Earth and Ocean Sciences

Geology Program

What is Geology?

Conception Volcano NicaraguaGeology is the study of the Earth through applications of basic scientific principles to Earth processes and materials. Geologic studies embrace all parts of the Earth from its deep interior to its surface including the continents, oceans, ocean floor and atmosphere. Geology is unique among the natural sciences because it deals with enormously long periods of time, and must place the events that formed and modified the Earth over the last 4.5 billion years into proper chronological order to interpret past events in Earth history and to predict future events. This search for understanding of the Earth's past, present, and future requires insight, intuition, creativity, and a solid grasp of basic physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics.

Geologists work in the field and laboratory gathering and interpreting data about the Earth. By increasing our understanding of the Earth, geologists strive to improve the quality of human life by promoting informed and responsible management of natural resources. As nearly all geological studies involve field and laboratory work, a geologist must be an individual who enjoys working outdoors and who can utilize the latest technological advances. Geologists study natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions, landslides, earthquakes, and floods to learn how they occur, how to predict them, and how to avoid and minimized their devastating effects. They investigate the formation, exploration, exploitation, and management of natural resources, especially energy, mineral and water resources. Geologists must also examine all the complex, interrelated systems that produce long and short term global changes such as climatic warming and sea-level rise. Geologists travel the globe in their endeavors to study the Earth.

UNCW Career Center: Careers in Geology