Solution on the rocks
Saturday, 05 May 2012Sumber: http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/live/solution-on-the-rocks-1.80747
Three specialists tell Zuhaila Sedek how geology can be employed to solve environmental issues
FOR centuries, geology has enlightened us about the Earth we live on. But this study of the Earth can also be a powerful “detective” tool, offering clues on how we can help solve environmental problems.
We talk to two geologists, Seet Chin Peng and Dr Saim Suratman, and a specialist in engineering hydrogeology, Dr Azuhan Mohamed, about the role of geology in environment conservation. They will be speaking at the Conference on Groundwater, which is part of the outreach programme Geology Made Simple, organised by Institute of Geology Malaysia (IGM), on Tuesday and Wednesday at One World Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
“Geology allows us to strike a balance between getting what we want (from nature) and learning how to care for the environment,” says Seet, who is also the IGM coordinator.
The science of geology can be of help to, say, the property sector when it comes to building skyscrapers, says Saim. “By consulting a geologist (at the planning stage), one can determine whether the foundation is safe (for construction work) by looking at the type of rock, for example.” Failing which, he adds, the environment can be jeopardised and tragedies such as a landslide could happen.
Geology can also be used to help man find their wealth, for example, by determining the likelihood of a location to contain gold and oil, as well as fine-tune ways to better extract such natural resources.
Saim, who is also director of the Research Centre For Geohydrology at National Hydraulic Research Institute Of Malaysia (Nahrim), points out that geology can help in dealing with pollution by teaching one how to control the usage of natural resources.
“While geologists can help find natural resources, we have to keep in mind that mining work involves burning fossil fuels and too much of that can lead to global warming.”
Azuhan says Malaysia is blessed with having rain all year round and so it has plenty of underground water.
“Underground water is a source of water supply, which, if fully used, can help reduce the construction of dams,” explains the head of water resources at Erinco Sdn Bhd, a firm of consulting engineers and environmental consultants.
“People can use underground water by building wells. But to build a proper well, its geographical aspect has to be evaluated to determine whether the area is suitable for such a construction. Otherwise, the water in the well may get polluted by arsenic or the ground could gradually sink,” explains Azuhan, who is currently promoting the use of underground water in the country.
He adds: “The country, of course, needs to carry out a study on underground water before it can be practised on a mega scale.”
REAL-LIFE INDIANA JONES
Despite the important roles of geology, experts in this area are often overlooked. “They are the unsung heroes who work behind the scenes,” says Seet, adding that the profession would suit those who love the outdoors.
“We now have the term desktop geologist, a person who doesn’t go for field work and does everything at the desk only.
“When I was younger, I recall having to go into the jungles and carrying a special hammer and a compass. Now, there’s GPS and if we’re lost in the jungles, we can use the handphone to call for help.”
|(From left) Saim, Azuhan and Seet believe that by understanding geology, one can get to know the environment better|