What is Geoscience?

We live on the planet Earth which resides in a Solar System made up of other planets and stars.

The Earth provides for all our needs and sustains life.

As we live our daily lives, develop, evolve, innovate, manufacture and construct, our activities impact the Earth.

Humans and other living organisms depend on Earth’s natural environment and resources to thrive.

This makes our knowledge and understanding of the Earth and how it works extremely important for us to be able to sustain it well for our survival and the survival of generations after us.

This calls for the need for people to study the Earth and develop ways by which it can be managed, protected and sustained.

A discipline of science that deals with the study of the Earth is known as Geoscience and the professionals who study Geoscience are called Geoscientists.

The word Geo is from the Greek word geo meaning Earth.

So, Geoscience is the science of the Earth.

The word Geoscience is used interchangeably with the word Earth science.

It involves the study of the materials of which the Earth is made up (i.e., minerals, rocks, soil, and water), the structure of these materials, the processes that form and shape them, and the organisms that have inhabited the Earth and how these organisms have changed over time.

The field of Geoscience incorporates several scientific disciplines related by their applications to the study of the Earth.

In this regard, Geology, which is the study of the solid Earth, is the leading discipline.

Other sub-disciplines include but are not limited to Geophysics, Geochemistry, Hydrology Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science, and Planetary Science.

What Do Geoscientists Do?

Geoscientists can apply knowledge and skills in careers that involve the study and understanding of the Earth.

They work in universities and research institutes where they study the Earth to understand how Earth’s natural systems work today, how they operated in the recent and ancient past and how we expect they may behave in the future.

Geoscientists work in the extractive industry where they conduct studies that locate rocks that contain natural resources (minerals, water, oil and gas), plan the mines that produce them and the methods used to extract them from the rocks.

They work in the building and construction industry to understand Earth’s processes well enough to avoid building important structures such as bridges, dams and high-rise buildings, where they might be damaged or become a hazard.

Geoscientists also carry out studies that contribute directly to public health issues.

Some natural substances such as fluorite, asbestos and radon gas occurring in rocks Can be hazardous and a threat to public health.

Geoscientists prepare geochemical maps that can be used to understand and mitigate public health risks.

Geoscientists also play an important role in interdisciplinary studies that seek to understand the interactions between the solid Earth, oceans, the atmosphere and the biosphere.

These interdisciplinary studies address contemporary problems such as long and short-term climatic change, pollution monitoring, resource evaluation, ecological issues and land use.

How Do I Become a Geoscience Professional?

Geoscience is the science that pursues an understanding of planet Earth how it was born, how it has evolved, how it works, and how we can help preserve its habitats.

To explain an entity like Earth, Geoscientists combine an array of other domains of science such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, computation and even subjects like geography and Cartography.

So, Geoscience is the Combination of different fields aimed at explaining the Earth and its related processes.

Geoscientists, therefore, apply principles of the physical Sciences, mathematics and computing not only to solve natural problems but also to explore oil, natural gas, groundwater and mineral deposits.

Therefore, to become a Geoscientist you need to study General Science at the Senior High School and take science subjects: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Elective Mathematics.

You may replace Biology with Geography if you so wish.

Several Universities in Ghana run Geoscience or Geoscience related programmes at the undergraduate level.

The University of Ghana runs Earth Science and Geophysics programmes;

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) run Geological Engineering and Geophysics programmes;
  • University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) runs a Geological Engineering degree programme;
  • The University for Development Studies (Navrongo Campus) runs an Earth and Environmental Science degree programme;
  • Radford University College, a private university in Accra, runs a Geoscience degree programme.
  • Other Universities, such as the University of Energy Natural Resources, intend to run a Geoscience degree programme soon.

A typical undergraduate Geoscience programme includes core geology Courses (mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, and structural geology), which are important for all Geoscientists.

In addition to courses in core geology, most programmes require students to take courses in applied geology (Geochemistry, Geophysics, hydrogeology, engineering geology etc.) and other courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

Some programmes include training on specific software packages and other specialised courses that will be useful to those seeking a career as a Geoscientist.

Students are required to participate in faculty-student research projects or conduct independent research of their own. Field exercises and excursions form an important component of an undergraduate Geoscience programme.

The excursions together with laboratory exercises and periods of industrial training enhance student’s knowledge and practical understanding of Geoscience.

Through the combination of classroom, laboratory, fieldwork and project modules, a typical Geoscience programme facilitates the transfer of skills such as communication skills, critical-thinking skills, outdoor skills, physical stamina, problem-solving skills, teamwork abilities and personal organisation and development.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, one can specialize in a specific geoscience field through higher education degrees such as a Master of Science degree or a PhD.

What are the Career Opportunities in Geoscience?

The field of Geoscience has opportunities for a variety of careers. Geoscientists with different specialities study different aspects of the Earth.

Here are just a few of the many types of Geoscientists, with a brief description of what they study:

  • Hydrogeologists study the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of subsurface water.
  • Mine geologists study the relationship between geology and ore formation and locate mineral resources such as gold, diamond, uranium, and iron ore.
  • Geophysicists use gravity, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods to study the earth.
  • Petroleum geoscientists involved in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas.
  • Engineering geoscientists use their knowledge of geology and geophysics in the construction of roads, dams, and buildings.

Geoscientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in any of the Geoscience fields for most entry-level positions.

However, Some Geoscientists begin their careers with degrees in environmental science or geological engineering.

Nowadays, some geoscience jobs, such as in the minerals and oil/gas industry, require a master’s degree.

The career opportunities are very diverse. Some Geoscientists spend most of their time outdoors, others spend their entire time in the laboratory, and many spend a mixture of time outside, in the laboratory, and at their desk.

Most Geoscience jobs require written and/or oral reports on the completed project as well as some computer work.

Geoscientists can work in private industry, governmental agencies or educational institutions.

Many Geoscience graduates enter professions directly related to their degree.

In Ghana, the mineral industry hires nearly one-third of all Geoscientists.

Water companies and related agencies employ/contract for geoscientists groundwater exploration and development.

With the discoveries of oil and gas in commercial quantities since 2008, the oil and gas industry has become a major employer of Geoscientists.

Other areas include environmental engineering, civil engineering and construction, geological surveying, environmental planning, geoscience policy, resources regulation, and pollution control.

Other potential employers include the geo-tourism industry, local authorities, museums and government organizations.

Those interested in working in academia or relevant research institutions require a PhD.

In their roles, Geoscientists typically do the following:

plan and carry out field studies, in which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys to collect data, conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field, analyse data (e.g. aerial photographs, well logs, rock samples, seismic data, geochemical data, etc.), make geological maps and charts, prepare written scientific reports and present their findings to clients, colleagues, peers, and other interested parties.

Geoscientists can apply their knowledge and skills to the study of other planets and planetary bodies.

There can be no space exploration without Geoscientists.

Opportunities are available to Geoscientists in space exploration as Astrogeologists, Geochemists, Engineers, Atmospheric scientists, Astronauts and Researchers.

All space missions require the expertise of Geoscientists.

In conclusion, a career in Geoscience provides many choices, many challenges and much fulfilling work.


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