• What’s it like to go to geology field camp?

    Geology Field Camp

    At many universities, students are required to attend a summer field camp in order to receive their geology degrees.  For some, this is an exciting adventure, but for others, it’s like a dreaded boot camp.  The difference is usually due to the age and physical shape of the student, commitments at home or work and overall interest.  Field camps are usually five to seven weeks long, and students are required to gather data on several geologic settings by foot and then return to camp to prepare maps and reports on their findings. I attended field camp in 1996 through the University of Arkansas, since the university I was attending did not offer it. My primary reason for choosing this field camp was due to cost and the location.  The university was offering a five-week program in Montana for approximately $1,500 including most meals, lodging and travel from the university.  I’m

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  • So, what’s it like to work as a geologist behind a drilling rig?

    Drilling Rig

    Working as a geologist behind a drilling rig is definitely not glamorous, unless long days in the heat or cold, smelling like funk and looking like you just fell into a mud pit are something you find attractive.  Depending on the type of site, you could end up wishing you had gotten a wastewater treatment plant operator license rather than surviving another day of hell behind the rig.  And you’re not even the driller!  To them, you have it made. But if you insist on this career path, you might want to consider staying in the water supply or water resource management industry (having not worked on an oil rig, I cannot speak to this).  Unless you are absolutely desperate and would have to move back to your mother’s to survive, stay away from the contamination assessment arena.  At least with the former industry, you will be dealing with clean

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  • The Unknown Norseman of Lake Louise, Canada

    Lake Louise

    I wasn’t sure what to expect as I rounded the corner from the parking lot with my husband, Charlie, and his coworker, Michael, toward Chateau Lake Louise, located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada during June, 2001. I had heard about this must-see destination from friends in Florida, but truthfully, I thought it was going to be just another overcrowded tourist trap that would not compete with the pristine, beauty of the numerous mountains and glacial lakes I had already seen along Bow Valley Parkway, as well as Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. And to me, a geologist with a love for the untouched, natural world, there was nothing worse than taking a glacial lake and slapping a hotel on the edge of it. I was sure there would be milk cartons floating along the shoreline and muddied waters that would hide the lake’s emerald/blue glow. But I couldn’t have

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  • Space Shuttle Encounters: A Big Leap for the Geokind

    Space Shuttle

    I have to admit, I’ve had some pretty cool experiences as a field geologist in my earlier years, and one place that offered me many of these was Kennedy Space Center. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this space exploration facility located along the East coast of Florida, and the numerous space shuttle launches that provided lucky onlookers an awe-inspiring view before the program was discontinued. I was one of them, only I had an even closer “relationship,” with the space shuttles. It seemed like, no matter where I was working at the facility, I was in some way reminded of their existence. My first encounter with a part of the shuttle occurred on my first field job along one of the facility’s busy roadways during the late 1990s. I was there to assist another field geologist to oversee the installation of several shallow wells for three days.

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  • 11 Tips on Interviewing from a Manager’s Perspective.

    Sandie Will, Geology Manager and Author

    The job interview process is one of the more nerve-wracking experiences you can go through when searching for a job.  Between getting all of your documents and thoughts ready and trying to keep your nerves under control, it can feel more like a punch to the chest when your finished, than a rewarding and insightful experience.  Part of the problem is the fear of the unknown. Thoughts like, “Who will be interviewing me?”, “What are they looking for?”, “Do I have what it takes?” only adds to the anxiety. The best way to reduce this stress, is to gain as much knowledge as possible about your prospective employer before the interview. Knowledge gives you more insight and power and will help with the fear of the unknown. As a manager, I perform interviews and create interview questions on a routine basis. So, I thought I would share my knowledge on

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  • Burgess Shale Geology Adventures – Yoho National Park

    Burgess Shale Yoho National Park

    Burgess Shale. The name sounded familiar, as I read through the travel guides of Yoho National Park. I had been in Banff for a couple of days and wondered about traveling farther out that day – out of my comfort zone. It was June, but being a Floridian who’s afraid of heights, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle venturing into the unknown by myself. I debated it, until I read the significance of this shale – this ancient shale with fossil imprints of an ecosystem that existed before the rocks buckled under the pressure of plate collisions. A time when the sediments that made up these rocks accumulated on the ocean floor and supported the home of numerous invertebrates that no longer exist today, including the famous trilobites. These sediments that were later thrusted up onto the top of the Canadian Rocky Mountains aren’t just old – they

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  • Why Go Green?

    Why Go Green?

