What differences are there between geology, petrology, and lithology?

If I were to get into any of those fields, what exactly would I be studying?

Also, are petrology and lithology just branches of geology?


1 Answer 1


The basic differences are:


  1. study of rocks and minerals: the study of the structure of the Earth or another planet, especially its rocks, soil, and minerals, and its history and origins
  2. structure of area: the rocks, minerals, and physical structure of a specific area


  1. study of rocks: the study of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks with respect to their occurrence, structure, origin, history, and mineral content


  1. description of the physical characteristics of a rock unit or rock formation, and actually not a scientific discipline as the two above
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Lithology refers to a type of rock or a rock unit (I never heard that it is a scientific branch). $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, Lithology is a scientific study, and considered as a separate branch of geology. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:22
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @Spießbürger - It's not your english. I've never heard "lithology" referred to as a branch of geology. Someone who studies the details of lithology calls themselves a "petrologist", not a "lithologist". $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Joe Kington It might be a really old definition, because OED also has it: oed.com/view/Entry/109165?redirectedFrom=lithology#eid $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:45
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm with Joe — I've never heard "lithology" used that way. I suggest editing the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Hall
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 1:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.