The term Earth Science is used to describe all the sciences concerned with the origin, evolution, structure and the behaviour of the Earth and its place in the universe, especially in the solar system. The study of earth sciences may be grouped into five major categories:
1. The study of the (rocky) part of the Earth: Geology, the most well-Known of the earth sciences belongs to this category;
2. The study of the aqueous part of the Earth: Oceanography, hydrology, glaciology, limnology constitute this group;
3. The study of the gaseous outer regions of the Earth: Atmospheric science including meteorology (weather, meteorology, climatology), and aeronomy that deals with the outermost ionised part of the atmosphere fall in to this category;
4. The study of the biosphere: Biosphere embodies all life on the earth. It includes also zoology, botany and ecology which, however, are distinctive science in their own rights; and
5. The study of the Earth in its entirety:this is the domain of geography which is study of spatial variation of the earth?s surface and of humankind?s relationship with its environment. The distinctiveness of geography lies in the fact that it is the convergence of physical and biological sciences (physical geography) and social sciences, such as, history (historical geography), political science (political geography), and economics (economic geography).
A great deal of overlap, however, exists among these categories. Since the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957, there is a trend toward the integration of these categories. The integration of the geo-sphere, biosphere systems is a case in point. In a way, even geology may be defined as the study of Earth itself and many components of other categories may be brought under it. Physical geology and physical geography also share many common elements
The deployment of earth-observing devices on satellites, both in geostationary and in low earth orbit, has revolutionized such branches of earth sciences as meteorology and oceanography. This has given rise to Remote Sensing, a new technology for gathering and recording of information about the terrain and ocean surfaces by means of remote sensors install in satellites. Remote sensing technology is now widely used in the survey and management of natural resources and environment. Remote Sensing has, in turn, led to the development of Geographic Information System (GIS).
The emergence of the space age has unfolded yet another perspective for earth scientists. The exploration of moon and planets has made it possible for them to understand, by comparison, the origin of the Earth and its structure and composition. Earth Sciences have also close relationship with emergence of such subjects as Geophysics, Geochemistry and Astronomy. Mining, Engineering and Mineral Exploration Technology represent the practical application of geological science (see also update).
Though there are a small number of institutions, which offer courses in specialised branches of earth sciences, educational opportunities exist primarily in two broad fields, viz., geology and geography. It is only at the Master?s degree level that courses in specially areas are available. Courses in geology and geography are available at the first degree, postgraduate degree and research degree levels. At the first degree level, geology and geography are offered as one of the combinations by a number of universities. There are also stray examples of such topics as applied geology, biogeography, cartography, marine-geology and remote sensing offered as one of the combinations at the first degree level. The Osmania University has introduced a three-year B.Sc.(Vocational) degree course in Geo-exploration.
A brief account of educational opportunities in ten areas viz., Earth Sciences, Geology, Geography, Oceanography, Remote Sensing, Atmospheric Sciences, Space Science, Hydrology, Cartography, and Geographic Information System (GIS) follows.
Earth Science: At the Master?s degree level, earth science as a broad subject is offered at Barkatullah University (Bhopal 482026), Indian School of Mines (Dhanbad 826004) ? M.Sc.(Tech) of three-year duration in applied geology and applied geophysics, Jiwaji University (Gwalior 474011), Manipur University (Imphal 795003), Sambalpur University (Sambalput 768019), and Swamy Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University (Nanded 431606). The Indian School of Mines, which enjoys a deemed university status, is the premiere educational and research center in Earth Sciences.
Geology: About 60 universities offer M.Sc course in geology, while some of them have also introduced M.Phil and PhD programmes. The eligibility requirements is BSc degree with geology as one of the subjects at the first degree level. Another 25 universities offer MSc, MSc(Tech), and MTech in Applied Geology. Education in Mining needs considerable inputs from geology. Courses in mining as an engineering discipline are offered by engineering college.
Geography: Geography is offered at the Master?s degree level by more than 100 universities leading to both MA and MSc degrees. While the focus is on social science aspect of the subject (Human Geography) in MA course, the MSc course emphasis on the scientific dimension (Physical Geography). The eligibility requirements is a first degree with geography as one of the subjects. Four universities, viz., Dr Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya (Sagar 470003), Karnatak University (Dharwad 580003), University of Madras (Chennai 600005), and Utkal University (Bhubaneshwar 751004) offer MSc in Applied Geography.