    Yesterday, I heard about another aquifer that can no longer be used as a drinking water supply. Years of radioactivity in the area has contaminated the aquifer, and now concentrations are way above safe drinking water standards. This is another example of lessons learned from the unknown consequences of the practices at the time. Problem is, getting contaminants out of our drinking water supply is far from easy and very expensive.  If only someone had some forethought at the time, like we do now. Green practices are helping to curb mistakes that could end up in an important resource such as this example. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “going green,” but what does is it really mean? Going green means taking on the responsibility of protecting human health, natural resources and ecosystems from practices that may negatively impact them now or in the future. The ultimate goal is to

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  • Hurricane Ridge – Washington’s Gem

    Hurricane Ridge

    Near the northwestern end of Washington state, lies an enormous mountain range known as the Olympics and within it, the beautiful, snow-capped mountains of Hurricane Ridge. Part of Olympic National Park, you can experience these mountains by walking alongside them on a 1.5 mile trail that leads you to Hurricane Hill at 5,757 feet and a reportedly breath-taking, panoramic view of the coastal area, Vancouver, Mt. Baker and the Pacific Ocean.  I first went to Hurricane Ridge in the early 2000s, only to have to turn around after a short hike on the trail due to shortness of breath from the elevation change.  So, in 2010, I made the decision to re-visit this area again to finally experience this illusive view. I entered from a small town named Port Angeles just north of the park. There’s a self-guided auto tour that starts in Heart O’ the Hills about five miles

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  • New Mars Express Video Released!

    Hebes Chasma Mesa. Source: European Space Agency

    Check out this new Mars Express video released by the European Space Agency (ESA)! It’s a video of the topography of Mars as the Mars Express orbiter travels over the land surface. The images are very sharp and you can identify numerous geologic features including craters, landslides, channels, valley networks and mesas. The Mars Express orbiter was launched on June 2, 2003, and arrived at Mars in December 2003. Data is transmitted from the spacecraft to Australia, then processed in Germany. It takes approximately six months to process the data before it’s sent to the ESA. Go to this link: Mars Video by European Space Agency In case you’re not familiar, the ESA has been in existence since 1975 and includes 20 Member States including Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom and others. Canada also assists as needed. Their headquarters are in Paris. The agency oversees numerous

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  • A Black Hawk and a Geologist: Geo Field Life

    Source: en.wikipedia.org

    I didn’t think too much of the siren light, as I passed through the entrance gate my first day at a laser testing facility in central Florida.  To me, this didn’t seem like anything more than the typical contamination assessment field event. All I knew was that I needed to find this red light in case it was turned on, so I was just glad I didn’t have to waste any time hunting for it. As the site geologist, my main focus was to find the drillers, so we could get moving with the well drilling and sampling needed for delineating a possible contaminated groundwater plume. We had a lot of work to accomplish in a short amount of time, so the days would be long and the last thing I needed were any delays. The facility itself was very modest with industrial-type buildings of tan, stucco exteriors and minimal

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  • Springs Dashboard now available in southwest Florida!

    Interested in how the springs are doing near the coast of southwest Florida? There’s now a “Springshed Dashboard” available on the Southwest Florida Water Management District website that provides a snapshot on the location, current condition and characteristics of the five, first magnitude springs (first magnitude means the spring discharges at least 64.6 million gallons of water per day) located within the northern area of the District.  These include Weeki Wachee Springs, Chassahowitzka Springs, Crystal River/Kings Bay, Rainbow Springs and Homosassa Springs for a combined discharge of over one billion gallons per day.  The dashboard provides near real-time graphs and figures on rainfall, stream flow, nitrate concentrations, clarity, water use, nitrate loading and land use for each spring.  Historical and current monthly averages for rainfall are also provided.  See the links below to access the dashboard for each spring.  In addition, the District provides a nice summary for each spring

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  • Hoh Rain Forest – A Unique Beauty

    Northwest Washington is probably the last place you’d expect rain forests!  But they are there! Nestled between the Pacific Ocean, snow-capped mountains of Hurricane Ridge, and Mount Olympus, lies beautiful Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, one of the largest temperate rain forests in the United States. (Temperate means that the location is between tropical and arctic latitudes). Located within the Hoh River Valley along the western side of the Pacific Coast Ranges, this area of Washington has just the right mix of mild winters and cooler summers and total rainfall of 12 to 14 feet per year! (yes, feet!) It’s known as an “ocean-born forest” because of the storms that come from the Pacific Ocean that provide the rainfall within the valley. This rain forest used to span from Alaska to Oregon, but now is limited to protected areas. I was fortunate to visit Hoh Rain Forest in

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  • The Day I Hung a Man: Geo Travels

    When normal people go on vacation, they love spending time on the beach, going shopping, resting by a clear, blue pool, getting a massage at a spa — you know, those wonderfully pampering trips. But, as any of my family members will tell you, I am far from normal and love nothing more than exploring the depths of an expansive rock face along any old highway.  I’m not picky, really. And so, when I visited Las Vegas to participate in my sister’s wedding, it shouldn’t have been any surprise to my family that the week after would involve examining some form of rocks. I mean, I am a geologist from Florida, so I must take advantage of any opportunity! The victims, this time, were my parents and kids. My husband was unlucky (or lucky) enough to catch a bad cold and was stuck in the hotel room and spared of

