The study of the physical material

The study of the physical material of the Earth dates back at least to ancient Greece when Theophrastus wrote the work Peri Lithon. During the Roman period, Pliny the Elder wrote in detail of the many minerals and metals, then in practical use – even correctly noting the origin of amber.

Aerial photography
On the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, sand dunes are encroaching onto once-fertile lands in the north – photo: USGS

Geological principles

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.

Environmental problems

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.

Obtaining data

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. Geologists also obtain data through:

  • Stratigraphy

  • Boreholes

  • Core samples

  • Ice cores

Physical material

The study of the physical material of the Earth dates back at least to ancient Greece when Theophrastus (372–287 BCE) wrote the work Peri Lithon (On Stones). During the Roman period, Pliny the Elder wrote in detail of the many minerals and metals, then in practical use – even correctly noting the origin of amber.


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John Roe

John Roe

John is a 26-year-old scientific researcher who enjoys drone photography, reading and waiting at bus stops. He is generous and loveable, but can also be very lazy. He has a degree in chemistry and is obsessed with bottled water.

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