Which square centimeter interests you?

A few weeks ago, I attended a Star Wars concert.  This is a traveling concert playing the music from six movies conceived and directed by George Lucas and re-telling the story of good and evil in a “…Galaxy far, far away…”  Among the film vignettes projected as visual complement to these musical pieces is a particularly appropriate one for this moment.  In it, the young hero, Luke Skywalker, tries to keep a low profile while seated in a villainous bar in Mos Eisley spaceport.  While he hopes not to be noticed, he can’t help trying to take in all the strange and wondrous sights in this exotic place.   With this being the inaugural posting for Speaking of Geoscience, I understand Luke Skywalker’s situation as I share why the Geological Society of America has undertaken this blog site.  This is a different place that I find a little intimidating but also interesting and new.  My charge is to share the thinking of the eGSA Committee* in adding this blog to the ever expanding universe of the geoblogosphere.

Speaking of Geoscience will add another voice to the geoblogosphere.  Its contents will be updated with a new post on a more or less monthly basis.   Those individuals posting on this blog will be people like me who do not regularly blog.  So this voice will represent some of the geological community who are not normally heard.  The expectation of the eGSA Committee is for Speaking of Geoscience to be another voice informing and sharing knowledge of what geology is and what geologists do.  Like all blogs, we trust it will attract and form a community who seek to hear what Speaking of Geoscience has to say.

The eGSA Committee will be inviting guest contributors to help in revealing some of the unique and wondrous aspects of our profession.   If what we do as geologists was limited to what is reported in journal articles and book chapters, being a geologist would seem a humdrum existence like the moisture-farming life Luke Skywalker was escaping.  But we know engaging in a profession that spans the distance from the molten core of our planet to the frozen limits of our solar system is anything but humdrum.  We are not just caught up in the moment of an occurring earthquake or a volcanic eruption.  We also seek to discover and understand events that have occurred down the ancient corridors of deep time.

Speaking of Geoscience will try to illustrate what motivates and attracts people to be geologists.  I have asked co-workers and colleagues how they happened to become geologists.  It is surprising the number who did not start out with that intent; they “stumbled” into geology while planning to do something else.  Without exception, they look back and ponder why they had not seen geology as the right thing to do from the start.  So we expect some future contributors will share experiences that show what attracts us to this science.

Geology’s attraction comes partly from being a truly hands-on science.  It can rarely be practiced entirely from the confines of a laboratory.  It is a science where being in the field is anticipated, expected, and enjoyed.  We like to explore places as much as we like exploring new concepts and understandings. So Speaking of Geoscience will try to share these experiences.  It will look into the interesting places and situations where we practice our profession.   It will be a wider audience for sharing experiences that we usually share just with our peers in grad student offices, during corridor conversations at professional meetings, and at the end of a long day in the field.

I am convinced that there is not a square centimeter of Planet Earth that is not of interest to one or more geologists.  Not surprisingly, we are very much part of a global community.  Our interests are not limited to places near to our homes or places of work.  Similarly, we should be interested in a broad range of geologic topics.  Others have noted how the greater specialized knowledge needed to be an effective geologic practitioner tends to narrow our focus and make us less aware of developments occurring in other parts of our science.  It is hoped that Speaking of Geoscience becomes another force in countering this tendency and engages all of us in the science as a whole.  It should be capable of connecting us not only with those who share our particular geologic interest but also to those who find our particular square centimeter of Earth interesting for wholly different reasons.

Jerry De Graff
Member of eGSA Committee

*The eGSA Committee is a new standing committee of The Geological Society of America.  Its purpose is to examine the realm of electronic communications and advise Council about  ways to enhance them in the service of GSA’s mission.

16 responses to “Which square centimeter interests you?

  1. I have a subject I’d like to start regarding the headlines today re: the Colorado River flowing in the opposite direction.

    When you read the articles, they describe a drainage that flowed in more or less the same path but did so in a northeast direction instead of southwesterly, as the modern day Colorado does. I believe the headline(s) alone are somewhat misleading. That is, the 55 million year old river was not the Colorado flowing backwards; it was a completely different drainage (area), originating in the Mohave, that flowed in a topographic direction dictated by the terrain of the period. Moreover, the article describes the historic river as the “California River”.

    If the “Colorado River” as we know it today, had drained in the opposite direction, I would be inclined to think the drainage area made up by the area of roughly Colorado, instead flowed opposite (northeast) into say, Wyoming.

    The headline(s) themselves are my only ‘gripe’, and simply seem to assert that the Colorado River changed direction over time. While this is certainly possible, the headline doesnt, in my opinion, describe what the researchers are saying.

  2. Nicely written piece, Jerry. Shouldn’t the key statement be “I am convinced that there is not a cubic centimeter of Planet Earth that is not of interest to one or more geoscientists”? The blog title expands “geology” to “geoscience”, and we are intereted in the entire planet, not just the surface.

  3. this is something really nice…!! am interested in square centimeters having Active Tectonics within.

  4. The square centimeters that interest me the most are the ones that have faults and quakes in them. Of course if there is one that has some very unusual rocks in it that will get my interest up. Take Care…Don

  5. I’m an engineer by trade, but a geologist at heart. I got my first taste of geology and it’s broader meaning from my grandmother. On our numerous trips to Lake Powell she was the one who had the instinct to ‘see’ things in rocks. So I grew up picking up funny rocks and pointing out cliffs and buttes that look like (you name it)…the way people look at clouds. But this is symbolic of a much bigger concept. My grandmother taught me to look at my surroundings; try to understand them, and if nothing else appreciate them. That notion has gotten me far in life.

  6. Looking forward to hearing more here. I think one challenge is sharing voices from the span of geoscience professions – we don’t all work for universities or oil companies. I hope that you will use this space to highlight the diversity of opportunities for geoscienitsts by featuring the voices of people across the employment spectrum.

    • This blog is intended to show the broad spectrum of what we do as geologists—and the context in which we do it. While it did not fit with my specific charge in this initial blog entry to point it out, I was certainly drawing on my own experience as a environmental geologist working for a land management agency—part of the diversity of our profession as you point out.

  7. An idea worth exploring; who knew a ‘geoblogosphere’ existed! I’m looking forward to reading the perspectives of field-based geologists.

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