study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the
Earth, and the Earth's geologic past and present by using sophisticated
instruments to analyze the composition of earth, rock, and water. Many
geoscientists help to search for natural resources such as groundwater,
minerals, metals, and petroleum. Others work closely with environmental
and other scientists to preserve and clean up the environment.
usually study and work in one of several closely related geosciences
fields, including geology, geophysics, and hydrology. Geologists study
the composition, processes, and history of the Earth. They try to find
out how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their
formation. They also study the evolution of life by analyzing plant and
animal fossils. Geophysicists use the principles of physics,
mathematics, and chemistry to study not only the Earth's surface, but
also its internal composition, ground and surface waters, atmosphere,
oceans, and magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Hydrologists
study the quantity, distribution, circulation, and physical properties
of water and the water cycle.
these major geoscience fields, there are numerous subspecialties. For
example, petroleum geologists map the subsurface of the ocean or land as
they explore the terrain for oil and gas deposits. They use
sophisticated instrumentation and computers to interpret geological
information. Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to the
fields of civil and environmental engineering, offering advice on major
construction projects and assisting in environmental remediation and
natural hazard-reduction projects. Mineralogists analyze and classify
minerals and precious stones according to their composition and
structure, and study the environment surrounding rocks in order to find
new mineral resources. Sedimentologists study the nature, origin,
distribution, and alteration of sediments, such as sand, silt, and mud.
These sediments may contain oil, gas, coal, and many other mineral
deposits. Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations
to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history
of the Earth. Stratigraphers examine the formation and layering of rocks
to understand the environment which formed them. Volcanologists
investigate volcanoes and volcanic phenomena to try to predict the
potential for future eruptions and hazards to human health and welfare.
Glacial geologists study the physical properties and movement of
glaciers and ice sheets. Geochemists study the nature and distribution
of chemical elements in groundwater and earth materials.
Geophysicists specialize in areas such as geodesy, seismology, and
magnetic geophysics. Geodesists study the Earth's size, shape,
gravitational field, tides, polar motion, and rotation. Seismologists
interpret data from seismographs and other geophysical instruments to
detect earthquakes and locate earthquake-related faults. Geomagnetists
measure the Earth's magnetic field and use measurements taken over the
past few centuries to devise theoretical models that explain the Earth's
origin. Paleomagnetists interpret fossil magnetization in rocks and
sediments from the continents and oceans to record the spreading of the
sea floor, the wandering of the continents, and the many reversals of
polarity that the Earth's magnetic field has undergone through time.
Other geophysicists study atmospheric sciences and space physics.
Hydrologists often specialize in either underground water or surface
water. They examine the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of
infiltration into the soil, its movement through the Earth, and its
return to the ocean and atmosphere. Hydrologists use sophisticated
techniques and instruments. For example, they may use remote sensing
technology, data assimilation, and numerical modeling to monitor the
change in regional and global water cycles. Some surface-water
hydrologists use sensitive stream-measuring devices to assess flow rates
and water quality.
Oceanographers use their knowledge of geosciences, in addition to
biology and chemistry, to study the world's oceans and coastal waters.
They study the motion and circulation of ocean waters; the physical and
chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect
coastal areas, climate, and weather.
Geoscientists in research positions with the Federal Government or
in colleges and universities frequently are required to design programs
and write grant proposals in order to fund their research. Geoscientists
in consulting jobs face similar pressures to market their skills and
write proposals so that they will have steady work.
Interviews of Professionals
Overview of the Geosciences
Top 10 Degree Fields, Top 10 Concentrations, Business and
Economics, Field Work, Analytical Thinking
Descriptions of the five main career areas in Geology
Day in the Life:
Teams and Coworkers, Corporate Cultures, Career Self-management,
Selling Yourself, Gender, Diversity
Salaries and salary data
Statistics, Locations, Employers
Future of the Geosciences, Job Outlook
Resources, Networking, Support
minutes, introduces the breadth of scope of the
geosciences: atmosphere, oceans, and the solid-Earth
Overview of Geosciences
Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Geological Institute
for Women Geoscientists
Library for Earth System Education
Association of Canada
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by
American Geological Institute and the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.