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The Accretionary Wedge #1: Why I Study Geology

September 2, 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 Neil 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. 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.


21 Comments leave one →
  1. magma permalink
    September 3, 2007 12:17 am

    Thanks for organising this Brian… all these posts are great!

  2. September 3, 2007 12:11 pm

    Yay! Thank you for organizing this, Brian!

    Before I go off and read all the stories… should we choose someone to organize the next one? (And what frequency? Once a month?)

  3. September 3, 2007 12:33 pm

    My pleasure to get this going off the ground.

    Kim…from the previous discussions, about once a month seemed like a good frequency…I would definitely prefer quality over quantity. In terms of who wants to host next, I guess we can use this comment thread to discuss.

    Another thing to discuss is making an archive site…having different bloggers host it each time is great for exposure for everybody, but then we’d want the full collection of past editions in one spot. If somebody wants to spearhead the task of figuring out the best way to do that, that would be great. My blogging lately has been biting into my productivity (ya know, that whole finishing the PhD thing) a bit…I need to back off a tad.

  4. September 3, 2007 3:05 pm

    Thanks so much for including me. It’s so nice to be reminded of why I (or anyone) study geology when I’m slogging through grad school. I’m enjoying everyone’s stories.

  5. stav permalink
    September 3, 2007 6:57 pm

    Great stuff, guys and gals! I find there’s nothing wrong with immersing myself in my program’s material to keep the inspiration going, but I find real stories from other students and practicing geoscientists to be just that much more helpful. I’m stoked that such a community has popped up in such short time.

  6. magma permalink
    September 3, 2007 6:59 pm

    I registered and to pre-empt any spammers getting them (has been known to happen), so if anyone making an archive site wants to use or redirect that, email me ( and I’ll make you the admin.

    Of course the best thing would be for a domain but I have no money, so :)

  7. September 3, 2007 7:06 pm

    And somebody reserved as well…whoever that was, thanks!

    We can decide among us whether to use blogspot or wordpress…it doesn’t matter too much to me

  8. magma permalink
    September 3, 2007 7:18 pm

    That was me too! I forgot to mention. I’ve made a rudimentary site for the time being, but we should do it properly some time.

  9. September 3, 2007 7:21 pm

    Apparently I have a few dollars more than magma (well, at least $7.95 more…), so I registered Once the registration goes through, I’ll just put in a redirect to wherever the carnival’s homepage lands.

    The registration is good for a year, so there’s no rush to formalize things. But in the next 12 months, I’ll happily transfer the registration over to whoever winds up being the papa or mama of the carnival.

  10. September 3, 2007 7:29 pm

    That was very kind of you…thanks a bunch. I think we’ll be able to figure this out in the next few weeks.

  11. liz permalink
    September 3, 2007 8:57 pm

    I love the stories!

    My 2 cents: I decided on geology when I was 12, thanks to a junior high school teacher, a geology 4H leader, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Camp Hancock and its (and NSF’s) summer field programs, eons ago. I loved to be outside. Why geology and not, say, botany or astronomy? I can’t explain it – I just don’t know!

    So why, at 42, am I not tenured? Geology is a huge field, so deciding on geology does not actually narrow things down much. I studied geochemistry in grad school the first time, was a hydrogeologist for several years, and started grad school in geophysics after I learned about (1) numerical modeling and (2) geodynamics, which is not emphasized in most undergrad geophysics courses.

    Now, I am still wishing I could spend time in the field.

    Thanks again for compiling these stories.

  12. September 3, 2007 9:22 pm


    You’re quite welcome. Anyway, it took a whole 3 hours for the registration to go through (how I love!) — for the time being, just redirects to Clastic Detritus.

    Drop me a line when you’re ready to do a formal hand-over of the domain, and we’ll go from there.

  13. September 3, 2007 11:30 pm

    okay…for now, the archive site is at

    thanks to magma for gettin’ it set up (with a sweet header photo too)….and then I simply copied/pasted in TAC#1.

    Since Sam was nice enough to reserve a domain name for this….we need to use WordPress (i think?) for a blog that is our own URL (someone tell me if I’m mistaken). Either way, I know it can be done in WordPress (cause I just recently did it, and it was ultra-easy).

    I’m not really sure how other blogs work, but I think each time the host should keep it on their own site for at least a couple days before putting on the archive (?). Because i’ve gotten tons more traffic since it’s been up (although tons more is relative to very little:)). Every host should benefit from that…plus it might be a little incentive for the next host to step up.

    This is meant to be very democratic, wiki, web2.0, or whatever we call it…so, please suggest a different course of action, idea, plan etc.

  14. September 4, 2007 7:45 am

    Just to let everyone know…I think the carnival is a success. Looking at my visit/view stats, this post has an order of magnitude more hits than everything else on the blog put together. It looks like people are enjoying these stories and the links to all of your blogs.

  15. September 4, 2007 11:37 am

    Thanks for the late add on Brian! I think the triple-question mark badge suits me well, that’s usually the expression on my face.

  16. September 10, 2007 5:35 pm

    This carnival was a great idea. I like how the posts reflected a theme as well. I’d like to propose another theme that I would be willing to host at my blog The Other 95%. As a biologist with a bunch of geology behind him, I am always fascinated by the interplay of geology and biology. So I would like to propose the theme: At the Melting Point – The Intersection of Rock and Life. The theme can be broadly applied. Any takers?


  1. goodSchist » Blog Archive » Geology and Me: Earth Science as I see it
  2. The Accretionary Wedge #1: Why I Study Geology « The Accretionary Wedge
  3. Why I’m a Geologist « microecos
  4. A geo-bio theme for next carnival? « Clastic Detritus
  5. My Path to Geology » Ron Schott’s Geology Home Companion Blog

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