Petrologist

South Africa is rich in geological resources with a unique set of geological environments. These contain metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks containing precious sources of natural gas, water, metals and minerals amongst others. These varied rock types not only hold valuable resources but can also offer insight into how the climate and landscape changes over time. The examination of individual rocks and their properties through petrology, can help guide the safe extraction of resources and determine areas in need of conservation.

Petrologists examine rocks to determine their exact composition and can identify the best means to extract the minerals and resources. They observe and collect samples from rock structures and conduct detailed analyses on its geochemical, geological and geophysical properties. They develop geological maps and reports and advise on rock protection strategies or can assist in the development of efficient extraction methods of a specific rock type. Some create detailed records used to identify changing climate and geomorphological patterns.

Petrologists work predominately in the field around rock formations and structures to collect data, returning to a laboratory to classify and analyse rock findings. They work with other geological professionals and can liaise with mining engineers in the operationalisation of mines.

Skills

Petrologists require a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics and chemical compositions of rocks and the varied forces shaping the earth surfaces. They will also benefit from:

  • Extensive research, field and laboratory competence
  • Geological modelling and mapping ability
  • Strong analytical and observation skills
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills

Tasks

Locate and map the nature of varied resource deposits

Collect and test samples to determine composition, structure and genesis of rocks and minerals

Record genetic classification of rocks and reconstruct geological history

Report findings and advise on economic exploitation and composition of rocks

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geology specialising in Petrology at NMU, NWU, RU, SU, UCT, UFH, UFS, UJ, UKZN, UL, UP, UWC and Wits

B., M. in Mining and Environmental Geology at Univen

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Geology at TUT

Employers

Research institutions.

Mining companies.

Museums.

Private consultancies.

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