EDUCATION RECOMMENDATION 2: New courses need to be developed to prepare students for growth in both employment and research opportunities in areas such as hydrology, land use, engineering geology, environmental and urban geology, and waste disposal. Such courses will be necessary to prepare students for changing careers in the extractive industries and environmental areas of the earth sciences. No longer are these two areas separate, as mineral and energy resources need to be exploited in environmentally sound ways.

EDUCATION RECOMMENDATION 3: Colleges and universities should explore new educational opportunities (at both the undergraduate and graduate levels) that bridge the needs of earth science and engineering departments. This need arises from the growth of problems related to land use, urban geology, environmental geology and engineering, and waste disposal. The convergence of interests and research is striking, and the classical subject of "engineering geology" could become a significant redefined area of critical importance for society.

Research Recommendations

As mentioned earlier, the committee discovered a remarkable degree of consensus when it selected the top-priority research area for each of the priority themes. The eight top-priority research recommendations are listed below (and summarized in Table 7.5). Each has two high-priority research recommendations associated with it under the same priority theme. In many cases they were strong contenders for the top-priority position, and the choice was difficult. The high-priority selections are given below the top-priority selections.

RESEARCH RECOMMENDATION 1 (Priority Theme I): There should be a coordinated thrust at understanding how the Earth's environment and biology have changed in the past 2.5-million-years. The current research activities of many federal agencies bear on this issue, and international involvement would be appropriate as well.

High-priority topics are:

  • to work out the environmental and biological changes that have taken place over the past 150-million-years, since the oldest preserved oceans began to evolve and

  • to explore environmental and biological changes prior to 150-million-years ago.

RESEARCH RECOMMENDATION 2 (Priority Theme II): The earth sciences need to establish how global geochemical cycles have operated through time. This information, which is essential to working out how the earth system operates, is now a realistic target that could be achieved by coordinating a number of federal programs and current national and international activities.

High-priority topics are:

  • to construct models of the interaction between biogeochemical cycles and the solid-earth and climatic cycles and

  • to establish how geochemical cycles operate in the modern world.

RESEARCH RECOMMENDATION 3 (Priority Theme III): The earth sciences need to take up the challenge of investigating the three-

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