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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - MINERAL CAREERS

Please also see the Careers in Mineralogy section on this Web Site.

    What does a mineralogist do?

    What does a petrologist do?

    Where do mineralogists work?

    What education does a mineralogist need?

 

What does a mineralogist do?

     A mineralogist is a person who studies minerals. Since minerals are defined as naturally occurring solid substances, there is a tremendous range of ideas and processes that can be studied. This includes everything from the soil surface to the center of the earth ( and maybe a few extraterrestrial materials ).
     Most mineralogists are employed by universities where they do research and teach. Other employers consist of state and federal geological surveys, private mining companies, and a few curating museum collections of minerals

     The following are areas of interest for members of this Society. Mineralogy - Crystallography - Crystal and Mineral Chemistry - Crystal Structures - Material Properties - Mineral Physics - Mineral Surfaces - Spectroscopy - Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary Petrology - Petrography, and Petrogenesis - Major and Trace Element Geochemistry - Isotope Geochemistry - Mineral-fluid Reactions and Geochemistry - Phase Equilibrium - Economic Geology - Ore Deposits - Experimental Mineralogy and Petrology - Clay Mineralogy - Industrial Mineralogy - Environmental Mineralogy - Theoretical Mineral Physics - Gem Materials - Planetary Materials - Biological Mineralogy - Teaching - New Minerals and Mineral Occurrences - Mineralogical Apparatus, Techniques, and Analysis - Mineralogical Nomenclature - Mineral Synthesis - Materials Science - Fluid Phase Petrology - Mineral Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry - Volcanic Processes - Crystal and Mineral Growth - Electron Microscopy - Optical Crystallography and Microscopy - Forensic Mineralogy - Microtextures and Fabrics - Mineral Classification - Fluid Inclusions - Pegmatites - Databases - Symmetry - History of Mineralogy - Ceramic Archeology - Mineral Collection Preservation - Mineral Museums - Single Element Mineralogy and Geochemistry - Philosophy of Natural Sciences - Soil Science - Refractories - Experimental Geochemistry - Meteoritics - Geochronology - Mineral Processing - Kinetics - Geochemical Prospecting - Structural Petrology - Concrete Petrology

What does a petrologist do?

     A petrologist is a scientist that studies rocks.
     The first tool that most petrologists use is a petrological microscope. This is used to view thin sections of rocks ( thin slices of rock that are about a hair's thickness). This microscope uses polarized light ( light in which all the waves vibrate in a single direction). Once this is used, there are many other tools available that are used depending upon what questions are being answered. For instance there is equipment that can be used to determine the permeability of a rock ( how fast fluids flow through a rock ). This can be of interest to persons studying how much water can be delivered from an aquifer or how best to produce oil or gas from a rock. Study of rocks is also important in finding deposits of commercially valuable minerals, and in determining the history of the earth. 

Where do mineralogists work?

     The vast majority of mineralogists teach at universities. Smaller numbers work at the U.S. Geological Survey and some state geological surveys. There are also members employed at the national laboratories. Some mineralogists work as museum curators.

What education does a mineralogist need?

      Becoming a mineralogist requires at a minimum a college degree and often postgraduate work. Since most mineralogists work in research or teaching a PhD is the commonest degree that is required.
      To prepare for this you need to take a college preparatory track in high school. It would pay to take as much science and mathematics that you can.
      The MSA website has a K-12 teaching subsection that is under construction at the present time and should be checked periodically.
      It is a good idea to look at as many minerals as you can. This can include museums, gem & mineral shows, and field trips. Some mineral clubs have junior sections that give younger members some experience with minerals.
      Natural history museums often have displays of minerals with some educational explanations.
     The American Association of State Geologists contains links to all of the state surveys and they often have links to educational resources. 

 


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