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1. What made you want to be a geologist
2. What's your favourite rock
3. Why did you choose this as a career option
4. Do you get to travel a lot
5. Do you like minerals or rocks better


What made me what to be a geologist....well, I kind of backed into it.  I had friends when I was a kid, who were "rock hounds" that is they collected rocks and minerals.  I really didn't know much about it, and ignorance is bliss, so I didn't really care to find out.  I traveled across the US by car driving through the Mountains of the North East, West and far West and always wondered how they got the way they did, but my parents didn't have a clue.  Then in college in Germany I took my first geology class and was hooked.  It unlocked the secrets of all the places I had seen and gave me the whys, hows and what next I was looking for. Being a history major at the time, the historical aspect of it appealed to me.  I was into photography and that is and was a large part of geology too.  I got into remote sensing, using aerial photography and satellite images.  Then I got hired afte completing my Master's degree by an oil company and moved from Virginia to Oklahoma to work in research.

What is my favorite Rock?  Granite.  Most geologists fall in love with hard rocks, volcanic igneous and metamorphic rocks.  They are sexy in that they form in exotic ways, have complex petrology and form interesting structures and landscapes.  There are lots of kinds of granite, but the counter tops that you see in black, white and other colors are not all granites, they are other igneous rocks that are not granites, they are just defined that way so consumers, know they are igneous rocks and not marble or slate.  Most are from the Igneous family, but are Gabbros, Andesite and even from the Metamorphic families of rocks.

It is a pity that the oil is found in "dirty" ugly sedimentary  More geologists study and work on those rocks than the sexy hard rocks.  I've worked with sedimetary rock, the kind oil and gas are from and are found in my whole career.  Only gold, silver, diamonds and other gems and precious metals come from igneous and metamorphic rocks such as Granite.  Granites also are home to big pockets ultra large crystals, called Pegmatites.  They form huge crystals some of them meters long.  That is because inside a large granite batholith deep inside the earth the magma cools slowly giving the crystals lots of time to grow as atoms of the various elements move through solution, like a big kettle of soup.  Think of the elements as pieces of red and white lego blocks.  They each have to move through the liquid and find each other and get into the correct position in order to build the mineral one atom at a time. and they have to move  

Why did I select it as a career?   The money was good, above average, and I wanted to do something with the degree I spent so much time work to get.  There was a lot of interesting things to do, and it kept me outside a lot and away from my desk, plus it was a challenging and creative area in which to work.

Do you travel a lot?   Not anymore.  Early in my career I traveled a lot.  Probably two weeks out of three during the summer.  Then I traveled to both South America and the South Pacific.
I don't travel anymore unless I want to.  I do more management than hands on work.  That is the nature of scientific work, you have two career paths available, you either move into management and manage people, or stay on what they call the technical track.  This allows you to stay hands on, and do the science, but you are not a manager. You get promoted and more pay, you just don't have to do manage other people.

Rocks or Minerals...well thats like asking do you like strawberries or strawberry short cake?  Minerals make up rocks, so you can't have rocks without having minerals.  I do have favorite minerals, but I would have to say I like rocks better since they can tell a story that the minerals can't.  In some rocks, like sandstone, the rock can perserve how the rock was made by saving forms made when the water laid down the sand on the beach or in the stream.  These are saved and show up as patterns in the rock, like foresets showing how a dune moved foward as the wind blew the sand, or in a creek or stream how the ripples were formed as the sand moved along by the water. Mud cracks saved when mud dried can tell you a story about a flood, or drought if the cracks were buried and saved.

So I would have to say rocks.


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Keith Patton


I can answer questions concerning physical and historical geology, environmental geology/hydrology, environmental consulting, remote sensing/aerial photo interpretation, G&G computer applications, petroleum exploration, drilling, geochemistry, geochemical and microbiological prospecting, 3D reservoir modeling, computer mapping and drilling.I am not a geophysicist.


I have 24 years experience split between the petroleum and environmental industries. I have served as an expert witness in remote sensing, developmental geologist, exploration geologist, enviromental project manager, and subject matter expert in geology and geophysical software development.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Association of Photogrammetrists and Remote Sensing

Bachelor and Master of Science
Registered Geologist in State of Texas

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