What is Geology?
Geology, the science of the Earth, is concerned with understanding:
- The earth's internal structure and composition, its dynamic character (earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics), and the processes that occur within it
- The processes that shape the surface of the Earth, and the materials that constitute its surface layers
- The origin, occurrence, extraction and conservation of the Earth's natural resources - minerals, fossil fuels, soils, water
- The place of the Earth within the Solar System
- The history of life on Earth.
Geology puts the human race in planetary perspective within space and time. As our awareness of human interactions with the environment increases, our need for better understanding of the way the earth works becomes more urgent.
Increasingly, a grounding in Geology is seen as essential for those concerned with care of the environment and assessment of natural hazards, as well as for those involved with utilising Earth's resources. Solutions to problems of pollution and waste disposal, to major civil engineering problems such as those encountered at dam sites, and to the effects of global change arising from human impact on the environment, must all be sought in the framework of geology.
What geology do we do here at Otago?
Here at Otago we aim to give our students a broad and strong understanding of geology with a good selection of undergraduate and postgraduate papers on offer. The research carried out by our staff and students is focussed on the dynamic geology of the South Island of New Zealand which is regarded with fascination by geologists the world over. However our students have also studied areas elsewhere in the world including; North Island, Stewart Island, Antarctica, the Atlantic sea floor, Java and Thailand.
Teaching and Research carried out by staff and students in the Geology Department at the University of Otago emphasises process-related research tied to the fast tempo of "active" geology in the South Island, and to the evolution of our unique New Zealand biota.
Course Combinations and Degrees
Almost all science subjects can be combined with geology courses to gain a wide variety of degrees, from B.Sc. through to Ph.D., which lead to a number of different fields of employment.
A degree in Geology opens the door to many careers. Most jobs entail a varied mixture of travel and work in the field, in the laboratory, and in the office. Possible careers include:
- Assessment of natural hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods), environmental planning and monitoring
- Conservation and management of soil and ground-water resources
- Exploration for energy and mineral resources
- Teaching careers at secondary and university level
- Site investigations for engineering projects
- Research into Earth processes and history
- Oceanographic and Antarctic research