Karla standing on a rocky beach holding a geologists pick

Karla Morales

Mineral Explorer: Treasure Hunter!

Masters Candidate, Economic Geology
College of Sciences and Engineering,
University of Tasmania

I didn’t even know what a geologist does until I was 18. After finishing high school, I wasn’t sure about the career I wanted to follow. The only thing I was sure of is that I love nature, and I wanted the world to be my office! My mom helped me out and arranged several interviews with professionals from different areas of science. Between them, I had the opportunity to meet a geologist who explained me for the first time what geology is actually about. It was a complete eye opener to me!

Geologists understand how mountains are formed, and why volcanoes and earthquakes occur just in certain parts of the world. We can get a lot of information just by looking at rocks! Because the rocks tell the story of how they were formed, and how they created the landscapes we see today, over unimaginably long timescales: millions and millions of years.

Since I am from Ecuador and it is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, I grew up next to volcanoes. Experiencing several earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. I knew that the Earth was constantly changing, and it was fascinating to understand the processes behind that!

After graduation, I found an incredible job in gold exploration. I got to see and describe rocks that came from up to 2 km below the surface and contained high amounts of copper and gold! It was a fantastic experience to be part of the discovery and the development of this project. I worked there for around three years. I learned a lot, but I decided that it was time to take another challenge in my life. So, I applied to study at UTAS and came to Hobart at the beginning of 2020!

I get to smash rocks in a big press for my research! I’m exploring the best way to crush rocks after we mine them to get most of the gold. This research will impact mining techniques worldwide! This is super exciting!