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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonOur alumni

Hannah Goswell MSc Geology, 2007

Exploration Project Geologist

Hannah Goswell's Photo

After graduating from Southampton in 2007 I started work as an exploration geologist in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a former French colony in West Africa. I arrived in a desert mining town to join a team exploring for copper and gold, and was sent out mapping after a week on the job. I soon discovered that living and working in the Sahara is interesting to say the least, with temperatures reaching up to 50ºC, snakes, spiders and scorpions to contend with, vibrant sunrises, fascinating culture and some truly spectacular sandstorms!

Studying geology at Southampton provided me with an excellent skills base to handle both the theoretical and practical demands of my job.

Exploration work is hands-on, involving a diverse range of tasks from initial prospect delineation through to drilling of targets. My duties include data analysis, geological mapping, sample collection for geochemical analysis, planning and dealing with drilling programs, logging and sampling diamond drill core, report writing and a fair amount of driving around in the desert in a 4x4! I also assist with the training and supervision of the local geologists, which has improved my French and even taught me a little Arabic.

Being based at an operating mine site has provided the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into the mining industry. I have also undertaken mine-based work such as logging core from an open pit drilling programme. Working alongside the local employees at the mine are expatriates from around 30 different countries; this has presented endless opportunities to interact with people from all over the world.

Studying geology at Southampton provided me with an excellent skills base to handle both the theoretical and practical demands of my job. The numerous fieldwork units undertaken during my degree have been of particular value as much of the work takes place out of the office.

Being able to apply the knowledge and skills gained at university to real situations and problems is part of what makes exploration so rewarding, along with the variety of work experience, working outdoors, the dramatic scenery and the camaraderie of such a multicultural work force. As a result, my time spent working in Mauritania has been an adventure I will never forget.

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