Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences

Scope and Objectives

The disciplines of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, paleobiology, and space physics are concerned with the structure and evolution of the solar system, Earth, and life: essentially, the physical environment and its interaction with biota. These studies entail the application of fundamental physics and chemistry to a broad subject area stretching from astronomy at one extreme to biology at the other. Areas that are emphasized in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences include isotope and trace element analyses, petrology and mineralogy, sedimentology, paleobiology and organic geochemistry, structural geology and tectonophysics, seismology, the Earth’s interior, planetary physics, and space plasmas.

The variety of techniques applied lead to several concentrations within the three main disciplines. Students completing their studies with a BS or MS degree usually are employed by industry. Many are employed in environment-related activities; others are involved in mineral or oil exploration or in construction. Students attaining the PhD degree are usually employed by universities or governmental and industrial research groups.

The Bachelor of Arts program in Earth and Environmental Science is intended to provide a broad background in Earth sciences that is especially appropriate for students intending to become K through 12 teachers in Earth, physical, or life sciences. It may also be of interest to students who plan careers in business, dentistry, environmental sciences, government, journalism, law, medicine, or public health. Those who intend to become professional geologists, geochemists, or geophysicists and/or to continue into graduate studies in Earth or space sciences are urged to pursue one of the BS degrees.