the study of earth and its features

the study of earth and its features

the study of earth and its features

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Earth science

Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science related to the planet Earth. This is a branch of science dealing with the physical and chemical constitution of Earth and its atmosphere. Earth science can be considered to be a branch of planetary science, but with a much older history.

Earth science encompasses four main branches of study, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, each of which is further broken down into more specialized fields.

There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences. It is also the study of Earth and its neighbors in space. Some Earth scientists use their knowledge of the planet to locate and develop energy and mineral resources. Others study the impact of human activity on Earth’s environment, and design methods to protect the planet.

Use earth science for planning

Some use their knowledge about Earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes to plan communities that will not expose people to these dangerous events. Earth sciences can include the study of geology, the lithosphere, and the large-scale structure of Earth’s interior, as well as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere.

Typically, Earth scientists use tools from geology, chronology, physics, chemistry, geography, biology, and mathematics to build a quantitative understanding of how Earth works and evolves. For example, meteorologists study the weather and watch for dangerous storms. Hydrologists examine water and warn of floods. Seismologists study earthquakes and try to understand where they will strike.

Geologists study rocks and help to locate useful minerals. Earth scientists often work in the field—perhaps climbing mountains, exploring the seabed, crawling through caves, or wading in swamps. They measure and collect samples (such as rocks or river water), then record their findings on charts and maps.

the study of earth and its features
the study of earth and its features

The Four Earth Sciences

Many different sciences are used to learn about the Earth; however, the four basic areas of Earth science study are: geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy. A brief explanation of these sciences is provided below.

Geology: Science of the Earth

Geology is the primary Earth science. The word means “study of the Earth.” Geology deals with the composition of Earth materials, Earth structures, and Earth processes. It is also concerned with the organisms of the planet and how the planet has changed over time. Geologists search for fuels and minerals, study natural hazards, and work to protect Earth’s environment.

Meteorology: Science of the Atmosphere

It is the study of the atmosphere and how processes in the atmosphere determine Earth’s weather and climate. Meteorology is a very practical science because everyone is concerned about the weather. How climate changes over time in response to the actions of people is a topic of urgent worldwide concern. The study of meteorology is of critical importance in protecting Earth’s environment.

Oceanography: Science of the Oceans

Oceanography is the study of Earth’s oceans – their composition, movement, organisms and processes. The oceans cover most of our planet and are important resources for food and other commodities. They are increasingly being used as an energy source. The oceans also have a major influence on the weather, and changes in the oceans can drive or moderate climate change. Oceanographers work to develop the ocean as a resource and protect it from human impact. The goal is to utilize the oceans while minimizing the effects of our actions.

Astronomy: Science of the Universe

Astronomy is the study of the universe. Here are some examples of why studying space beyond Earth is important: the moon drives the ocean’s tidal system, asteroid impacts have repeatedly devastated Earth’s inhabitants, and energy from the sun drives our weather and climates. A knowledge of astronomy is essential to understanding the Earth. Astronomers can also use a knowledge of Earth materials, processes and history to understand other planets – even those outside of our own solar system.

the study of earth and its features
the study of earth and its features

Today the Earth sciences are divided into many disciplines, which are themselves divisible into six groups:

1. Those subjects that deal with the water and air at or above the solid surface of Earth. These include the study of the water on and within the ground (hydrology), the glaciers and ice caps (glaciology), the oceans (oceanography), the atmosphere and its phenomena (meteorology), and the world’s climates (climatology).
3. The study of landforms (geomorphology), which is concerned with the description of the features of the present terrestrial surface and an analysis of the processes that gave rise to them.
More disciplines :
5. Disciplines concerned with the geologic history of Earth, including the study of fossils and the fossil record (paleontology), the development of sedimentary strata deposited typically over millions of years (stratigraphy), and the isotopic chemistry and age dating of rocks (geochronology).
6. Applied Earth sciences dealing with current practical applications beneficial to society. These include the study of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal); oil reservoirs; mineral deposits; geothermal energy for electricity and heating; the structure and composition of bedrock for the location of bridges, nuclear reactors, roads, dams, and skyscrapers and other buildings; hazards involving rock and mud avalanches, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and the collapse of tunnels; and coastal, cliff, and soil erosion.
7. The study of the rock record on the Moon and the planets and their satellites (astrogeology). This field includes the investigation of relevant terrestrial features—namely, tektites (glassy objects resulting from meteorite impacts) and astroblemes (meteorite craters).

Knowledge of Earth history

The occurrence of seashells embedded in the hard rocks of high mountains aroused the curiosity of early naturalists and eventually set off a controversy on the origin of fossils that continued through the 17th century. Xenophanes of Colophon (flourished c. 560 BCE) was credited by later writers with observing that seashells occur “in the midst of earth and in mountains.”

9th century

Petrified wood was described by Chinese scholars as early as the 9th century CE, and about1080 Shen Gua cited fossilized plants as evidence for change in climate. Other kinds of fossils that attracted the attention of early Chinese writers include spiriferoid brachiopods (“stone swallows”), cephalopods, crabs, and the bones and teeth of reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Observing seashells in strata of the Taihang Mountains, he concluded that this region, though now far from the sea, must once have been a shore.
the study of earth and its features
the study of earth and its features

What Are Some Other Branches of Earth Science?

Geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy are the four main branches of Earth science. However, there are many other branches of Earth science.


It is the study of how humans interact with the environment. Environmental scientists help people learn ways to preserve the environment and to use resources wisely.


Ecology is the study of relationships between living things and their environments. Ecologists study communities of organisms and their environments to better understand how organisms behave. Ecologists work in many fields, including agriculture and forestry.


Geochemistry combines the studies of geology and chemistry. Geochemists study the chemicals that make up Earth materials such as rocks, minerals, and soil. They can use this information to learn how the Earth materials formed. Geochemists may also study the effects of humanmade chemicals on the environment.


Geography is the study of the surface features of the Earth, such as continents, rivers, and mountains. Many geographers work in cartography, or map-making. Cartographers use information from photographs and computers to make maps. They may also study the ways that areas change with time.

The Importance of Earth Science

Today we live in a time when the Earth and its inhabitants face many challenges. Our climate is changing, and that change is being caused by human activity. Earth scientists recognized this problem and will play a key role in efforts to resolve it.

We are also challenged to: develop new sources of energy that will have minimal impact on climate; locate new sources of metals and other mineral resources as known sources are depleted; and, determine how Earth’s increasing population can live and avoid serious threats such as volcanic activity, earthquakes, landslides, floods and more. These are just a few of the problems where solutions depend upon a deep understanding of Earth science.

the study of earth and its features
the study of earth and its features

Earth Science Careers

If you are a pre-college student, you can start preparing for a career in Earth science by enrolling in the college preparation program and doing well in all of your courses.

Some universities have Earth Science programs but most offer more specific training in programs such as geology, meteorology, oceanography or astronomy. Earth science is an integrated science, and professionals in that field must solve problems that require a knowledge of several fields of science.


If you already have a degree in another discipline such as biology, chemistry, geography, or physics, you might be able to go to graduate school and obtain a Master’s degree in one of the Earth sciences. That will most likely require taking some undergraduate courses to meet program entry requirements. However, if you have a strong interest in Earth science it is probably worth doing.

At present, job opportunities in many areas of the Earth sciences are better than average. Opportunities in geology are especially good.

Visit the website of a school that offers a geology degree, get in touch with the geology department, let them know you are interested, and make arrangements to visit the campus. Don’t be hesitant. Good schools and professors want to be contacted by interested students.

I hope you enjoyed this post “the study of earth and its features”.

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