Geology

Geologists study Planet Earth—its composition, landscapes, climate, natural resources, natural hazards, and the evolution and extinction of life. The science of geology is driven by our need to understand our home planet and to use its resources wisely. The Department of Geology helps students understand Earth; we are interested in the processes that act on it today, those that occurred in the past, and events that might happen in the future—both natural and human-influenced.

Geology is particularly relevant in today's world. Geologists evaluate areas for geologic safety, assessing whether earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, or landslides pose a danger to human life and infrastructure. Conserving the environment requires that we understand the processes that shaped that environment long ago, as well as the events that have occurred more recently. The search for natural resources is necessarily a geological search, and geologists play an important role in finding, using, and conserving those resources. Geologists map the landscape, informing our communities about the land beneath our feet. The story of Earth's distant past is a geological one, and geologists examine the record of ancient life and rocks to describe the landscape during the last ice age, or longer-ago, when the ocean covered this part of the world, making Minnesota a tropical paradise.

Program Features

  • Emphasizes field research at all levels of the major
  • Gives students the skills to address geologic problems
  • Features courses that develop and sharpen field, laboratory, and research skills
  • Strengthens critical thinking and communication abilities
  • Culminates in a senior research project