About the department

Contact and Location:

Department of Earth Sciences


103 Penny Hall
255 Academy Street
Newark, DE 19716

The mission of the Earth Sciences Department of the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment is to advance understanding of Earth’s natural systems by:

  • Engaging in research devoted to understanding how Earth works and how geological processes have operated over deep geologic to human timescales to create Earth’s environments
  • Preparing students in the Earth Sciences for careers as professional geoscientists and educators
  • Communicating through education and outreach our understanding of Earth’s processes to University students and local, national and international audiences

Graduates of the Geology and Earth Science Education programs will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of the conceptual framework for understanding Earth system processes and the development of Earth’s features over time
  • Integrate concepts from other relevant fields as appropriate to understand geological processes and the Earth system
  • Apply geologic knowledge and critical thinking skills to identify a problem and to describe a strategy for tackling it
  • Effectively communicate their ideas and knowledge and the results of their work
  • Demonstrate the skillful application of technical methodologies relevant to geological sciences. These include use of lab and field equipment, data acquisition and analysis and computer/software skills
  • Demonstrate familiarity with sources of scientific information and the use of scientific literature in geosciences and related fields

The Department of Earth Sciences developed its Code of Conduct to promote a positive work environment that is characterized by collective civility and respect for each individual and is free from any form of discrimination, micro-aggression, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct, and violence.

Download the Code of Conduct

The Department of Earth Sciences (ES) has an excellent faculty with research strengths in coastal and marine geology and geophysics, surface processes and geomorphology, hydrogeology, geomicrobiology, geoarcheology, Quaternary geology, petrology, paleobiology and micropaleontology, and geochemistry.

The Department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that emphasize opportunities for education and research in the classroom, laboratory, and in the field. We typically have 50 to 60 undergraduate majors and 25 to 30 graduate students in the program.

Career opportunities for geology graduates abound in understanding geologic hazards and in exploring for and efficiently using land, water, energy, and mineral resources. These careers require knowledge of the geological, biological, chemical, and physical processes above, on, and below the earth’s surface. Our teaching and research emphasize how these processes operate through time to shape our planet’s surface and near-surface environment.

Department history

An undergraduate program in geology was established at the University in 1958 by the staff of the Delaware Geological Survey. In 1961, the Geology Department became a separate entity; however, the director of the survey remained a half-time faculty member. The graduate program (M.S. and Ph.D.) was established in 1968. The Geology Department and the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) shared Penny Hall from 1969 until 1989 when the new DGS building, immediately adjacent to Penny Hall, was completed. Penny Hall currently houses all faculty, staff, and graduate student offices, two teaching laboratories, eight research laboratories, three classrooms, and the Mineralogical Museum. In 2006, the department joined the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment as the Department of Geological Sciences. In 2019, the department's name was changed to the Department of Earth Sciences.

The department and the survey have had many impactful faculty members and leaders through the years. Allan M. “Doc” Thompson was on the faculty from 1986 to 2005 and expanded the scope of a UD geology degree by taking field courses out of the region to help students explore unique formations in the American West.

Learn more about Doc Thompson or the history of the college.