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What is Geology?

Geology is the study of the Earth: its origin and history, the rocks and materials of which it is composed, the changes that it has undergone or is experiencing, and the processes that cause these changes. [Medieval Latin geologia, the study of Earthly things: from Greek geo- + Greek -logia]​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Geologists study the Earth to better understand how the physical, chemical and biological components of the Earth interact as a system, to find and recover natural materials that may be useful to humans, and to predict how events and processes of the past may influence the future.

The field of Earth Sciences includes physical geology and geophysics; the history of the Earth and stratigraphy; geochemistry; palaeontology; mineralogy and petrology; and environmental, medical, engineering and mining geology.

Why study Geology at UJ?

Southern Africa has a rich geological heritage, with a unique set of diverse geological environments preserved; extraordinary mineral wealth, with some of the world’s largest ore deposits (e.g., gold, platinum, diamonds, chrome, manganese, iron ore, coal, uranium); and a remarkably comprehensive palaeontological record, from the oldest multicellular life to our early human ancestors.

The Department of Geology at UJ is one of the premier Earth Science departments in South Africa, and indeed, the African continent. Academic staff members have diverse backgrounds, with excellent national and international reputations. The UJ Department of Geology is centrally located with respect to the mineral and mining industry in southern Africa, with which it has close ties. UJ student graduates are equipped for many careers in diverse fields, and are sought-after in the international mining and minerals industries, research institutes, government and in environmental organisations. The UJ Department of Geology offers unique courses and research opportunities to potential students and post-doctoral researchers, including training and research in the geology and exploitation of ferrous mineral deposits, sedimentology of carbonate successions and associated base-metal deposits, coal geology and coal-bed methane, structural and metamorphic geology of orogenic provinces, geochemistry of igneous complexes and their associated ore deposits, and geological studies of southern Africa.


Congratulations to Prof Bruce Cairncross on the recent publication of his book, ‘Minerals & Gemstones of East Africa‘.

The book gives in-depth insight into the minerals of this famous gem-producing region, complete with the magnificent photographs for which Bruce is so well known. A must-have for collectors, students, or anyone interested in the fascinating world of minerals!

Bruce also has a new book, ‘Minerals and Gemstones of Southern Africa’, due out later this year. To hear more about it, click here.

Cairncross Book

PPM talks:

PPM talks are held every week on Tuesdays at 2 pm. The talks cover a diverse range of topics and give a platform for our students, staff and visiting scientists to share their research findings. Everyone is welcome.

If you would like to be notified of upcoming talks, please contact Hervé Wabo ( to be added to the mailing list.

Quick links

Student Enrolment Centre
UJ Geology Facebook Page
Celebrating Heritage and Cultural Diversity
DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Integrated Mineral and Energy Resource Analysis (CIMERA)

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