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:


10 July 2018
In the past, the Amazon exerted a major influence on the eutrophication in the westernmost equatorial portion of the Atlantic Ocean.
IJsberg en zee bij Antarctica.
2 July 2018
Scientists from Utrecht University have shown that the Earth’s polar regions, even when they were ice-free, warm up much stronger due to increasing CO2 levels.
28 June 2018
Scientists are often enraged at the quality of the public debate, Appy Sluijs writes. But that debate is about more than just facts.
26 June 2018
An international team of 59 scientists conclude have found that in response to the warming ecosystems climate zones will spatially shift.