Stanford University
Death Valley

Geological Sciences

The study of our planet and its neighbors, from their deep interiors to the surface, and through their multi-billion year history.

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Miller

Understanding our planets and their history

Our students and geoscientists study the properties of minerals, rocks, soils, sediments and water, using multiple lenses -- stratigraphy, paleobiology,  geochemistry, and planetary sciences. Their work informs our understanding of natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and floods. It helps us meet natural resource challenges through environmental and geological engineering, mapping and land use planning, surface and groundwater management, and the exploration and sustainable extraction of energy and minerals.  It also helps us answer fundamental questions about the origin, history, and habitability of planets.

Geological Sciences News

New model sheds light on evolution of Earth's oxygen

A new model of ancient asteroids bombarding the Earth has been applied to understand how oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere evolved.

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El aumento de oxígeno desaceleró antiguas extinciones masivas

Stanford Earth's Erik Sperling and Richard Stockey describe their research on the connection between rising oxygen levels and a previously unexplained slowdown in mass extinctions.

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Extinction changes rules of body size evolution

A sweeping analysis of marine fossils from most of the past half-billion years shows the usual rules of body size evolution change during mass extinctions and their recoveries. The discovery is an early step toward predicting how evolution will play out on the other side of the current extinction crisis.

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Why extinctions ran amok in ancient oceans, and why they slowed down

A new Stanford University study shows rising oxygen levels may explain why global extinction rates slowed down over the past 541 million years. Below 40 percent of present atmospheric oxygen, ocean dead zones rapidly expand, and extinctions ramp up.

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