Welcome to the North Carolina Geological Survey's Geoscience Education page. We hope that the North Carolina Geological Survey's Geoscience Education program helps to promote the geologic literacy of the citizens of every county in North Carolina by teaching geology/earth science and empowering others to do the same.
The primary point of contact for this page is the Education and Outreach Geologist Amy Pitts. Please reach out if you have questions or suggestions pertaining to this page. Please visit our expanding Resource Hub below and/or request a visit from our geologists!
Search the Geological Survey's database of Earth science education resources.
Geologists are available to visit your classroom or education center, in person or virtually, to help you teach about the geosciences.
If it's not grown, it's mined!*
That's an old saying, and the more you think about it, the more you realize how true it is. Think about all the things you use or interact with throughout the day - everything - even the clothes you're wearing! If it wasn't grown on a farm, it probably came from raw materials that came out of the Earth. Sometimes it's obvious, like in the case of the metal that we use to make cars or buildings, or the minerals that we cut and polish into gemstones. Sometimes it's less obvious. Did you think about your clothes yet? If they aren't 100% cotton or wool, they probably are made of synthetic fibers made from oil. Are you reading this on an electronic device? It's made almost entirely of geological resources!
And you don't find those resources by just going out and digging a hole (unless you're lucky). At some point in the process, you have to get a geologist involved!
*Oh, and if it is grown, it's probably grown in soil, and 90% of the solid material in soil is derived from rocks. Just saying.
The Earth is the safest place to live that we know of.
Still, it has it's share of dangers, like landslides, sinkholes, earthquakes, naturally occurring radioactive material, and sometimes even volcanoes! Are these random hazards that could strike at any time?
They may be hard to predict, but they are all results of geological processes. By studying those processes, we can better understand how and where it's safe to build our houses so they don't get buried in landslides, swallowed up by sinkholes, shaken to pieces by earthquakes, irradiated by radioactive bedrock, or destroyed by volcanoes.
The Earth (and North Carolina in particular) has a thrilling and dramatic geological history! It's an exciting tale of roiling magma, crashing tectonic plates, rifting continents, the formation and destruction of entire oceans, monstrous lizards, giant sharks, the building of mountain ranges, and the carving of vast canyons. And the best part is: the story isn't over! We've picked it up right in the middle. The processes that have shaped the Earth for billions of years are still going on today.
Well, the lizard monster part - that's over.
Our sharks are smaller now, too.
What exactly causes the volcanoes in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park?
Why does Earth's magnetic field wander around and sometimes completely flip over?
Why does continental collision sometimes make mountain ranges that are curved?
Can earthquakes be predicted?
There are so many interesting, unanswered questions in the Earth sciences. You might wonder how geologists even begin to answer questions like these.
Lots of people think geologists study rocks. That's kind of true, but it's a little bit like saying "meteorologists study thermometers" or "sociologists study surveys."
Geologists study the processes that have shaped and continue to shape the Earth. We might do that by studying rocks, but only because the rock layers that make up the Earth hold clues about those processes.
"Geologists have a saying - rocks remember."
- American astronaut Neil Armstrong
Geologists from all around the world work together by sharing and interpreting the clues they find in the "rock record." Together we solve some very complex mysteries, but we discover more mysteries all the time. Maybe you'll help us out?
The study of geology will show you a new side of the place you call home, and can lead you to some of the most beautiful places on Earth! You can find the beauty of geology at the top of a mountain or down a microscope.
Each of these photos was taken by NCGS Geologist Will Blocher or his friends on their geological adventures. Click any photo to see it at full-size.
A thin-section of an olivine gabbro viewed through the cross-polarized light of a petrographic microscope. This is a rock that originates deep in the Earth, and yet, similar thin-sections have been made from rocks collected on the moon.
A thin-section of a mica schist viewed through the cross-polarized light of a petrographic microscope. The flaky micas of this schist have deformed and recrystallized in response to extreme stress, giving the rock a millimeter-scale wavy texture called "crenulation."