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What is Bedrock Geology?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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Bedrock geology is the study of the solid rock layers beneath movable surface material such as sand and soil. By studying bedrock geology, scientists can get a better understanding of the history of the earth beyond human recording capabilities, back to the ancient days of the planet. The study of bedrock can also be used to benefit human endeavors, as it can identify safe and unsafe areas to build or live.

Long before humans existed, the earth moved and changed shape. Rather than the large, unmovable mass that the planet appears to be, landmasses are constantly shifting and changing, albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace. The study of bedrock geology may be the closest humans can come to a time machine back to ancient days. By studying the composition, age and type of rocks that compose the bedrock layer, geologists can get a clear picture of how the earth once looked, how it came to be what it is today, and how it may look in the distant future.

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Bedrock geology is also responsible for the drainage system of the earth. Depending on the type of rock and its susceptibility to forces such as erosion and glaciation, bedrock will often determine the path of moving water such as rivers and streams. Understanding the patterns of drainage systems can help civil engineers determine the placement of new buildings and cities. Placing a brand new town in the center of what will likely soon be part of a river is undesirable, and mistakes such as this can often be avoided by careful geological studies.

Bedrock geologists spend a great amount of their time doing field surveys in order to produce bedrock maps. These maps are useful in a variety of ways, and accuracy is extremely important. Bedrock maps can identify areas of mineral-bearing rocks for excavation, cite potential areas for oil and well drilling, and even protect human safety by showing areas where high levels of metals can harm people. Geologists are often employed by civil engineering firms and large oil companies to point out the best and worst places to carry out their work.

Because bedrock geology is often seen as being an asset to the mining and oil communities, critics may consider some geologists as environmental foes. By opening up new areas for drilling and mining operations, bedrock geologists are doubtlessly contributing to environmental damage and pollution, yet critics may ignore the important benefits this area of science brings to environmentalism. By giving humans data on the history of the planet, geologists are helping to uncover how the earth has survived so long and what to expect from it in the future. With this information, environmentally concerned citizens may be able to better craft solutions to current issues that threaten the planet.

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