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What does a Geological Mapper do?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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A geological mapper is a professional, typically a geologist, who conducts land surveys and research in order to draw accurate maps of various terrains. Geological maps typically display land and rock formations from various perspectives. The surface diagnostics are always important, but most geological maps show a cross-section of the land, too. Cross-sections typically show soil composition and rock and mineral deposits, among other things. It is a geological mapper’s job to not only draw the map, but also do the research so that the map’s representations are scientifically accurate.

Most of the time, a geographic mapper is hired by a government agency or a government contracting company. Governments typically have a compelling interest in understanding the composition and geological structure of the land within their borders. A geological mapper has the expertise to help the government complete maps of a country’s lands and natural resources. There are usually also geological mapper jobs available with some private firms and companies, particularly those involved in land management or real estate development.

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Becoming a geological mapper usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in geology. In this sense, most geological mapper careers begin in college or university, dictated by the courses and degree programs a student pursues. Many mapping teams also require their members to have higher degrees in geology or math, or at least significant field experience, before becoming mappers. Many geological mappers spend significant time doing field geology work before honing their skills and interests to mapping.

Much of the geological mapper job description involves hands-on field work. The mappers go out into the land they are mapping and survey it with a host of land surveying tools. They also drill deep into the soil to extract a sample of the kind of particles that are present. These drill-tests are usually performed at various intervals across a swath of land in order to collect a representative sample.

The mappers will then take their notes and samples back to a lab, where they will analyze the samples, make scientific deductions about the composition of the area as a whole, and integrate these findings with the topographical characteristics of the land on a map. The job requires geological skills of rock identification and land analysis, but also an aptitude in chemistry and a mastery of math skills like trigonometry.

Increasingly, geological maps are digitally produced, rather than drawn out by hand. Many geographic mappers are highly skilled in digital graphics and creating and running analytical software programs. Digital maps can be interactive, and are usually easily updated as research continues and as land masses change. The shift to electronic and computer-generated maps does not usually simplify the core skills required of the geological mapper, however. If anything, developments in technology require mappers today to do and know more in a more efficient way than mappers of generations past.

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