Geology is one field with minimal competition and higher number of jobs, observes V. Balachandran, former Deputy Director General, Geological Survey of India (GSI). “In the past two years, GSI has hired over 200 geologists, and will continue to do so in the future,” he adds.How do mountains rise? How are rocks created and destroyed? These questions can be answered if we study Geology, a field-oriented, scientific discipline, which investigates the properties of the earth, its substances, shapes, processes and history. Geology is a multi-disciplinary subject, which includes study of minerals (mineralogy), rocks (petrology), the structure of the Earth (structural geology), volcanic phenomena (volcanology), landforms and the processes that produce them (geomorphology and glaciology), study of fossils (paleontology), the development of sedimentary strata (stratigraphy) and the evolution of planetary bodies and their satellites (astrogeology). By studying the history, composition, changes that occur on the earth, geologists foresee how events, processes of the past influence the future, says Prof. Mallickrarjun Joshi, Professor, Department of Geology, Benaras Hindu University (BHU). A geology class all starts with rocks and minerals, which are not just stones but stories. For instance, the knowledge on the age of the rock would help a student of geology to identify the type of mineral. The study of rocks, minerals, mountains, earthquakes, volcanoes, rivers, glaciers, landslides and floods fall into this broad field.Fast Facts Best Schools: Delhi University, Banaras Hindu University, Jadavpur University, University of Madras, Ranchi University. Qualification: BSc, MSc in Geology What you become:Marine geologist, Petrologist, Mineralogist, Geohydrologist, Hydrologist, Paleontologist, Seismologist Recruiters: Geological Survey of India, Central Ground Water Board, ONGC, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mineral Exploration Authority, Indian Space Research Organisation
What a geologist does
A geologist’s job involves two main functions: Exploration and Research. Exploration: Involves detailed identification of structures (mountains, rivers, rocks), investigation of the resources of a region (drilling into the ground to locate water, mineral, energy resources), predict future geologic hazards like earthquakes, floods, landslide. Research: Compiles the data into a geological map, which shows the distribution and relationship of the properties. It is supplemented by laboratory investigation, where a geologist uses microscopic, electronic equipment and computing techniques to analyse samples collected from the field. After the analysis (which includes calculations) a geologist prepares a report. A geologist’s work significantly includes - field activity, office-based data processing, report writing and project planning. The scope of the job depends on the work area of the company or organization, you work for. For instance, Pranjal who works as a Geologist with ONGC’s Oil Exploratory Division in Gujarat monitors the oil wells to locate how much oil can be extracted for developing process. According to Soma Sengupta, Senior Advisor (Geology) at Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, majority of the geologists working in the petroleum and oil industries are involved in both exploratory and laboratory work. “Working in the field may mean spending long hours outdoors, doing exploration, surveying and production,” she said.
Entering the field To kickstart your career as a geologist you must have completed an MSc in Geology. Most universities across the country offer a Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhDs in Geology. You must have completed 10+2 in Science to enrol for a BSc in Geology.“A Master’s degree is enough for any entry-level positions. But an advanced degree like PhD will help you enter colleges to teach,” says Joshi.
Basic fields of study in BSc and MSc
Igneous & Metamorphic Geology
BSc A BSc focuses on the basic concepts of Petroleum Geology, Marine Geology etc. (View table for various fields of study).
MSc It comprises both pure and applied geology, which focuses on the advanced learning of the fields. It builds upon the foundation laid during a BSc, by building a strong theoretical and practical framework. Writing a dissertation is one of the general requirements. According to Amit Sarma who works in the petroleum industry as a geologist in Noida, the theory learnt during his MSc helped him to put concepts into practice.
Further specialisation After MSc, one can also opt for MSc (Tech)/MTech for specialisation in Geotechnical and Geo-environmental engineering etc., which are parts of Civil Engineering field. In order to be eligible, one must have a GATE score. An added advantage for these students is that all institutes offer scholarships of at least Rs. 8,000 per month with a contingency fund of Rs. 10,000 per annum. Due to the increase in the demand of oil and natural gas and also because of new findings of reserves, the most recent trend spotted in many colleges is the rush towards taking up MSc Petroleum Geology/MTech Petroleum Exploration. Qualities required for the job
Ability to visualise
Good scientific/technical skills
Audacious as an explorer
Ability to interpret statistical and graphical information
Attention to detail
Field trips Since geology is related to environment, a large portion is taught outdoors. So, field work becomes an integral part of all degree programmes. It may include collection of geologic data, constructing a measured section, interpreting geologic structures and geologic mapping.
