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:


29 November 2018
By studying preserved marine algae researchers at the Royal NIOZ and Utrecht University have reconstructed the climate history for a record 500 million years
Crystal Clear
29 November 2018
With her ERC Consolidator Grant Mariëtte Wolthers of Utrecht University plans to research how minerals are formed under natural conditions.
Hub: Pathways to Sustainability
16 November 2018
The Pathways to Sustainability conference will take place on 24 January 2019 at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht.
15 November 2018
NWO has awarded €9 million to research into deep subsurface movements and processes under the Netherlands. 6/8 projects include Utrecht University researchers.