earth sciences

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The geosciences (from the Greek Γεω geo to “earth”; earth sciences ) deal with the study of the natural scientific aspects of the earth system. In addition to this, they also research technology for the exploration and utilization of nature for humans, with which they also deal with aspects of engineering . The following main subjects are assigned to the geosciences:

The following are mainly assigned to the geosciences:

The geosciences use the knowledge and methods of the basic sciences physics , mathematics , chemistry and biology .

Interdisciplinary, environmentally relevant and business-related

Since the geosciences are very interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary, there are many special disciplines that are highly relevant to the environment , such as applied geology in the broader sense, engineering geology , hydrogeology and hydrology, geochemistry , geobiology , geomicrobiology , geoecology and geostatistics , as well as geothermal and meteorology and climatology .

The geosciences play a major role in the supply of raw materials and energy to our world. The search ( exploration ) for resources such as drinking water , fossil fuels ( crude oil , natural gas , coal ), mineral resources ( ores and other enrichments of high-quality minerals as well as stones and earth ), but also for nuclear energy raw materials ( uranium ) and geothermal energy are planned and implemented by geoscientists . The extraction of these raw materials, however, falls more into the field of engineering , especially mining .

The applied geosciences, in turn, are important in many construction projects ( foundation of structures, earthworks , foundation engineering , rock and tunnel construction ). The spatial planning and the environment through to waste management ( landfills ) require geoscience knowledge in geographic information systems are collected and processed. Geotechnical methods are used to carry out fastening and monitoring tasks, and embankments or landfills are stabilized with geotextiles .

The demarcation or definition of the term “geosciences” is not clear, of which the subject geography is an example. The “hard” topics listed above are also part of “ Physiogeography ”. On the other hand, there is the subgroup of “ human geography ” with numerous references to spatial, but not “earth” -related topics per se, such as economic and social geography . But even this supposed contradiction becomes less important with increasing human intervention in the system of the earth's spheres .

