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 goal of the Department of Earth Sciences is 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:

Geochemistry distribution and movement of chemical species in the Earth system
Geoinformatics (including GIS) the science and the technology which develops and uses information science infrastructure to address the problems of geography, geosciences and related branches of engineering
Geomorphology processes of landform evolution and landscape development
Hydrogeology interrelationships of water and geologic materials and processes
Mineralogy formation, chemical and physical properties, and classification of minerals
Oceanography study of the planet’s oceans and marine systems
Paleontology study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of fossils
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