We explain what geology is, what this science studies and the branches into which it is divided. Also, what are its features, uses and more.

Geology seeks to understand the processes that make up geologic time.

What is geology?

geology is the science that studies the composition of planet Earth, from a physical-chemical and historical point of view. The latter allows him to devote himself to understanding the various processes that make up geological time.

Geology is also called geological sciences, since within it, various geosciences are taught, various aspects of the planet. For example, they can study its composition, or the processes that take place inside it, such as tectonic plates or the formation of relief.

It has a synchronous approach, that is to say that takes into account the moments in time when changes occur. That is why it is considered part of the historical sciences. Those who dedicate themselves to this science are called geologists.

See also: Meteorology

origin of geology

Geology is an attempt to answer questions that human beings have been asking since ancient times.

Among it are: What is our planet made of? How was it formed? What’s inside?

In classical European times, these questions were trying to be answered by philosophers and naturalists.

For example, the ancient Greek Theophrastus (372-287 BC) or the Roman Gayo Plinio Segundo (23-79 AD) dedicated themselves to the description and cataloging of the minerals that their cultures extracted from the soil for industrial purposes.

As an organized science, geology took his first steps in the Islamic world of the Middle Ages. Scholars like Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni (973-1048) and Ibn Sina or Avicenna (980-1037), concerned themselves with formulating theories regarding the formation of mountains, earthquakes and other essential geological topics.

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history of geology

Geology was instrumental in dating the estimated age of the Earth.

The first to use the word “geology” was the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldovrandi (1522-1605). The term is made up of two Greek words: Geo“earth”, and Logos“study, reason”.

At first, it was proposed as the science that studied fossils, understood as minerals and rocks. This study became necessary because already in the 17th century they began to demonstrate their enormous industrial and energy capacities.

in 1661 Robert Lovell (1630-1690) wrote his “Universal History of Minerals”where this term was used. Since then it began to be used definitively with the current meaning.

It was William Smith (1769-1839) who drew the first geological maps and the very important process of ordering the geological strata in time began. To do this, he used the fossils found in each layer as indicators.

The rise of this science was instrumental in dating the estimated age of the Earth. By demonstrating that it was millions of years older than what the Bible and the Church claimed, it dealt a heavy blow to the religious mentality, at odds with the rationalism that had prevailed since the last century.

In addition to its social and ideological weight, the discoveries of geology impacted other sciences. For example, that the publication in 1830 of the book principles of geology by Charles Lyell even influenced Darwin’s theories.

What does geology study?

geology studies, in principle, the earth’s crust. This translates into the analysis of its samples, coming from different moments of its history.

These analyses, on the one hand, allow us to understand the physical-chemical processes that produced it. In addition, they can offer important conclusions regarding the type of events that, over the years, occurred in that segment of the cortex.

Types of Geology Study

Geology deals with biotic, atmospheric and water processes.

Geology studies are normally divided into two aspects:

  • external geology. That which deals with the materials that make up the earth’s crust and the biotic, atmospheric and water processes that influence said process. In turn it is divided into:
    • historical geology. The one that approaches the formation of the earth’s crust as a gradual and historical process, trying to determine how it once was and how it occurred over the centuries.
    • physical geology. That which addresses the formation of the earth’s crust as a physical and autonomous process, in which various forces have distributed materials throughout the globe and have changed the landscape and continue to do so.
  • internal geology. The one that deals with the processes that take place under the earth’s surface, that is, in the subsoil.
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branches of geology

Petrology is dedicated to the study of rock formation.

Like all sciences, geology has a significant number of branches or specializations, focused on specific and specific aspects of geological activity and knowledge. The most important to name are:

  • Mineralogy. Dedicated to the study of rock minerals that form under the earth’s crust over time.
  • Petrology. Dedicated to the study of the formation of rocks of different types (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic).
  • sedimentology. Investigate deposits of organic matter and other forms of sediment through geological periods, and their results to date.
  • structural geology. He is interested in the formation and structure of the earth’s crust, and the way in which tectonic forces geometrically organize the layers of the soil.
  • economic geology. That which goes hand in hand with the detection and commercial exploitation of subsoil resources.
  • Geochemistry. Whose approach regarding the formation of the planet focuses on the levels of organization and reaction of matter. It is the result of collaboration between chemistry and geology.
  • Geophysics. He studies the Earth from the perspective of physics, that is, from the forces and dynamics that are its own and that give it its properties and forms.

What sciences does geology use?

Geology also provides information to astronomy.

In its analysis of the earth’s crust and its interpretation of the petrified remains of minerals and prehistoric living things, geology is not alone. Borrows various conceptual and technological tools from natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

On the other hand, geology in addition provides information to astronomy. This is because studying the composition of the Earth allows us to speculate about the composition of the other planets in the Solar System.

Economic and social importance

Today geology is a science in high demand. On the one hand, it is used by the industry in the exploration of eventual hydrocarbon or precious mineral deposits, in countries whose resources allow economic mining activity.

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It is also fundamental in the prevention of disasters such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, as well as in civil and geotechnical engineering. In conclusion, it is a science with diverse and fundamental applications in the attempt of the human being to modify the environment according to his development projects.

How is geology studied?

Geology is a bachelor’s degree. It usually takes 5 years of trainingin the different universities of the world where it is taught.

In nations dependent on oil or mining (such as Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela or Mexico) or in those where there are paleontological fossils or archaeological sites, geology is one of the sciences with the greatest local demand by private companies and by the State.

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Geologists are able to spot environmental hazards.

geologists are the pioneers in the study and exploration of the earth’s crust. At present, his work is mainly dedicated to the search for exploitable economic resources.

Mining, the hydrocarbon industry, even hydroelectric or civil engineering projects (construction of highways, tunnels, etc.) require the participation of a geologist. Its function is to contribute its knowledge of the dynamics of the underground layer of the planet.

On the other hand, both in his work for private companies or for the State, its function is to warn of environmental dangers or prevent the risks of geological disasters. They are, therefore, professionals specialized in soil and subsoil.

It can help you: Natural disasters

geological time

Geologic time is known as the history of the formation of the planet, from its very origins to the present day. It is one of the main interests of geology, which has managed to date it to approximately 4,567 million years.

The study of this time allows you to organize geological, atmospheric and biological events that took place and take place on the planet. Thus it is possible to understand how things came to be as they are and to project how they might eventually become in the future.


  • “Geology” on Wikipedia.
  • “Geology”in GeoEncyclopedia.
  • “What is geology?” at the Mexican Geological Survey.
  • “What is geology?” at the College of Geologists of Chile.
  • “Geology” (Video) in Bozeman Science.
  • “Geology (science)” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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