Day 31, Jaime and the Geology

Hello, my name is Jaime Urrutia and am one of the companies that make up the Rio Suerte SA I’m in the business to help develop mining in every way in Guatemala. I have experience in the areas of geology, exploration, environmental impact, mapping, mining laws, mining and document writing applications, technical reports, reports of exploration and exploitation, mitigation studies, among other things related to mining and geology in general.

Why geology and mining?

coleccion de rocasI chose to work in geology and mining because since childhood I liked the stones. When I was a kid my dad, who was an expert agronomist, government managed farms and was a rock hound. In the days when he grew up way back in the 20’s had not yet geology schools or anything like that so he studied agronomy and in that branch have to study soils and soil types. In the 50’s he specialized in forestry techniques and pest control, but at the same time also had a hobby of collection of all kinds of rocks, rocks from around the country. Came to collect up to 1000 different types of rocks and each made ​​him his name, and he took pictures (pictures that he revealed, had a home photo lab). And to soil studies and compared with the rocks he found.

One day he took me to the field, He was talking about soil types that we saw, the rocks that surfaced around, that almost everything we saw as dust and dirt had little particles contained gold, silver and iron. And I wondered … if you could gather all those tiny little particles could be gathered much gold, and asked if it could be possible,, and he said yes but that therefore needed instruments and science and that science called geology …

Later myself I started collecting rocks, in high school in the early grades showed to one of my teachers my collection and the teacher who asked me: Why not study geology, of course, my collection was not as great as my dad did not because I almost never go out of Antigua (unless I would collect all the stones from the streets of Antigua …) But in those days could not be anything other than studying for Teacher or an accountant and I decided to study for Teacher of children.

Difficulties in studying Geology

LOGO USAC LENTSStudying geology in Guatemala is a bit difficult. This career exists only in a university and only one place: Coban. After I finished my studies to become a teacher of children, had to continue studying at university. I wanted to be an engineer geologist but the options I had in college were others. In the capital city had many choices: medicine, law, architecture, veterinary science, communication sciences, economics, biology, you name it … except geology. The closest career was a type of engineering such as chemical engineering or agronomy maybe … but did not want to repeat what my dad … then the first year I took Medicine … to be a doctor … but I wanted to be a doctor for the planet earth, not for the people … but I studied three years … I even made medical practice in the city, but … then my dad died and as he was the one who paid for my studies at the University, after his death I could not continue studying.. … I had to start working … My age then … 21 years …

…another Beginning

rayos-x3After my father died, I stopped going to college. I started working in a hospital, the National Hospital Antigua Guatemala. I had night shifts, every other night … in the X-ray department During the day I worked as a Spanish teacher in a school so I had two jobs. Then for three years working so. Those years were more partiers, not thinking about my future, only worked during the day, night and went out every night to bars, clubs, parties … but deep down I wanted to be more.

And still living at my mom’s house … Then she married again, and what a surprise, my stepfather Ken, an American, also had his collection of rocks and not only that, he had been a miner in his country.

Shortly after resign from my job at the hospital and decided to travel to Coban to study geology. Over there could be possible, study in the afternoons and evenings at the university and in the morning could be possible, teach Spanish and do my homework. I went alone with my clothes and a bag of illusions … and a little money in the bank, I was 24 years old …

On the way to Coban

bus a cobanIt was January 10, 1984. It was very cold in the morning and had to take a bus to Guatemala City. Then I had to tranship in the city to another bus that would take me to my destination: Coban. Wearing clothes in my suitcase, transcripts from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, with respective transfer my place and career. Studies had done in medicine, some classes would be useful to serve in my new career, but not many. Classes such as biology, chemistry, physics and statistics were would not have to take in Geology

I sat on the side of the window to see the scenery. I’ve never gone that far. The landscape changes along the way … upland to low and from low to high … climate from cold to hot to cold and heat … road cuts showed formations that had not seen before, especially phyllites, feldspar, limestone, granite, tuff, quartz … a world of rocks on the side of the road. Next to me sat an Indian woman but very white skin and very blond hair, was Coban and descendant of Germans who had populated part of Coban in the early twentieth century. It was very nice and we started talking. I told her I was going and she told me that some of her ancestors from Germany had engaged exploit minerals, among other things.

…another Life

coban main squareIn Coban life is not very different from life in Antigua. The city is a little bigger, more people and houses are bigger. The climate is very similar except that it rains more. When I arrived I did not know anyone. I stayed in a family home where I had a room, 3 meals and a family. They had another room where was staying a student of Spanish school where I worked. I worked from 8 am to 12 pm at the school. Then I went to the University from 2.15 pm to 7.15 pm. The first year became routine. Work in the morning, studying in the afternoon. Doing homework and sleep at night. Was not very difficult this year because some classes that I had already won in the medicine so I had to take only 4 classes. I don`t know, but I think in Guatemala to the majority love the holidays: drinking, smoking, dancing, music … Yet there are grounds for celebration. But I had to study and be a good student, almost never went out except some weekends. We went with classmates to Semuc Champey, Lankin caves, markets, country fields.. …
and we discussed each output always about geology, love and music … of course, all were studying geology.

