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August 2, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Why Geology is Awesome

Warning: story contains light-to-medium geology.

I realise geology is seen as one of the more boring and geeky outcrops of the hard sciences. To tell you the truth, that was half the reason why I chose to study it. I arrived in New Zealand quite a while back as a confused sophomore science student. I was dumped and depressed, with a coal-black heart and an overactive imagination. I needed a subject to challenge me. If I could thrive in the harshest, driest environment on academic earth, I could do anything, and that included getting over my ex-girlfriend. Full of self-loathing I chose geology. I still don’t really know why.

My initial forays into geology were unspectacular. Though the predominantly statistical and data-based nature of the research and laboratory work was a bit boring, I found welcome distraction focusing on the large-scale metaphors and analogies of it all: tracing of the history of the earth, marvelling at rare and delicate crystalline structures, watching shifting landmasses over millions upon millions of years, involving millions of tons of pressure and thousands of degrees of heat. These are forces so gargantuan that humanity seems an unpleasant but very temporary blemish. And a single human? Even more insignificant. Like my ex. Bitch. Why does geology not ease the pain?

Where my story really begins is in my Introductory Earth Sciences lab. It was the first week of term, and it was time to choose a bench and select a lab partner. Walking into the stuffy room, I sequestered a stool on the far left of the laboratory, indicating by silent decree to nobody in particular that I was pairing up with the person already at the bench. Glancing over, I noticed that person was a she. She introduced herself as Amber. Amber looked like she was born from a volcano. She was part Roman village girl, part Mediterranean goddess. It was as if she were caught in the Vesuvius eruption, sealed in a pyroclastic chrysalis and exposed to Mother Nature’s finest facial mud packs and mineral salts for thousands of years. Only when the time was right did she burst forth like a perfectly-preserved pod person, finding herself mysteriously on the other side of the world and at the opposite end of the ring of fire. She had ochre skin and eyes like falling ash. Her hair, flaxen and the colour of sandstone glittered with golden streaks. She was perfect. Too perfect, in fact. It was dangerous for her to be here in the seismic death-trap that was Wellington. I was suddenly overcome with a fear that Mother Nature would regret letting her walk the outer crust and want her back. One day a slight tremor could cause her to trip and fall back into the Wellington Faultline. Disaster. Why must I always lose the ones I love to geology? I had to get over her. “Pffft, golden hair. As if.” I thought to myself flippantly, “More like Fool’s Gold, am I right? Motherfucking pyrite!”

The lab began. Our task involved inspecting and identifying a range of rock and mineral specimens and recording their various properties. As I drove my chisel into a chunk of compacted sandstone, I noticed how the sedimentary rock fractured along clearly delineated planes, a feature known as a rock’s ‘cleavage’. I peered out of the corner of my eye at Amber. I imagined she possessed her own admirable properties of cleavage. “If only I could excavate the top alluvial layer of her Glassons tank-top,” I thought to myself. Yes, I am a gentleman.
“Hey Amber, check out this stratification,” I called. Amber looked up from her textbook and leaned across the bench. As she did this, the glorious gap of her top pitched forward, allowing the briefest of surveys into her hidden depths. Bazinga. Though I saw nothing, a stalactite began forming in my pants anyway. It calcified so quickly I was afraid it would shatter. My mouth felt full of dust. I wanted to have the secrets of my DNA locked inside of her, to remain there, suspended for eternity in her soft yellow glow, only leaving if forcibly exhumed by a team of palaeontologists led by 1993-era Sam Neill. Her lustre stirred lust within me. Why did geology have to be so romantic? I had to ask her out.

It wasn’t until our third lab that I summoned the courage. We were polishing and finishing semi-precious stones and minerals using a rock tumbler. Placing compatible specimens of similar hardness, we watched as their lubricated forms banged and knocked and rolled and rubbed. Afterwards, the stones were left smooth, worn down, glistening and exfoliated. Needless to say, it was hot. Why is geology so sexy? Goddamn. Amber must’ve also sensed the sensual friction. Turning to her, staring into her ash-eyes, I told her that we were like two sand grains on a beach that were brought together by fate. I told her what we were both obviously thinking, that it was time to fuse our bodies together with the intense heat of our collective passions, forming love-glass.

Okay I didn’t actually, I asked her out for a drink. But she said yes, and the outcome was practically the same.

It’s six years later and our relationship is still rock solid. True, the love lava may have cooled somewhat, and there is now the odd hydrothermal outburst, but nothing has eroded yet. I attempted to forget girls with geology, and it was geology that uncovered the best and rarest one of all, and that’s why geology is awesome.


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  1. Superior Mind says:

    This has been annoying me – surely you meant “stalagmite”.

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