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Geology: Q & A With Roger Lowe

By Chloe Grant, Read to Them Staff

In our current title, EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star! by Sally Warner, EllRay isn’t the only rock star we learn about. Mr. Jakes, who we got to know a little better in our Character Spotlight from Monday, is a literal rock star— he’s a geologist! The American Geosciences Institute describes geologists as:

“scientists who study the Earth: its history, nature, materials and processes. There are many types of geologists: environmental geologists, who study human impact on the Earth system; and economic geologists, who explore for and develop Earth's resources, are just two examples. There are also engineering geologists, geomorphologists, geophysicists, mineralologists, geochemists, glacial geologists, structural geologists, petroleum geologists, petrologists, sedimentologists, hydrogeologists and more. A career in geology offers broad scope to anyone interested in the Earth and how it works.”

Wow! How amazing is that? Our Earth offers us so many different ways to learn about it! It could be overwhelming to try and understand such a broad field, so we thought it would be best to start small. To learn more about the specifics of geology, we connected with a real life geologist named Roger Lowe. Here’s what we learned:

What does your job entail?

There are many ways that geologists use their knowledge. Some look for precious minerals like diamonds, or for gold, silver and other metals, some look for water that’s hidden in the ground, or try to fix problems in the ground caused by pollution. My job is to explore for oil – to find oil where none had thought to look before.

When did you decide you wanted to be a geologist?

My first hint that I might be interested in Geology was from the friends I used to go caving with. They were all geology students, and it seemed like it might be interesting, so I took some courses. They were fun and interesting, so I took more, but never thought I’d be a geologist. It was just really interesting.

Then I got a job after college as a geologist exploring for water hidden underground so that small towns could drill water wells and provide drinking water to the people who lived there. We drilled exploration wells looking for aquifers (sands that are full of water).I couldn’t believe that someone would pay me to do exactly what I loved. I was hooked.

What was your favorite experience as a geologist?

Some of the places I looked have been looked at for 60 years, but with new ideas, we found more oil that had been missed. Some of the places no one had ever looked at before, and because we could interpret how the earth was formed and what was happening millions of years ago, we found new oil fields. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to and explore on every continent of the world (except Antarctica).

My Best experience as a geologist is hard for me to answer, because I really enjoyed many things – being part of the sixth group to successfully cross the Rub Al Khali desert, seeing glaciers in New Zealand and on and on. Professionally, though, it would have to be discovering the Thunderhorse Field in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico.

What’s an aspect of geology people don’t generally know about?

One aspect that most people don’t know about geologists is that we have an entirely different idea of time. Most people think that 10 years or 100 years ago was a LONG time ago. Because geologists deal with rocks and events that happened since the earth was being formed 4.5 billion years ago, we think in millions and millions of years. To us, rocks that were deposited 12 thousand years ago are considered Recent (Holocene) age rocks.

Can you imagine studying rocks that are thousands of years old? Roger’s been in the business for over 40 years, and we are so grateful to him for taking the time to extend his knowledge our way. Although he’s retired now, he had the chance to work all around the globe studying our wonderful Earth. From Utah to West Africa, Roger’s seen it all. It is amazing how many different paths the field of geology can lead you down, and we hope you’ve learned something about the life of a geologist. How lucky are geologists like Roger and Mr. Jakes to have something so special to study? Someday you could study our beautiful planet, too. Want to learn more? The American Geosciences Institute has a ton of content for young geologists just like yourself! You can check them out here. Stay tuned, we have a bonus Q & A coming your way really soon!

Be kind to the Earth, and yourselves. Stay well, and we'll see you next time!

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