Applied Geology

Applied Geology involves a more specific interest in the application of Earth Science for the benefit of human civilisation and includes, for example, surveying metallic ore deposits, fossil fuels and groundwater resources, and applying geological knowledge in a range of engineering and environmental contexts.

Read below for more information on the many exciting Research Areas of Applied Geology.

If you are interested in pursuing a research degree in Applied Geology, you can click here to look for potential supervisors.


Applied Areas of Geology include:

Economic Geology: Economic geologists help locate and manage the Earth's natural resources, such as petroleum and coal, as well as mineral resources, which include metals such as iron, copper, and uranium.

Mining Geology: Mining Geologists extract mineral resources from the Earth. Some resources of economic interests include gemstones, metals, and many minerals such as asbestos, perlite, mica, phosphates, zeolites, clay, pumice, quartz, and silica, as well as elements such as sulfur, chlorine, and helium.

Petroleum Geology: Petroleum geologists study the locations of the subsurface of the Earth which can contain extractable hydrocarbons, especially petroleum and natural gas. Because many of these reservoirs are found in sedimentary basins, they study the formation of these basins, as well as their sedimentary and tectonic evolution and the present-day positions of the rock units.

Engineering Geology: the application of the geologic principles to engineering practice for the purpose of assuring that the geologic factors affecting the location, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of engineering works are properly addressed. In the field of civil engineering, geological principles and analyses are used in order to ascertain the mechanical principles of the material on which structures are built. This allows tunnels to be built without collapsing, bridges and skyscrapers to be built with sturdy foundations, and buildings to be built that will not settle in clay and mud.

Hydrology and the Environment: Geology and geologic principles can be applied to various environmental problems such as stream restoration, the restoration of brownfields, and the understanding of the interaction between natural habitat and the geologic environment. Groundwater hydrology, or hydrogeology, is used to locate groundwater, which can often provide a ready supply of uncontaminated water and is especially important in arid regions, and to monitor the spread of contaminants in groundwater wells.

Paleo Geology: Geologists also obtain data through stratigraphy, boreholes, core samples, and ice cores. Ice cores and sediment cores are used to for paleoclimate reconstructions, which tell geologists about past and present temperature, precipitation, and sea level across the globe. These datasets are our primary source of information on global climate change outside of instrumental data.

Natural Hazards: Geologists and geophysicists study natural hazards in order to enact safe building codes and warning systems that are used to prevent loss of property and life. Examples of important natural hazards that are pertinent to geology are rockfalls, avalanches, earthquakes, floods, landslides and debris flows, river channel migration and avulsion, liquefaction, sinkholes, subsidence, tsunamis, and volcanoes.

Geophysics: Geophysics investigates the shape of the Earth, its reaction to forces and its magnetic and gravity fields. Geophysicists explore the Earth's core and mantle as well as the tectonic and seismic activity of the lithosphere. Geophysics is commonly used to supplement the work of geologists in developing a comprehensive understanding of crustal geology, particularly in mineral and petroleum exploration.