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Program Description

Earth Science encompass the study of our Earth, and in particular its origin, its history, its structure, its evolution of life, and the processes that have molded it. Additionally, the fields of study have been extended to include the solid planets of the solar system. These must be difficult studies that would lead to many questions for many people, but we would not be able to understand the root of the global environmental issues and problems and of the international-scaled resource competitions without understanding each system that is contributing to construction of an entire “planetary earth” as a whole in addition to knowing the relation of each from a total system perspective. We, the Department of Earth Science of Tohoku University, are therefore providing the following education and research programs to support understanding of the “Planetary Earth” from a comprehensive perspective.
Program Description
  • GeoEnvironmental Science

    What is the study of
    Geoenvironmental Science?

    The Earth’s integrated system comprising its atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere is driven by the energy of solar radiation just as we are. Even the system of the solid Earth (lithosphere) is driven by the decaying energy of radioactive elements in the Earth. The boundary region between these four spheres is called the Geosphere; these four spheres interact through the circulation of energy and materials. A huge variety of episodes has occurred and evolved in the Geosphere during Earth’s long history. We human beings are the newest interesting product of this sphere.

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  • Earth and Planetary Materials Science

    What is the study of Earth and
    Planetary Materials Science?

    The planets, including Earth, were created 4.6 billion years ago in a short time through the protoplanetary disk system from a gaseous solar nebula. About 4 billion years ago, the earth surface cooled gradually and plate tectonic motion began. About 3 billion years ago, the first life was born from organic matter, subsequently and eventually evolving to human beings. The Earth and Planetary Science of the 21st century has explained and clarified the details of processes of this type.

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Undergraduate program

The Department of Earth Science offers outstanding opportunities for students who wish to pursue studies related to Earth and Planetary Environmental and Materials Science including Human Geography, which are of unprecedented importance to contemporary society. Because the Earth’s integrated systems are interconnected, the training broadly incorporates the whole Earth, including the crust, mantle, core, ocean, atmosphere, space, and life. Our Department consists of two divisions of a) Geoenvironmental Science and b) Earth and Planetary Materials Science. During the first three semesters, students are collectively assigned to the Department of Earth Science and are trained in the basic science (broad disciplines of physics, mathematics, chemistry, language, economics, and social science). For the fourth semester, students are assigned to these divisions according to their interests and the credits they hold. After being assigned to the Divisions, the following take place.


a) The Division of Geoenvironmental science is separated into two upper-level programs that specifically examine 1) Geological and Paleontological Science, and 2) Geographical Science. Students complete their undergraduate thesis in two years, which affords them the opportunity to do original research under the guidance of department faculty, involving fieldwork or laboratory work on original data and samples. The career opportunities made possible by our division are diverse, spanning private oil-related and electronics companies, governments, high-school teaching, and graduate studies.


b) The Division of Earth and Planetary Materials Science trains students in the specialized disciplines of mineralogy, petrology, isotope geochemistry, crystal growth, physics of the Earth and planetary interior, high-pressure physics, and volcanology. Moreover, students complete their undergraduate thesis by their final year, which affords them the opportunity to do original research under the guidance of department faculty, involving fieldwork or laboratory work using original data and samples. Career opportunities for graduates of our division are diverse, spanning private ceramics companies, governments, high-school teaching, and graduate studies.

Graduate Program

Graduate degrees are offered in the field of Earth and Planetary Science, with strong ties to the JSPS “Global COE (Centers-of-Excellence)” program, offering multidisciplinary aspects with the Department of geophysics and environmental studies. The Master program typically requires two years and requires a thesis. The Doctor program, which culminates with production of a dissertation, typically requires three years. Its flexible programs are tailored to the needs of individual students. The Doctoral program is supported by the Global COE program with the collaboration of the Department of Geophysics, the Graduate School of Environmental Studies, and the Department of Engineering (2008-2012). Once enrolled, doctoral students are provided with financial support.


As never before, we could not live on the Earth without understanding what consequences human activities are having on global warming. Moreover, we must mitigate against the ill efforts of earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. These practical aspects of society are increasingly impacted by our relationships with the Earth. Therefore, we must understand the whole nature of the Earth from deep underground to space through time. Our Earth Science Department is pursuing studies to understand the entire picture of the evolution of the Earth and life, and to envision its future. We are actively facilitating research and educational alliances to advance collaboration between science and engineering related Earth and Planetary Science at Tohoku University. With further developments in cutting-edge technology in Earth and Planetary Science, we can also clarify the total picture of the evolution of the Earth and life.