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Earth Sciences

About Earth Sciences

The Earth Sciences include the disciplines of geology, meteorology, oceanography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and the application of these disciplines in the environmental sciences. The department’s goals are to relate these disciplines to intelligent living with the earth and to understand the interplay between earth and humanity. Students are encouraged to obtain a scientific understanding of earth systems from the atomic to the planetary scale, and we study processes that occur over timescales that span seconds to billions of years.

Click here to view a short YouTube video explaining the importance of Earth Science.

In practice, the Earth Sciences also draw heavily on the allied fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology, in some cases to the extent that there exist sub-disciplines like geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and geophysics.

Some of the major themes of coursework and research in the Earth Sciences department include:

Mineralogy - formation, chemical and physical properties, and classification of minerals

Petrology - formation, properties, and classification of rocks

Sedimentology - genesis, transport, and deposition of sediment, and the formation of sedimentary rocks

Structural geology - deformation of earth materials and resulting geologic structures

Tectonics - regional to global-scale deformation and structures resulting from interactions among pieces of the Earth’s rigid outer layer, or lithosphere

Geomorphology - processes of landform evolution and landscape development

Hydrogeology - interrelationships of water and geologic materials and processes

Geochemistry - distribution and movement of chemical species in the Earth system

Oceanography - study of the planet’s oceans and marine systems

Updated 3.9.2009