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A day in the life of a geologist: David Griffiths

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David Griffiths, geologist at British Gypsum, tells us about what his role involves.

David Griffiths, geologist, British Gypsum
David Griffiths, geologist, British Gypsum

British Gypsum, part of the Saint-Gobain group, is the UK’s leading manufacturer of interior lining systems. The company produces gypsum based systems including plaster, plasterboard and ceiling solutions.

As a geologist at British Gypsum, David Griffiths’ job has taken him to some incredible places, including the deepest depths of a gold mine in Western Australia and gypsum mines all around the UK. We caught up with him to find out more about what his role as a geologist involves.

How would you sum up what you do on a typical day?

No two days are ever the same, but in a typical working week I can expect to spend time on logging rock core, preparing samples for analysis, working on 3D modelling of geological structures or calculating reserves. I also organise and supervise drilling programmes and undertake inspection visits at one of our six mines and one quarry.

What would you say is the best bit about your day?

The best bit is definitely getting out and about – visiting the drillers and taking a first look at the new core that’s been drilled to see what the team has found.

And what is the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenges are organising the drilling programmes, ensuring all statutory/safety requirements have been completed before commencing site work, negotiating access with the landowners and ensuring everyone is happy and gets a fair deal (including us).

What made you decide to become a geologist?

I studied geology at A-Level and really enjoyed the varied nature of the subject. We had a field trip to various geological sites every two weeks, which was great and really got me excited about the sector. Upon realising that it was a viable career option that involved a mix of outdoor and desk work, I was hooked. Since then, my job has taken me to some incredible places, including the deepest depths of a gold mine in Western Australia and gypsum mines/quarries all around the UK.

What is it that you love about geology?

Geology is fascinating. It’s something that can be appreciated wherever you are; whether it be out walking in the countryside or in towns and cities. Almost everything around us is made from raw materials that must be extracted from the ground at some point, so the process that leads to the formation of these materials is what interests me most. As they say: “if it’s not grown it must be mined”.

What makes a good geologist?

A good geologist is someone who asks questions and is genuinely interested in understanding how different deposits form. Someone who has an eye for detail but is prepared to interpret and extrapolate based on what they know and their experience of the continuity of geology.

What advice do you have for people about to embark on a career as a geologist?

Work hard - learn from colleagues and lecturers by asking questions and keep up-to-date with continued professional development (CPD) with the goal of gaining chartership with the Geological Society. Most importantly, take every opportunity to get outside and see geology for yourself! The best locations to see it at its best include the coast or at a quarry where fresh rock faces are constantly being exposed.

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