Gareth Hay

Gareth Hay

Geophysicist, RDCL Resource Development Consultants Ltd

In a nutshell: I use various tools to create images of what is underground, so that I can help find minerals and other objects, and help engineers to design foundations for buildings.

Why? "I like to see new places and people, and most of all I like to fly. Work has taken me to places like Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, where I probably would not have gone otherwise. And it's all paid for!"

Pathway: Bay of Islands College, final year subjects: Calculus, Chemistry, English, Geography, Physics, Statistics
University of Waikato: Bachelor of Science, majoring in Earth and Ocean Sciences

Earning: $70-80,000 after six years

I always enjoyed Physics and Geography at school. They combine nicely now: I get to travel a lot and use physics to solve problems.

I actually wanted to be a fighter pilot, but a medical problem stopped me, so I decided to use my degree instead.

I spend about half my time 'in the field'. There is a huge amount of variety, not just in the work itself but in the environments – helicopters, boats, four-wheel-drives, jungles, deserts and urban work. The other half of my time is spent in the office interpreting all of the data I have collected.

I've worked on a broad range of projects, from ensuring buildings are safe during earthquakes, to exploring for minerals and designing mines, to environmental work and finding fresh water. I have even run surveys as part of clearing construction sites of unexploded bombs.

A dam in Papua New Guinea failed years ago and clogged the river up with sand and gravel, which they've been dredging back out ever since. A colleague and I went to test the mountains of dredged material to see how safe they would be in an earthquake. Working in remote places like that is an amazing experience.

A lot of our larger projects are overseas. So far I have worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore and all over New Zealand.

Somebody who is adventurous and adaptable, who enjoys the outdoors and can think on their feet would do well in the field.

In the future I could work for an exploration or mining company, take on a research project at a university, or help design new geophysical equipment. But I enjoy consulting because I get to do a little bit of everything.

Posted October 2015

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Degree in Geology or Geophysics

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