Interdisciplinary by design, geology reflects the diversity of modern earth science, covering subjects that range from the nature of environments since Earth’s beginnings to the impact of humans on the Earth today.



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Our faculty are both scholars and teachers who devote their careers to making important contributions to their disciplines through writing and research. They are committed to undergraduate education and teach everything from first-year seminars to advanced courses.

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Department Overview

Oberlin’s geology department enjoys a national reputation and is among the first established at an American liberal arts college. Geology at Oberlin is relevant and rigorous—relevant in that the program explores some of the worldwide environmental, climatological, and geological questions of the day, and rigorous in that it requires a high level of inquiry, field study, analysis, and problem solving.

Interdisciplinary by design, geology reflects the diversity of modern earth science, covering subjects that range from the nature of environments since Earth’s beginnings to the impact of humans on the Earth today.

You will benefit from small classes, hands-on learning, excellent faculty scholarship, and opportunities to accompany and assist faculty members with field experiments and other research. We encourage majors to do independent research as well as attend workshops and summer programs in geology to have exposure to different geological processes.

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Curriculum Overview

Introductory classes—in marine science, natural disasters, and mineralogy, for example—are available to non-majors who may be interested in learning about earth systems through scientific study or current environmental issues. Majors, however, take a variety of interdisciplinary courses—biology, earth science, physical chemistry, math, and physics. These serve students who want to pursue related fields of earth science,  such as environmental studies, oceanography, or evolutionary biology.

You will have opportunities to participate in fundamental geological research alongside faculty members. Winter-term projects take students on excursions to nearby sites in Ohio as well as faraway locales in California, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Australia. The National Science Foundation supports many faculty research initiatives. In addition, at least two Oberlin students per year participate in original summer research projects sponsored by the Keck Geology Consortium. In addition, the department’s extensive teaching collection of rocks, mineral samples, fossils, and maps, offers you hands-on tools for analysis and in-depth study.

On campus, you will have access to the department’s global positioning system (GPS) base station and rover, handheld GPS units to locate sampling stations or map geological features of the Earth’s surface. We also use standard GIS software and own two wells for groundwater analysis.

Graduates often continue study in geology or the earth sciences at Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Wisconsin, University of Rochester, and the paleoclimatology programs at Brown University and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Others obtain jobs as science teachers or with geological consulting firms, environmental organizations, and research organizations like the Paleontological Research Institution.

Upcoming Geology Events

Geology News

Image of CJ Blair

CJ Blair Wins 2018 Watson Fellowship

April 18, 2018
Blair will combine his interests in science and creative writing by learning about how threatened species impact communities across the globe.
Portrait of Oberlin geology students

At This Conference, You’re Family

October 11, 2017
Obies earn top prizes for their research presentations at the National Association of Black Geoscientists annual conference.
Amy Margaris

Reunifying Oberlin’s Natural History Collection

August 29, 2017
Associate Professor of Anthropology Amy Margaris ’96 along with other faculty and staff members on campus are working to digitize the college’s many “dangling collections”—objects and specimens spread across various campus buildings that at one time had a home in the college’s natural history museum.