The Significance of Geologic Time: Cultural, Educational, and Economic Frameworks

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2012-01-01
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Frodeman, Robert
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Cervato, Cinzia
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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers majors in three areas: Geology (traditional, environmental, or hydrogeology, for work as a surveyor or in mineral exploration), Meteorology (studies in global atmosphere, weather technology, and modeling for work as a meteorologist), and Earth Sciences (interdisciplinary mixture of geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences, with option of teacher-licensure).

History
The Department of Geology and Mining was founded in 1898. In 1902 its name changed to the Department of Geology. In 1965 its name changed to the Department of Earth Science. In 1977 its name changed to the Department of Earth Sciences. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

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1898-present

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  • Department of Geology and Mining (1898-1902)
  • Department of Geology (1902-1965)
  • Department of Earth Science (1965-1977)
  • Department of Earth Sciences (1977-1989)

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The discovery of geologic time revolutionized scientific thinking and led to the development of the modern Earth sciences. Less appreciated, however, is the fact that geologic time has had far-reaching cultural and societal consequences that go well beyond its founding influence upon the geosciences. This essay summarizes the literature describing the difficulties students encounter in understanding deep time, provides an overview of the historical development and cultural relevance of deep time, and suggests ways to increase students’ understanding of the significance of geologic time.

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This is a manuscript of an article from Geological Society of America Special Papers 486 (2012): 19, doi:10.1130/2012.2486(03). Posted with permission.

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Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2012
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