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Geological and Geophysical Technician
Geological and geophysical technologists specialize in measuring and interpreting data to support the exploration, production, and management of natural resources. They work with a variety of professionals, including geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, and in a number of industries, for example oil and gas, mining, and construction. Geological and geophysical technologists are also involved in site reclamation and environmental hazard cleanup.
At a glanceImagine you are looking up at a 20-metre slope of dirt, rock, and pine trees that is to become part of a proposed road connecting a new alpine ski resort with the main highway. You are a geological technologist working as part of the team that will map the area's geological conditions and hazards. Before the road can be built, design engineers will need to know what geological features and characteristics must be factored into their design. You and your team are responsible for taking measurements and providing data to the engineers so the road's design is as safe and durable as possible. As a geological technologist, you specialize in measuring and quantifying geological conditions for infrastructure engineering, oil and gas exploration, and mining. For this project, you're responsible for gathering data on the characteristics that will affect the new road's design. For example, you will have to measure slope stability so engineers will know what precautions to take against landslides and erosion. Using specialized instruments, you'll measure vibrations at specific points along the road's proposed route to estimate the soil's stability and how it will hold up under heavy construction equipment and tourist traffic. You will also drill boreholes and map cracks and other areas of ground deformation. Once you know where these cracks are, you will use an inclinometer to measure and record ground movement and shifting near them because these will be the weakest parts of the slope. In addition to recording all this data, you'll be involved in researching and studying aerial photographs of the area to assess the probability of landslides and avalanches. Your team will analyze and interpret all this information then pass it on to the road's design engineers, so they know what measures they must include in order to safeguard against landslides, erosion, and other geological hazards.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a geological and geophysical technologist:
- Collect and analyze samples, for example rock, soil, and core samples.
- Extract and interpret geological information from aerial photographs, satellite images, contour maps, and cross sections.
- Process and interpret geophysical data acquired using gravitational, magnetic, electromagnetic, seismic, and other remote sensing methods.
- Operate and maintain geophysical survey and well-logging instruments and equipment.
- Conduct geophysical surveys for locating environmental problems, for example contaminant plumes and buried hazardous waste mapping.
- Maintain geological and geophysical databases.
- Analyze core samples from drilling sites.
- Interpret hydrogeological maps, reports, and studies.
Work environmentGeological/ geophysical technicians work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to: In the office:
- Gathering, entering, and analyzing data, including spatial and seismic data
- Preparing maps
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders
- Preparing reports
- Conducting geophysical surveys
- Collecting rock, soil, and water samples
- Supervising drilling and coring operations
- Processing and studying samples, cores, and cuttings
- Examining sections to determine mineral content
Where to workThere are a number of places geological and geophysical technologists can find employment. They include:
- Environmental and engineering consulting firms
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Firms in other industries, for example oil and gas and mining
- Exploration and survey firms
- Self-employed consultant
Education & requirementsIn most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a geological/ geophysical technician is a college technical diploma. The following post secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:
- Environmental earth science
- Geographic information systems (GIS)