Geological Sciences : Overview

Department of Geological Sciences

Contact Information

College of Arts and Sciences
411 Cooke Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-3050

Phone: 716.645.3489
Fax: 716.645.3999
Web Address:
Richelle Allen-King
Jason Briner
Director of Undergraduate Studies


Geology is the science of earth. It is primarily based on the study of materials exposed on Earth's surface and is therefore an outdoor science. The term 'geology' applies to numerous scientific subdisciplines (for example, environmental geology, geochemistry, geophysics, glaciology, hydrogeology, mineralogy, paleontology, planetary geology, stratigraphy, structural geology, volcanology) that interact with each other and collectively focus on increasing our knowledge of Earth, the processes that shape it, and our physical and evolutionary relations to Earth and to its other inhabitants.

Geologists apply their knowledge in a variety of ways. Some problems geologists work on are strictly practical: we use geophysics, geochemistry, and stratigraphic mapping skills in exploration for mineral, water, and energy resources. We gauge the extent of ground water or soil pollution and devise strategies for remediation using sophisticated hydrologic, geochemical, or geophysical computer models. We use knowledge of volcanic eruptions and slope stability to reconstruct past natural disasters and, based on this, predict and protect against future threats. We use glacial geology and sedimentary records to reconstruct the climate history of the planet and glaciology to understand and predict the evolution of continental ice sheets and glaciers . Geologists may also apply their knowledge toward problems in basic science: We analyze the magmatic activity at mid-ocean ridges that forms the ocean floor, develop hypotheses about the formation of surface features on Mars, and use remotely sensed data in computer models to predict large-scale Earth processes. We strive to understand the interaction of Earth systems and their linkage to the history of life through the processes of evolution to obtain key insights into our own history. Practical and theoretical aspects of geology aid us in providing information about living consciously and using our resources wisely so that governments and societies can make informed decisions about our stewardship of earth.

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:14 EST