Matilda O’Connor

To think that the world is around 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans only live to a mere 80, blows my mind.

I am comparing brown coal in the Lower Rhine Embayment in Germany with La Trobe Valley brown coal in Victoria. Lithotype cycles in the brown coals of La Trobe Valley display well-developed lightening-upwards trends. I will be looking at these depositional successions in the German (Rhenish) brown coals to determine if they follow similar colour grading trends.

As part of my research I am going Germany to complete my fieldwork and take samples to bring back to Australia. I will be working alongside a German geologist (who speaks little English) in one of the brown coal mines just outside of Cologne, in a small medieval town called Bedburg. Although it will be challenging, I cannot wait for this experience; to actually look at the brown coal I have been reading about for so long, to improve my German and to work alongside someone who has been in the industry for many years.

I completed my undergraduate at the University of Melbourne, majoring in geology. Geology is a relatively small faculty at UniMelb, so getting to know the professors/lecturers is a lot easier. Because of this, I could discuss a range of projects with the academic staff and choose something that focused my interests.

Geology is truly a fascinating science; to think that the world is around 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans only live to a mere 80, blows my mind. I also love the outdoors and learning about the processes that have created the beautiful planet we live on. Understanding the earth’s history is important for the development of society both economically and environmentally. Because I am so passionate about earth sciences, I guess any job in geology would be a dream job. Obviously, my heart is in coal, so working alongside others who are passionate about coal would be amazing.

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