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College of Arts & Sciences

Geological Sciences Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor's Degrees
Minor

Caves, Mountains, Water, Energy, Earthquakes, Fossils…

Imagine the outdoors—including the hills and streams around Athens—as your classroom. Or a summer field camp with classmates in Wyoming. Or studying the balance between mining and restoration. Or exploring caves or finding fossil evidence of the earth's past. Or learning about energy and the earth's future.

Undergraduate geology students at Ohio University get to work in the field with renowned faculty as well as doing their own work on senior thesis projects. One Class of 2013 senior did his thesis on baseline radon concentrations in groundwater in Southeast Ohio, and another investigated the origin of rocks at Stone Mountain and Indian Springs. Several students worked on an NSF project to create a digital museum of Cincinnatian fossils. Another student traveled to Michigan to present her research work on lakes in Kenya. Several undergraduate students received grants to support their research and fieldwork. Read more about undergraduate research opportunities in Geological Sciences.

Undergraduate Coordinator: Dr. Eung Seok Lee

Why Choose Geology?

  • Are you interested in travel?
  • Do you enjoy the outdoors?
  • Do you find nature interesting?
  • Are you concerned about the environment?
  • Are you concerned about global climate change?
  • Are you interested in oil or minerals, or the money associated with them?
  • Do you like to know how and why things work?
  • Have you ever wondered about the history of the Earth or Moon?

If you answered, "Yes" to many or all of the questions above then geology might be the major for you.

What Are the Geological and Environmental Sciences?

Fundamentally, geology is the study of the Earth. This includes rocks and fossils, but also groundwater, streams, oceans, natural hazards, and environmental issues. Many of these are viewed in the context of plate tectonics, which explains why earthquakes and volcanoes are found in particular locations and helps us forecast future changes in the oceans, atmosphere, and ecosystems. On the economic front, modern civilization would not exist without the many earth materials mined and extracted from its surface and underground. The most valuable is by far petroleum, but geologists also seek the rare earth elements used in cellphones, displays, computers, and solar cells. Modern technology would quickly cease to exist if geologists stopped finding new rare earth deposits. So, whether you consider environmental remediation or rare earth mining, geology is a very practical science.

The environmental sciences generally focus on applied issues related to human interactions with the Earth and its ecosystems. These interactions are physical, chemical, and biological. As a result, the environmental sciences draw upon the whole of geology, as well as biology, chemistry, and atmospheric sciences. Environmental geologists deal with the positive and negative aspects of the interactions. On the positive side, environmental geologists seek the most efficient, low-impact means to obtain freshwater for human use. On the negative side, these scientists try to contain and correct groundwater pollution problems. Those are only two of the many tasks given to environmental geologists and the field is continually growing and expanding.

At the program level, coursework differs between geological and environmental science majors. Geology majors take advanced courses in earth materials (e.g., rocks), long-term evolution of earth's physical, chemical, and biological systems, and our planet's interior workings. Environmental majors take a different suite of advanced courses. These include courses in the flow of water underground and surface and subsurface waters chemistries. Importantly, geology and environmental majors can take each other's advanced courses as electives.

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