Consultant Mineralogist, Dr. Christopher Brough @ChrisPBrough: A Day in the GeoLife Series

NAME: Dr. Christopher Brough

CURRENT TITLE: Consultant Mineralogist at SRK Consulting


YEARS EXPERIENCE: 12 (9 years of education and 3 years in industry)

EDUCATION:  Two Master’s degrees and one PhD

What’s your job like?

Mostly fascinating. The mining industry works ultimately towards the provision of necessary materials to every form of manufacturing industry, from solar panels to car manufacturing to mobile phones. If we can’t grow it, we mine it, and it feels a privilege to be a part of such an integral industry to day to day living.

What’s a typical day like?

Work is quite varied, and I can be travelling abroad to visit a site or back in the office working on already collected samples. When back in the office, the work is generally quite regular consisting of reflected and transmitted light microscopy, electron microscopy or report writing around that. When abroad, the work can be as varied as the locations and one of the perks of the work is the opportunity to be immersed in differing cultures and environments, particularly in locations I would never have otherwise visited and am highly unlikely to see again.

What’s fun?

I take a somewhat geeky fascination in the petrography and particularly enjoy finding rare and unusual minerals under the microscope. Some of the images can be quite extraordinary in composition and range that it feels like art as much as science half the time (Figure 1). However, nearly every project has something unique about it, whether it is the mineralogy, the commodity or the fieldwork. The sheer variability of the work provides a great exposure to a huge range of geological domains which has been an unexpected perk of the job.


Figure 1: Working as a mineralogist provides access to whole kaleidoscope of petrographic images. A: muscovite fan; B: red cuprite with green malachite and aquamarine chrysocolla; C: mineral explosion with illite ‘bursting’ out of calcite and quartz, and D: hematite needles with a few isolated grains of gold. Copyright 2014 Christopher Brough

What’s challenging?

Having to let projects go. Whilst we work on a range of projects, once the reports are finished, we quickly move on to the next. Often there are questions remaining and follow-up research that would be great, but we don’t have research funding and this is not part of our remit. Having to prioritize on current work often requires letting go of questions that I’ll never find an answer to and that can be hard at times.

 What’s your advice to students

Work hard. Simply working hard at your job is one of the greatest contributions we can make to our society, and it is a high ideal to be reliably competent at what you do. Aside from that, and if you have the opportunity, take time to work at something you enjoy.

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