Saturday, December 13, 2008

Geologist Spotting Formula (GSF)

Which of these people is a geologist?

Lounge of the Lab Lemming has an interesting post in which he wonders how he was spotted as a geologist in a grocery store, and mentions some kind of geologist spotting formula (gsf; geodar?). Although it sounds a little like the "you might be a geologist if..." lists that have made the rounds in geology departments, I think it is a little different. We geologists ARE different. So, with unattributed factoids from all around, I offer a few gsf parameters, and would love to hear about others. I don't think this list is quantifiable in the sense that Lab Lemming meant, but I am not that mathematically oriented...


When traveling to famous overlooks at parks and monuments, note that simple tourists will stand in such a way as to enjoy the view, with cameras pointed towards distant vistas. Geologists will be the ones looking at the rocks used to make the walls and embankments, or will be looking at the roadcuts on the opposite side of the road.

Geologist adornments: handlenses on lanyards. 'Nuff said.

In academic settings, such as faculty senate meetings or faculty union meetings, geologists can be identified by their footwear, boots or Keens sandals. This one is tricky because geologists rarely show up at such meetings.

Flower gardens and window gardens in domiciles belonging to geologists are distinguished by the presence of rock samples that are more colorful than the flowers. Or flowers are missing entirely.

Cars driven by geologists are quantifiably dirtier than cars owned by normal people. This is true of the outside, which is often covered by dirt and mud, and what my brother called Arizona pinstripes (scratches caused by driving through thorny thickets), and inside, where the original fabric is obscured by rock samples, collecting bags, fast food debris, and camping equipment.

Hair and Personal Grooming: every day is a bad hair day! Try keeping that 'do in place in a duststorm. Hats are a constant accessory. A quantifiable test might involve beards on men geologists; I suspect the percentage is far higher than the population at large.

The Geologist Tan: for those among us with the pasty skin, the tan lines stop at the sock line, and just above the knee, and on the upper arm where the t-shirt arms stop.

Medical History: lots and lots of scars from those unfortunate rock scrambling accidents

At Home Improvement stores, don't try looking for geologists in the tool section or anything having to do with wood or plumbing products. They will be running their hands over the granite countertops and arguing with the salespeople that "black granite" is not a proper name for the stone.

Bookshelves: Many homes don't even have bookshelves any more, but a geologist home will have many, often in the college-style brick and board construction. Needless to say, there will be lots of geology titles, and ancient copies of the GSA Bulletin, treasured in the way that other people treasure National Geographic (we're talking boxloads in the garage).


And, there's always something about their eyes, something penetrative and insightful, something that can always pick out that small fragment of a fossil or a mineral that would be overlooked by a common person...


What would you add to the list?

4 comments:

ReBecca Foster said...

I have the same problem - I always notice geo's and paleo's in airports, parks, on vacation....ect. I had one guy call me out on it this past 4th of July when we were at the Grand Canyon. I was in line buying something and he was behind me and asked me if I was a paleontologist. I said yes, and could not figure out how he knew, so I asked. Come to find out he saw my tattoo and I had a dinosaur patch on my shorts lol.

I am guessing the geologist in your picture is either the redhead in the Chaco sandals or the man in the back in books and shorts.

I often get annoid with what people refer to as "granite" in houses and home improvement stores. Very annoying. Especially when it is gneiss or something obviously a schist.

I pretty much meat all of your criteria above ;)

Fault Rocks said...

I think it's a trick question because the photo shows a bunch of people in hiking boots or sandals about to get in a big white van. We all know what a caravan of big white vans with CA plates means in Nevada.

As for your criteria, how about wearing "outdoors" clothes everyday? e.g. people who only ever shop at REI or the Title IX poster girls I went to graduate school with? of course this might apply to field zoologists/ecologists as well.

beards and braids (sometimes both)

Silver Fox said...

I was thinking that all the people in the photo might be geologists - getting ready to leave on a field trip - just like Christie said above.

And I think it might be a bit more difficult to identify women geologists, maybe, except for field clothes and shoes - and maybe outdoor hats.

MJC Rocks said...

Of course you are all right about students climbing into a white van! For the record, the picture is about four years old, and two of the students in the picture became geology majors, the gentleman in shorts in the back, and the woman on the left with her hand in the air. I suspect another one or two will be teachers with a good geology background.

I grabbed the particular picture because I almost never take pictures of groups of people, just rocks and vistas!