Oceanography: Master?s degree courses in oceanography and related topics are available in (1)Alagappa University (Karaikudi 630003) ? MSc (Oceanography and Coastal Area Study); (2) Andhra University (Visakhapatanam 530003) ? MSc (Oceanography ? Physical and Chemical); (3)Annamalai University (Annamalai Nagar 608002) ? MSc (Marine Biology and Oceanography); (4)Cochin University of Science and Technology (Kochi 682022) ? MSc (Oceanography); (5)University of Madras (Chennai 600005) ? MSc (Ocean Life Science). The Indian Institute of Technology (Chennai 600036) conducts MTech (Ocean Engineering) course.
It may be mentioned here that considering the importance of ocean in the national economy, a separate Department of Ocean Development was created in July 1981 by the government of India for promoting ocean development activities. It has been established three institutions viz., the National Institute of Ocean Technology at Chennai for developing technology relevant to ocean sector, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services at Hyderabad for generating ocean data products and their dissemination, and the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research at Vasco (Goa).
Remote Sensing: Essentially, remote sensing technology involves surveying land for both in respect of its dimensions and spotting of natural resources that it bears. The aerial photography to survey the land widely used for preparing maps is the predecessor to remote sensing. The first institution for training in the use of aerial photographs was the Indian Photo Interpretation Institute, established in 1966 in Dehra Dun by the Survey of India. It has since been renamed the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) and comes under the administrative control of the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) in the Department of Space.
The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites are the mainstay of the National Natural Resource Management Systems (NNRMS), which aims at the optimal utilisation of the country?s natural resources using remote sensing data. The IIRS is the main training institution in the use of remotely sensed data. It offers both short and long duration training programmes in various disciplines of NNRMS. How ever, the courses are open to scientists, university teachers and technical staff from the forest and the soil survey departments, water resources engineers and land use planners. It offers Junior Research Fellowships to candidates who are encouraged to undertake PhD work in Remote Sensing. The Fellow ships are open to MSc degree holders in such subjects as Forestry, Botany, Environmental Sciences, and Statistics.
Considering the importance of remote sensing, the Anna University (Chennai -600025) was the first to introduce M.Tech. (Remote Sensing) of three-semester duration, which is open to holders of BE/B.Tech, B.Sc (Agri/For/Hort), MSc (Maths/Phy/Chem) or MSc (Geology/Geography) degrees. It also offers a course in a related area leading to the award of BE (Geo-Informaitcs). Other Universities which have introduced the course are: (1) Andhra University (Visakhapatanam 530003) ? MTech (Remote Sensing); (2) Barkatullah University (Bhopal 482026) ? MSc(Tech) (Remote Sensing); (3) Bharatidasan University (Tiruchinarappalli 620024) - MTech (Remote Sensing) open to MSc degree holders in geography, geology or geophysics; (4) Birla Institute of Technology (Ranchi 835215) ? M.Tech (Remote Sensing) open to BE and MSc degree holders; (5) Indian Institute of Technology(Mumbai 400076) ? M.Tech (Remote Sensing);(6)University of Pune, Department of Space & Sciences(Pune 411007) ? MSc(Remote Sensing) open to BSc degree holders in any branch of science; (7) University of Roorkee (Roorkee ? 147667) ? MTech (Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Engineering); (8)Sri Venkateshwara University(Tirupathi ? 517502) ? MSc (Remote Sensing System Management). Bundelkhand University (Jhansi ? 284128) has a PG Diploma in Remote Sensing and Geo-environment of one ?year duration open to MSc/MTech(Geology) degree holders,(9)Indian Institute of Technology(Mumbai ? 400075) ? Postgraduate Diploma in Advance Aerial Photo-interpretation.
