Hubble Telescope image of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field.

By Ben Plunkett – guest contributor.

When I was younger I used to love reading those choose your own adventure books… you know the ones, where you can either flick to page 30 and go to Peru, or go to page 53 and go to Paris. Then, later on, as an undergraduate student at the University of Tasmania, hell bent on a career in journalism and politics, I developed a love for geology. Around 10 years on, I now realise that the career I have chosen is the epitome of a choose your own adventure type of lifestyle.

When the earth and wider universe are your fields of study – you really are working in a virtually limitless sphere, and during my time as a Masters student at the Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Science (RSES), I have met people whose adventure has taken them to all sorts of areas. From Antarctica, to the Mentawais, New Zealand, the Alps and Africa. The fields of study too, are seemingly limitless, from corals to trees, sediments to Stromatolites, zircons to xenoliths, folds and flutes, moon rocks and isotopes, geologists can see themselves in a variety of different settings and fields of study – all dependent on the adventure they desire.

The picture shown here, taken by the hubble telescope, is known as the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field. It is the furthest back in time / the boundaries of the universe, that humans have yet been able to photograph – about 13 billion years to be exact !! In many ways, the depth of this picture represents the breadth and almost limitless potential encountered by the typical earth scientist. The sky is not the limit.

In my own adventure, I have been lucky enough to work as a field exploration geologist, a hydrogeologist and in my most recent guise, as a researcher in the field of coral paleoclimate. During the midst of the current mining boom and skills shortage in Australia, I have for the meantime chosen to take the path of an exploration geologist once again, to scratch the itch. I am, however, forever heartened by the fact that there will always be a whole world and universe to explore and learn about, whilst collaborating with others who know the value it all, and who I can talk with about geeky geology subjects knowing that they won’t fall asleep!

So – whilst this is a partial goodbye to all you good folk at the RSES who I have met and spent time with over the past year, I also look forward to keeping in touch with OnCirculation, reading all of the blog entries, and writing the odd blog entry about Natural Hazards, or anything else within the sphere of this inspiring adventure we know as geology.