Geology and the environment Geologists have an important role in preserving and keeping the environment clean as they assess natural disasters and its effects. Their activities include - monitoring waste disposal sites, preserving water supplies and minimising the threat to communities at risk from geologic hazards like earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes and tsunamis. Geological maps are important inputs for the generation of hazard maps. It helps the mitigation team to engage in disaster management in an efficient manner. Geology meets engineering Geologists play an inevitable role in engineering projects. The meeting point of engineers and geologist is in the irrigation, nuclear power and communication projects like bridges, tunnels, roads etc. Every civil engineer has to get well-equipped with geology. According to Dr K.S Rao, Professor, IIT, Delhi, there is a wide application of geological principles in the areas like Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental, Hydraulics, Structure and Transportation Engineering. Prior to any building construction, an engineer has to determine the properties of soil. “To determine the stability of the structure, the engineers work closely with geologists to identify the type of bedrock at building sites,” he stressed.
Opportunities galore Geology prepares you to be part of varied areas, right from resource management and environmental protection to mineral and oil exploration. They can specialise in innumerable fields. A geologist can work in engineering and consulting firms, government agencies, mining companies, petroleum companies, museums. The UPSC conducts exams for placement in GSI, Central Ground Water Board etc. They also have an option to take up IAS/Forestry Service. PSUs like ONGC, Hindustan Zinc Ltd conducts All India Entrance exam for hiring Geologists. With an advanced degree, a geologist will qualify for supervisory/ research/ teaching positions through NET in Universities or institutes. Demand for geologists often mirror the price of geological commodities such as fuels, metals and construction materials. As rise in international oil price directly relates to Geology. The oil companies become more viable for exploration and this creates a major demand for Geologists in the market.
Kinds of geologists
Studies marine environment. With the help of remote sensing they locate old rocks and vegetations and effects on sea and atmosphere.
Petrologist Conducts explorations for new oil and gas fields both the onshore and offshore activity. All types of survey like geophysical and seismic surveys are carried out before drilling.
Identifies useful mineral in rocks and sea beds. It’s mostly work in the underground.
Locates and assesses sources of water and also find threats which can pollute the water.
Hydrologist Studies underground sources of water and all related parameters to it like infiltration and pollution threats.
Works with fossils (dead remain of creatures and plants). They estimate their age and try to find how the earth was at that time and what lead to their deaths.
Works with movement of Earth’s tectonic plates, which causes earthquakes.
Collects data about land and sea and maintain a database and keep monitoring the changes in data with past and present values.
They hire geologists
Geological Survey of India (GSI)
Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)
Directorate of Geology and Mining (DGM)
Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
National Geophysical Institute (NGRI)
Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
Public Sector Undertakings
Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC)
National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC)
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC)
National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA)
State Mining Corporation (SMC)
National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)
Hindustan Zinc Limited
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL)
Theri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)
Mineral Exploration Authority Private sector companies
Service providers - Schlumberger, HLS
Money talk Government jobs (GSI, CGWB) offers you a decent living style, while public sector (ONGC, HPCL, IOC ) offers handsome salary with good perks and better working conditions. In both the private and public sector, a fresher with an MSc in Geology can expect a salary between Rs. 25,000-38,000. It will vary also based on the location of your work (metropolitan cities, areas prone to harsh weather conditions etc).
Opportunities abroad Besides the USA, Australia, Canada, the need for geologists is rising in developing countries. Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan require geologists for civil works such as the construction of highways, airports, dams, pipelines etc. “The Middle East, the goldmine for oil, is a paradise for geologists,” says Amit. The flipside As a field geologist you may be placed in situations that will test you in every possible way. Be prepared to work in remote terrains and travel widely as project requirements dictate. There are instances when you might get dehydrated or injured, and most of the time you are not close to the city where you can get aid. Also, working in vulnerable areas (earthquake, flood prone) could be dangerous if he/she is not prepared for it. A geologist has to cope with potential problems which may occur during the construction of tunnels, dams and other gigantic projects. In the tunnels, inaccessibility to proper ventilation, radio connections, traffic lights would lead to accidents. Filling the jobs in offshore oil fields is proving to be a major challenge. There are several reasons for reluctance: Not many people are willing to live in the middle of the ocean on an oil rig, extremes of temperature - either extremely cold (most deep ocean oil rigs) or extremely hot, sometimes both. If all these pitfalls do not scare you too much, then the field becons you with open arms.
Dr. Hari Sarvothaman
Director, Southern Region, Geological Survey of India
MSc Geology, PhD
Expert Speak: Director,Geological Survey of India M.Sc Geology, PhD Q. How has the role of geologists evolved over the years? A. With rapid changes in the environment, their roles have changed drastically. Today, there is a major stress on addressing environmental problems. Geologists deal with a wide range of issues and also help in predicting the natural disasters.
Q. GSI’s contribution in India? A. Through immense exploration, the GSI has discovered all the mineral deposits in the country, which has helped several PSUs such as HZL, HCL and Coal India Ltd. Depending upon the requirements, the GSI has diversified its activities, especially by emphasising environmental concerns.
