An integrated approach toward understanding our planet
Main Sustainable Development Goals for the Department of Earth Sciences.

In studying the system Earth and other planets, the Earth Sciences contribute to answers on social and economic questions that concern: 

  • the natural means of existence (water, energy, raw materials),
  • the terrestrial environment (including remediation of pollutions),
  • natural hazards and disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods),
  • and the use of terrestrial space (specifically near surface and underground space).

Through our work, we contribute in particular to 4 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations in 2015.

The Earth Sciences are a multidisciplinary science in which the principles and methods of physics, chemistry, geology, biology, mathematics, and computational sciences are integrated. We specifically develop new scientific hypotheses, methods of data analyses, and experimental and observational techniques that enable us to reconstruct and predict the interactive behaviour of the solid Earth, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere, on scales ranging from seconds to billions of years, and from nanometers to the entire globe. We honour James Hutton’s early insight that "from what has actually been, we have data for concluding with regard to that which is to happen thereafter".

Our research focus is on 4 major aspects of the natural Earth:


Atomic force microscope image of a slipping zone
4 May 2016
Earth scientists from Utrecht University have started a new project to study nanoparticles in fault rocks.
30 March 2016
Civil Architect Francine Houben and Marine Biologist Sybil Seitzinger were awarded an honorary doctorate.
24 March 2016
For his research at the Royal NIOZ Prof. Dr. Ir. Jaap Sinninghe Damsté was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant valued at 2.5 million euro.
23 February 2016
The Antarctic ice sheet is more vulnerable to increasing global temperatures than previously thought, concludes an international team of researchers in PNAS.