Geology is the study of the planet Earth, the materials of which it is made, the processes that act on these materials, the products formed, and the history of the planet and its life forms since its origin. Geology considers the physical forces that act within and on the Earth, the chemistry of its constituent materials, and the biology of its past inhabitants as revealed by fossils. The knowledge thus obtained is used to aid in the discovery of economic minerals, fossil fuels, and ground-water resources in the Earth's crust and to identify geologic hazards associated with the mobile forces of a dynamic Earth. Thus geologists have a role in water research, environmental studies, engineering geology, waste management, land-use surveys, marine geoscience, and natural hazards investigations, as well as the traditional areas of oil, gas, and mineral exploration and development.

The mission of the Department of Geology, as an integral part of the College of Science and Utah State University, is:

  • to provide training for future professional geologists directly through high-quality instruction and research involvement in geology. The department recognizes the critical role of other departments in providing supporting courses in areas such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, computer science, and engineering;
  • to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the field of geology through research activities in selected areas of expertise;
  • to provide supporting courses and research services for professional programs in such areas as natural resources, soil science, landscape architecture & environmental planning, science education, civil & environmental engineering, watershed science, and physical geography;
  • to enhance the liberal education of university students from other fields by providing high quality instruction in geology and developing an appreciation of the geology and natural resources of the state of Utah; and
  • to promote an understanding of geology among the general public and to educate the public with respect to the potential impact of geology on everyday life through service to individual citizens, community groups, and public schools.


The Department of Geology responds to its mission through programs of formal instruction at the B.S. and M.S. levels, research activities in selected areas of expertise, and extension teaching and community service activities. The obligation of the department, concurrent with this response, is to provide the optimum environment for teaching, research, and service and to support the professional growth and development of its faculty.