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Geosciences Overview - Preparation - Industries - Day in the Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast -
Professional Organizations -
Profiles of Geoscientists - Overview PowerPoint - Podcast


Geoscientists 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.

Geoscientists 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.

Within 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.

Geosciences Resources

Online

Profiles of Geoscientists:
Interviews of Professionals
Overview:
Overview of the Geosciences
Preparation:
Top 10 Degree Fields, Top 10 Concentrations, Business and Economics, Field Work, Analytical Thinking
Industries:
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
Earnings:
Salaries and salary data
Employment:
Statistics, Locations, Employers
Career Path Forecast:
Future of the Geosciences, Job Outlook
Professional Organizations:
Resources, Networking, Support
Careers for Geoscientists Video:
42 minutes, introduces the breadth of scope of the geosciences: atmosphere, oceans, and the solid-Earth
Podcast:
Overview of Geosciences
Internet Resources:
American Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Geological Institute

AGI Geoscience Currents
Association for Women Geoscientists
Digital Library for Earth System Education
Earth Science Week
Earth Science World
Geological Association of Canada

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the American Geological Institute and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 


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