Geology is the study of the Earth: What it's made of, how it works and what has happened on Earth over the course of its long history. Geoscientists use information from biology, chemistry, physics and other disciplines to inform their research, which can take place out in the world or inside a laboratory. The end goal of geological study is to enhance the human condition.

Geoscience is a very diverse field. Geoscientists protect people from natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and flooding and protect everyone's health through understanding and reducing the impact of pollution and climate change. Geoscientists also use their knowledge of the Earth to help better extract and make use of natural resources and to engineer stronger, better buildings, bridges and dams. Geoscientists also spark curiosity and imagination by exploring topics like dinosaurs, the deep ocean and other planets. Geology is science for anyone who is interested in understanding the Earth and in helping the people who live here.

  • Geologists study the materials, processes and history of the Earth. They investigate how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation. There are subgroups of geologists as well, such as stratigraphers, who study stratified rock, and mineralogists, who study the structure and composition of minerals. Geologic studies may combine both field and laboratory work.
    • Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to civil and environmental engineering. They offer advice on major construction projects and help with other projects, such as environmental cleanup and reducing natural hazards.
    • Environmental geologists use their knowledge of Earth's systems to protect the environment and human health. They do this by cleaning up contaminated areas, making policy recommendations or working with industry to reduce pollution and waste. They may also investigate the source of an environmental or health problem and devise strategies to combat it.
    • Marine geologists study the history and the processes of the ocean floor. Their study includes not only the spread of the continents over millions of years but also in our understanding of short-term events such as tsunamis.
    • Mining geologists are responsible for studying the relationship between geology and ore formation to be able to locate new resources.
    • Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations in order to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth.
    • Petroleum geologists explore the Earth for oil and gas deposits. They analyze geological information to identify sites that should be explored. They collect rock and sediment samples from sites through drilling and other methods and test the samples for the presence of oil and gas. They also estimate the size of oil and gas deposits and work to develop sites to extract oil and gas.
  • Geophysicists use the principles of physics to learn about the Earth’s surface and interior. They also study the properties of Earth’s magnetic, electric and gravitational fields.
  • Seismologists study earthquakes and vibrations in the Earth as well as related phenomena, such as tsunamis and landslides. They use seismographs and other instruments to collect data on these events.
  • Geochemists use physical and organic chemistry to study the composition of elements found in groundwater, such as water from wells or aquifers, and of earth materials, such as rocks and sediment.
  • Hydrologists study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources, groundwater contamination and environmental watershed sustainability.
  • Meteorologists study the atmosphere. They use science and math to understand and predict weather and climate.
  • Oceanographers study the motion and circulation of ocean waters, the physical and chemical properties of the oceans and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate and weather.

Geoscientists are in high demand and have employment opportunities everywhere – you can work in your own community or travel the world. They are employed by many different sectors, including state and federal government, private companies and academia. They work in the field, a laboratory, an office or a combination of all three.

Geology students at Wake Tech may qualify for paid internships at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Additionally, for those interested in further study, many North Carolina colleges and universities offer four-year and advanced degrees in geology and related fields.