Department of Geosciences

The Department of Geosciences pursues fundamental, cutting–edge and strategic research in areas of the geosciences that have great societal impact and educates students for careers that advance the forefront of knowledge in the geosciences. We focus on development and management of natural resources, assessment of natural hazards, understanding of processes that modify the Earth’s surface and how they respond to natural and anthropogenic forces, and investigation of the habitability of Earth and other planets in the past, present and future. View the information below to learn more.

Department of Geosciences - Pushing the Frontiers of Research

An international leader in the geosciences, Penn State University is pushing the frontiers of research. With new instruments and new, cutting-edge techniques, students and researchers are addressing societal relevant problems that will sustain us all into the future.

News

High altitude balloons
NASA Space Grant project livestreams eclipse from near-space
08/18/2017

Millions will be watching Monday, Aug. 21, as the moon eclipses the sun, darkening a large swath of the United States. People from Oregon to South Carolina will witness a total eclipse, a rare phenomenon not seen in the U.S. since 1979. Others in the continental U.S. and beyond will be treated to a partial eclipse. But if you can’t make it outside Monday, you’ll still have a chance to witness something special — a livesteam featuring videos and photos of the eclipse from high above the Earth.


Fossil in rock
For EMS students, Denver trip offers glimpse of life during, after dinosaurs
08/09/2017

In a weekend, imagine walking the earth before the time of dinosaurs, then during the period in which they roamed, and finishing your walk long after their demise. For students in a geobiology (Geosc 204) course that culminates with a field trip to the Denver Basin, that’s the story that’s told in the exposed rocks of Dinosaur Ridge, Green Mountain, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and backstage visits to a nearby museum.


Field research
Institutes of Energy and the Environment seed grant recipients announced
08/04/2017

The 2017 Institutes for Energy and the Environment (IEE) seed grants have been awarded to a pool of interdisciplinary researchers at Penn State. Thirteen grants totaling more than $312,000 have been awarded to 42 researchers that addressed four of IEE's five research themes: Climate and Ecosystem Change, Future Energy Supply, Smart Energy Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles.


Emissions
Allowable 'carbon budget' most likely overestimated
07/24/2017

While most climate scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, implicitly define "pre-industrial" to be in the late 1800's, a true non-industrially influenced baseline is probably further in the past, according to an international team of researchers who are concerned because it affects the available carbon budget for meeting the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming limit agreed to in the Paris Conference of 2015.


Map showing location of microfossils
Ancient plankton-like microfossils span two continents
07/13/2017

Large, robust, lens-shaped microfossils from the approximately 3.4 billion-year-old Kromberg Formation of the Kaapvaal craton in eastern South Africa are not only among the oldest elaborate microorganisms known, but are also related to other intricate microfossils of the same age found in the Pilbara Craton of Australia, according to an international team of scientists.