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Geology as a field of science

Geology is a field of science that studies the Earth and specifically the Earth’s crust: its history, structure, composition and the processes related to its formation, as well as its on-going processes. Physics, biology and chemistry are all applied in geological study.

Geology is one of the most comprehensive natural sciences. In Finland, geology is taught in the universities in Helsinki, Turku and Oulu, as well as at Åbo Akademi in Turku.

As a field of research, geology has a long history in Finland. The Geological Survey of Finland continues the work started by the Geological Office established under the Board of Mines in 1877. The predecessor of the Board of Mines was its Swedish counterpart established in 1630.

Did you know?

The word ‘geology’ comes from the Ancient Greek words of γῆ, gē (“earth”) and -λoγία, -logia, (“study of”, “discourse”).

Geology and everyday life

Have you ever stopped to think how many of the things around us are connected to geology? Metals, glass, porcelain, concrete, and many other raw materials used in construction and for energy – not to mention the water we drink – all originate in the Earth’s crust.

When an early human first took a sharp rock and figured out how to use it as a tool during the Stone Age, humanity instantly became dependent on the Earth’s crust. Today, we use a plethora of metallic devices produced from ore. We use rock material, such as sand and gravel, limestone and other minerals to build houses, roads and all sorts of buildings and structures. Plastics and many fuels and lubricants are produced from oil found underground.

The crust also provides us with energy. We use refined uranium as fuel for nuclear energy plants, and we burn peat, coal and oil to produce electricity and heat. Lately, geothermal heat has become popular in heating and cooling buildings.

Groundwater is a vital geological resource that Finns have an abundance of (for now). However, around a third of the Earth’s population is suffering from a water shortage.

Nearly 30 tonnes of natural resources originating from the Earth’s crust are used in Finland per person

Geological natural resources include minerals, and the energy or other resources stored within them, that are valuable or vital to humans. Geological natural resources used in construction, manufacturing or as other production factors are also called raw materials.

Natural resources are utilised on a very large scale. In 2017, 237 million tonnes of natural resources were used in Finland (Statistics Finland). Of this amount, the share of domestic natural resources was 172 million tonnes. Around a third of this was soil material and 66 million tonnes were minerals.

This rounds up to around 30 tonnes of geological natural resources used per Finn each year. As a comparison, a regular car weights just under two tonnes.

The majority of the used resources is sand, gravel and rock material ground from bedrock. In addition, hundreds of kilogrammes of talc and carbonate rocks are used to produce paper, rubber and plastics, apatite and carbonate rocks are used to produce fertilizers and metals are used as raw material in the metal industry.

A lot of geological know-how and information produced from research are required to keep the modern society running. Today, the most current research areas are the utilisation of battery minerals and circular economy solutions.

More about geology

geologia.fi

General information about geology and Finnish bedrock, learning materials and a large collection of links and glossaries (in Finnish or Swedish). Read, learn and get excited about geology!

OneGeology

The website of an international geological research institute that provides geoscience data globally.

 

Did you know?

20 different mines are needed to produce the metals required in the production of a single mobile phone.