The individual branches of knowledge

Astrogeodesy is a subject between astrometry and geodesy, which uses the knowledge, resources and methods of astronomy for surveying tasks (see also geodesy).
Soil science
Soil science ( pedology ) is the science that deals with the formation, development, components and classification of soils . Soils are formed by physical and chemical weathering of solid rock .
Remote sensing
Interdisciplinary instrument for data acquisition through aerial photographs and remote sensing satellites for almost all of the areas listed here.
Means the reconstruction of the three-dimensional shape of objects (here in particular the surface of the earth or terrain) from images (e.g. the perspective image of a photograph).
Geochemistry deals with the material structure and distribution of elements and isotopes in the earth , on other planets and in space ( cosmochemistry ). In addition, she researches the laws of mass transport and material cycles in minerals and rocks and the entire earth.
Geodesy or surveying deals with the determination of the shape and the gravitational field of the earth , their representation in maps and plans as well as the measurement and description of the terrain and the objects or facts on the earth's surface . Subareas of geodesy are earth surveying , land surveying , cartography , photogrammetry , land and cadastral surveying as well as building and engineering surveying .
Geography captures, describes and explains the landscape sphere in an integrative form, as well as its interaction with humans. She researches the relationship between humans and the environment on earth. The two major areas of geography are physiogeography and human geography .
Geoinformatics deals with the nature and function of geographic information , its provision in the form of geodata and the applications based on it. The knowledge gained in this way flows into the technology of geographic information systems ( GIS ). All geospatial applications have in common the spatial reference.
Geology studies the structure of the planet earth , especially the rocks in the earth's crust . The most important principle of geology is actualism . In the early 1960s , science made leaps and bounds due to the general acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics . Geology's sister sciences are paleontology and historical geology . See also: history of geology
Geophysics is a branch of both earth sciences and physics and uses physical principles to study the earth . Sub-areas of geophysics are seismics , seismology , gravimetry , geoelectrics , geothermics , isotope geophysics , geomagnetics and borehole geophysics . Geophysics also investigates the properties of near-earth space and the connection with meteorology . Mostly hydrology and oceanography are counted to it; Together with them and geodesy, it forms the international union of the IUGG .
Geomorphology or landform science is a branch of physical geography. She examines the landforms occurring today on the earth's surface. This includes their classification, description, peculiarities, origins, development and the connection to the underlying geological structures and their erosion .
A generic term for the disciplines in civil engineering that deal with the foundation of structures underground.
Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy tries to make the internal heat of the earth's body usable for energy generation.
Hydrology is the science of water, its properties and forms on and under the surface of the land.
Engineering geology
Engineering or construction geology is the applied branch of geology that studies the subsurface in the sense of civil engineering. She deals e.g. B. with the stability of the foundation of buildings, also with the earthquake security . It also plays a role in the elimination and avoidance of environmental damage (landfills, repositories).
Cartography is the science, art and technology of creating maps to represent the earth's surface with all its aspects of topography , tectonics , bio and geology , territorial and infrastructure , settlement , social and economic geography , politics and history . It is based on primary data in particular from geodesy and remote sensing .
Crystallography is a materials science and deals with the physical properties of crystals .
Limnology is the science of inland waters as ecosystems, whose structure, material and energy balance it investigates.
Meteorology (weather science) is the science of atmospheric phenomena.
Mineralogy deals with the composition and classification of minerals , their occurrence and their technical and economic use.
Oceanography examines material and energy cycles in the oceans. In planktology there is a link to the life sciences .
Paleoclimatology tries to use various data from climate archives to clarify the different climatic conditions in the past and to draw conclusions about the climatic future of the earth from this.
Paleontology is the science of the past life that deals with the fossil evidence of prehistoric plants ( paleobotany ) and animals ( paleozoology ). In addition to traditional body fossils such as shells, teeth or bones, trace fossils such as traces of food and grazing, burial tunnels and individual parts of living beings (mostly only leaves, trunks or roots are preserved in plants), petrified feces ( coprolites ) and chemically modified remains are among the fossils .
Petrology and Petrography
Two disciplines that focus on solid rock. Petrography takes on a more descriptive role. Due to the differences in the formation of rocks, petrology is divided into three sub-areas: petrology of igneous , metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.
Petrophysics deals with the determination of physical properties of rock samples. It is of particular importance when evaluating storage rocks for crude oil and natural gas.
It is a branch of geology and tries to classify rocks chronologically in terms of their age of formation on the geological time scale . Depending on which features of a rock the stratigraphy is based on, a distinction is made: fossil or biostratigraphy , lithostratigraphy , magnetostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy .
On the one hand, tectonics is the theory of the current structure of the earth's crust, e.g. B. "the tectonics of the Alps", on the other hand of the movements and forces that are responsible for the current state (see earth crust movement and plate tectonics ).
The subject of volcanology are the volcanic phenomena of the earth .
Economic geology
In the search for economically valuable raw materials ( exploration ), economic geology or geology of deposits uses not only classic geological techniques, such as mapping and sampling in the field, but also methods of geochemistry, geophysics and remote sensing. To clarify the genesis of deposits, the ideas about the flow of underground, mineralizing solutions ( fluids ) are particularly important. The deposit theory uses in the exploration and exploitation of ore deposits v. a. Findings in tectonics and structural geology. In the search for fossil fuels, as well as non-metallic raw materials, one also needs knowledge of paleontology (especially microfossils) and sedimentology.



In recent years, the geology , geophysics and mineralogy courses at many German universities have merged to form the "geosciences" course. The courses of study in meteorology , geography , hydrology , geoecology , geotechnics , geodesy , cartography and geoinformatics , however, were mostly able to maintain their independence. Geoscientific courses can be studied at almost all universities in Germany, but they differ in their content and lectures. Most universities specifically focus on the "Geosciences" course and enable a special orientation of the course, whereby this possibility can be very different from university to university in the sub-areas of geology, geophysics and mineralogy.


