Earth Sciences

I. General Scope


The Library’s Earth Sciences collection development program supports the current research and teaching activities of the faculty and students in the Department of Earth Sciences. The collection development program also supports related interests of the faculty and students in the Thayer School of Engineering, the Geography Department, the Biology Department, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Institute of Arctic Studies.

Researchers in Dartmouth’s earth sciences department conduct research in the diverse disciplines of environmental geosciences listed below, focusing mainly on earth surface processes:

  • Environmental and Low Temperature Geochemistry
  • Isotope Geochemistry
  • Geomorphology and Surficial Processes
  • Hydrology and Watershed Processes
  • Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
  • Paleoenvironments and the Sedimentary Record
  • Biogeochemistry of Soil Systems
  • Geophysics and Structural Geology
  • Oceanography

Earth system processes frequently overlap and are interdependent, thus, earth science research often involves collaborative and interdisciplinary investigations. [1] The earth sciences collection program works to support research and teaching in these cross-disciplinary areas.

The collection aims to cover areas of emerging as well as current interest.  Older materials in the area of regional descriptive geology are collected selectively. Historical materials are collected to support basic research in the history of geology.

[1] Dartmouth Department of Earth Sciences – Research Topics. Accessed Aug. 22, 2016.


The collection includes materials in all the broad fields of interest in the geosciences, as defined by the American Geological Institute as scope for GeoRef, the comprehensive database of the earth sciences literature.  That list includes:

  • Areal geology
  • Economic geology
  • Engineering geology
  • Environmental geology
  • Extraterrestrial geology
  • Geochemistry
  • Geochronology
  • Geophysics
  • Historical geology and paleoecology
  • Hydrogeology and hydrology
  • Marine geology and oceanography
  • Mineralogy and crystallography
  • Miscellaneous and mathematical geology 
  • Paleobotany
  • Paleontology, vertebrate and invertebrate
  • Petrology
  • Quaternary geology
  • Soils
  • Stratigraphy
  • Structural geology
  • Surficial geology, geomorphology

An expanded description of these areas can be found on the AGI website (GeoRef subjects covered).

Related collecting areas include glaciology and climate; atmospheric science; oceanography; and remote sensing of the environment.

Geology and its subdivisions are classed in the QEs, with related areas in the QCs (geophysics, climate and meteorology) and the GBs and GCs (physical geography, geomorphology, hydrology; oceanography).  Subclasses of the S and T classes are relevant as well (soil science; mining; mineral and ore deposits). See the Library of Congress Classification Outline for more information.

The White Mountains and Stefansson collections in Rauner Library are important resources for historical work.


No formal partnerships are in place at this time to collaboratively develop or manage collections in earth sciences. Opportunities exist for the development of shared print retention agreements among cooperating libraries for serial publications available online, particularly those of the USGS, state governments and geological surveys, and non-governmental organizations.

II. Specific Delimitations to collecting in this subject area


English is the primary language of the collection, though other languages are not excluded. Due to the regional nature of the earth sciences, material on the geology of a region may be collected in whatever language is available.

Geographical Areas (if applicable)

No geographic areas, including planets and other solar system objects, are specifically excluded from the collection development program, although several geographic areas are emphasized due to particular past and/or on-going research interests. These areas include New England, New York, the Rocky Mountain West, California, Mexico, New Zealand, Eastern Europe (the Carpathians), Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Pakistan, India, the Himalayas, Greenland, and Antarctica.

Types of Materials Collected

All types of materials are considered for the collection.

Publications of national and state geological surveys and societies, geologic field trip guidebooks and serials are characteristic publication types in the earth sciences.

Format of Materials Collected
Materials in any format except flat maps are included in the collection. Geologic maps without accompanying text that are published as flat maps are held in the Evans Map Room. (See the Maps and Atlases Collection Development Policy.) The USGS Envelope Map Series maps are part of the Kresge Library holdings.

Collective Collections

Many publications of the U.S. Geological Survey and state geological surveys have been digitized through the HathiTrust initiative, as well as through government agency digitization and digital publishing efforts. For several reasons, including readability (especially of large-format materials such as geologic maps) and in some cases, long-term stability, these do not usually replace print in the Library’s collections for essential titles, but are an acceptable alternative to print for titles in secondary research areas.

The Library at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories (CRREL) in Hanover has an extensive collection supporting its research areas of polar science and engineering. CRREL’s library and publications are a notable local resource.

III. Revision History

  • Updated July 2016 (Jane Quigley)
  • May 1990 (Barbara DeFelice)
  • March 1995 (Barbara DeFelice)
  • Current selector: Jane Quigley