Research in the department spans a wide range of earth science disciplines and can be grouped into the following four areas of focus:
Understanding climate change demands knowledge of the physics of the atmosphere and ocean, the chemistry of the carbon cycle, and the interaction of life with the environment. The department studies these systems on today's Earth and, through analysis of geological archives, assesses the long-term processes involved in climate change.
Tectonics shapes the surface of the planet and creates many of the natural hazards faced by society. The department uses diverse observational tools and rigorous analytical techniques to understand the processes that govern continental and marine tectonics, the earthquake cycle, and the pattern and impact of volcanism.
Assessing the nature of the interior of our planet, and the processes involved in forming planets in general, requires remote observational approaches such as seismology and isotope geochemistry, and the reconstruction of inner-Earth conditions in the laboratory. The department has significant programmes in each of these areas.
The paradigm of evolution has been with us for 200 years and continues to be richly informed by detailed inspection of the fossil record. Departmental work includes assessment of the first evidence for life, the response of vertebrate species to environmental pressures, and the reconstruction of fossil morphologies in exquisite detail using new computational approaches.