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Earth science

Fields of natural science related to Earth / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science related to the planet Earth. This is a branch of science dealing with the physical, chemical, and biological complex constitutions and synergistic linkages of Earth's four spheres: the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere (or lithosphere). Earth science can be considered to be a branch of planetary science, but with a much older history.

The rocky side of a mountain creek in Costa Rica

There are reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences. It is also the study of Earth and its neighbors in space. Some Earth scientists use their knowledge of the planet to locate and develop energy and mineral resources. Others study the impact of human activity on Earth's environment, and design methods to protect the planet. Some use their knowledge about Earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes to help protect people from these dangerous events.

Earth sciences can include the study of geology, the lithosphere, and the large-scale structure of Earth's interior, as well as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Typically, Earth scientists use tools from geology, chronology, physics, chemistry, geography, biology, and mathematics to build a quantitative understanding of how Earth works and evolves. For example, meteorologists study the weather and watch for dangerous storms. Hydrologists examine water and warn of floods. Seismologists study earthquakes and try to understand where they will strike. Geologists study rocks and help to locate useful minerals. Earth scientists often work in the field—perhaps climbing mountains, exploring the seabed, crawling through caves, or wading in swamps. They measure and collect samples (such as rocks or river water), then record their findings on charts and maps.