Researchers in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS) are investigating the origin, constitution, and development of the earth and other planets, and are exploring the impact of those planets' environments on life or how life might evolve. GPS research takes advantage of Caltech's strengths in fundamental science and interdisciplinary collaboration, with faculty and students partnering across divisions and with colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the U.S. Geological Survey.
GPS has six departments, each with its own research focus.
In environmental science and engineering, researchers come together in a cross-disciplinary program to further our understanding and awareness of the impact of human and natural processes on the environment. The program includes faculty and students from GPS, the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and JPL.
In geobiology, researchers focus on understanding the history of life in the solar system, and the impact the biosphere has had on the earth during the past 4 billion years.
In geochemistry, researchers study the chemistry of the cosmos, the earth's mantle, and everything in between. They also play an important role in developing new techniques and instruments for studying the chemical reactions involved in geological processes, for dating those processes, and for examining the chemical composition of geologic materials.
In geology, researchers work both in the lab and across the globe on problems of tectonics, petrology, and geological hazards.
In geophysics, researchers in Caltech's Seismological Laboratory study the state, dynamics and evolution of the earth's interior, the motion and causes of plate tectonics, the underlying processes associated with earthquakes, volcanoes and associated hazards, and the flow and mechanics of glaciers. In addition, researchers in the lab develop and improve seismic, geodetic, analytic and computational tools to study these basic phenomena. The Seismological Laboratory also maintains the Southern California Seismic Network and the Southern California Earthquake Data Center.
In planetary sciences, researchers study and probe planetary surfaces, atmospheres, and interiors, and are a driving force behind the burgeoning field of planetary astronomy.