Auburn University - Department of Geosciences

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In our department, we divide the geosciences into two degree programs, although faculty and students interact in both teaching and research.

GEOLOGY is the study of the Earth, including its materials, processes, and history. Basic materials studied are rocks, minerals, and fossils. Also included are resources such as metals, gemstones, fossil fuels, and groundwater. Processes are those found deep within the Earth where temperatures and pressures are high, as well as those that take place under low-temperature, low-pressure conditions at the Earth's surface, where organic as well as inorganic processes are found. The history of the planet is recorded in rock and mineral products and in the record of life as preserved by fossils.

Because of the wide range of materials and processes studied, geology is very interdisciplinary. For example, those geologists interested in chemical processes and products are known as geochemists, researchers who apply physics to answer geological problems are geophysicists, paleobiologists employ a more biologic background to study the fossil record, etc. Furthermore, the Earth is currently viewed as a system made up, not only rocks and fossils, but the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere as well. Today, geologists are applying the results of research on planet Earth to other heavenly bodies. This is the area known as planetary geology or astrogeology.

Throughout the history of geology, research findings have been applied to the economic needs of our society. Geology graduates find employment in the oil and gas industry, in mining, in Earth-surface and subsurface water (hydrology), and in environmental concerns such as pollution and remediation of environmental hazards.

GEOGRAPHY is the science dealing with the areal differentiation of the earth's surface, as shown in the character, arrangement, and interrelations over the world of such diverse elements as climate, soil, vegetation, population, land use, culture, industries, states, and of the unit areas formed by the complex of these individual elements. (noun). Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Geography is the study of the distribution of phenomena over the surface of the earth. The study of geography has three main disciplinary focuses: people, place and identity; earth, and environment; and Geographic Information Science (GIS). Although geography encompasses many fields, the basic goal of geography is to identify the characteristics of a place to determine how it functions (population, culture, resources, landforms, climate, etc...), and how it relates to, or compares with, other places. This may sound like a simple task, but be forewarned the world is full of complex patterns, processes, and relationships. Thus geographers are among the leaders in using GIS, Remote Sensing, qualitative and quantitative methods in our efforts to identify and explain "spatial patterns" around the world. Given the changing nature of our world, geography provides an assortment of skills and tools to help you understand your place in our complex, globalized, multicultural society and geography provides a knowledge base which will help you to take advantage of all our world has to offer.

Source: Department Website August 2016

Additional Info

  • Department Name: Department of Geosciences
  • Disciplines and Research Areas: Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Human Geography, Physical Geography, Regional Geography, Remote Sensing, Cartography, Geology, Economic Geology, Geochemistry, Geomorphology, Geophysics, Hydrology, Structure and Tectonics, Paleontology, Petrology, Stratigraphy and Sedimentology
  • Degrees: BA, BS, MS
  • State: Alabama
  • City: Auburn
  • Phone: (334) 844-4282