Cartography: Maps express information through lines, colours, shapes and other symbols of among others, places and of their geographical, topographical and geological features. Cartography is the art of drawing maps, the most familiar kinds of which are general reference maps, mobility and thematic maps. General reference maps identify and locate a variety of geographic features, such as, land features, bodies of water, and political boundaries. Maps that emphasise boundaries of districts, states or countries as a whole are called political maps. On the other hand, maps that emphasise the location of such features of Earth?s surface as mountains, rivers, lakes are known as physical maps. Mobility maps such as road maps, street maps, aeronautical charts, nautical charts are designed to help people find their way from one place to another. Thematic maps show the distribution of population, rainfall, natural resource, etc.
The Survey of India, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is the official survey and mapping organisation. Its primary responsibility is to maintain topographical maps on different scales covering the entire country. These maps are the basis of all kinds of mapping activities. While Survey of India meets the national needs in cartography, the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), also under the same Ministry, cater to the requirements of thematic maps, which are based on the survey of India maps. These are also other agencies, which prepare maps on specific themes, e.g., geological maps drawn by the Geological Survey of India and forest maps by the Forest Survey of India. Thematic maps are the most widely used ones as would be evident from newspapers, newsmagazines and reports of various kinds generated by different official and non-official agencies. Cartographers are now increasingly using computers for making maps. The Geographic Information System (GIS) is now one of the most important tools available to them.
However, the number of formal courses in cartography is extremely limited. The University of Madras offers a course in M.Sc. (Cartography) of two-year duration. Diploma Courses are available in three universities, viz., (1) Osmania University ? Diploma in Geographical Cartography, (2) Jamia Millia Islamia ? Diploma in Cartography, open to graduates with geography as a subject and (3)MS University of Baroda ? Diploma in Cartography. A Cartography related postgraduate diploma course, Advanced Aerial Photo Interpretation, is available in the Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai).
Geographic Information System: As stated earlier, the remote sensing technology has facilitated the development of Geographic Information System (GIS). Simply stated GIS is a decision-making tool consisting of maps developed on computer. But where it goes beyond mapping is the scope it offers for the storage, manipulation and presentation of geographic information, such as, topography, political boundaries and sub-divisions within them, geology, vegetation, and food plains. GIS is emerging as an important decision-making tool for socio-economic planning. There is a great demand for highly skilled manpower in this area. Only the University of Madras offers a post-graduate diploma course in Geographic Information System Management of one-year duration.
The eligibility requirement is a degree with two years experience in cartography, MSc degree in Geology or Geography, or BE (Civil Engineering). The University has also introduced, with effect from 2000-01 academic session, a new MSc course in Spatial Information Technology at its School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The training programmes of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (Dehra Dun) include a Substantial component of GIS for digital image processing and spatial data analysis. One of the more well known GIS courses is offered by Pentasoft Technologies Ltd (?Taurus? 25, Colony, Chennai 600024). The course called Masters Application Programme in Geographic Information System (MAP-GIS) is of five-week duration.
In the area of Atmospheric Sciences, courses are available in Atmospheric Sciences in general, and in Climatology, Meteorology, Agricultural Meteorology. All the courses are at the Master?s degree level (MSc or MTech), but for some topics post-graduate diploma courses are available.
Atmospheric Science: (1) Kurukshetra University (Kurukshetra ? 136119) ? MSc; (2)Pune University, Department of Space Science (Pune ? 411007) ? MSc, Eligibility: BSc degree in any branch. (3)Andhra University (Visakhapatnam ? 530003) ? MTech. Eligibility: MSc in physics, Nuclear Physics, Meterology, Oceanography, Space Physics, Mathematics, or Statistics; (4)Calcutta University (Calcutta ? 700073) ? MTech. Eligibility: BTech in related branch; (5)Cochin University of Science and Technology (Kochi ? 682022) ? MTech. Eligibility: MSc in Meteorology, Oceanography or Physics with valid GATE score; (6)Indian Institute of Sciences (Bangalore) ? MSc (Engg) by research Eligibility: MSC or BE/BTech in related branch; (7)Sri Venkateshwara University (Tirupathi ? 517502) ? MTech. Eligibility: MSC or BE/BTech in related branch.
Climatology: Pune University(Pune ? 411007) ? MSc. Eligibility: BSc degree in any branch.
