KEY POINTS

  • Geologists Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of April
  • Geology helps us better understand our planet
  • Below are some key geologists throughout history

On Geologists Day, observed on April 4 this year, let's celebrate geologists and thank them for their all-important work.

Holidays to celebrate people in different professions give us a chance to appreciate their work and contributions. In the case of geologists, their field is often under-appreciated despite the importance of the work they do, Days of The Year (DOTY) said.

Geologists Day, traditionally celebrated every first Sunday of April, is the perfect time to show our appreciation for the field and the people who are part of it. After all, it is through their work that we are able to understand our own planet better.

As the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) explained, geology is the study of the Earth and its 4.5-billion-year history.

"Geologists study some of society's most important problems, such as energy, water, and mineral resources; the environment; climate change; and natural hazards like landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods," UNC-Chapel Hill said, noting that there is a shortage of trained geologists, while the demand is only getting higher.

Clearly, the field is more than just studying rocks. It also impacts other sciences, National Day Calendar said. Those who pursue it have a "wide range" of careers to choose from, such as working for NASA, pursuing research and doing public service. Even amateur geologists have important roles to play in our society.

Anyone can celebrate Geologists Day, for instance by marveling at geology pictures or visiting a museum. People may even take online classes to learn a little bit more about geology, DOTY suggested. Such activities can even spark people's interest in the field.

One of the simpler ways you can celebrate the occasion is by thanking geologists for their work, whether you know one or not. And if you are posting on social media, use #GeologistsDay.

It is also a great time to learn about the geologists who have truly made an impact throughout history.

Now let's look at some of the influential geologists you may want to know about, courtesy of ThoughtCo. and Geology Science.

James Hutton

Known by some as the "father of modern geology," Hutton actually studied medicine and chemistry, then became a farmer in the 1750s. It was during his time as a farmer that he observed the land around him and its reactions to forces of the wind and water.

One of his many achievements in the field is dismantling the view then that the Earth was just several thousand years old. He also developed the idea of uniformitarianism which, according to Britannica, "underlies" the development of the science of geology.

Inge Lehmann

Inge Lehmann was a Danish seismologist who discovered the Earth's inner core. In fact, two boundary regions are named after her, Britannica noted. She was the state geodesist and head of the Seismological Department of the Royal Danish Geodetic Institute from her appointment in 1928 until her retirement in 1953. She also co-founded the Danish Geophysical Society.

In 1995, the American Geophysical Union created the Lehmann Medal in her honor, and it is now being given to researchers who display "outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth's mantle and core."

Nicolaus Steno

A Danish anatomist and geologist, Steno's work is said to be crucial to the development of modern geology, the University of California, Berkely said. One of the principles he proposed was Steno's law of superposition, which indicates that in rock layers, the bottom layers are the oldest. 

It was also said to be Steno who figured out that the "tongue stones" being sold as good luck charms in Malta were actually fossilized shark teeth.

Interestingly, some people consider Steno to be the "father of modern geology," a title that some also attribute to other geologists.

Mary Horner Lyell

A great geologist and conchologist on her own, Mary Horner Lyell was not as known as other geologists, including her husband, Charles Lyell, who was well-known for his radical ideas about the Earth's age.

Despite having significant contributions to her husband's work, she did not get the credit that she deserved. The honor she received came long after her 1873 death when a crater on Venus was named "Horner" to honor her in 1991, Minerva Scientifica said.

Beno Gutenberg

Said to be the "foremost observational seismologist of the 20th Century," Gutenberg discovered the precise location of the Earth's core, among his many other achievements in the field.

He also discovered the layer between the mantle and the outer core, which is now named after him, and made important discoveries about the structure of the Earth. 

Preston Cloud

A man of several fields, Preston Cloud's contributions are said to have spanned across various fields. His work added to the understanding of the evolution of life, the Earth's crust and the atmosphere.

Beyond his scientific work in the field, Cloud was also said to be concerned about how problems such as pollution and population increases could affect the planet.

Florence Bascom

An American geologist, Florence Bascom is known as the "first woman geologist in the country," the Geological Society of America (GSA) said. Although she was actually the second woman to earn a Ph.D. in geology in the U.S., she was a trailblazer for many things in her field, including being the first woman hired by the U.S. Geological Survey and the first woman elected to the Council of the Geological Society of America.

She was also considered a four-starred geologist in the American Men of Science, which showed that she was among the hundred leading geologists in the country. She published over 40 research papers and is known for her contributions in understanding "mountain-building processes."

Of course, these influential scientists are just a few of the many who have greatly contributed to our understanding of the planet we live on. On this day, we can take a look back at their contributions and also get excited for the work of incredible geologists today.

Geology Pictured: representative image of a rock wall. Photo: Pixabay