Studies & Degrees in Geology
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Geology Study Programs
Geology, a term derived from the Greek words ge meaning “earth” and logia which means “knowledge of”, is the science that focuses on the planet we live in. Geology is concerned with the planet Earth’s origins, its material composition, the forces around it, and its possible future. It belongs to the group of related fields commonly known as the earth sciences. What sets geologists apart is mainly the fact that they are primarily concerned with materials that comprise the surface of the earth, such as rocks, fossils, among others. This is actually why geologists integrate physics, chemistry, and the other natural sciences into their studies; hence, there are geological fields such as geochemistry, geophysics, just to name a few. Although the earth sciences have separate focal points, they all, naturally coincide. Apart from Geology, there are fields like Hydrology, which concentrates on the earth’s waters; Cartography, which involves plotting and measuring the earth’s surface; and others more.
The Geology program does not only involve training on the different techniques for the study of landforms and other features of the earth, but also its intrinsic and interior characteristics. Geology, like a lot of other sciences, actually developed from the many Grecian and Roman philosophers and their respective schools of thought. Just to illustrate, many of the mythological gods are actually associated with geological concepts, like Hephaestus or more commonly known as Vulcan.
The Geology course also includes the history of the earth, the origins of planet itself and the life that is found only in it. Graduates of the program have the option to specialize on any of the various physical or historical subfields of Geology.
Physical Geology revolves around the processes and physical forces that affect the earth’s surface as well as the internal characteristics and activities that also play a part in shaping its exterior. On the other hand, Historical Geology studies the earth with respect to time, including its origin and evolution. Some branches are:
Geochemistry is primarily concerned with the origins and progression of rocks, minerals, water forms, and, generally, the earth’s elements, just to cite a few. Mineral Exploration is the emerging field of application of this body of knowledge.
Petrology is involved with practically anything about rocks, predominantly those of the igneous and metamorphic nature. Petrologists observe a diverse range of phenomena like the melting of rocks, sedimentation, igneous processes, re-crystallization of minerals, weathering and erosion, and various others. This is why Petrology branches out to other subjects as well, such as Sedimentary Petrology.
Mineralogy, as the name implies, deals with both with the minerals found on the earth’s surface as well as those outside its boundaries (atmosphere). Objects of study in this science include origins, composition and properties of not only the common elements such as nickel or silver ores, but also lunar samples and meteorites. Economic Mineralogy, one of the emerging fields of study, links this science with practical and industrial importance.
Structural Geology was originally concerned with evaluating and analyzing the changes in sedimentary strata and other deformation phenomena. Nowadays, this subject is generally concerned with formations and deformations of rocks. This field has several other branches, and likewise approaches, that focus only on certain occurrences. These include Comparative Structural Geology, which uses a macro point of view in observation and analysis; and other theoretical approaches that use the micro point of view, going down to the details and the microscopic levels of rocks and minerals.
Sedimentary Geology, from the name itself, deals with sedimentary deposits, terrestrial deposits or fossils of plants and animals, minerals, and the like. Sedimentary Geology is closely linked with other fields of study such as Marine Geology, Environmental Geology, Mineralogy, among others.
Paleontology, also associated with Anthropology, is the practically the study of prehistoric life. This field deals with the remains of plants and animals, which are more commonly recognized as fossils. This field has a lot of influence on Geomorphology or the roughly, the earth’s evolution of form.
Graduates of the Geology program specialize in one or more of the abovementioned fields and apply their collective knowledge in various areas. One of the emergent career areas is Engineering Geology, where geologic principles are utilized in investigating and afterwards, improving environmental conditions.