What Do Geologists Do?

The word geology comes from Greek roots meaning earth (geo) and study of (logos). In concurrence with it's broad meaning, the study of geology has many and varied fields, being defined as the science that deals with the earth's physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it. The faculty at the College of Charleston specialize in each of the differing studies of geology, and you can visit the Faculty Webpages to contact them if you'd like to learn more about their specialization. Below you'll find some examples of the careers and studies a geologist can enter as well as some additional resources. Click on the image for a PDF version of our Careers & Studies Guide.


Environmental Geosciences

Climate Change, Earth Systems, Energy Resources, Hydrology, Pollution

Uses geology to study how the environment is changing in response to natural and human factors.

Faculty Contact: Adem AliTim CallahanMitchell Colgan, Robin Humphreys, Teddy ThemVijay Vulava

Coastal & Marine Geology

Hydrography and Seafloor Mapping
  • Seafloor Mapping: Surveying the shape and structure of the seafloor, and using this information to make maps
  • Coastal Processes and Beach Surveying: Surveying beach shorline change and analysis
  • Ocean Observing Systems: Deep sea observatory construction on the Juan de Fuca Plate 
  • Marine Science Education
  • Marine Archeology
  • Paleooceanography and Climate Change

Faculty Contact: Scott HarrisLeslie SautterTeddy Them

Computing in the Earth Sciences

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)


Geographic Information Systems: Analyze complex spatial relationships within the context of data sets gathered with a GPS or satelite. 

Faculty Contact: Norman LevineAdem AliScott HarrisSteve Jaume


The intersection of Geosciences and Data Science and how to use analytical methods to interpret spatial and temporal data to solve environmental and earth science problems.

Faculty Contact: Norman Levine, Leslie Sautter, Adem Ali, John Chadwick, Steve Jaume, Tim CallahanLancie Affonso (Computer Science)

Natural Hazards

Study of earthquakes, their hazards, and how to be prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Faculty Contact: Steven JaumeErin BeutelNorman Levine


Study of geologic history and the origins of life and earth. Paleogeologists find and study fossils of animals and plants, look at sedimentary layers in rocks, and use this information to study the evolution of life. 

Faculty Contact: Robert BoesseneckerMitchell ColganScott Persons, Teddy Them

Planetary Geology

The study of how planetary bodies, solar systems, galaxies, and the universe are formed, and how this impacts our lives. Planetary geologists also plan space missions and use the information gained from research to improve everyday life.

Faculty Contact: Cassandra RunyonJohn Chadwick


Study of chemistry and how this explains the geologic processes of the Earth.

Faculty Contact: Vijay Vulava, Barbara Beckingham

Plate Tectonics

The way that different tectonic environments influence associated phenomena. 

Faculty Contact: Erin BeutelJohn Chadwick

Volcanic & High-Temperature Geochemistry

  • Geohazards: The study of the way volcanoes affect human life and infrastructure
  • Geochemistry: The study of chemistry and how this explains the geologic processes of the Earth such as the behavior of lavas
  • Volcanic Geomorphology: The study of volcanic landforms, how they form, and the many ways that humans coexist with them

Faculty Contact: Barbara BeckinghamErin BeutelJohn ChadwickVijay Vulava

Additional Resources

To learn more about what you can do with a major in Geology, visit the University of Tennessee's What Can I Do With This Major? webpage. (To access the site, go through the Career Center's Major and Career Exploration page, scroll down to What Can I Do With This Major? and click on the link. Once on the webpage, find Geology in the list of majors.)

Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Visit our Job Board for current job, funding, and graduate school opportunities.