Geo Profiles: Arve Rein Nes Sleveland
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
In our Geo Profiles series, we get in touch with sedimentologists working in the Nordic region, willing to tell a cool story about who they are, how they ended up where they are today and any advice they wish to impart to our community.
ln this geo profile we reached out to Arve Rein Nes Sleveland, to hear all about his career as a sedimentologist in academia and his transition into geotechnical engineering as an employee with Multiconsult.
Arve Rein Nes Sleveland, Geotechnical Engineer at Multiconsult (Photo private).
Arve, what is your background?
I studied geology to learn about the earth and its many geological processes. Ever since I was a child, I have had great interest and curiosity for how the earth works. This has been my prime motivation during my studies. I found particular interest in sedimentology because of inspiring professors and the way many sedimentary processes occur on the earth´s surface, making it easy to observe directly.
My PhD project was based on exploring distribution of sedimentary facies that form in marginal marine environments. Particularly deposits that were considerably influenced by fluvial, wave and tidal processes during deposition. The project was initiated and funded by Aker BP, as a result of an oil-discovery in such unconventional reservoir deposits in the North Sea. The project was aimed at understanding sedimentary processes governing sediment distribution and architecture, and thereby improving the understanding of reservoir quality. We carried out field work in Spain, England, USA and Argentina, were some of the studied rocks are suitable field analogues for the North Sea prospect. We combined field work data with seismic and well data from the North Sea to better the understanding of process distribution.
Today, I work as a geotechnical engineer at Multiconsult, a profession I have had since 2020. In order to do so, I went through further education in geotechnical engineering for two semesters at NTNU Trondheim (parallel to working).
What was your motivation to work as a geotechnical engineer?
Next to going to outstandingly beautiful locations for field work, I really liked how academia let me pursue and nurture my personal scientific curiosity and interest in geology and sedimentology. However, at the end of my PhD project I started to miss the feeling of my work having a direct impact to society and people around me. In geotechnical engineering, I use my knowledge of sedimentary deposits and architecture, together with geotechnical calculation methods to deal with the mechanical properties of soil.
This is used for planning foundations for different kinds of constructions and to evaluate slope stability and the risk of landslides. I find geotechnics particularly interesting in itself, and I find great motivation in seeing how my work has a direct impact on the development of society.
Replacing an unstable 8 m tall rock wall, at the bottom of a 45 m tall steep slope. (Photo private).
What is a typical working week like for you?
A typical work week is a mix between independent office work, planning foundations for constructions, and cross-disciplinary project status and discussion meetings, mostly online. Some projects involve on-site follow-up, meaning that in some weeks you will not spend all your hours inside the office. In some cases, we are called out to emergency events of e.g. landslides, to evaluate remaining risk and damage to infrastructure and buildings.
This slope caused several small landslides onto the road for several years. This project secured slope stability and protection against the surface erosion on the slope. (Photo private).
What do you enjoy the most in your current job?
Besides what I wrote on motivation, I enjoy being part of a large company with many interesting projects. The projects vary in both content and duration, meaning that the work is dynamic, and that no week is the same. I also like having many experienced colleagues from whom I can learn.
How did you experience the transition from academia to your current job?
The transition has been fine, filled with both similarities and differences to working in academia. Depending on the size and parts of a project, I can work both independently and together with colleagues, but there is more collaboration than what I had in academia. There are more deadlines for deliverables, both final deadlines for short and small projects, and consecutive deadlines for larger projects. These are all differences that I like personally, making the transition from academia easy. Similarities I can think of are primarily the way you need to work methodically and analytically with a given dataset to find a solution to a given challenge or problem.
"Your specific choice of study direction does not completely limit your available choices to line of work. An academic degree in geosciences, especially a master's degree, opens a wide range of available jobs."
Are there any particular challenges or difficulties in your job?
As an early career geotechnical engineer, there is much to be learned in geotechnics, but what I find most challenging right now is to navigate between different laws, rules and regulations that apply to the specific projects I am part of. These vary and can be different depending on if your project involves e.g. roads, buildings, marine geotechnics, railways or energy. Nevertheless, I am happy that I have many experienced colleagues that support and guide me in the different fields of geotechnics. That is absolutely crucial.
To what extent are you using knowledge and skills obtained during your studies and previous jobs?
I use my knowledge of sedimentary composition and architecture when assessing ground conditions, and interpretations of stratigraphic layering and their lateral extent. Scientific writing and to work methodically and analytically is perhaps the most important academic skills I use.
Another great locality for field work during my PhD-project. From the Nequén region of western Argentina. (Photo: I. Midtkandal)
What would be your advice to other young sedimentologists that are interested in working outside of academia or the petroleum industry?
Your specific choice of study direction does not completely limit your available choices to line of work. An academic degree in geosciences, especially a master's degree, opens a wide range of available jobs. My experience is that the governing factor is your personal motivation and interest in the work you would like to get.