Why Study Geology?
Geology includes the study of the continents, the oceans, the atmosphere, and the Earth’s magnetic and gravitational fields. It encompasses the physical, chemical, and biological sciences, and is concerned with the Earth’s history and the processes operating in and on the Earth, including the formation of its surface features and the erosion and deformation of this surface. The more that is known about the Earth’s materials, formation, and structure the better we can appreciate, use, and preserve our planet. This understanding is at the heart of many economic, social, and environmental issues--oil and mineral exploration; safe disposal of industrial and municipal wastes; preservation of groundwater supplies; the choice of sites for dams, nuclear power plants, and high-rise buildings--issues that will become more complex as demands on the Earth and its resources increase.
Study in the discipline also can help students develop reasoning and analytical skills that can prove useful throughout their lives. Geology is an inductive science that requires creativity--geologists develop hypotheses, sort through the available data, and determine the most logical theory supported by that data. As they look at the evolution of the Earth, its animals, and their environments; the formation of microscopic crystals; the global movement of continents; the changes that have occurred over millions of years--they are constantly asking, What were the conditions when this occurred? Why did it happen? How?
The study of geology as part of a broader liberal arts and sciences education prepares students to become better informed citizens, able to make reasoned judgments that will guide the regulation, protection, and development of our environment in the coming century. In addition, a minor in geology can complement major study in a variety of other disciplines, from chemistry to political science.