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Geochemist: Job description

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Geochemists use physical and inorganic chemistry to investigate the amount and distribution of chemical elements in rocks and minerals. They also study the movement of those elements into soil and water systems. They use organic chemistry to study the composition of fossil fuel deposits.

Their research guides oil exploration, can help improve water quality and is also used to develop plans to clean up toxic waste sites. They can be employed by oil and gas companies, consultancies, research facilities and education institutions.

Typical work activities

Laboratory tasks usually include:

  • analysing the age, nature and components of rock, soil and other environmental samples;
  • conducting sample tests and checks, including gas chromatography, carbon and isotope data, viscosity and solvent extraction;
  • working with a range of specialist equipment as part of research, including mass spectrometers, microscopes and electron microprobes;
  • undertaking field visits to collect site samples;
  • generating computer models using specialist software;
  • mapping specific geochemical areas for research and analysis;
  • interpreting a variety of data and analysing results;
  • liaising with geologists, petroleum engineers and commercial managers;
  • providing support and recommendations to mainstream geologists;
  • developing databases to track and organise information;
  • providing data and feedback to clients;
  • undertaking long-range theoretical and applied research;
  • using written sources of information, such as journals and the internet, as part of the research process;
  • writing technical reports and papers for journals;
  • teaching and lecturing on specific areas within geochemistry;
  • giving presentations at conferences and other events;
  • keeping up to date with developments and new research.

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Written by AGCAS editors
September 2015

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