Skip to Main Content

Science: Earth Science

An overview of resources to get you started in studying or researching science topics.

Earth Science

"The study of science is a virtue.  Attention to geology is a human duty."

— Alexander Winchell, American geologist

Scientists estimate that the planet Earth is 4.55 billion years old.  During that time, the mountains were formed, the oceans were made, and plants and animal sprang into life, nourished by its soil.  It is mind-boggling to consider how long it took and what geological forces were in place to create those mountains and oceans, and even to form the rocks under your feet.  Studying geology enables you to look at those rocks in a new light and develop a deep appreciation of the world around you,.

Search tips

1) Start with an overview for your topic.  For example, you can start with an encyclopedia such as Credo Reference or Gale Virtual Reference Library (see list of BPL resources below) to get a basic idea of what your topic is all about.

2) Once you have a general idea of what your topic is about, you can narrow your topic down by subcategory, such as "Geology" or "Geography" under "Earth Science."

3) Search for more information on your topic, using journal article databases, government websites, organization websites, etc.  A good place to start is the Science in Context database which includes reference resources, experiments, statistics, magazine and academic journal articles, news articles, maps, multimedia,and external websites.

Different types of information that you can look for include:

  • Overview -- General description or outline of a topic
  • Statistics -- Collection of quantitative data
  • Evidence -- A visible sign of a phenomenon; something which demonstrates that a phenomenon or theory exists or is true
  • Guides -- "How-to" instructions or an outline of how to do something
  • News Articles -- Article from a newspaper or other news source; good source of current and local information and can be considered a primary source
  • Blogs -- Website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences
  • Journal Articles -- Article from a magazine or academic journal
  • Multimedia -- Videos, photographs, or audio resources
  • Reports -- Official documents from the government or other institution that give information about a particular subject
  • Interviews -- Reporting of meetings at which information is obtained from a person

For more information on conducting research on a topic, see from Case Western Reserve University.


Online Earth Science Resources

These links provide access to government and other reports, statistics,  and current developments for high school and college students as well as anyone interested in geology and other earth sciences.


U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Provides access to earth science information about health hazards, natural resources, and the environment, with news, maps, image databases, and more.

Earthquake Hazards Program from the USGS

Earthquake facts and statistics from the USGS

U.S. Department of Energy
Includes research and development, technical reports, journal citations, databases, federal websites, and fact sheets.

NASA Earth Observatory
Provides images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that come from NASA research.

Massachusetts Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS)

Massachusetts Geological Survey (MGS)
Features maps and data from the MGS.   


Minerals in Massachusetts
Mineral resources in Massachusetts from the MGS

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

National Science Foundation
Provides access to research, discoveries, and news in the earth sciences.


Resources at the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library provides access to indexes and full-text articles through the Electronic Resources page (  Many of these resources are available off-site to residents of Massachusetts.  Suggested databases are listed below:


The catalog for the Boston Public Library is available at

Suggested subject headings:

For assistance with searching and locating items held by the Boston Public Library and other libraries in the Metro Boston Library Network, see