Baylor University
Department of Geosciences
College of Arts and Sciences

What is geology?

Geology is a very broad area of the natural sciences that is primarily concerned with the materials, physical/chemical processes, and developmental history of the Earth and its major systems: biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and deep interior. Through the fields of planetary and space science, geology includes the rest of the Solar System and beyond within its sphere of interest.

Geology is an integrative field of science that utilizes or overlaps with other primary fields of quantitative inquiry such as physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, atmospheric sciences, and engineering (materials science, civil engineering, ceramics, et cetera).

Geology has many inter-related subdisciplines, including mineralogy and crystallography, geophysics (seismology, potential fields, remote sensing, et cetera), geochemistry, paleontology (vertebrate, invertebrate, micropaleontology, palynology, paleoenvironmental research, et cetera), petrology (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary), volcanology, glaciology, stratigraphy, structural geology, geochronology, geomorphology, soil science, engineering geology, hydrogeology, surface-water hydrology, geodynamics and plate tectonics, economic geology, petroleum geology, planetary geology, and oceanography.

References and suggested reading

Brown, G.C., Hawkesworth, C.J., and Wilson, R.C.L., [editors], 1992, Understanding the Earth, a new synthesis: Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 551 p., ISBN 0-521-42740-1.

Duff, D., [editor], 1993, Holmes' Principles of physical geology [4th edition]: London, Chapman and Hall, 791 p., ISBN 0-412-40320-X.

Emiliani, C., 1992, Planet Earth -- cosmology, geology, and the evolution of life and environment: Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 719 p., ISBN 0-521-40949-7.

Ernst, W.G., [editor], 2000, Earth systems processes and issues: Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 566 p., ISBN 0-521-47895-2.

Jacobson, M.C., Charlson, R.J., Rodhe, H., and Orians, G.H., 2000, Earth system science from biogeochemical cycles to global change: San Diego, California, Academic Press, 527 p., ISBN 0-12-379370-X.

Mathez, E.A., and Webster, J.D., 2004, The Earth machine -- the science of a dynamic planet: New York, Columbia University Press, 335 p., ISBN 0-231-12578-X.

Verhoogen, J., Turner, F.J., Weiss, L.E., Wahrhaftig, C., and Fyfe, W.S., 1970, The Earth -- an introduction to physical geology: New York, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 748 p., SBN 03-079655-5.

The information on this page was written and approved by the faculty of the Geology Department at Baylor University.