Abstract

Modern geology has been multi-disciplinary since its origins more than 200 years ago. Multi-spectral remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) together offer new geological tools that increase the need for knowledge from other scientific disciplines even more than has been traditionally accepted. Multi-spectral remote sensing requires that a geologist be trained to observe more than rock outcrops in the field. The soils surrounding the outcrop and the vegetation growing on them may contain more extractable geological information than the outcrop itself, and much of the new information can come from wavelengths of light invisible to the human eye. Outputs from Global Positioning System devices displayed in map form through GIS software are far more spatially precise than paper maps and Brunton compasses, but geologists must learn to use the new devices and software before the benefits can be appreciated. We see four growth areas in world markets related to employment of geologists and geophysicists who know remote sensing and GIS technology: industrial mineral exploration and extraction; engineering and environmental geology, including applications in non-geological government agencies and general businesses; modernized exploration for petroleum and metallic minerals; and ‘academic’ positions for researchers in universities, aerospace companies, and government agencies that compare change patterns in paleoclimates with those of recent climates. To meet these demands, we recommend that geology departments increase the number of courses in engineering and environmental geology; reach out to other science departments, both by encouraging more electives in their courses for geology students and by providing more earth materials, geochemistry, hydrology, and geological remote sensing courses for students from other science departments; and embrace remote sensing and GIS courses, the former from within the geology department, by requiring that most students take one course each for almost all sub-disciplines in geology and geophysics. Some of the increased courses could be taught in virtual co-operative universities, like the one being planned by OhioView, which is a remote sensing/GIS consortium of 11 universities in Ohio.

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