Q. How does GSI recruit? A. The UPSC conducts an exam for the recruitment of geologists in GSI. You must have a Master’s degree in Geology to be eligible.
Q. What next after recruitment?A. The shortlisted candidates have to undergo an eight to 10 month training programme. The geologists move around the country for exploratory projects, getting exposure to the field.
Q. A geologist’s job profile at GSI? A. At GSI, there are innumerable areas of work. These include: Special Thematic Mapping, Mineral Investigation, Marine and Coastal Surveys, Petrology, Palaeontology, Airborne Mineral Surveys, Basemetals, Graphite, Geomorphology, Map & cartography, Glaciology, Antarctica, and so on. Those involved in a particular branch become experts in the domain.
Q. What skills must they develop? A. 3D-visualisation and concept-oriented scientific thinking are a must for geologists. They must be prepared to face harsh weather conditions, the threat of wild animals in the jungles and high altitudes.
Gaganpreet Kaur BSc, MSc (Honors) Geology, Panjab University, Chandigarh Geologist, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons
Professional Speak: Geologist, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons Learning first hand One cannot become a geologist by sitting in an office, and Gaganpreet recalls, “The very announcement of field trip in college would thrill me! I have travelled for week and month-long trips to various states like Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. I have walked miles to remote and obscure areas. We would observe geological structures, identify minerals, collect rock samples and prepare maps. These outdoor trips make you go beyond a concept. For instance, the first time I saw fossils, it transported me back to paleontology class in college, which taught us how to determine the age of the fossils.”
Gaganpreet’s job: The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons looks after the production sharing contracts with private companies and PSU’s under NELP. Her work involves various exploration activities such as seismic surveying, drilling of wells, production of oil and gas.
Nidhi Singh BSc Geology, Sagar University, MP MSc, Delhi University
Student Speak An office in the mines As a student, I was exposed to compulsory field trips every year. It gave me the freedom to research anything, which interested me. In the first year of MSc, I had a great mining adventure at Zawar mines in Udaipur and Jaipur. The mine was 200-300 metres below the surface. We wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes cover-on (a coat, which covers the entire body), a helmet with in-built torch, oxygen masks, goggles, boots and gloves. At 8 a.m. we descended the tight, enclosed mine through shafts. As you go deeper, your ears starts popping and the stifling humidity makes you short of breath. The first day was scary! I was entering an unseen world full of activity; we heard the sound of blasting and rocks being collected for processing. The mining operators were drilling, grinding, tearing out and dumping materials onto a conveyor or shuttle car. I was amazed to see cubicle offices with tables, chairs and other technical equipment (computers and wireless phones) inside the mine. On the second day, a geologist gave a lecture and demos on the types of ores available on the site. He explained the grades of each ore, methods of extraction, grinding and sieving of the ores. I vividly remember an incident from my college days. After a 2-hour grueling walk in the Sagar mountain, my professor showed a basalt rock, which was formed from the lava flows of a volcanic eruption held ages back. What surprised me was the weathering of the rock. In the weathering, the character of rock changes due to natural conditions. Now any rock looks different to me, reminding me of the immense change it must have undergone over millions of years.
Dr. Mallickarjun Joshi Professor, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) & Former Geologist at GSI M.Sc., Ph.D.
A healthy dose of imagination is a must Q. Do you think Geology is gaining popularity over other graduation degrees? A. Yes. For instance at BHU, I see an enormous rush for this subject because the potential for employment is higher as compared to other graduation subjects. There is good scope in the government sector, especially in the petroleum industry.
Q. There seem to be very few women takers for Geology. Why? A. On the contrary, I have about 80% of female students in my class. Most of my female students have become good geologists and excelled in their own specialisation. Although, fieldwork at times involves hard physical work like carrying big packs, equipment and samples, I have seen female students doing a lot of work in harsh weather conditions.
Q. Your advice for future geologists… A. A healthy dose of imagination is important as it helps to interpret the physicality of structures, images etc. You have to think in terms of geological time and dimensions.
Select colleges offering BSc/MSc programmes
Delhi University, Delhi
Anna University, Tamil Nadu
Banaras Hindu University
Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur
Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad
MAHATMA GANDHI UNIVERSITY, Kerala
University of Madras
Cochin University of Science & Technology
The University of Auckland, New Zealand
The University Of Newcastle, Australia
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Rhodes Scholarships India, New Delhi
Arcadia University, Philadelphia
Newton International Fellowship, UK
Rachel Carson Scholarship (University of Sydney), Australia
University Grant Commission (U G C), New Delhi
Boycast Fellowship, New Delhi
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Dehradun
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