The Major Branches of Geoscience
Geoscience or otherwise known as Earth science encompasses all studies which attempts to explain processes and phenomena that takes place within the Earth and its major compositions (i.e oceans, atmosphere, rocks, glaciers e.t.c) including their origin and nature. It as well studies the relationship between our Earth and the outer space. This gives room for myriads of specializations in this broad field which can be grouped under the following major branches.
Simply referred to as the “study of the oceans”, oceanography investigates the physics, chemistry, biology and the geology aspects of the ocean. Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and is a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce growth and inspiration. It equally supports living organisms, regulates temperature and to an extent drives weather. It is important to note that more than 80% of our ocean remains unmapped, unexplored and unobserved. We actually know more about the surface of the moon than we do know about the oceans.
The major divisions of oceanography includes
- Physical oceanography: Refers to the study of the physical processes and components of the ocean which includes motions such as ocean currents and tides as well as properties such as temperature and salinity.
- Chemical oceanography: This is the study of the chemical properties of the ocean which includes the behavior of the chemical elements and isotopes within the Earth’s oceans.
- Biological oceanography: Refers to the study of the ecology of marine organisms and as well the biology of their individual marine organisms. The oceans are home to millions of Earth’s plants and animals-from tiny single-celled organisms to the gigantic blue whale.
- Geological oceanography: This is the study of the structures of the ocean floor. It comprises of two aspects namely: paleoceanography which is the study of the history of oceans, how they evolved and circulated in the geologic past and marine geology which studies how the chemical and physical structure and properties of the ocean floor has evolved, is composed of and will transform.
Astronomy is the study of the outer space and the physical bodies beyond the Earth – which are the planets, stars, moons, galaxies and everything in-between. Modern day astronomy can also be referred to as astrophysics. It employs the principles of physics and chemistry to ascertain the nature, motions and positions of outer space objects. Astronomers obtain information about the outer space through the help of telescopes, satellites and spacecrafts. These mediums are capable of taking pictures of things in the outer space and sending them down to the Earth. Astronomers also seeks answers to challenging questions about our universe such as the origin of the universe, the existence of life on other planets, the mystery of black holes e.t.c. Astronomy is a pretty big and interesting field of study.
The following subfields of astronomy are identified
- Planetary astronomy: The study of the planets, its growth, evolution and death.
- Solar astronomy: The study of the Sun which is the engine house of the solar system.
- Stellar astronomy: The study of star and terms related to stars such as black holes, nebulae e.t.c.
- Galactic astronomy: The study of the galaxies by establishing the patterns in the collection and distribution of the stars.
- Cosmology: The study of the entire universe, its origin, evolution and its eventual death.
Meteorology is simply the study of the atmosphere. Meteorologists (scientists who study meteorology) obtain information about atmospheric variables such as air pressure, temperature and humidity and use them to discover weather patterns. Meteorology also studies concepts like precipitation, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Meteorologists work to predict weather, a concept known as weather forecasting which is the application of science and technology in predicting the weather condition of a given location at a time. These predictions rely heavily on mathematical and computerized models in order to ascertain some degree of accuracy and efficiency.
Some major subdivisions of meteorology includes
- Aviation meteorology: This is the study of the effects of weather conditions on the control of air traffic.
- Agricultural meteorology: This is the study of weather and climate conditions in relation to agricultural practices such as improving crop yield and plant distribution.
- Hydrometeorology: This is the study of the transfer of water and energy between the land surface and the lower atmosphere.
- Weather forecasting: This is the science of weather prediction usually with the aid of computer models known as forecast models to enhance accuracy.
Geology is the study of the solid Earth and its materials, processes that modify it and as well its history. Geologists explains the mode of origin of materials on the Earth surface and studies the evolution and history of past life in rocks in form of fossils so as to determine how these processes might influence the future. Geologists also employs the use of special mapping tools such as the Geographic Information System (GIS) to interpret and visualize data and hence map out features of the Earth surface thereby offering guidance for the management of natural resources.
Some branches of geology includes
- Geochemistry: The study of the chemical processes such as cycles of matter and energy that modifies and shape the Earth
- Sedimentology: The study of sediments (collection of particles such as sand, clay or silt), its formation and its deposition.
- Paleontology: The study of fossils and what they reveal about the history of the Earth.
- Volcanology: The study of how volcanoes (and related phenomena such as lava and magma), how their form, erupt and eventually become extinct.
- Seismology: The study of earthquakes, seismic waves and related phenomena
- Mineralogy: The study of the minerals, its nature, morphology, composition and their properties.
- Petrology: The study of rocks, its properties and formation. We have igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic petrology.
- Geophysics: The study of the physical properties and processes of the Earth by employing quantitative method