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Did You Know

Then UAF undergraduate geosciences student Susi Tomsich discovered the first dinosaur track in Denali National Park while taking the Geosciences Field Course. It happened when UAF Professor Paul McCarthy looked at their surroundings and said, “This would be the type of area where you could find dinosaur tracks.” To which Susi pointed at a three-toed track of a meat-eating dinosaur that roamed Alaska 70 million-years ago and replied, “You mean like that one?”

Department of Geosciences


Geosciences is the study the Earth and its people through geography, geology and geophysics. This includes a broad range of subjects like volcanism, plate tectonics, glaciology, remote sensing and mineralogy. Geography can focus on physical science or it can investigate the patterns and processes that shape human society like religion or economics. Geoscience jobs are plentiful, salaries are competitive, and the demand for young and enthusiastic geoscientists is expected to grow.

Why study geoscience at UAF and in Alaska?

  • For students interested in geosciences, Alaska is one of the most exciting natural laboratories on Earth.
  • Alaska saw the world’s largest volcanic eruption and second largest earthquake during the last century.
  • Together with western Canada, Alaska contains the largest ice mass outside of Antarctica and Greenland.
  • Global change is warming Alaska and causing dramatic changes to permafrost, glaciers, and sea ice.
  • Alaska is an area of active exploration for and discovery of mineral and energy resources such as oil and rare earth minerals.
  • Our program emphasizes field experience with classes like the geology field camp in which students practice geological mapping in remote mountains
    Our research spans the globe with faculty work at research sites like Japan, Russia, Antarctica. One even studies the geology of Mars.

Our classes allow you to explore

  • Economic Geology
  • Earth Science
  • Geochronology (studying timescales embedded in rocks),
  • GIS
  • Glaciers
  • Lake, river & sea ice
  • Landscape analysis through geography
  • Paleontology
  • Permafrost
  • Natural hazards and their mitigation
  • Remote sensing
  • Rocks and minerals
  • Stratigraphy & sedimentation
  • Teaching geology at a middle or high school
  • Tectonics
  • Volcanoes
  • and more…

Some of the questions related to geosciences that UAF researchers are asking

  • What happened to the ice-age horse that inhabited Beringia, the biogeographic connector between Asia and North America – Geography
  • What’s happening to the Pacific Plate under the Wrangell Mountains? It’s as if the plate just disappears. OK, not really but read the article – Geophysics
  • How do gold and other mineral deposits form in Alaska – Geology

Institutes, programs and labs that foster our student and faculty research

Advanced Instrumentation Laboratory
CNSM Division of Research
Geophysical Institute
UA Museum of the North

UAF International Arctic Research Center
EPSCoR (NSF program)
Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Activity

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