Geology and Geophysics

The Geology and Geophysics (G&G) program prepares students to apply scientific principles and methods in order to understand Earth, the environment, and life on a regional and planetary scale. Teaching and research cover subjects ranging from the history of Earth and life to present-day environmental processes; integrating the study of Earth’s deep interior, tectonic plates, oceans, atmosphere, climate, land surface, natural resources, and biota. The curriculum emphasizes the employment of basic principles from the core sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) to understand Earth’s past and present and to address issues relating to its future. Majors focus on planetary or environmental phenomena of particular interest by choosing a specific track which can be changed on an informal basis. The B.S. tracks include atmosphere, ocean, and climate; environmental and energy geoscience; solid Earth science; or paleontology and geobiology. The B.A. tracks in geology and natural resources. The Geology and Geophysics department also offers a combined major with the Physics department that leads to a B.S. in Physics and Geosciences.

Several introductory G&G courses have no college-level prerequisites. Each of these courses offers a rigorous introduction to an aspect of the Earth and planetary sciences:

  • G&G 010, Earth, Resources, Energy, and the Environment
  • G&G 100, Natural Disasters
  • G&G 105, Energy Technology and Society
  • G&G 110, Dynamic Earth
  • G&G 115, Earth System Science
  • G&G 125, History of Life
  • G&G 140, Atmosphere, Ocean, and Environmental Change
  • G&G 205, Natural Resources and Their Sustainability
  • G&G 215, Global Warming: The Carbon Cycle
  • G&G 240, Forensic Geoscience

Students with college-level mathematics and physics, but no geology can enroll in an intermediate geophysics course such as:

  • G&G 322, Physics of Weather and Climate
  • G&G 326, Introduction to Earth and Planetary Physics
  • G&G 335, Physical Oceanography

Those with college-level chemistry may be prepared for:

  • G&G 220, Petrology and Mineralogy
  • G&G 261, Minerals and Human Health
  • G&G 280, Organic Geochemistry

Those with college-level preparation in mathematics, physics, and chemistry may elect:

  • G&G 274, Fossil Fuels and Energy Transitions
  • G&G 275, Renewable Energy
  • G&G 319, Introduction to the Physics and Chemistry of Earth Materials

Students major in G&G for different reasons. Some continue on to research, consulting, or industrial careers in earth and planetary sciences. The broad scientific training provided by the major also prepares students for a wide variety of other paths, including medicine, law, public policy, and teaching.

Interested freshmen should focus both on gaining direct experience in the G&G program and on fulfilling at least some of the science prerequisites for the major. Many majors complete their prerequisites concurrently with the G&G courses.

Considerable flexibility exists in the major. Students are encouraged to consult with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) about programs of study.