David J. Burdige

Professor and Eminent Scholar, Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Old Dominion University

Careers in Geosciences

As you ponder your field of study keep in mind these definitions of geoscientists told to me by Al Engel back when I was in graduate schoool.  Granted, we were sipping whiskey in front of a fire on a spring break field trip (ok, we were actaully drinking it straight out of the gallon bottle), so take these with a good sense of humor.  Nevertheless, there is some truth here …

A geophysicist is someone who would rather calculate than be correct.
A geochemist is someone with a technique of dubious relevance and certainty in search of money, an idea and a sample.

[note:  despite the “Rube Goldberg”-like nature of this device, it was actually used on the Challenger expedition (1872-6) to determine the concentration of carbonic acid (dissolved CO2) in seawater]
A geologist is someone who is not that bright but has a good sense of direction and a good pair of hiking boots.

If you’re done with this then click here