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Geologists rock: Celebrating our rock and mineral scientists in natural resources

Geologists rock: Celebrating our rock and mineral scientists in natural resources
By Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA/AFSCME) ·
Tags: Our Stories
Geologists rock: Celebrating our rock and mineral scientists in natural resources
Photo credit: OCSEA

“Geology is the foundation upon which we build everything,” OCSEA member Brittany Parrick jokes. She says she only teases about the importance of her profession with her colleagues in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), but this union geologist isn’t far off the mark.

Geology, the study of the history and processes of the Earth, can encompass entire civilizations in its scope, including urban development, local economic growth, energy policy and even public health.

This sounds heavy, we know. And for Parrick, her work is all of that too. But it’s also really cool and a lot of fun, she says.

Parrick has been with the ODNR Division of Geological Survey as a union geologist for eight years. Right out of college, she worked as a mud logger in Oklahoma (yes, she observed and logged mud and sediment during drilling). After six months, she returned to Ohio to become a geologist with ODNR and has been there ever since.

ODNR’s Division of Geological Survey researches and reports on the state’s geological history and resources, making the information available to government agencies, industry, educators and the public at large. It’s used in land planning, resource development, hazard mitigation and many other activities. The Survey is also Ohio’s permanent archive and public access point for geological data.

And it’s OCSEA members who make this work happen every day.

Parrick says she enjoys the work she does, and that each day is different. From sinkhole monitoring and investigation in the fall and winter to bedrock mapping and seismic and vibration measuring in the spring and summer, there’s always a lot going on and a lot to talk about.

OCSEA member Brittany Parrick appeared in a recent AFSCME-sponsored segment on WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio.

Karst is her specialty. This topography is a little-known but unique and important landform that can be found throughout Ohio. It develops in carbonate rock, such as limestone, when small fractures dissolve and enlarge over time. Sinkholes are the main hazard associated with karst landforms in Ohio, with thousands of them in the state, according to ODNR’S Sinkhole and Karst Geology website.

Parrick and her team also use fun tools like the Tromino, a mobile seismometer device that monitors vibration. Of course, Ohio’s infrastructure, industrialization and safety are at the core of the division. But the OCSEA members in the Survey are also in our communities, educating the public about the importance of their field and the work they do.

Parrick’s co-workers, including union-member geologists Tyler Norris and Mark Peter recently went to The Ohio History Connection, a nonprofit educational organization, to show off fossils, talk about glacial history and more. The event was fun for kids and grown-ups alike.

Parrick is active with her local union chapter as secretary of ODNR Chapter 2515. She says as a scientific professional, it’s important to have a unified voice on the job.

“I got involved in the union because I wanted to support my co-workers and myself. If you can’t speak up and be passionate about the work you care so much about, what’s the point?” said Parrick. “Once I realized this is the power we have, of course I got involved.”

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