Why Earth and Planetary Sciences?

Angular unconformity; photo by R. Schlische

The Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS) explores Earth’s past, present and future, as well as other planets in our solar system and beyond. Through education and research, we examine Earth and planetary interiors, surface environments, and life through time; these are interdisciplinary fields that draw on fundamental knowledge in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Our studies have scientific and societal relevance: global change to the solid Earth and its environment, oceans, climate, and life; natural hazards (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, and landslides); natural resource exploration and management (hydrocarbons, ore minerals, groundwater); and planetary geology and the search for extraterrestrial life. Several faculty have joint appointments in other departments: Anthropology (in the School of Arts & Sciences), Environmental Sciences, and Marine & Coastal Sciences (the latter two in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences). The EPS major covers the core areas of the Earth and planetary sciences yet still allows opportunity for students to specialize through additional high-level courses in EPS, mathematics, and allied sciences. The major can be completed in four semesters once students have taken foundational courses in mathematics and the cognate sciences. Our majors enjoy employment opportunities in geological and environmental consulting, the energy industry, government agencies, and secondary education as well as excellent placement in top graduate programs.

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Rutgers University is located in an area of diverse geology. Precambrian Highlands, the Paleozoic fold and thrust belt of the Appalachians, the Mesozoic Newark rift basin, and the Mesozoic-Cenozoic coastal plain are all represented in New Jersey. Field trips take advantage of the local geology, as do many NJ-based research projects . Faculty, staff, and students have done research in places ranging from Africa to Antarctica, Canada to Costa Rica, Iceland to Idaho, and all oceans.


Rutgers University Geology Museum

The Rutgers University Geology Museum, which is open to the public, features exhibits on geology and anthropology, with an emphasis on the natural history of New Jersey. The largest exhibits include a dinosaur trackway from Towaco, NJ; a mastodon from Salem County, NJ; and a Ptolomaic era Egyptian mummy. There are mineral exhibits featuring the zeolite minerals of Paterson, NJ, and the zinc minerals of Franklin, NJ. Also on exhibit is a 30-foot-long geologic cross section of New Jersey from the Delaware Water Gap to the southern NJ coastal plain. More

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