The geosciences involve the study of earth materials, earth processes, earth structure, and earth history. Our undergraduate Geosciences program at Virginia Tech offers studies through three options: Geology, Geochemistry, and Geophysics. 

The differences lie primarily in the means of observation, and in the approaches and tools they use, however modern geoscientist commonly integrate all three of these types of observations and data:

  • Geologists rely primarily on direct observations (e.g., examining the minerals, observing the folds and faults, measuring the thickness of rock sequences and identifying fossils).
  • Geochemists examine earth materials and systems in terms of the distributions of chemical elements and compounds and model the geochemical cycles in which these move.
  • Geophysicists rely primarily on indirect observation through the use of magnetic, electrical, and seismic measurements (e.g., mapping and imaging the subsurface using seismic, electrical, gravity, and magnetic data).

For the undergraduate, geosciences is central to the earth science education option by providing students with a broad earth science curriculum that meets the earth science content area goals for secondary earth science teaching.

Earth and Life class fieldtrip
Undergraduate students examining Carboniferous sedimentary rocks near Dublin, Virginia on a field trip that is part of our Earth and Life through Time course.

Resources for Prospective Undergraduate Students