Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     



The Grand Canyon is a definite marvel for any sedimentologist. It is a phenomenon of sedimentary rock layers built up over time. Rocks are the most common material on Earth occurring naturally in combinations of one or more minerals. Sedimentology is the study of the origin of sedimentary rocks through description, analysis, classification, modes of occurrence, and theories of genesis. Sedimentologists study the description, classification, and origin of sedimentary rock. They study the processes that result in the formation of sedimentary rocks and apply this knowledge to help locate coal, petroleum and other types of mineral resources. They also look at the properties of sedimentary rocks including luster, cleavage, streak, specific gravity, hardness, and sometimes color to determine the above research.

Sedimentary rocks are composed of sediment particles deposited by wind or water, or organic products of living creatures (fossils), or residues deposited by inorganic chemical processes such as precipitation or evaporation. The study of sedimentary rocks extends back in time to at least the 16th century, thereby making sedimentology one of the oldest geologic disciplines. New discoveries and innovative ideas continue to emerge as sedimentologists use advanced, modern tools to research new areas of rock study that help us understand things like climate change or the location of minerals and petroleum.

Sedimentology focuses on taking observational, chemical, and physical data and using them to develop theories on the origin of sedimentary rocks. They investigate the composition and structure of sedimentary rock masses forming the Earth's crust. They usually study the differences between sedimentary rocks and igneous and metamorphic rocks. They apply their findings to such fields of investigation as causes of formations, breaking down and weathering, chemical composition and forms of deposition of sedimentary rocks, methods of eruption, and origin and causes of sedimentation.

The primary goal of sedimentological fieldwork is to ascertain the manner in which rocks are spatially related to each other, including the geometry of bodies, contact and age relationships, spatial variations in texture or mineralogy within bodies and size variations. Description and identification of rocks in hand samples yields information on mineral assemblage, proportions, and textures.

Some sedimentologists have focused their research on environmental practices. For example, there are many contaminated sediments, primarily in harbors and industrialized segments of rivers and estuaries that contain pollutants that have been depleting our sediment resources. Also, because many contaminants are associated with different sediment types, contaminant distribution is often linked to sediment deposition. Therefore, sedimentologists are looking for ways to face this growing contamination problem.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Agricultural Technologist
arrow Agriculturist
arrow Agronomist
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • BS in Aeronautics



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Besides having a love for sedimentary rocks and minerals, sedimentologists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they constantly deal with technicians, engineers and business clients. They should have a natural aptitude for mathematics and science (especially chemistry and physics) and be able to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings, which is not an easy task. Sedimentologists should be able to make quick, logical decisions, adapt from an office environment to a laboratory or field site and be able to supervise and lead others.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research and analyze the quantity and distribution of sedimentary rocks
  • Examine interactions between minerals and sedimentary rocks and any changes to their chemical makeup that result
  • Classify and identify fossilized life forms and minerals in rocks to assess depositional environments and geological age
  • Explore mining areas to determine the structure and the types of sedimentary rocks that exist
  • Determine the most suitable means of safely extracting ore and sedimentary minerals
  • Assess the size, orientation and composition of rocks and hydrocarbon deposits
  • Collect and analyze rock samples in sedimentological surveys
  • Consult with scientists and engineers about mineral and rock projects
  • Write reports and present papers to help plan environmental programs and resource management
  • Use computers to integrate and interpret data sets of geological information
  • Sedimentologists spend the majority of their working time in the field, collecting data, and analyzing rock and mineral samples. There is some time spent in the lab, but this is a field for people who like to work outdoors. Travel can be quite extensive and foreign, particularly since much of the new rock exploration work is happening overseas. Those working for the government will generally work standard hours, however sedimentologists in private companies and in environmental management will find themselves working long hours, which may include weekend emergency work.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Sedimentologists work in both the public and private sectors. They are employed by rock research and mining companies, geochemical companies, petroleum and oil companies, and geology, geophysics and engineering consulting firms. Some sedimentologists are self-employed and own their own research and consulting businesses. In the public sector they work for all levels of the government and also teach at postsecondary institutions.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced sedimentologists may decide to set up their own consulting businesses or partner up with geological and metallurgical engineers and open up a large consulting firm that specializes in rocks, mining, metals and other gems. They can also become business analysts, engineers, move into a new specialty area of geology or become teachers at postsecondary institutions with further education.

  Educational Paths  
The minimum education requirement for sedimentologists is a Bachelor of Science (BS) honors degree in geology. A master's or doctoral degree in sedimentology or petrology may be required for employment as a postsecondary instructor or full-time academic researcher. Before choosing a university, make sure the school's geology department has classes with a good selection of courses in sedimentology. Another idea is to volunteer doing geology work in a mine, or visiting a research site -- one of the best things you can do to try and see yourself in that role.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • BS in Aeronautics

San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

Programs Offered:
  • Certificate - Electrical Technology
  • Degree - Electrical Technology

The Art Institutes system of schools
The Art Institutes.
Programs Offered:
  • Industrial Design
  • Industrial Design (BS)
  • Industrial Design Technology (AS)

Milan Institute
Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.
Programs Offered:
  • Electrician
  • Oil and Gas Instrumentation Technician

Institute of Technology

You can get started on a new career with Institute of Technology.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.iot.edu/disclosure

Programs Offered:
  • Industrial Maintenance and Automated Technology

Johns Hopkins University

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University, a top tier research university with campus locations in Maryland and Washington, DC, and online.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics
  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Education
  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise
  • And more...

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2017 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.