Difference Between Geography and Geology

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 02, 2023


Difference Between Geography and Geology

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Geography and geology are often confused with one another. This perplexity arises because these two fields have some similarities and connections. Both of these fields involve the study of the Earth. While Geography refers to the study of the surface of the Earth, Geology refers to the study of its structural and substance composition.

Geography vs Geology

The Earth is a complicated system comprising several natural phenomena and processes. In order to understand its complexities, scientists gave rise to various scientific disciplines, each with its own distinct focus. However, the two salient fields that delve into the Earth’s composition and structure are geography and geology. They seem to be closely related but actually differ in context to their approaches, primary areas of focus, and scope. Through this research, we aim to shed light on the disparate aspects of geography and geology to understand their novel perspectives.

Difference Between Geography and Geology in Tabular Form

Basis of ComparisonGeographyGeology
DefinitionThe scientific study of the earth’s surface, physical features, divisions, products, population, etc.The scientific study of the physical structure of the earth, including the origin and history of the rocks and soil of which the earth is made.
Subject MatterIt includes the length of mountain ranges and coastal lands, area of lands, various water bodies and their formation, human activities, etc.It includes the energy sources and its sustainability, climatic changes, environmental impacts, rocks on the surface of the earth and its types, etc.
Sub - DivisionHuman geography, Physical geography, Integrated (environmental) geography, Geomatics, Regional Geography and Cartography.Paleontology, Hydrology, Mineralogy, Stratigraphy, Sedimentary, Structural geology, etc.
Science / ArtGeography is a science.Geology is considered an art and science both.


Geography is often referred to as the “mother of all sciences” as its study of new places and cultures led to the emergence of other scientific fields such as biology, chemistry, maths, and others.

Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek scholar, coined the word “geography”. The word can be divided into 2 parts- “geo,” meaning Earth, and “graphy,” which suggests writing. Geography is a difficult concept to constrain into a definition of a few words, although several attempts have been made. The Oxford Dictionary describes it as “The scientific study of the earth’s surface, physical features, divisions, products, population, etc.”

Types of Geography

Geography is a vast topic and contains some sub-divisions, each of them with their unique focus and approach. Let’s take a look at them to understand it better.

Human Geography

Human Geography refers to the study of humans and their various cultures throughout the world. The numerous aspects of this division include their origin and perspective on the cultures of other places.

Some of these cultural phenomena studied in this division constitute languages, religion, art, music, food, progressiveness, economic structures, governments, and many others. These explain how people live the way they live and why. Digitalization, Globalisation, and the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the recent significant aspects of human geography.

Human Geography is divided into various types-

  • Cognitive geography
  •  Cultural geography
  •  Health geography
  •  Economic geography
  •  Development geography
  •  Historical geography
  •  Internet Geography
  •  Political geography and geopolitics
  •  Population geography or Demography
  •  Religion geography
  •  Social geography
  •  Transportation geography
  •  Tourism geography
  •  Urban Geography

Physical Geography

Physical geography contains varied elements such as the study of the Earth’s interaction with the sun, seasons, atmospheric pressure and wind, storms, climatic disturbances, soils, rivers, streams, flora and fauna, weathering, erosion, natural hazards, deserts, glaciers, coastal terrain, ecosystems, geological systems, etc.

The different types of physical geography –

  • Biogeography
  •  Climatology and meteorology
  •  Coastal geography
  •  Environmental management
  •  Geomorphology
  •  Glaciology
  •  Hydrology and hydrography
  •  Landscape ecology
  •  Oceanography
  •  Paleogeography
  •  Quaternary science

Environmental Geography

Environmental geography refers to the study of different components of the natural world and the interaction of individuals and their societies with these components. It requires an understanding of both human geography and physical geography, as environmental geography poses a link between the two in order to critically analyze the impact of human presence on the environment.


Geomatics is concerned with engineering applied science involving the measurement of the Earth. It involves the use of satellite imagery, upstanding photography, and others to produce charts and dissect spatial patterns. It enables a representation of the Earth.


Cartography has been defined as “the art or process of drawing and making maps.” It helps in conveying geographical information through graphical content. Advancement in technology has now allowed researchers to make accurate maps easily through computers using Geographic Information System (GIS).

