Despite historical linkages, the fields of geology and soil science have developed along largely divergent paths in the United States during much of the mid- to late- twentieth century. The shift in recent decades within both disciplines to greater emphasis on environmental quality issues and a systems approach has created new opportunities for collaboration and cross-training. Because of the importance of the soil as a dynamic interface between the hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere, introductory and advanced soil science classes are now being taught in a number of earth and environmental science departments. The National Research Council's recent report, Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science, highlights the soil zone as part of the land surface-to-groundwater "critical zone" requiring additional investigation. To better prepare geology undergraduates to deal with complex environmental problems, their training should include a fundamental understanding of the nature and properties of soils. Those undergraduate geology students with an interest in this area should be encouraged to view soil science as a viable earth science specialty area for graduate study. Summer internships such as those offered by the National Science Foundation-funded Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Training (IGERT) programs offer geology undergraduates the opportunity to explore research and career opportunities in soil science.
Additional publication details
Soil science and geology: Connects, disconnects and new opportunities in geoscience education