Hydrogeologist

Harmony Farnsworth, Age 29,
Hydrologist @ SRK Consulting – Reno, NVc4

What did you get your degree in?
I started at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and transferred to University of Nevada, Reno where I got my Bachelors & Masters in Hydrogeology.

Why Hydrogeology?
In my undergraduate degree, I studied geology and I got introduced to the ground water world. I started working with a group called Student Association for International Water Issues (SAIWI) who sends volunteers to developing countries to drill water wells. In Panama I built above ground composting latrines and in Kenya I manually drilled water wells for the communities near Lake Turkana. That had nothing to do with mining at the time, but I wanted to stay local and the mining industry offered several jobs working in hydrogeology.

What are your job responsibilities?
Part of my job is analyzing aquifer characteristics via air lifting and packer isolated tests. I sample and analyze the groundwater before, during and after a mine opens and monitor it throughout the lifespan of the mine.

What is airlifting?
You take a large pipe and put it into a hole where the aquifer is and attach an air compressor to it. The air displaces the water and you can calculate aquifer parameters such as hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity and essentially how permeable the aquifer is.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love being outside. I am not stuck in an office every day, majority of the time I am out in the field. And Nevada is awesome!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
When things aren’t going the way they are planned and you have to improvise.

What’s your advice to new hydrogeologists?
I would tell them to get involved in some kind of organization like SAIWI or other campus groups and work on projects, Companies look for people who have experience so having an internship or being active in an organization helps.

What the best part about working in the mining industry?
Thing are always changing so you don’t get bored. You have to keep up with new mines, technologies and regulations all the time. In the US, there are a plethora of laws and regulations that give mining companies guidelines to protect the water. Some mining companies follow these regulations no matter where they are and hopefully third world countries will follow.