Geological sciences and Natural Hazards

Geosciences or earth science is a broad term encompassing any studies pertaining to the earth or the neighboring planets in our solar system. It includes four major branches of study including geology, oceanography, meteorology and astronomy. Two important subfields of geology are seismology and vulcanology. These sciences can help predict the perils and mitigate the effects of natural hazards like volcanic eruptions, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis. Geochemistry is the study of physical aspects of the Earth including the composition, structure, processes, and other. Geophysics includes the study of Earth's shape, its magnetic and gravitational fields, its structure and composition and plate tectonics. Modern geophysics research also includes the water cycle, fluid dynamics of the oceans and the atmosphere; magnetism and electricity in the magnetosphere and ionosphere as well as solar-terrestrial relations. The cryosphere includes those parts of the Earth system that are subject to sub-zero temperatures permanently or at least for some part of the year. Its largest components, thus far, are the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. The cryosphere plays a vital role in modulating the Earth's climate system. The cryosphere reflects a good percentage of the radiation received, thus helping to regulate the planet's temperature. Besides, the spatial distribution of the cryospheric elements is associated with longitudinal temperature differences, which cause winds and ocean currents. Geology in its simplest terms means the study of the earth. It encompasses the study of the composition of the earth, the structures and features found on Earth as well as the processes that act upon them. It also encompasses the study of the history of life that has ever lived on or is living on the planet now. The study of changes in the planet and the life it harbors; over the course of time is an important part of geology. Structural geology studies the three dimensional distribution of large rocks, their surfaces, and their composition in an effort to learn about their past geological environments, tectonic history, and events that may have changed or deformed them. The age of the structural features can be determined by dating. Mineralogy is a sub-discipline of geology specializing in the physical, chemical and crystallographic properties of minerals. Petrology, on the other hand, encompasses the origin, distribution, structure and composition of rocks. Corresponding to the three types of rocks, petrology has three branches, namely igneous petrology, sedimentary petrology and metamorphic petrology. Petroleum geology encompasses the study of occurrence, movement, congregation and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels, especially crude oil and petroleum. Petroleum geology involves the extensive studiy of sedimentology and stratigraphy. Every year, natural disasters cause great damage and loss of life around the world. The damage caused by natural disasters in the recent past has become a great concern. While we do not have the power to prevent these disasters, we are seeking to better understand these disasters. Researchers are slowly unravelling the mysteries behind these disasters are being equipped with better tools for understanding and studying natural disasters. Earthquakes though cannot be predicted, but the geophysical processes that create them are being studied. Satellites can track and provide much needed warning of arriving hurricanes and cyclones. Studies on how the increasing temperatures act as fuel for these violent storms are being credited with positive results. Hazardous volcanoes are being constantly monitored real-time to improve the accuracy of the forecast. Tsunami forecast also needs to be quick and accurate. Earthquake and sea level data is studied quickly and measured real time to provide an early warning system. Floods are one of the most frequently occurring natural disasters. Flash floods are even more dangerous as they occur very soon after heavy rainfall or storms. With new satellite and remote sensing technologies, flood warning systems have been improved considerably. On the other hand, reduce or deficient precipitation causes drought. Drought is a slow on-set disaster and affects all elements that depend on water including humankind, livestock and agriculture.

  • Vulcanology
  • Earthquakes and Seismology
  • Geophysics, Geochemistry and Geodesy
  • Cryospheric Sciences and Glaciology
  • Earthquake, tsunami and geophysical hazards

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