Geological Sciences

What makes geology exciting?


Geology rocks! Literally. Want to get up close and personal with a volcano? Does digging for buried treasure sound like your kind of work? Find your niche in the rocks. Geological Science encompasses the earth itself and beyond. You’ll learn about all things related to our unique planet—everything from seismic activity to magnetics.

Watch our Hands-On video and see geology students on a local dino dig.

Hands-on: Dinosaur Land[/text]

What's cool about studying geology at BYU?


As a BYU undergrad, you will have access to top-notch facilities including the Museum of Paleontology which houses one of the top rated Jurassic Period collections in the world. It’s not only our extensive rock, mineral, and fossil collections that make us unique, but our location. BYU campus is nestled next to the Wasatch Mountains and near the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. This location provides an advantageous setting for studying geology in a natural environment and makes for lots of local field trips.

If that’s not enough, you’ll also have the opportunity to travel the world and participate in research. In the past, our students have travelled with their professors to Italy, Switzerland, the Bahamas, Hawaii, the Himalayas, and other exciting regions.

The relationships you build here through mentored teaching and unsurpassed undergrad research are valuable resources that will be helpful throughout your life. You’ll work alongside accomplished and experience mentors in an atmosphere that is both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging to address scientific questions in the light of the Gospel.

“Geology is a really diverse field, and it’s such a fun field at the same time.”

–Dr. Jani Radebaugh

Major and minor options

•   Majors 

Geology

Geology: Environmental Geology Emphasis

Earth & Space Science Education

•   Minors 

Geology

Geology Teaching


For more information on required classes for these majors and minors, please see the current undergraduate catalog. You can declare one of these majors or minors by visiting the Advisement Center.

Featured videos

Hands-On: Dinosaur Land

Watch geology students on a local dino dig.

Geology on the Island of Vulcano

Geology students explore the mountain that gave modern volcanoes their name.

 

What makes BYU geology undergrad research unique?

Both undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to work closely with our diverse 16-member faculty whose specialties include mineralogy and petrology, petroleum geology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, exploration geophysics, structure and tectonics, planetary geology, glaciology/climatology, and paleontology. Students are directly involved in conducting field research locally and across the globe in regions as diverse as the Intermountain West, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, the Himalayas, the Swiss Alps, the Bahamas, Namibia, Turkey, and New Zealand.

“Theory is nothing without the practice.”

–Carl Hoiland, geology student

Research areas

Undergrad geology students can do research in nine areas. Specific project within these areas include using CT scans on dinosaur bones, exploring volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon, and investigating ancient climates:

• Climate Change

Students study significant and lasting changes in the distribution of weather patterns over a period of time. Climate change may be limited to a specific region or across the whole earth.

• Geochemistry 

Students research the chemical composition of the earth and other planets. This research includes the compositions of rocks, water, and soils, cycles of matter and energy, and their interaction with the hydrosphere and atmosphere.

• Geophysics

Students study the physics of the earth and its environment in space. Its subjects include the earth’s shape, gravitational and magnetic fields, its components and parts, all aspects of the atmosphere and its relationship with the moon and other planets.

• Hydrology

Students study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on earth and other planets. This field includes studying the water cycle, water resources, and watershed sustainability.

• Igneous Petrology

Students study all about igneous rock that has been formed by magma. This branch of geology uses both chemistry and physics techniques to determine rock composition and age.

• Paleontology 

Students research prehistoric life. Paleontologists research organism evolution and interactions. This field is a mix of biology and geology that attempts to explain causes.

• Planetary Geology

Students research the geology of celestial bodies such as planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoritesThis discipline includes determining the internal structure of planets as well as surface processes such as craters.

• Sedimentary Geology

Students research sediments such as sand, mud, and clay This knowledge is used to interpret geologic history through observing sedimentary rocks and structures.

• Tectonics

Students study the structure of the outermost layer of the earth Tectonics focuses particularly on the forces and movements that occur in a region to create lithosphere structures like faults, basins, and rifts.

Facilities / Equipment

People come from all over to use BYU’s facilities and equipment. Some resources specific to the Geological Sciences Department include:

• Stream Table

Contains equipment for creating and studying the formation and movement of streams.

• Fission Track Dating Laboratory

Contains equipment for determining the chronological organization of geological events.

• Geophysics Laboratory

Houses seismic, ground penetrating radar as well as gravity, magnetic, and electromagnetic instruments used in geophysics.

• Hydrochemistry Laboratory

Contains equipment used in researching groundwater composition, migration, and pollution.

• Isotope Laboratory

Houses instruments that analyze stable isotopes such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.

      • Mineral Display Case

               Contains dozens of minerals for viewing.

• Mineral Surface Chemistry Laboratory

Includes an atomic force microscope and other equipment that analyze low-temperature chemical reactions.

• Museum of Paleontology

Includes exhibits and fossil collections containing specimens ranging from minerals to dinosaurs.

• Sedimentary/Stratigraphy Laboratories

Contains analytical equipment used to characterize and understand sedimentary, clastic, and carbonate rocks.

What can I do with an undergraduate degree in geological sciences?

As a geologist, the earth is your workplace. With an undergraduate degree in geological sciences, many job possibilities are open including working as a:

•   Geologist

•   Geophysicist

•   High School Teacher

•   Hydrologist

•   Paleontologist

•   Petrologist

How much money could I make?

With an undergraduate degree in geological sciences you could earn:

*Industry-wide estimate from: payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp

What if I advance my education past an undergraduate degree?

Many of our students go on to get advanced degrees and additional experience that broaden their career opportunities. BYU Geological Sciences alumni have found jobs in government, business, academia, and numerous industrial positions including: 

• Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

• Chesapeake Oil

• Chevron

• Devon Energy 

• Intermountain Paleo-Consulting

• Ridgeland

• Shell

• USDA Forest Service 

• Utah Geological Survey

• Utah Valley University

Talk with a professional

 
“Geology is a lot like detective work. The earth doesn’t give you that much to work with. You have to put all the pieces of evidence together and create a story, make it make sense, and have it tell you where the faults are or where the mineral deposits are.”

–Grant Willis, Utah Geological Survey

Geological Sciences Mentoring

Geological Sciences Mentoring

See how students determine the likelihood of a major earthquake occurring this century.

Geology on the Island of Vulcano

Geology students explore the mountain that gave modern volcanoes their name.

Global Warming, Glaciers, and the Alps

Global Warming, Glaciers, and the Alps

Travel to the Alps and see why with all the recent discussion on global warming, the study of glaciers takes on a whole new level of importance

Hands On Dinosaur Land

Hands-On: Dinosaur Land

Watch geology students on a local dino dig.

geohandson

Hands-On: Geology at Clear Lake

Join the Department of Geological Sciences as they discover the source of Clear Lake.

Mt. Etna Field Work

Mt. Etna Field Work

Watch as students conduct field work near active volcanoes in Italy.

New Dino Discovered

New Dino Discovered

Hear from BYU researchers about finding a rare sauropod skull belonging to Abydosaurus.

The Stream Table

The Stream Table

Lego Steve has bought a new house, but nothing is safe on the stream table!