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What Geologists Do

Geologists working with Dr. Greg Springer surveying a cave.
Geologists working with Dr. Greg Springer surveying a cave.

Careers in Geology

  • Environmental Geology is the fastest growing field in geology. Environmental geologists study threats to the environment and develop solutions to environmental problems. Topics include flooding, pollution, urban and sustainable development, and natural hazards.
  • Hydrogeology is one of the largest branches of geology. Hydrogeologists study how water moves through streams and rocks. Quite often hydrogeologists seek to increase water availability and minimize the spread of pollutants.
  • Paleontology is a fascinating area of geology that explores the history of life on Earth. Paleontologists investigate the relationship between organisms and their environment, how organisms cope with environmental changes, and their evolutionary relationships. Paleontologists help us understand how life has changed through time and how it will continue to change given global climatic changes.
  • Marine Geology is a fascinating field. Marine geologists study interactions between geology, marine biology, and oceanography. Imagine a career where you spend time on beaches, boats, and submersibles.
  • Planetary Geology is a growing field that focuses on such topics as meteor craters, volcanism on other worlds, possible life in icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and planet and moon histories.
  • Economic Geology is a large and lucrative field. Economic geologists seek profitable deposits of oil, gas, and minerals; and economic geologists determine how best to extract those valuables from the subsurface. Economic geologists perform investigations that involve many aspects of geology and they work all around the world.
  • Petroleum Geology is a large and lucrative field. Petroleum geologists identify oil and gas reserves, and they are deeply involved in the study of sediment deposition in oceans, folding and faulting of rocks, and Earth history. This field ties together all aspects of geology.
  • Paleoclimatology and Paleoceanography are two of the most important branches of geology because they provide insight into how the Earth might respond to global climate change. We can prepare for the future and lessen the effects of global climate change if we can understand how the Earth's climate and oceans have behaved through time.
  • Geomorphology is dedicated to the processes that sculpt the Earth's surface. Geomorphologists seek to understand how streams, landslides, glaciers, and wind sculpt the Earth's surface. They work in such diverse places as the Himalayan Mountains, Antarctica, and tropical jungles of South America.
  • Engineering Geology is another large and lucrative field. Engineering geologists examine the factors that influence man-made structures and certain hazards such as landslides. Engineering geologists may pave the way for construction of highways, dams, buildings, just about anything else you can think of.
  • There are many other branches of geology, which focus on such diverse topics as caves, fossils, volcanoes, glaciers, earthquakes, geophysics, rock and water chemistries, and minerals.