Geography and Geology are two separate disciplines concerned with the study of the earth. Although their subject matter often overlap but there are considerable differences between them.
Geography vs Geology
The difference between Geography and Geology is that the former is concerned with the study of the surface of the earth. It analyses and explains the spatial differences in the physical, biological and human features of the earth’s surface and explores their remarkable regional patterns and interrelationships.
Geography studies the earth in terms of its physical, biological and human features. It studies the spatial variations of these features and analyses their interrelationships and regional patterns.
Geology, on the other hand, studies the origin of the earth, its structure, composition and the history of its development. Human beings constitute only a negligible part of that history.
The latter on the other hand is primarily concerned with the subsurface of the earth. That is to say, it deals with what lies beneath the surface of the earth. It studies and describes the earth in terms of its origin, structure, anatomy and developmental history.
Comparison Table Between Geography and Geology (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Geography||Geology|
|Founder||Eratosthenes (276 BC-194 BC)||Theophrastus (372BC-287BC)|
|Meaning||It means a description or drawing of the earth.||It means the knowledge or the study of the earth.|
|Science/ Arts||It falls under the purview of both science and arts.||It falls under the purview of science.|
|Subject matter||It studies the interrelationships and spatial variations of the physical and human properties of the surface of the earth.||It studies the origin, composition, structure and evolution of the earth.|
|Branches||Human Geography, Physical Geography and Regional Geography.||General Geology and Historical Geology.|
What is Geography?
The term has been derived from two different Greek words- Geo meaning ‘earth’ and graphos meaning to ‘description’. Thus, Geography can be defined as the ‘description of the earth’. The term was first used by Eratosthenes (276 BC-194 BC) who founded the ‘scientific chronology’.
Geography is mainly concerned with the study of the surface of the earth. It studies, analyses and explains the territorial variations in the human, organic and physical features and processes of the earth. It studies their interrelationships and remarkable regional patterns.
For a long time, the discipline was mainly associated with mapping, cartography and exploration of the earth. Gradually, it widened its horizons and came to acquire methods and techniques of a variety of disciplines. These include disciplines falling under the purview of natural science as well as social science.
As a discipline, Geography mainly deals with three sets of questions:
- What? It is concerned with the recognition of the patterns of natural and cultural features found on the earth’s surface.
- Where? It is concerned with the distribution of those natural and cultural features over the surface of the earth.
- Why? It is concerned with the description of the causal relationships between the features and the processes and the phenomena.
Sub-fields of Geography
1. Physical Geography
It deals with the natural features, processes and phenomena found on the surface of the earth.
The subject matter of Physical Geography often overlaps with those of Natural Sciences. Some of them include Geology, Meteorology, Hydrology and Pedology. Consequently, Geomorphology, Climatology, Oceanography and Soil Geography respectively have a very intimate relationship with the Natural Sciences as they derive their data from these Sciences.
2. Human Geography
It is concerned with the study of human beings, their history, culture, economies and their overall relationship with their natural environment.
It’ subject matter overlaps with those of Social Sciences which includes Sociology, Political Science, Economics and Demography. The branches of Human Geography, namely Social Geography, Political Geography, Economic Geography, Population and Settlement Geography derive their data from these disciplines.
3. Regional Geography
It is concerned with the study of the interaction between various natural and cultural factors within a particular landscape.
These branches are studied at different levels, ranging from worldwide, to a continent or a country or a city or a village.
What is Geology?
The term has been derived from two Greek words, Geo meaning ‘earth’ and logy meaning ‘to study’. Together they mean ‘to study’ the earth’. The term was first used by two naturalists of Geneva, namely Horace-Benedict de Saussure and Jean-Andre Deluc. However, it was Theophrastus (372 BC-287 BC) who produced one of the first works on Geology. It was about Peri Lithon or stones.
As a discipline, Geology is mainly concerned with the scientific study of the earth’s origin, its composition, configuration and the history of its development. It mainly focuses on what lies beneath the surface of the earth.
Academically, it focuses on the study of the origin of the solar system, variations in the physical features and chemical compositions of the earth and the various natural phenomena that are found on the earth. The knowledge acquired from these studies is then used for the benefit of the human race.
For example: the knowledge of the origin, structure and composition of the rocks and minerals enabled us to use them as materials for roads and buildings.
Similarly, the knowledge of natural hazards like cyclones, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions etc. enabled us to predict them and deal with them accordingly.
Sub-fields of Geology
- General Geology: It is concerned with the study of various physical aspects of the earth. It is further divided into the following fields:
- Physical Geology: It studies and explains the origin of the solar system, the earth as a planet, the various physical features of the earth and the processes and phenomena found on the surface of the earth.
- Geomorphology: It studies the configuration of the earth’s surface.
- Geotectonics: It studies the major tectonic processes operating within the earth that leads to natural hazards like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc.
- Mineralogy: It studies the physical and chemical properties of the minerals found in rocks.
- Petrology: It studies the physical features of a variety of rocks, their chemical composition, mode of occurrence and the like.
- Structural Geology: It describes the genetic and geometrical aspects of non-diastrophic and diastrophic structures revealed by rocks.
- Economic Geology: It deals with the origin of the natural resources, their mode of occurrence, and the methods of exploring them.
- Historical Geology: It is also known as Stratigraphy. It deals with the various geological events that took place following the formation of the earth in a chronological order. Such knowledge helps in mapping the past, present and future of the earth’s evolution.
Main Differences Between Geography and Geology
- The origin of both the disciplines can be traced back to the times of Greek city-states. However, as a field of study, Geology is much older than Geography. While the former originated with the works of Theophrastus in the 3rd century BCE. The latter originated with the works of Eratosthenes in the 2nd century BCE.
- Both the terms begin with the word Geo which means earth. However, their endings (suffix) throw considerable light on the differences between them. The term graphia means ‘to record or write or draw’. That is to say, to draw the earth. While the term logy means ‘to study’ that is to study or to know the earth.
- Geography analyses and explains the space-related variations and interrelationships of the natural and human phenomena of the earth. While the Geology studies the earth in terms of its origin, structure, composition and evolution.
- Geology falls within the purview of natural sciences. While Geography is both a science and an art.
- The main offshoots of Geography are Physical Geography, Regional Geography and Human Geography. While the main branches of Geology are General Geology and Historical Geology.
Both Geography and Geology deal with the nuances of the earth. Consequently, there are often confusions regarding their subject matter. Some people think that Geology is one of the branches of Geography as the subject matter of Physical Geography and Geology are almost same.
However, such confusions are not tenable as Geography is mainly concerned with the study of the surface and what lies above the surface of the earth which includes natural as well as human aspects. Geology, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the study of the surface and what lies below the surface of the earth. It studies the history of development of the earth and human beings are merely a part of that history and that too a negligible part.