About Earth Science

Our Mission Statement

The Department of Earth Science at UCSB conducts field studies in diverse regions ranging from the tallest mountain peaks of the Himalayas, the wilderness of Antarctica, to the vast undiscovered depths of the ocean floor. Our graduate and undergraduate students participate directly in the excitement of exploring terra incognita. Taught by a distinguished and dedicated faculty (including several members of the National Academy of Sciences, and winners of the UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award), students discover the unfolding planetary drama of which they are part.

Our Earth is a water-rich rocky planet that has given rise to abundant and diverse life. We study the whole Earth system, focusing on interactions between the solid earth, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, and on the historical evolution of the Earth system throughout geologic time. We explore ongoing terrestrial, marine, and interior Earth processes that are taking place today, and we examine the geologic record to illuminate the past behavior and changing properties of our planet over timescales ranging from centuries to billions of years. We use knowledge about active processes to read the rocky record of the past and seek clues to the origins of Earth's features and life. From the record of the past, we extrapolate to predict global changes that will affect people in the future. We discover the marvels of our home planet at spatial scales ranging from the atomic to the interplanetary through observations, measurements, experiments and models.

HelenThomas Layered Quartzite at Henry's Creek

Layered Quartzite at Henry's Creek (photo credit: Helen Thomas)