Careers in Geoscience: Environment
Environmental Geoscientists are employed by organisations in many different sectors of academia, industry, government, mining, development, oil and gas and others. They are specialist geologists dealing in the measurement, assessment and review of environmental impacts on natural processes or by human activities such as construction projects, urban or industrial development, mining and resource developments and the maintenance, remediation and monitoring of these activities. Some examples of the disciplines which an environmental geoscientist may study are; groundwater flow (rate and direction), groundwater protection, groundwater dependent ecosystems, hydrology, soil science, ecology, contaminated land, discharge control and maintenance, rehabilitation and remediation design, execution and monitoring. Their work can be part office and part field and laboratory based, although extensive fieldwork is necessary to collect and test sites.
Environmental Geoscientists may examine the distribution of fluid borne chemical entities in rocks and interaction with minerals but, more importantly the movement of these chemicals (ions and/or compounds) into the soil, air and water systems. They also study movement of water through sediments and permeable fractured rock systems, outflows from dams and construction sites and cross over into ecology and biological studies such as the effects on biodiversity and ecology of changing water conditions and chemistry. The impact of man’s development on groundwater dependent ecosytems (GDEs) is a prime example where hydrogeology/hydrology morphs into ecology.
Typical duties include:
- Sourcing and tracking chemical entities in the environment whether in soils, gases or water (surface and groundwater)
- Plan scientific studies, site investigations and field locations and collect samples
- Planning, supervision of drilling programs, sampling and recording
- Analysing samples, either in the field or in the laboratory
- 2D and 3D modelling of a wide variety of data from various sources
- Understanding of licensing, permitting and waste management policy and regulations
- Develop and design of remediation and rehabilitation plans to prevent toxic contamination or to clean up toxic waste sites
- Contribute to natural resource use and environmental management policies
- Stakeholder engagement and reporting to clients, litigants, government, local councils and other stakeholders.
The job carries a high level of responsibility, as the employee must ensure the accuracy and integrity of a wide variety of information from different sources and ability to communicate effectively on risk and hazards. Consequently, formal and on-the-job training is an important feature of the job.
Typical skills required are:
- Knowledge of a range of sciences (both geo and other) and their applications
- Problem solving skills and analytical skills
- Ability to work within a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers
- Good organisational skills
- Computer literacy and ability to analyse numerical and graphical data
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to think and work in 2D and 3D
- Geochemistry, geophysics, geological mapping, sedimentary and hard rock (fracture) recognition.