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  • Rocky Mountain Majesties: Field Camp Adventures

    "Rocky Mountain High" by Kristal Kraft. http://www.denverphotoblog.com/colorado-high-rocky-mountain-road-trip/

    I was 31 when I went to geology field camp, prior to graduation with my Bachelor’s.  Five of us were headed to the same destination from the University of South Florida that year, so it was nice to be amongst friends for the long journey ahead from Florida to Montana.  The camp was offered by the University of Arkansas and headed by a professor named Dr. Doy Zachry.  As I drove out of my driveway that early morning in May, I’ll never forget looking back at my two boys, ages 4 and 5, and my husband in front of our little, white house with orange shutters.  It would be seven weeks without them and I was torn.  Very torn.  Guilt wracked me more and more with every turn, as I made my way to Tampa and every muscle ached already – almost as if I had been away for much longer

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  • Oh no! Why is there a sinkhole in your backyard?

    The worst sinkhole I’ve ever seen developed at an 84-year-old man’s Brooksville, Florida home following tropical storm Debby last year.  At first, the house and property became inundated with water, but then sinkholes began opening up in the front yard.  You couldn’t help but stare when driving by, as the size of the sinkholes directly in front of the house seemed ominous. Luckily, he was saved by his neighbors.    If you’d like to read the news article related to this story, see: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2012/7/18/sinkholes_swallow_fr.html So, why are there sinkholes prevalent in some areas of the world and not others?  The key is the type of rock below the land’s surface.  In some areas of the world, the land is underlain by carbonate limestone which is prime for sinkhole development.  Why?  Because this type of limestone erodes easily when exposed to rainwater that has become more acidic while percolating down through the

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  • Gators, snakes and a pink suitcase: my first day as a field geologist

    Photo source: www.dtsc-topock.com

    My very first experience as an employed field geologist was in June 1998.  I had graduated in August 1997 and wasn’t called by the engineering firm for eight months, so to say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.  I met up with my coworker for the day at the nearby McDonald’s at 7 a.m. after a two-hour drive up a hectic interstate that, unbenownced to me, would be the first of numerous trips.  I didn’t want to be late, since this was an important day – a day of not only testing monitor wells for groundwater quality, but also testing my endurance and overall “fit” into this new world of contamination assessment.  I wanted to do well and was eager to work hard.  As I sat across from the field technician, all I could think about was what he was possibly thinking about.  Did he think I could handle

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  • Are you born to love geology?


    As I think back on my younger years, I don’t remember ever thinking that I wanted to be a geologist, or scientist of any kind for that matter.  I dreamt about many of the careers most young girls did in those days including being an ice skater, runway model, teacher, etc. but never really considered myself smart enough to take on anything with major mathematics.  In fact, in third grade, I was stuck in what I felt was the “dummy class” because my English was supposedly behind and so I wasn’t allowed to actually improve my English.  Instead, I was granted the “opportunity” to watch “The Electric Company” which was way below my grade level and fostered my so-called “inadequacy” in English and math.  Back in those days, only the elite could actually study the composition-type writing.  So, needless to say, I fell behind in third grade and felt like

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  • The best rock cycle diagram I have ever seen!

    I’ve gotta admit, as geeky as this sounds, I’m pretty excited over this rock cycle diagram I found at www.geologycafe.com.  I wish I had this available while I was in college, because it not only shows the different processes in the rock cycle (i.e. deposition), but it also shows the types of rocks (igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary) that are formed in the different geologic settings (volcanism, plutonism, tectonism).  For example, in the case of metamorphic rocks, it illustrates that with heat and pressure the rocks transform to gneiss and schist.  Unless, I’m missing it, I don’t see phyllite, though which would have been helpful.  It also shows the different types of conformities including nonconformity, disconformity and unconformity, as well as faulting types and numerous geologic terms.  If you are a student in geology, I highly recommend reviewing this rock cycle diagram.  It will give you a better understanding than the traditional

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  • So, who’s the Rock Head?

    Sandie Will, Geology Manager and Author

    I’ve been told for years that all I have are rocks in my head, so I thought I’d start a blog to shake some of them out and clear my thoughts as I journey onward in this interesting, yet hectic life in the world of geology and science in general.  Being a manager of several scientists and drillers, and enough education to crystallize anyone’s head, I like to step outside of my current working environment and push myself to learn…constantly.  The research never ends.  Day and night, I thrive on finding the latest developments.  Not only in science, but also in leadership.  We can have all the science knowledge available, but without excellent leadership, it’ll go nowhere.  So, with both in mind, I will share my experience and finds with you and feel free to share yours as well.  Also, if you have any questions or are just starting out

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