Though we aren’t searching for gold, some of here in the Geo department do “rush” to California, but in search of a different mineral. Zircon is the keystone to much of the petrographic and volcanological research going on this summer. As Liz wrote earlier, there are different ways to get from a chunk of outcrop to the tiny zircon crystals that we can date.
When it comes to finding, extracting, and selling raw good materials, most companies are ruthless in their business tactics in order to maximize profits. Ruthless not against any other humans necessarily, but ruthless against the enviroment in their quest for resources. Mining, one of the most devastating actions against the surface of the Earth, is a necessity in order to find raw resources.