What is a Geology Glossary?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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A geology glossary is a document which contains an overview of terms used in geology and their definitions. Like other scientific glossaries, geology glossaries can vary in complexity and detail from documents designed to help children learn about geology to complex and highly technical documents used by working geologists. There are a number of sources for such glossaries, depending on one's level of experience in the field of geology and the situation in which the glossary is needed.

Many geology textbooks include a glossary in the appendices for the benefit of readers, especially if the textbook is an introductory one which is designed to familiarize people with basic geology topics. This type of geology glossary usually has short definitions of terms, and it may be cross-referenced with the textbook so that people can read more about specific terms of interest, should they so choose.

Geology glossaries can be published as standalone documents which can be used for general reference in addition to being included in textbooks. They are also available in digitized forms. Digitized glossaries usually have a search function which allows people to look up terms, and they may include features such as drawings and cross-linking which are designed to make the glossary more comprehensive and useful to users. Electronic glossaries are conveniently portable and may be capable of being loaded onto several computers or handheld devices, which can make them highly useful.


In addition to covering general topics in geology, a geology glossary can also focus on specific subfields within the practice of geology, as in the case of a seismology glossary or paleontology glossary. These glossaries will discuss terms specific to their fields, and they may be more detailed and in-depth for the benefit of readers. The glossary can include definitions of different types of geological formations, discussions of equipment used in geology, and descriptions of physical techniques in geology.

Geologists of all levels of ability can sometimes find it helpful to consult a glossary. Geology glossaries are also used in geology education to make sure that people clearly understand all of the terms used in class and the topics under discussion, and they can be used as a basis for testing, with geology students being expected to be able to define the terms on a geology glossary during exams. Non-geologists can also find such documents useful on occasion. For example, when reading environmental impact reports or site studies, people can use a geology glossary along with other science glossaries to understand terms which come up in the document.


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