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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

James Alderman MSci Geophysics, 2005

Rio Tinto Mining & Exploration Ltd

James Alderman's Photo

When I started at Southampton I had little real idea about where a degree in geophysics would lead me. I just knew it sounded really interesting, was a good mixture of my A levels and looked like something I would enjoy.

A great thing about studying at NOCS is its reputation; which means major companies know they can come and find high quality students for future employment.

Five years on I can honestly say that I loved my time at Southampton and would recommend participating in everything it has to offer. The facilities at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) and the quality, support and enthusiasm of staff, mean there is never a need to compromise - I was a member of three different sports clubs, and finished my university life off by winning sports personality of the year. I got to know most of the student bars and clubs well, and met some people I will be friends with for life, and at the end of it all I earned a first-class degree!

The modules in the first two years give you strong backing and allow you start to see where you want to specialise. After my second year I secured a summer placement with OHM Ltd, a multimillion pound spin-off company from NOCS, based on technology developed by geophysics lecturers.

However, my biggest inspiration came from a guest lecture given by Anglo American Mining during my third year. I applied and was offered a summer placement exploring for base metal deposits in South Africa and Australia. This was a fantastic experience and I was able to use data I helped to collect for my fourth year research project. My project studied information from a world first, state-of-the-art electromagnetic receiver, which was trying to detect new ore deposits buried under the ground. I quickly learned how much geophysics is essential to modern mineral exploration, especially when all the rocks can be covered by 100m of desert sand!

A great thing about studying at NOCS is its reputation; which means major companies know they can come and find high quality students for future employment. After graduating I took up an internship with Rio Tinto Mining & Exploration Ltd, and was subsequently offered my first job, responsible for the geophysics on their West Africa diamond exploration program.

Four years later I have worked in seven countries across the entire African continent, from thick jungle to vast desert, and explored for a diverse range of commodities including diamonds, nickel, uranium and iron ore as well as having the opportunity to visit mines all over the world.

The best thing about my job is that we are exploring parts of the world that have never before been explored, and my next geophysical anomaly could be the next billion dollar mine!

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