People are always mixing up geography and geology. Both fields are not very well-known and they do have similar names as well as areas of study, but THEY ARE DIFFERENT!
Feels good to get that out there.
Ever since I got into both fields, I’ve had to constantly correct people. It can get a bit tiring. So in this post I will draw the line and tell you what makes them similar and what makes them different.
To start, I’ll give you the dictionary definitions, and then I’ll give you some examples. After reading this, you won’t ever make the mistake of confusing the two again (I hope).
GEOLOGY… is how I got into geography so I’ll start with it.
Most people think geologists just study rocks. In truth we study the earth and the processes that create it. So it’s about a lot more than just rocks, but they are interesting too.
According to dictionary.com geology is “the science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the physical, chemical, and biological changes that the earth has undergone or is undergoing.”
So what exactly did I study in my geology classes? Why everything!
We started by learning about plate tectonics because it’s the foundation of geology. The movements occurring within the earth are what create and shape the surface of it. After that we learned about the chemical compositions of earth materials. We then identified three major classes of rocks: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Afterwards we talked about natural processes such as volcanoes, weathering, earthquakes, crustal deformation, mass wasting and water/ice’s effect on the land. We also looked at the evolution of the earth in terms of geologic time. Which can make you feel as insignificant as someone gazing up at the infinite stars and thinking, “Gee, I’m tiny.”
But the thing I loved the most about learning all of this was learning how the beautiful natural wonders of the world were created. It makes you appreciate them even more.
Mouse over images for source info.
has more to do with the spatial arrangement of phenomena on the earth’s surface and the relations between people and their environment – both in terms of nature and rural/urban spaces.
According to dictionary.com geography is “the science dealing with the areal differentiation of the earth’s surface, as shown in the character, arrangement, and interrelations over the world of such elements as climate, elevation, soil, vegetation, population, land use, industries, or states, and of the unit areas formed by the complex of these individual elements.”
I’ve taken several different geography classes, each emphasizing a different aspect of geography. As I’ve stated in previous posts, there is human, physical, regional, and geospatial techniques. Physical geography is much like geology only it doesn’t go into as much detail. Human geography focuses on human relationships such as culture while regional geography is more international (learning about different countries) and geospatial techniques involves using GPS and GIS.
But wait! There is more! The Geography Department recently sent this article to all the students and I think it provides an even better understanding of what geographers do and the reasons why it is such an integral part of our lives today.
“…a degree in geography could be more useful than law or economics.”
–Susan Spano, L.A. Times
Geography is covering new ground for travelers Because what is geography without travel?