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University of Rhode Island — Geosciences
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The Field
What is Geosciences?

The geosciences are the study of the Earth, how it works, and how it affects people. Geoscientists (also called geologists) deal with a wide range of issues: searching for new sources of oil and water, predicting earthquakes and floods, identifying the causes and consequences of global warming, determining ways to clean up pollution, and more. The geosciences also address questions that have fascinated people throughout time, such as what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, the continents to drift, and life to evolve on Earth and maybe other planets. Geoscience includes not only the study of the solid earth, but also oceans, the atmosphere, other planets, and the origins of life. Clearly there's more to contemporary geosciences than rocks!

Geologists are people who like to solve problems, often while in the great outdoors. They need a strong background in the sciences because there are so many different fields that come together when studying the Earth. Geoscience is also a field in which things are very visual, and it therefore often appeals to people who also like art, architecture, or engineering.


Life is short and the world is full of spectacular geology. This site directs you to the best: A Geologist's Lifetime Field List.



Faculty and students share ideas on the formation of columnar basalt during a URI field trip to Yellowstone National Park.



Important Topics and Issues


A California field site of one of the URI Geoscience professors.

Geoscience is the science of Earth exploration, discovery, and stewardship. The major applications of the geosciences today are: exploration and responsible development of natural resources (oil, gas, coal, minerals, water, etc.), preservation of the natural environment, restoration from environmental damage, mitigation of geohazards such as earthquakes and landslides, and exploratory research like the Mars space mission, understanding El Nino, and predicting the impact of climate change.

Check out the Hot Topics links to learn more about a few of the most pressing issues involving geoscientists today.