several things in the past weeks have had me thinking back to my old highschool, "acs"... 'the alternative community school' in ithaca, ny. i randomly decided to send a quick email to a bunch of the teachers who taught me while i was there, just saying hi, and what i'm doing now, and thanks for helping get me here in the first place. one of those teachers, who was responsible for getting me into my first academic conference in new mexico when i was about 14, responded with the question of what turned my interests to geology in the first place... my response is below.
"I think originally it was an excuse to study something that would allow me to spend lots of time exploring mountains... but in college that excuse quickly grew into a genuine interest and curiosity about the processes that move and change our planet. There are so many fields within the broad subject of geology that picking one I really enjoyed (and seemed to have a knack for) wasn't that hard... after some trial and error of course. Structural geology basically studies the geometry of brittle deformation in the earth's shallow rocks (the first ten kilometers or so, above the depth at which rock begins to behave as a ductile material) and Neotectonics/Kinematics is the study of the evolution of that deformation through time.... or 'how mountains are made'.
My real fascination with this field is the thought of just how impermanent things like mountains and oceans are. There is a quote somewhere that goes something like, "Societies exist on the whim of Geology" (though the actual quote is much more elegant... I can't seem to find the original...) which is essentially true. Our world is ever-changing, mountains rise and fall and oceans shift, and it seems so unlikely to observers like ourselves who live and die in a geologic blink of an eye. Tectonics as a whole, has only been around as a science for something like 40 years, so it is still very young, and exciting advances in techniques, technology and understanding are still happening.
Perhaps that explanation is a little melodramatic, so to lighten it up a little; sticking with geology really HAS allowed me to spend lots of time hiking and climbing in mountains from Argentina to Taiwan, which of course was the whole point all along!"