“Practical Geology” Changes How We See Earth in Everyday Life

new series transforms the natural world around us

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

Geology involves how our world is formed, from beaches to volcanoes. Mountain ranges, rivers, and other geological structures tell a rich tale about Earth’s history. A new Wondrium series explains day-to-day geology.

Dr. James F.P. Cotter
In the Wondrium series Practical Geology, Dr. James F. P. Cotter teaches the fundamentals of field geology, including the basics of rocks, minerals, and landforms. Photo by Wondrium

Every single rock on Earth—from pebbles in a creek to mountainous boulders—has a story that includes a violent explosion or cacophonous crashing of two or more solid masses. Geology tells us all that and much more. Geology is really the study of Earth’s formation and composition. Subjects such as layers of strata that make up mountains, why rivers flow how they do, how glaciers form, and the average kitchen countertop are all geological wonders.

Wondrium’s new video series Practical Geology makes sense of the world we see all around us and help viewers look at Earth in a whole new way. Derek Knight, Wondrium supervising producer, outlined the series in a recent interview.

The Ground Around

“This series really is practical in the sense that it covers a wide array of topics that are a little bit more down to Earth or more generalized than just coming at it from the scientific perspective,” Knight said. “Say you’re hiking and you’re curious what these mountains are made of or how they were shaped this way, the series helps you sound like an expert when you’re hiking with your friends or family. ‘This is a quartz rock here; this is granite here.'”

Of course, geology extends far beyond naming rocks. Knight, who served as senior producer for Practical Geology, said the series covers how oil develops and is drilled, how to find gemstones, how to search for fossils, and more. He mentioned that just days before our interview, he went to a fossil beach with his wife to search for ancient shark teeth and had a new appreciation for the beach after learning from the series where sand comes from.

“It has a broader appeal than just a strictly scientific approach,” he said.

Never Take a Teacher for Granite

The series is presented by Dr. James F. P. Cotter, Professor of Geology at the University of Minnesota, Morris. According to Knight, Dr. Cotter and the production team wanted to give viewers as much of a “hands-on” feel to Practical Geology as possible, despite it being a video series.

“[Dr. Cotter] brought dozens and dozens of rock samples so that he could hold them in his hands and show you ‘This is what it looks like,'” he said. “I really liked working with him; he’s a very down-to-Earth guy who clearly has a passion for geology and introducing people to geology. So, he’d talk to you like you’re a new student of his that he’s just bringing you into his world of loving rocks.”

Knight cited Dr. Cotter’s experience in the field alone and with students, offering practical information for the budding geologist. At one point in the series, he lists the clothes to wear, as well as the tools and other items to bring along, if a viewer decides they want to go look for fossils or look at rock formations.

Practical Geology is now available for streaming on Wondrium.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily