Geology – what is it all about?
Geology is the science of the Earth. It deals with processes operating inside the Earth and on the Earth's surface, today and back in time to the planet's origin some 4.5 billion years ago. These processes may be brief and violent, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, or they may be slow and drawn out, like the rise of majestic mountain ranges.
Scientists from all major disciplines are drawn into geology: they work together to figure out just how the Earth and its abundant life came to be the way we find them today.
Charles Darwin was, first and foremost, a geologist. Without a sense of deep time his astonishing insight into evolution could
never have happened. Geology was so central to scientific investigation in Darwin's age that Trinity College saw fit to recognize the subject's importance by erecting the splendid Museum Building. This building continues to be the home of geology in Trinity, and geological research is as active there today as it has ever been. Recent work has included the reconstruction of global geography 300 million years ago, ancient global warming, the precise measurement of the age of rocks, and the origin of planets.
The time perspective is important when analysing short-term fluctuations of climate, oceanic circulation and biodiversity as well as understanding the formation of our natural resources, their finite nature and sustainability of our species. The subject matter is utterly fascinating and forms an excellent basis for critical and logical thinking as well as a vocational training. Aside from its fundamental interest, geology has paved the way towards our modern industrialised society by showing how and where to find those resources – water, coal, iron, oil, and rare metals – upon which we so crucially depend. And now, as civilization strives to come to terms with the damage caused by over-exploitation of those resources, it is geologists who, through their understanding of the planet's past history, are best equipped to seek mitigating solutions to the threat of climate change, and to the risk of losing access to clean water. Geology is science at its broadest and at its most relevant for the future of humankind.