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The Academic Program

Geology and geophysics (GG) are important branches of the geosciences, which encompass the scientific study of Earth and other bodies in our solar system. Thus, the scope of the geosciences is extremely broad, and includes important ties to meteorology and oceanography.

The Earth and other planets are highly dynamic; geoscientists study the internal and surface changes that occur to decipher the fundamental causes of these changes. In turn, these studies shed light on the origin and evolution of Earth processes, the other planets, and, indeed, the entire solar system. The range of interest in the Earth and planetary sciences is from submarine volcanism to understanding our environment, from coastal erosion and sea level change to past oceanic, biotic, and climatic changes, from the origins of life to monitoring the earthquakes of active volcanoes, and from the composition of meteorites and Mars to the distribution of petroleum and water resources. The geosciences offer a richness in variety and unrivaled opportunity for multidisciplinary research on problems of great intellectual and practical importance.

Geology and geophysics have much to offer students curious about humankind’s place in nature. Undergraduate majors can look forward to expanding opportunities in the private and public sectors (e.g., the environment, hydrogeology). Such jobs offer incredible variety, the opportunity to work outdoors, and many opportunities for travel. Prospective undergraduates are strongly encouraged to build communication skills and a solid background of understanding in chemistry, physics, and mathematics as these disciplines are essential for solving the basic question about how Earth and other planets work. Students with graduate degrees (both MS and PhD) can look forward to interesting research careers in industry, government, or in colleges and universities. The intellectual rewards of basic geosciences research are comparable to such other exciting fields as biomedical research, particle physics, and cosmology. Geosciences have many exciting frontiers and challenges for the future including learning to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, discovering the history of Mars, understanding the forces that move the surface plates of Earth, and unraveling the history of Earth’s surficial processes both on land and in its oceans.

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