(to be continued…)



Now I talk a little about the geological heritage in general and Guatemala.


Satellite Image of the Sierra Madre mountains chain, Guatemala

The geological heritage is an important part of our natural heritage. It consists of a set of locations and geological features of special relevance, known sites of geological interest (SGIs) or Points of Geological Interest (PIGs). The SGIs ordered in inventories or catalogs, although the latter term is usually reserved for inventories that have been officially approved (by order, decree or law).

More specifically, the geological heritage is “the set of geological resources of scientific, cultural and / or educational, whether geological formations and structures, landforms, minerals, rocks, fossils, soils and other geological events let you know, study and interpret the origin and evolution of the Earth and the processes that have shaped it. “It also includes collections of fossils and minerals that constitute the so-called geological heritage furniture.

This definition removes the breadth of the concept of geological heritage. It is therefore common thematic studies are performed with certain aspects of the geology and the equity. So, often used terms like paleontological heritage, geomorphological heritage, mineralogical heritage, etc., All understood as constitutive of geological heritage in its broadest sense.

The ultimate goal of the study is geological heritage conservation and ensure ease of use and enjoyment.

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

In Guatemala the study of geological heritage has not yet reached its peak. Most studies that have been done are by commercial interests from Guatemalan and foreign companies but the National Geographic Institute (former military) has studied the geological heritage of which have been printed several geological maps, in collaboration with international aid agencies from countries such as Japan, Germany, Korea, USA, Brazil and Canada.

For a given area is taken into account as a place of geological interest, must present scientific, cultural and / or educational, and even a scenic or recreational interest. But what is usually valued primarily scientific value, ie, the information provided there recompose when the geological history of the area or to illustrate the operation of a particular geological process. So usually valued rarity, scarcity, uniqueness or representativeness within the geology of the area, among other endpoints.

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

There are different ways to value a Geological sight. Usually done using tables with the values ​​assigned to each sites of geological interest in terms of three parameters: intrinsic value, potential use and risk of degradation, ie its scientific interest, the use that may be made of this place and the risk exists that is degraded or even destroyed. That’s what allows you to compare different SGIs and, above all, direct the management to ensure better conservation and use.

The geological heritage includes places that provide more and better information about the evolution and functioning of our planet. So this is the “memory of the Earth”, a unique record of the events that have taken place and have along history of the Earth, which has been recorded in the rocks. Research on geological heritage is to investigate the origin and evolution of the Earth and discover the meaning of geological landscapes we see today. Therefore, the study of geological heritage is useful for science and for society: to identify the geological richness of the territory and helps focus the preservation and dissemination of this heritage both specialized public and society in general. The Declaration of Digne or “Rights Memory of Earth” explains the importance of geological heritage as a common good.

CoralesOne goal of studying geology and practice is to preserve those places that may be discovered. And still a lot to discover. The party business or commercial exploitation and exploration is good, is what feeds us, but more importantly I think is the preservation of a percentage of those places geologically rare for the future and do not miss.


The term geodiversity parallels that of biodiversity, in the sense of wealth or geological variety a measurable objective indicators. A definition of geodiversity is “the variety of geological features, including rocks, minerals, fossils, soils, landforms, geological formations and units and landscapes exist in an area and you are the product and record the evolution of the Earth” .

So will be the consideration geodiversity records the history of the Earth as a giant “jigsaw puzzle”, with millions of pieces that are not always easy to find and fit and you can miss several. So how many more pieces of this “puzzle” has a region more geodiversity will. Geodiversity contemplate the time periods represented in the rocks of that territory (different ages of the rocks), different types of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, and any other geological feature.

Guatemala, a Geodiversal Country

A glance at the Geological Map of Guatemala reflects the geological diversity of our country. In fact, Guatemala is one of the countries of Central geodiversos. The variety of lithologies outcropping, representing different paleoenvironments and paleoclimates, diverse geomorphological, tectonic structures and mineral deposits and fossil of virtually all types and geological periods (among other things), make Guatemala a geological mosaic in which diversity is a singular value. This geodiversity is a result of complex and extensive geological history of the country and own faults and plate tectonics, volcanism and mountainous geography like the mountain ranges Madre and Chuacús among others, especially over the last 700 million years.

The geological heritage is a common good, is part of the natural wealth of our planet. The destruction of the places of geological interest is almost always irreversible, so prevention and planning are essential. Geological heritage conservation is also a responsibility destruction left to future generations without the possibility of understanding, and enjoyment. Therefore, we should not consider ourselves owners but custodians of this heritage we have inherited and that we must preserve for future generations. So the management of geological heritage as an important part of the natural and cultural heritage is a reflection of an advanced society, responsible and respectful of the environment. This management and conservation must be both specific (unique geological heritage) as being implanted into broader nature conservation.

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