In Austria, geosciences can be studied at the following universities:

  • University of Salzburg
    • geology
    • geography
    • Geoinformatics
  • University of Innsbruck
    • Atmospheric Sciences (Bachelor)
    • Earth Sciences (Bachelor)
    • Geography (Bachelor)
    • Atmospheric Sciences (Master)
    • Earth Sciences (Master)
    • Geography (Master)
    • Geography and Economics (teaching degree)
  • TU Graz & Karl-Franzens-University Graz as part of NAWI Graz
    • Earth sciences
    • Geography (only at KFU Graz)
    • Geomatics Engineering (Bachelor) / Geomatics Science (Master) (only at TU Graz)
    • Geo-Spatial Technologies (Master)
  • Montan University Leoben
    • Applied geosciences
    • Natural resources
  • University of Vienna
    • Earth sciences
    • geography
    • Geography and economics
    • Cartography and Geoinformation (Master)
    • meteorology
    • Paleobiology (Master)
    • Spatial Research and Planning (Master)
  • technical University of Vienna
    • Geodesy and Geoinformatics
    • Geodesy and Geophysics (Master)
    • Geoinformation and Cartography (Master)
    • Spatial planning and spatial planning
    • Surveying and Cadastral (Master)
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
    • Landscape planning and landscape architecture
    • Environmental and Bioresource Management (Master)
    • Water Management and Environment (Master)
    • Mountain Risk Engineering (Master)
    • Natural Resources Management and Ecological Engineering (Master)


In Switzerland, geosciences can be studied at the following universities:

  • University of Freiburg
    • Earth sciences
  • University of Zurich
    • Earth sciences
  • ETH Zurich
    • Earth sciences with specialization in geology
    • Earth sciences with a specialization in geophysics
    • Earth sciences with a specialization in engineering geology
    • Earth sciences with specialization in mineralogy and geochemistry
    • Environmental sciences with specialization in biogeochemistry and pollutant dynamics
  • University of Basel
    • earth sciences
  • University of Bern
    • Earth sciences
  • Haute école d'Ingénierie et de Gestion du Canton de Vaud
    • Ingénierie de territoire
  • University of Technology and Architecture Freiburg
    • Geomatics, building and spatial development
  • University of Architecture, Construction and Geomatics
    • MSc in engineering with specialization in geographic information technology

Well-known geoscientists

Further literature

  • Christian Robert, Romain Bousquet: Geosciences. The dynamics of the system earth . 1st edition. Spectrum Springer, Heidelberg 2018, ISBN 3-662-50392-1 .
  • Hans Murawski, Wilhelm Meyer: Geological dictionary . Heidelberg: Spectrum, 2004. ISBN 978-3-8274-1445-8
  • Adolf Watznauer : Geosciences Dictionary (English-German) , Verlag Harri Deutsch, Thun and Frankfurt am Main 1978, ISBN 3-87144-139-2 .

See also

Portal: Geosciences  - Overview of Wikipedia content on geosciences

Web links

Wiktionary: Geoscience  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Interfaculty Geoinformatics - Z_GIS. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on July 26, 2013 ; Retrieved June 8, 2013 .
  2. Geography and Geology. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on May 27, 2013 ; Retrieved June 8, 2013 .
  3. Courses offered at the University of Innsbruck., accessed on June 8, 2013 .
  4. ^ Course offerings - Karl-Franzens-University Graz. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on August 18, 2013 ; Retrieved June 8, 2013 .
  5. Studies at TU Graz., accessed on June 8, 2013 .
  6. ^ Montanuniversität Leoben - courses of study. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on September 9, 2013 ; Retrieved June 8, 2013 .
  7. The range of courses from A – Z., accessed on June 8, 2013 .
  8. Studies., accessed on June 8, 2013 .
  9. Degree programs., accessed on June 8, 2013 .
  10. Studying geosciences master. plus Media GmbH, accessed on April 2, 2017 .