Mountains, Minerals, and Me
This personal account by an exploration geologist covering the course of his years in the field is an informative narrative for any student interested in the field of geology. While there are different types of geologists, an exploration geologist is responsible for identifying and assessing the location, quantity, and quality of mineral deposits, and the author’s writing provides a detailed record of what the work and daily life of this type of geologist is like. If you collect rocks, have an interest in lapidary (cutting, polishing, or engraving gems), viewed gems and minerals on display at a show or museum, toured mines or caverns, or observed kids panning for gems or “gold” at an attraction and ever wondered about the rocks you’ve seen, where they came from, and how they formed, then you may find something of interest here.
Prior to reading this book, I had no idea what a geologist’s job was like or that such a job would entail the constant opportunities for learning that such a career presented or require so much temporal and spatial skills. Despite the large amount of travel, long hours, and isolated terrain, the field of geology seems such a close community where fellow students, instructors, and professional colleagues enjoyed such camaraderie. I don’t know of many occupations where students get to spend so much time enjoying the outdoors or visiting near active volcanoes or travel hundreds of miles, sometimes to other countries to explore their field of study up close—what incredible field trips!
The author writes with humble, frank recollection of his experiences with great visual detail and positive enthusiasm peppered with amusing anecdotes and interesting facts about surrounding geography, related history, and people he met. His great visual detail and description of the majestic settings and marvel at the raw mineral veins he viewed exposed or in mines made me wish there were more photographs in the book.
Overall, I enjoyed learning about what products these minerals being mined were used for or learning facts like that the Niagara Falls retreats three feet per year and that anyone can lay a mining claim on lands in the public domain. I also appreciated the author’s plain writing and using descriptive phrases to help the reader better visualize formations, like comparing glacial lake strandlines to ancient bathtub rings. I also appreciated the insight he gave into the field of geology and mining: the demographics of male vs. female geologists, prevalence of advanced degrees in the field, common colleges attended, how corporations made the decision whether or not to mine, and how politics and finances affected the industry.