Meteorology: (1)Andhra University (Visakhapatnam ? 530003) ? MSc. Eligibility: BSc degree; (2)Cochin University of Science and Technology(Kochi ? 682022) ? MSc. Eligibility: BSc with Physics and Mathematics; (3) M S University of Baroda (Vadodara ? 390002) ? MSc. Eligibility: BSc Degree; (4)Bharathiar University (Coimbatore ? 641046) ? PG Diploma in Meteorology; (5)Punjabi University(Patiala ? 147002) ? PG Diploma in Meteorology.
Agricultural Meteorology: (1)Chaudhary Charan Singh Agricultural University (Hisar ? 125004); (2)Gujarat Agriculture University (Sardar Krushinagar ? 385506); (3)Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University (Shimla ? 171005); (4)Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana 141004). The courses, however, are open to agricultural graduates only.
Space Sciences: Pune University is the only university to offer MSc course in Space Science. Eligibility requirement is BSc Degree in any branch. Besides, the Gujarat University and the Andhra University offer Post-Master Diploma course in Space Sciences.
Hydrology: only two universities offer MSc course in Hydrology: (1)Andhra University ? MSc (Tech) ? (Hydrology) Duration: Three years, Eligibility: BSc Degree; (2)Cochin University of Science and Technology ? MSc (Hydro-chemistry) ? Eligibility: BSc with Chemistry. Besides, the Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai), Osmania University and the Roorkee University (Roorkee ? 247667) have Diploma courses in Hydrology.
Mineral Exploration and Processing: Two Universities offer MSc courses in the topic, viz., Andhra University ? MSc (Mineral Process Engineering) of one year duration open to BTech or Master?s degree in geology; and Gulbarga University (Gulbarga ? 585108) ? MSc (Mineral Processing and Mineral Exploration).
By and large career opportunities in Earth Sciences in general and geology in particular are mainly offered by the government agencies. In Geology, for example, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) is one of the largest employers of geologists and hydro-geologists. The GSI is the premier earth science organisation. Established in 1851, with the main aim of locating coal resources, the GSI has since grown into one of the largest scientific organisations in the country with a strength of about 2900 scientific and technical professionals. Its functions encompass a wide spectrum of earth science activities, such as, geological, geophysical, and geochemical mapping, specialised thematic studies, ground and airborne geophysical surveys, marine surveys, geo-environmental studies and surveys, and geotechnical and seismotectonic surveys.
The Union Public Service Commission conducts Geologist?s Examination for the recruitment of (1) geologists in the Geological Survey of India and the other agencies under the Ministry of Steel and Mines; and (2) hydro-geologists in the Central Ground Water Board in the Ministry of Water Resources. The state Departments of geology, mining and minerals also employ geologists. Other employers include, mining industry, oil exploration companies, cement industry.
Career opportunities in geography, the other major field of Earth Sciences are available in such areas as cartography, tourism and travel industry, geographic information system and urban and town planning. MSc degree holders who are interested in taking up country and town planning career, can take the examination conducted by the institute of Town Planners, India for enhancing career opportunities. There is now a good demand for creative cartographers conversant with computers in the mass media.
An emerging area of employment opportunities both for geologists and geographers is the environmental impact assessment (EIA). EIA has been made mandatory for starting not only new industries but also for various developmental and public utility projects such as river valley, thermal power, automatic power, ports and harbours and airports. The involvement of geologists and geographers among others is necessary for undertaking the work of assessment. Teaching however continues to be an option both for geologists and geographers.
Indian School of Mines (Dhanbad 826005): The school established in 1926, is a premiere institution in the field of geology and mining which enjoys the deemed university status. Besides B.Tech courses in Computers, Electronics and Instrumentation, Mineral Engineering, Mining Machinery, and Petroleum Engineering, it offers M.Sc (Tech) in Applied Geology, and MBA course. Admissions to B.Tech courses are based on IIT-JEE results. Other postgraduate programmes are: (1) M.Tech in Fuel Engineering, Mineral Engineering, Mine Planning and Design, Opencast Mining, Rock Excavation and Engineering, Long wall Mine Mechanisation, Industrial Engineering and Management, Petroleum Engineering, Mining Geophysics, Mineral Exploration, Engineering Geology, Petroleum Exploration, Environment Science & Engineering Computer Application, Maintenance Engineering and Technology, Mining Machinery and (2) M.Phil in Applied Physics, Applied Chemistry, and Applied Mathematics.