What does a Marine Geologist do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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A marine geologist is a scientist who studies the different natural processes that occur on ocean floors and beaches. He or she may survey a seabed, collect samples of sediment and rock, and analyze their age and composition in a laboratory. Scientists typically specialize in one or more areas of marine geology, such as sedimentology, mineralogy, or geochemistry, among many other subfields. A marine geologist might work for a university, a private research institution, an environmental protection organization, or an oil or gas company as an explorer.

Most marine geologists conduct field, computer, and laboratory research to learn about the oceans and the earth. A scientist might explore a site to gather mineral samples or survey the ocean floor. He or she often uses computer technology, such as global positioning system devices, to assist in the mapping or analysis of a certain area. In the laboratory, a marine geologist might try to determine the chemical composition of a sample, the presence of pollutants, or the age of different rocks. Geologists often write detailed scientific papers about their experiments and findings.


There are many specialties within marine geology. Scientists might focus on specific processes, such as plate tectonics, volcanic activity, ocean floor spreading, or weatherization. Experts may also concentrate on certain types of sediments, rocks, or minerals, tracking their movement, prevalence, and changes over time. Geochemistry experts investigate the chemical properties of different rocks and sediments, while marine paleontologists study fossils and remains from different plants and animals.

Scientists may find work in a number of different settings. A marine geologist may work for the government to survey and describe ocean floors, or for a nonprofit organization to promote conservation, cleanup, and education efforts. Other geologists conduct research with universities, private institutions, and laboratories dedicated to understanding more about certain ocean phenomena. Petroleum companies frequently hire marine geologists to explore ocean floors in hopes of finding new oil and natural gas deposits.

To become a marine geologist, a person must usually obtain at least a master's degree from an accredited university. Some marine geologist jobs, such as professorships and lead research positions, require a scientist to earn a PhD. Many new scientists take fellowship positions after completing their degree programs, where they assist established geologists and gain experience in the field. An individual who works for a government agency or petroleum company may be required to pass a written licensing exam, administered by his or her state or country before conducting surveys and research.


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Post 3

@umbra21 - Marine geologists have been at the forefront of climate change research for decades. They look at the silt under the water and test various layers to see what the air was like long ago.

They do the same thing with ice cores from glaciers and from the poles.

I've been following it through my friend who is a climatologist. It's pretty serious. A lot of people think we are already past the point of return in terms of climate change. Pretty much if we don't start serious damage control the world is going to be a very different place in twenty years.

Post 2

I read a lot of popular science magazines and some of the most interesting research at the moment is coming from marine geologists studying the ocean floor.

There was a recent article that showed how they managed to figure out that we are experiencing a carbon increase in the atmosphere thirty times greater than the earth did during the last equivalent climate period.

With that kind of rate it's no wonder we are starting to feel the effects of it on weather and other systems.

I just hope people start listening and trying to reduce climate change. We need to pay attention to what the marine and environmental geologists say.

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