Geochemists study the composition, structure, processes, and other physical aspects of the Earth. They examine the distribution of chemical elements in rocks and minerals, as well as the movement of these elements into soil and water systems.
There is a wealth of information buried in the liquids, gases, and mineral deposits of rock. The geochemist’s job is to understand this information and make informed decisions on a range of industrial and scientific research applications. Understanding the chemical composition of rocks tells oil companies where to drill for oil; enables
scientists to put together broad-based theories about the way the Earth is changing; helps environmental management companies decide how to dispose of a toxic or hazardous substance; and steers mining companies toward use of natural resources with a minimum environmental impact.

Typical Work Duties

  • Plan scientific studies, visit field locations, and collect samples.
  • Analyze samples, either in the field or in the laboratory.
  • Contribute to natural resource use and environmental management policies.
  • Guide oil and gas exploration using aerial photographs and geological data.
  • Help predict the occurrence of earthquakes.
  • Develop remediation plans to clean up toxic waste sites.

Technical Skills

  • Problem-solving skills to solve complex puzzles about interactions that occur in the Earth system, and an interest in solving those big problems.
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills to design experiments, troubleshoot processes, and analyze data collected.
  • Physical stamina, including the ability to travel to remote or difficult terrain.
  • Written and oral communication skills to explain findings and share results with both scientists and non-scientists.
  • Computer skills, including familiarity with computer modeling, data analysis, and digital mapping, are highly desirable.

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