WHAT ARE THE EARTH SCIENCES?
In Earth Sciences we study the nature and evolution of our planet. Geoscientists use their knowledge to increase our understanding of Earth processes and to discover resources which improve the quality of human life. However, the focus of Earth Sciences is still the rocks, whether they are found on the deep ocean floor, or on the highest mountain peaks. This means that field work is a major part of our activities. In the field we make observations, explore the subsurface using geophysics and drilling, collect samples and take measurements that will be analyzed in the laboratory. Today, leading Earth Science institutions have as complex an infrastructure as any in Chemistry, Physics, or Biotechnology, and indeed utilize the same research philosophy and research techniques.
As well as continuing in their traditional role, Earth Scientists today are attempting to understand how the Earth System - rock, water, atmosphere and life- works, albeit at time scales beyond human experience. An understanding of complex geological interactions between components of the system provides a background to many issues that are of concern to humanity, such as sustainable development, urbanization, global warming, water pollution and natural disaster mitigation. In the Earth System, human impact is not inconsequential, but only geology gives us a long enough record to recognize the natural variability of the system.
The Department of Earth Sciences was established at The University of Hong Kong in 1995 and is ideally situated for geological studies on the margin of east Asia. Opportunities exist to undertake genuinely new research into the evolution of both ancient and modern geodynamic systems in this fascinating area. These include stratigraphical, structural, petrological, geochemical and geophysical approaches to significant global geological problems that are well represented in the east Asia-west Pacific region. In addition, the subtropical location and local geology of Hong Kong present significant challenges and employment opportunities for engineering and environmental geologists, and unique opportunities are available to study urban geology - another major focus of our department. Although a relatively small area, Hong Kong hosts numerous engineering developments and site investigations which provide a wealth of data on Hong Kong geology. Offshore boreholes provide information on Quaternary paleoenvironmental changes including sea-level history, of direct consequence to our understanding of climate change. Opportunities are available to study urban geology.