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:


Prof. dr. Appy Sluijs.
4 December 2017
Prof Appy Sluijs of Utrecht University explores the impact of variations in CO2 concentrations on the climate of millions of years ago.
22 November 2017
Scientists from Utrecht University research shows that natural earthquakes may be caused by microscale grain rearrangements.
Atlas van de Onderwereld
17 October 2017
For the first time, the Earth’s mantle has been fully mapped. Geoscientists from Utrecht University call their project the ‘Atlas of the Underworld’.
23 August 2017
Dozens of Dutch researchers are to lay the foundations for major scientific research into the origins of life.