EurGeol of the month: Jaromír Tvrdý

“European Geologist of the month” is a section of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we talked to Jaromír Tvrdý, member of the Czech Geological Survey Association.

Jaromír Tvrdý (born 1959) is a graduate of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Charles University in Prague, where he obtained the title RNDr. (MSc.). After completing his studies he worked at the state-owned enterprise Geoindustria and after his demise in 1994 as an independent geologist. Since 2010, he works at the private company GET Prague. He works also as a freelance geologist at the National Geopark Egeria, which is a part of the cross-border Czech-Bavarian Geopark. Jaromír is a member of the Czech National Geological Committee, the Czech Geological Society, the European Clay Groups Association, the Czech Association of Engineering Geologists and the Council of National Geoparks. As a member of the Czech Association of Economic Geologists he obtained the EurGeol title in 2016.

Jaromír Tvrdý

EurGeol title number: 1384
Country: Czech Republic
In which country do you currently work? – Czech Republic
In which field of geology do you work? – Mineral deposits/Geological heritage

How would you explain to the average person what geology is and why it is important? – It is unbelievable how many people do not recognize geology from archaeology or geodesy. I have often heard the sigh “I would also like to be a geologist, work on excavations in Egypt and discover old tombs of pharaohs…” That’s why geology as a science deserves more attention and popularisation. Everybody should have basic knowledge about the evolution of our planet, its composition and processes. Geology – that is stones, water, volcanoes, raw materials, natural disasters and the resource for the human society development.

What inspired you to become a geologist? – My father was a teacher at a local primary school. He was a great biologist so I guess I inherited the interest in the nature, in plants, animals and stones. And the childhood passion for the minerals resulted in my professional career.

Have you been a geologist all your life? If not, what other job(s) have you done? – Since I graduated from university, I have been a geologist.

In which sector(s) did/do you work? – At the Charles University in Prague I studied geochemistry. After the studies, I have started immediately as a geologist, surveying ceramic raw materials. So I became an economic geologist. Later I also worked on projects devoted to geochemical prospecting, environmental and engineering geology as well as geohazards. Recently I am actively involved in the geopark project. One of its goals is to popularise the geological heritage, so I guess I am indirectly trying to explain people, what geology is.

What do you currently do in your job? Could you describe an average day? – As the head of the geological department of a private company I am responsible for about ten colleagues. Fortunately, they are very independent and so I can also focus on my own projects. I’m trying to divide my working day into administration, project work and into fieldwork. Unfortunately there is less and less time to spend in the field.

What’s your favourite part of your job? – Basically I’d rather wear a backpack than a tie. I could say that the geochemistry is still my favourite. It is fascinating to see, how the laboratory data correlates with field observations

What is your proudest accomplishment as a geologist? – I am a member of several national societies, but I never actually aimed for the highest positions. I am proud of the recognition that I received from the Ecuadorian Minister of Development, awarded for a participation in successful development cooperation project “Exploration and evaluation of volcanic materials suitable for the manufacture of dry masonry blocks”. I am delighted to see that our guides to the Czech-Bavarian Geopark are hopelessly sold out. But most of all I am happy and I appreciate that the mineralogical colleagues decided to name a new mineral Tvrdyite in my honour.

Could you explain when and why you applied for the European Geologist title? – I consider the European Geologist title as an important step in my professional carrier. A number of industrial minerals deposits in our country are exploited by multinational companies which, but not only these companies, appreciate compliance with European standards. And besides, I trust in the European idea. I own the title only since one year, so let’s see which interesting and positive possibilities it will result to me.

Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us about your experiences abroad? – I had an opportunity to work on several projects abroad. Most of them were projects of the Czech Republic’s Development Cooperation Program (mentioned in the article in the No 42 of the European Geologist Journal from December 2016) devoted to geohazards (Ecuador) and industrial minerals (Ecuador, Belize, Vietnam). However, the first and longest experience I have in Cuba, where I worked as the head of a geochemical group in the Cuban-Czechoslovak expedition “Escambray” in 1988-1990. For commercial projects, I worked briefly in Venezuela, Mali and Greenland. My experience in abroad is very good and I cannot complain on local partners. It is interesting, that the understanding of the foreign environment and cultures actually helps me to understand myself and to broaden the relationship with my homeland

What are your professional projects/aspirations in the future? – I’m thinking about PhD studies and also about giving lectures in geological sciences. However, recent workload does not allow me to do so.

There are fewer women working in geology than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in geology? – You prefer hiking boots or high heels? If the first, go ahead!

Why should young people consider a career in geosciences? – Someone has to explain to the public and politicians how does it really work on our planet. And by the way, the economic growth is still and will be dependent on exploitation of deposits, so you might be sure you won’t run out of work.

What kind of personal qualities do you need as a geoscientist? – Modesty, perseverance and curiosity. And in any case a positive relationship to nature. But geology is so diverse that almost everyone finds the interesting in it.

What does the European Federation of Geologists represent for you and what do you expect from our association? – The European Federation of Geologists guarantees, in my view, the professional competence. I expect that it will keep on requiring of the professional growth among its members as well as it will support (and organize) the promotional and educational activities.

Why does it matter to have a European, cross-border community of geologists? – The cross-border community of geologists is an amazing vision. Unfortunately, in today’s age of grants, where researchers are becoming clerks and officials have become researchers, the geologists from small private companies do not have as many opportunities as employees of state or public organisations. So the cross border community of geologist is an important body to keep the society coherent.

To know you a little better: What do you like to do in your spare time? – I’m actually incredibly busy at the office where I am now employed. Geopark activities and mineralogy thus remain my hobby. I also enjoy to work around the house and at the garden. Nothing is actually better that an own grown reddish, butter bread and a bit of pulverized halite.

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