Friday, 18 October 2013

Meet the Geolossary

So, I've finally started my A-level Geology course! *blows party horn* However, this isn't just any A-level course. This is geology on steroids. The first time I posted, I said I was planning on doing an AS level in Geology this year. Well, I'm doing the A2 part of the A-level as well. In the same year. That's double the work. With no official teacher. Fun.

And no, I wasn't being sarcastic there – it actually is fun. I might not be saying that when summer comes round and I'm up to my neck in study cards and revision notes, but at the moment it’s certainly drawing me in. The workload is almost undetectable. I say almost since there’s a lot of new vocabulary to learn. Minerals and structural features, mainly. This absorption of terms has been made easier with the construction of my “Geolossary”. At the end of each post I’ll be plucking a new entry from the glossary and will briefly describe the term. You lucky people.

Seeing as I'm going to have a year of stress ahead, I want to talk about what happens when rocks experience stress. It’s pretty important to be acquainted with for the construction of something, so it’s pretty important to the people of the world. You've all seen photos of layered sediments all twisted and turned or snapped and shifted, but you've probably wondered what caused one rock face to fold and one to experience a fracture. Well, it’s not the processes that cause these two distinct features. It’s the rocks themselves.

Deposition of rock particles and minerals form flat beds which are eventually compacted into sedimentary rock. These beds then find themselves being compressed or stretched due to ongoing tectonic forces. After a while, these once flat beds could look very different indeed.

Rocks which are soft, hot and deep into the Earth’s crust are easier to move and bend. They behave plastically. During tension, the rock will be stretched thinner than it once was. During compression, the rocks curve into a fold.

Harder, cooler rocks nearer the surface may fold slightly, but eventually, they’re going to snap. They are too brittle to bend. Forces produce faults in brittle rocks with the rocks on either side of the fault moving in different directions depending on what force it’s experiencing.

As we all know, most earthquakes are located on faults, so it’s vital for scientists to know the brittleness and ductility of the rocks we’re living on. If there are strong tectonic forces occurring near a fault line then strong seismic activity may happen. Not only will the ductility of the rocks determine the effects of an earthquake, but it is also crucial for construction and infrastructure. The public need to get rid of the stereotype that geology is just looking at rocks and fossils. If the knowledge of the Earth were to disappear daily life would grind to a halt.

TG's Geolossary Pick #1:

MAFIC – Mafic rocks and magma are rich in magnesium and iron. The “ma” part of the word coming from “magnesium” and “fic” from “ferric” – a word used to describe iron-containing materials. These rocks are mainly found making up the crust at the bottom of the ocean, but can also be found on volcanic land, for example, the runny lava dribbling from Hawaii. The lava is less viscous and the rocks are denser than those found on continents.

Bringing Geosciences to the Public

I apologise for the rather large delay. There’s been holidays away from home, exam results and general laziness on my part, for which I am sorry once again. I will be posting again later today about A-level Geology and how it’s going so far, but I’d like to clear something up before we go any further, just so you’re aware of who I’d like to reach out to during this project.

This blog is aimed at, but not restricted to, two types of people. Firstly, fellow teenagers, who may be on a similar path to me and are wanting to explore geoscience, and secondly, adults who are interested but have little experience in this area of science. They may already be comfortable and not want to venture too far, but just want a few nuggets to impress the visiting relatives with.

Almost every other geoblogger out on the Internet has already had experiences in the world of Earth Sciences and creates blogs discussing or detailing their research, whether it’s professional or just graduate work. But I want to talk about my understandings of geology as a first-timer and reach out to a wider audience that would otherwise know nothing about the importance of the knowledge of the Earth. I hope this doesn't put others off reading. One day, I may become a real geologist and these blogs will get a bit more professional, but for now, I'm sticking to the stuff all the existing geobloggers learnt years ago.

Like I said, I’ll be posting again later today with some shocking news about my A-level course. Tune in. It’ll be exciting. I promise.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

An Introduction to TeenGeologist

The short segment of life I have lived so far has had many different responses to the question “What’s your favourite subject?” First it was science, then geography, then science again, then the triple science subjects separately, then geography again, then biology. However, soon I will be able to give a different answer. An answer I had never dreamt being able to give just a couple of years back, but one that I've been eager to reply with ever since: geology.

With hindsight, it makes perfect sense when you look at my previous “favourites”. Just combine geography and the sciences, right? Simple. However, this took me a long time to figure out. By way of illustration, let me tell you a bit about myself and where I am academically.

*clears throat*

Hello. I am TeenGeologist, TG from here on in, and I am a teenager from London. I’ll be starting upper sixth from September and will be studying A2 Physics and Geography. I have already completed A2 Biology (reasons for this may be revealed in a future blog), and will be starting AS Geology in September.  
Yes, that’s right. Geology. A subject that many people will be shocked to discover is even offered as an A level course. And they have every right to be, because it isn't offered at my school and, as far as I know, in the majority of British schools. I'm sure it’s possible to be taught the workings of the Earth in dozens of institutions across the country, but mine isn't one of them. It’s a lot to take in, I know. The important thing to note is that I will be taking an AS level in Geology of my own accord, without my school’s support.

“So, TG,” I hear you cry in incomprehension, “how on earth are you expecting to study this fascinating subject next year if it’s not in school?” Good question, Imaginary Reader. I will be teaching myself the course. There’s plenty of geology in textbooks and on the internet, and I’ll have lesson plans provided by the exam board. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, nothing.

A bit too optimistic? Maybe. Yet I am incredibly passionate about the Earth and its processes. If I thought geography and biology were my favourite subjects then I'm looking forward to studying geology more than anything else I've ever learnt in my 14 years of schooling. In fact, I'm expecting back problems in the next year. This subject will have me hunched over my laptop trawling the Internet for more information even when I've finished my timetabled "classes".

Throughout the summer and the upcoming academic year, posts will pop up now and again detailing my first foray into what I think is by far the most exciting area of science, as well as my observations on the wider field from a novice’s standpoint. If the journey is successful, then my dream to kindle a career in geology might, one day, come true.

I'm incredibly excited to be setting off on this journey to the centre of the earth. I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts as much as I’ll delight in recording my experiences. Wish me luck.