Academic expertise. Research prowess. Student success.

There’s a whole world of discovery in the ground beneath your feet. From the shifting of tectonic plates to the eruption of volcanoes, learn about the Earth and all of the natural processes that have shaped it over time.

Department faculty, researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students pursue field, laboratory, experimental, and modeling studies of geological and environmental problems around the world. The department's excellent facilities and technical personnel support a range of methods and the department's ideal location also provides ready access to the many natural laboratories of Nevada, California and the western United States. Research specialties include Earth and planetary surface processes, geodynamics, volcanology, geochemistry, petrology, earthquakes and seismology, mineral and energy resources, hydrology and hydrogeology.

Why choose our programs?

Wendy Calvin instructs two students on how to use a research instrument.

Dedicated faculty

Our leading research-active faculty receive funding from national and international agencies, providing graduate students with a thriving work environment, valuable hands-on experience, and financial support to pursue their own research.

Lake Tahoe sunset.

Rich outdoor environment

Our campus is less than an hour away from some of the most beautiful and geologically interesting landscapes in the country, like Lake Tahoe and the Black Rock desert. We learn in an environment that encourages exploration and recreation.

A group watches on as a man flies a drone with a mountain backdrop.

Facilities & instruments

Our graduate students enjoy a full complement of modern facilities, instrumentation, laboratories and technical support personnel, all paired with the many natural laboratories of Nevada, California and the western United States.

Department news

Lauren Sankovitch surrounded by Marvel Universe books and objects on display

The power of science (fiction)

Graduate student Lauren Sankovitch brings a MARVELous background of experience to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering

Four people sit on the ground surrounded by jackets and cooking items. They are all facing the camera and smiling, dressed warmly.

How to cook chicken on a volcano

Six years of research leads to new theories (and new cooking methods) at the Puyehue Cordón Caulle volcano

A microscopic image shows two large grains of pollen that look like spiky yellow balls on a butterfly leg, which is a straight line horizontally with grooves in it.

Museum collections shed light on butterfly adaptations over time

Research looking at preserved butterflies reveals the complex story in a grain of pollen