Regional Geography

As the name suggests, Regional Geography refers to the study of the world’s regions. The term “Region” is defined as a large area of land, usually without exact limits or borders. The specific characteristics that differentiate an area from others are the main concern of this division of geography. It helps in explaining how natural phenomena occur in these places and how humans exist in them.


From the study of rocks and minerals to the natural disasters and threats of Global Boiling, Geology is the basis of it all. It is a part of our everyday lives. Geologists study the formation of the Earth’s layers, the changes it went through throughout the years, and its structure and composition. These processes take place over hundreds of millions of years, making this a difficult topic of research since humans have been present for only a small amount of time compared to Earth’s timeline. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods are also part of geologist’s research.

To summarize, Geology can be defined as – “The scientific study of the physical structure of the earth, including the origin and history of the rocks and soil of which the earth is made.”

Types of Geology

Geology is a vast science and is analyzed in various aspects such as time, formation, natural resources, etc. These aspects are further divided into many specifications of study.

TIME – This branch deals with time.


MOVING PLATES UNDER THE EARTH – This branch deals with the moving plates underneath the Earth.


NATURAL RESOURCES – Extraction of natural resources is the main focus of this branch, as rock types and landforms are found through or during this activity.


WEATHERING, TRANSPORTATION, AND DEPOSITION – The processes of how sediments are deposited are the concern of this branch.


LANDFORMS AND THEIR PROCESSES – This branch focuses on the distribution of physical features on distinct landscapes


OUTSIDE THE EARTH – The study of the structure, composition, and history of other planets in the solar system is undertaken in this aspect of geology.


Principles of Geology

Principles of Catastrophism: Cuvier

Catastrophism was a geological concept coined by Georges Curvier. It explains the formation of the Earth’s crust and shape as a result of abrupt and violent events that caused the change in its landscape and even mass extinction.

According to Cuvier, the various groups of fossil organisms became extinct as a result of geological catastrophes. Due to this, the fossilized organisms were destroyed, and the depositions solidified into rocks that surrounded the fossils.

Law of Uniformitarianism: James Hutton

The term ‘Uniformitarianism’ was first coined by William Whewell. However, the concept was developed by James Hutton. The concept states that although not visible to the human eye, the geologic forces operate with the same intensity today as they did in the past and are highly impactful. Meaning the present can be analyzed through past events.

Law of Faunal Succession: William Smith

This principle, which was first recognized by William Smith, states by definition that different strata each contain particular assemblages of fossils by which the rocks may be identified and correlated over long distances.

It helps in establishing a time scale, and chronological clarity is obtained through the application of this theory. Fossils found in younger rocks are similar to modern organisms, while the same cannot be said for older rocks.

Law of Inclusion: James Hutton

Another principle proposed by James Hutton is the Law of inclusion, which explains through logic withholdings of other rocks or formations must be older than their containers.

Law of Lateral Continuity: Neils Stenson

This principle given by Neils Stenson coins the idea that all the rock layers that are now displaced were originally laterally continuous and broke up due to future natural events. Hence, rocks that are now seen to be separated due to a valley, for instance, can be assumed to be from the same source or in other words, laterally continuous.

Law of Superposition: Nicolaus Steno

The Law of superposition proposes the logic that the sequence of an undisturbed piece of land will comprise of layers that are older than the ones above it and younger than the ones below it. This principle was introduced by Nicolaus Steno.

Law of Original Horizontality: Nicolaus Steno

Another significant theory given by Nicolaus Steno is the Law of original horizontality. It states that due to gravity, the rock layers are originally laid down horizontally. This inference suggests that any tilted rock must have undergone an event of disturbance.

Walther’s Law of Facies Succession

Named after Johannes Walther, this principle suggests that the vertical sequence of facies lying adjacent to each other must have been due to regressions or a series of depositional environments.


Both fields of the study shed light on our planet Earth. The importance of each varies vastly depending on the problem or aspect we discuss. To summarize, Geology focuses on the Earth’s history and evolution. On the other hand, Geography encompasses aspects such as the relations of humans with nature and the cultures that develop on these lands.


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"Difference Between Geography and Geology." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 16 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-geography-and-geology>.

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