Thursday, October 14, 2010

A day in the life of a budak batu: the fieldworks

Alright, since there is a serious lack of geology in this blog, plus a bit of prodding from a few people (well, a very small number actually), I figured I should get back on writing on this particular subject that have interested me ever since I was a kid, when collecting rocks is among some of the way I spend my pastime (yeah, I’m that kind of kid).

Right then: I figured that I’ll start with the aspect of geology that is not too technical, easy to relate with, and most importantly, something that I don’t have to crack my brain to find all the facts: it is the fieldwork of the geology course that I’ve been enrolled to.

Please read it easy~

(Disclaimer: no rocks were harmed during the writing of this post)

A rocker, I am (literally)

A brief introduction:

I’m your typical Mat, a 20 something undergraduate of the geology department of a certain university in Malaysia that has yet to reach independence, as opposed to other universities (I’ll give you a hint: our uni is halfway between PJ and KL). If you still don’t get the hint, here’s another one: compared with the other two uni that offer geology course, we are the one where the course is taught almost 100% English.

Here be the school of rock (what, no Jack Black?)

I’m currently in my third and final year, which means I’m – or at least should be (I’m a terrible procrastinator) – busy preparing my final year thesis at the moment.

Slacking off…? (I’m not in this pic btw)

Being a geologist, we are usually stereotyped as people who are easily excited by just looking at rocks, spouting out names like granites, schist, dunite, Daonella halobia, oolites, cummingtonite (yes, such name do exist!), to name a few. Basically, there isn’t any rock under the sun that hasn’t been named, classified, and most of the time, hammered to pieces, by us fellow geologists.

The stuff of geology: rocks!

And when we’re not eyeballing rocks in the lab, we could be found looking at rocks at the roadside, quarries, by the rivers, along the coasts... and pretty much everywhere else. We could even turn up at people’s backyard for all we know!

This would surely attract the attentions of nearby residents…

For the ‘outsiders’, geology seems to be nothing more than spending hours looking at rocks (and giving them names in the process); or, if it’s not at the field, it would be some talk on some very very old things that are, well, very old. Such is how geology is viewed that someone, when briefly mentioning geology, mentioned ‘that shit is boring’

Gee, sure is boring around here…

So what is exactly ‘boring’ – or exciting – about the fieldworks? It all depends on your tolerance to the outdoor, really.

So, about the fieldwork:

A day in the field: listening to a seasoned geologist (is that so??)

It’s one thing to read it in the book, but as they say, “seeing is believing”.

Why do I mention this point? Well, let’s say, as an example… could you imagine the existence of magma beneath the Earth’s surface, and that the remains of the cooled magma could now be found just around the corner?

Granite in Kemaman, Terengganu – one of the countless remain of magma chambers

Or if you were told that the area was a deep water basin in the past (which is now actually a few kilometres away from the coast) – could you imagine what had taken place back then, if someone just mentioned this out of the blue? Sound quite incredible, isn’t it?

Turbidites in Mentakab, Pahang – the indication of a deep water basin

Or if you were told that rocks could be bended under high heat and temperature – wait, rocks could be deformed like a plain ol play doh?

Folded rocks in Tanjung Kempit, Terengganu – a few geologists would have said ‘as soft as a rock’

In short, fieldwork is an integral aspect of geology; ergo, if you don’t see it, you won’t believe it. Even a kid would tell you the same thing, regardless whether he/she has any interest in geology or not.

An important point to note though: the processes that shape these features take a very, very, very long time (on a scale unimaginable to us mere mortals – can you imagine what hundreds of millions of years feel like?)

Happy geologist is happy for his finding

What else is there beside reinforcing the theoretical aspect learned in lectures? Anything for the non-bookworm and geology nerds?

Actually, there is:

Since we deal with a lot of Earth materials (beaten only by them construction workers), we would certainly get firsthand experience of finding (the more interesting) rocks, minerals, fossils – all those stuff you see in the gems shop, we have seen them at one point or another on the field (OK, that’s not really true, since all those pretty gemstones aren’t that abundant here, but we do go through a lot of Earth stuff).

And I can attest that the sense of discovery is a lot better than holding similar items in the shops (or museums): try finding a fossil on the field, and you’ll see what I mean.

One of the fossil found during the fieldwork

And yes, during one of our fieldwork, we even get to experience the excitement of finding gold!

Gold in rock (the small spot in the red highlight)

…even if it’s not as big as you would expect, as you can see here.

But most importantly, who couldn’t resist taking a break by visiting some nice places such as the beach?

Or having a barbeque by said beach?

You might find the time to release the inner kid in you as well:

And who knows, you might get to hook up with some of the local ladies (or guys) as well.

Ohai Keng

On the agenda of the future geology post:

We’re gonna get to know intimately about them rockheads: the ones who are excited when they talk about granites, stylolites, ammonites, and the likes (hey, that rhymes!).

See you guys again on the future geology posts (it might take some time before I get around to put the said post up). In the meantime…

ROCK ON~ (pun much?)

P/S credit for some of the fieldwork pictures goes to fellow UM Geology students, batch 08/09 – don’t be mad if you find your picture here guys (or if you don’t find your face anywhere in the post)!


  1. faiz...gambar ak je byk ni...wakakaka..best2

  2. Atta boy, you geo geek!