Skip to main content

Earth Sciences: Background Information

A guide to the reference sources and indexes to the journal literature in earth sciences.

Encyclopedias and General Reference Sources

Earth Sciences - General

  • Encyclopedia of Geology (c2005)
  • Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences series
    A series of separate, single-volume encyclopedias, each of which deals with a separate branch of the earth sciences (e.g., geomorphology, sedimentology).  View volume listing


Environmental Earth Sciences


Geomorphology & surficial processes

  • Encyclopedia of geomorphology (2004) A.S. Goudie (ed.)  Kresge GB400.3 .E53 2004 (view record for print)

Geophysics & structural geology


Paleoenvironments & the sedimentary record

Polar & climate change research

Additional research areas:

For current US soil data, soil surveys and geospatially referenced soil information, see the NRCS Soils website, produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey under the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

  • Web Soil Survey provides soil maps and data online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties. The most authoritative source of soil survey information. 
    • Archived Soil Surveys Published since 1899, many have been fully digitized.  
    • Print Soil Surveys in the Library Catalog (add the county name to the keyword search box to locate a soil survey for the county of interest)
  • Soil Data Mart download data and reports for one soil survey area at a time.  An alternative, non-graphical presentation of the data behind the Web Soil Survey.
  • Information on New Hampshire Soils from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who manage the Soil Survey program
  • Information on Vermont Soils
  • Listing of all state NRCS offices - each includes a link (in the upper right hand corner of the page) to that state's soil survey data
  • ISRIC - the World Soil Information Database - though the parent ISRIC site is a bit clunky, this World Soil Information Database is a great consolidated global bibliography or library where you can view soil publications, reports and maps by country or region, often with full text.   Choose "Search for reports and maps" then "Advanced Search" for these options.
  • EUSOILS is the European Soil Portal, providing access to numerous datasets and national and regional soil atlases and maps.


Decade of North American Geology

The Decade of North American Geology Project was established by the Geological Society of America to celebrate its 1988 Centennial year. The series was intended to provide a massive, systematic synthesis of geological knowledge of North America to serve as a benchmark of research up through the 1980's.

Centennial Special Volumes: (complete in 4 volumes - view title availability)

*v.1 Geologists and Ideas: a history of North American Geology
*v.2 Geomorphic Systems of North America
*v.3 The Heritage of Engineering Geology: the first hundred years
*v.4 Archaeological Geology of North Americ

Centennial Field Guides: QE 77 C46 (complete in 6 volumes - view title availability)

v. 1 Cordilleran Section
v. 2 Rocky Mountain Section
v. 3 North-Central Section
v. 4 South-Central Section
v. 5 North-Eastern Section
v. 6 South-Eastern Section

The Geology of North America: QE 71 G48 (view title availability)

v. A Geology of North America - an Overview
*v. C-1 / Geology of the precambrian Superior and Grenville Provinces and precambian fossils in North America (7)
v. C-2 / Precambrian: Conterminous U.S.
v. D-1 / Sedimentary Cover of the Craton in Canada (5)
v. D-2 / Sedimentary Cover - North American Craton - U.S.
*v. E / Geology of the Inuitian Orogen and Arctic Platform of Canada and Greenland (3)
*v.F-1 / Geology of the Appalachian - Caledonian Orogen in Canada and Greenland (6)
v. F-2 / Appalachian - Ouachita Orogen
v. G / Geology of Mexico (note: never published)
v. G-1 / Geology of Alaska
*v. G-2 / Geology of the Cordilleran Orogen in Canada (4)
v. G-3 / The Cordilleran Orogen: Conterminous U.S.
v. H / Caribbean Region
*v. I-1 / Geology of the Continental Margins of Eastern Canada (2)
v. I-2 / Atlantic Continental Margins - U.S.
v. J / The Gulf of Mexico Basin
*v. K-1 / Quaternary Geology of Canada and Greenland (1)
v. K-2 / Quaternary Nonglacial Geology: Coterminous U.S.
v. K-3 / North America and Adjacent Oceans During the Last Deglaciation
v. L / Arctic Ocean Region
v. M / Western North Atlantic Region
v. N / East Pacific Ocean and Hawaii
v. O-1 / Surface Water Hydrology
v. O-2 / Hydrogeology
*v. P-1 / Geology of Canadian Mineral Deposit Types (8)
v. P-2 / Economic Geology, U.S.
v. P-3 / Economic Geology, Mexico

*Simultaneously published as the Geology of Canada series by the Canadian government (volume in parantheses following title).