So You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life

On Thursday, June 12, I will be a mentor at the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario’s Speed Mentoring session from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

There are other resources that will give you a more technical breakdown of what a career in the geosciences requires and its potential rewards. In keeping with the spirit of this blog I thought I’d write more about the things I’ve seen in my 15 years as a geologist. If you have a sense of adventure, like to travel and enjoy science and the outdoors, then perhaps a career in the geosciences might be for you.

I have seen the sunrise over the Andes Mountains and stared up into the blackness of morning in the Arctic to watch a spark grow into an undulating, green curtain blanketing the dark sky. I visited a camp in the Amazon jungle in Guyana, where a 20 foot python skin adorned an office wall, an office built of purple wood taken from the Purpleheart tree, where the howling of monkeys kept you up at night and where they said they had a lot more dogs in camp, until something came out of the jungle and ate them. If you want to know what the end of the world sounds like, it sounds like a herd of a hundred caribou stampeding through your camp beneath a full moon.

I have sped through forest trails on ATVs felt the whipping of branches against my helmet and ridden a snow mobile across the barren tundra. I’ve been dropped off on high basalt ridges and frozen lakes by helicopter and mapped the shorelines of pristine waters in a canoe.

One overcast day I didn’t apply sunscreen and then visited a property located above the clouds, I stared at the expansive white horizon, at the international observatories in Chile while I burned. I have smelled the sulphur coming out of an active volcano, felt its rumbling and stared into a crater so unsettling that a priest from the days of the conquistadors placed a cross on a lookout because he thought it was an entryway to hell. Knowing what I do about science, geology, and volcanoes, I was not convinced otherwise.

I have fished Arctic Char out of the frozen waters of the Kaniaskapau river, shared fresh trout and moose steaks with people of first nations tribes in northern Canada. I’ve tasted buttered garlic shrimp caught in the Sea of Cortez and eaten fresh cebiche along beachside restaurants on the shores of the Pacific in Peru.

I’ve crossed paths with bears, wolves, arctic foxes, ptarmigans, bald eagles, porcupines, moose, deer, rattle snakes, wild horses, bulls, Llamas, alpacas, vicunas and endangered guanacos. I’ve also met a lot of wonderful people from wonderful places.

Life as a geologist isn’t always easy, but it is rarely boring.