Understanding the evolution of the Earth and how it works as a system
The Department’s mission is to advance our understanding and prediction capability of processes that govern the evolution of System Earth: Earth’s structure, and the internal workings and surface processes, that determine its evolution and current dynamic state. Our scientists study the Earth (and other planets) on scales from the molecular to the planetary scale and from the microsecond to the geological time scale, from its birth about 4500 million years ago to the present-day, including the origin and evolution of life. We strive to understand the processes that give rise to its immense riches of life and natural resources.
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".
Societal and economic questions
The Earth Sciences contribute to answers on a wide range of societal and economic questions, e.g.;
- 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 five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations.
Our focus is on four major aspects of the natural Earth:
- Climate and Life
- Earth Interior
- Earth materials
- Environmental Earth Sciences