Geology vs. Geoscience vs. Earth Science

Adapted from

Defining geology, geosciences, and Earth science is a difficult task because the terms are commonly used interchangeably by professional scientists, businesses, and educators. Based simply off the roots of the word, geology means the “study of the Earth.” For most people, it is a personal preference to use one word or the other, but for some, there are more rigid definitions. University programs also run into this challenge when defining academic programs and majors. For example, departments must answer which classes a student has to take to get a major in geosciences instead of geology or Earth science.

According to the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), geology and Earth science can be used interchangeably and defined as “A program that focuses on the scientific study of the earth and the forces acting upon it” and “includes instruction in historical geology, geomorphology, and sedimentology, the chemistry of rocks and soils, stratigraphy, mineralogy, petrology, geostatistics, volcanology, glaciology, geophysical principles, and applications to research and industrial problems.” More specific definitions of geochemistry and geophysics may be clarified but are often thought of branches of geosciences. Earth science is often thought as a more interdisciplinary science that brings in areas such as meteorology and oceanography.