of us ended up where we are. It seems geology is not often a first-choice when students are choosing majors. It might be interesting to delve into why this is in future editions.

So…here we go…they are in alphabetical order by blog name:


(1) Of Lakes and Rocks (or why I do what I do)

by Kim at All of My Faults Are Stress Related

A desire to solve pollution and water quality problems at a young age motivates Kim to study environmental chemistry. However, something happened her very first semester at college: she took a geology class because chemistry wasn’t offered until the next term.

But the rocks kept calling. Not just any rocks. Rocks that had been through a lot and had stories to tell.


(2) Becoming Thermochronic

by Thermochronic at Apparent Dip

Thermochronic wanted to be an environmental biologist. However, something happened when he had to fulfill a requirement for the major: he took a geology class and went to the field. The realization that geology incorporated aspects of chemistry, biology, physics, statistics, etc. soon followed. Plus, any field that is both beard and flannel friendly has to be good.

If I am stuck at a boring party with no one interesting to talk to, I can entertain myself for hours with a stone fireplace.


(3) Playing in the Sandbox

by Chris at Brilliant Mediocrity

It all started by not only wondering why the world looked the way it did, but attempting to reconstruct it with physical experiments. Chris was 7 at the time.

So I would find an interesting location I had never been in my life on a map and try to use the information I had available to make it in my sand box


(4) This place used to be under water? Are you serious!?

by Brian at Clastic Detritus

It feels silly to introduce my own post…you can just read it.


(5) Why I’m a Geophysicist

by Yami at Green Gabbro

Yami needed to fulfill a science requirement, took intro geology, and got hooked addicted immediately. Wait, that sounds familiar.

When forced to choose between geology and astronomy for my breadth course, I took geology, because I heard there was a field trip…


(6) The Accidental Geologist

by Chris at Highly Allochthonous

Chris started university with aspirations of becoming a physicist. To fill out some requirements he thought that gaining some knowledge about earthquakes, volcanoes, and the like would be cool, so he took a geology class. And then…well, you probably see what’s going on by now.

…the end result of your intellectual struggle is usually a story: how that mountain range was built, how that dinosaur lived, how that ice sheet has waxed and waned. I like teasing out those stories, and I like telling them


(7) Geology and Me – The Earth as I See It

by Chris at goodSchist

Chris (our third one of this edition) gained actual marketable skills in computer sciences and had a real honest-to-goodness job. But wait…he was bored as schist and headed back to school. Mineralogy and petrology skills are now helping him unlock the secrets of the oldest solid materials in the solar system. (Oh, and by the way, Chris is planning on doing some geology podclasts in the future…you read that right…podclasts).

Geology is where the natural sciences meet time. Physics, chemistry and biology, wrapped up in a enormous temporal package spanning billions of years.


(8) Las Piedras de mi Niñez / My Childhood Rocks

by Miguel at MiGeo

As a child, Miguel picked up and admired rocks from the beaches of his hometown in Peru. He didn’t really think that picking up rocks could lead to a career in science. He thought about journalism, computers, information science, and related fields as a career. Circumstances led him to take a geology class and he’s made the most of it.

Thinking about it, I’m actually doing, one way or another, all the things I wanted: working with computers, being a journalist and more recently becoming a geologist.

p.s. Miguel’s post is in English at the bottom…but, give the Spanish version a try


(9) How and Why I Became a Geologist

by Mel at Ripples in Sand

In our final post, Mel shares her circuitous journey starting at wanting to be a paleontologist (at the age of 7), ending up studying biochemistry as an undergrad, realizing that wasn’t the right path, and then ending up in a graduate program studying sedimentary geology.

As a child, we had a long dirt driveway with lots of different kinds of rocks. So on my way to school or waiting at the bus stop at the top of my driveway, I remember looking at them.


UPDATE! Here is a post from a new geo-blogger…better late than never!! Check it out.

(10) Why I’m a Geologist

by Jessica at Inorganics

Another story about discovering the rewards and importance of geoscience.

These people were using science to solve problems faced by people in my state every day. They were using every branch of science I learned in school, but applying it toward something real. And they were educating others.


UPDATE! UPDATE!! Another late arrival…

(11) Why I’m a Geologist

by ??? at Microecos

This one is a photo-essay…pretty clever.



(12) My Path to Geology

by Ron at Ron Schott’s Geology Home Companion Blog

Better late than never! Ron was out in the field when this post was first published a few weeks ago. Be sure to check out his entry.

Although I outgrew the rock collecting phase as a kid, I continued to develop a strong affinity for nature and travel. Family vacations eventually took me to many of America’s National Parks as well as many state parks and other natural attractions – many with interesting geologic origins.



One Response to “The Accretionary Wedge #1: Why I Study Geology”

  1. GeologyJoe Says:

    I floated in to the geology program to fulfill a science requirement. I liked it, took more and more classes, realized it meshed with my personality and violia! before I knew it I had 40-g’s in debt two degrees (BA/MS) a job using my skills and a cool web handle.

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