The Department of Earth Sciences, created in 1991, is the inheritor of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum and Laboratory, whose origin dates back to 1911. It aims to encourage the development of Earth Sciences, promoting and performing research in this field, assure the materialization of the Bachelor's degree in Geology and post-graduation courses, and support of the community in the resolution of problems related to its scientific domain.
The Predecessors of the study and teaching of Earth Sciences in the University of Coimbra dates back to 1772, by the Pombal reform of education, with the Museum of Natural History, initially a part of the Faculty of Philosophy and installed in the renovated Colégio de Jesus. Domingos Vandelli was the pioneer in the education in Mineralogy, Geology and Zoology. One of his disciples was José Bonifácio d’Andrada e Silva, a prestigious mineralogist, and the first Professor of Metallurgy in the University of Coimbra, as well as General Administrator of Mines of Portugal and a key-figure in Brazil’s independency.
The lengthy existence of this scientific domain in the University of Coimbra allowed the graduation of bachelor's, master's and doctorate in Geology, Mining Engineering and Geological Engineering, that contributed for the development of Portugal and other countries. The developed work done by these specialists lead to a profound understanding of Portuguese geology, and the development of geological resources prospection and exploitation, that contributed, especially in the 20th century, to the economic development. Their effort wasn’t limited to Portugal’s geographical boundaries, as also expanded to Portugal’s Overseas provinces, that today constitute the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). Was this endeavors that allowed the members of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum and Laboratory to create a documental, cartographic, instrumental, mineral and fossil archive like no other, which is now shared with the Museum of Science of the University of Coimbra.
Founded in a past to be proud of, the Department of Earth Sciences has adapted to the requirements of the present, through a diverse offer in academic education, following the Bologna Process, corresponding to the needs of Portugal’s development. The teaching staff are integrated in various research units, with other specialists, contributing towards the innovation of Earth Sciences, knowledge transfer and the development of society.
The Department of Earth Sciences focus in key intervention areas such as sustainable management of geological, water, mineral and energetic resources, as well as the development of new ways and technologies for exploration, storage and use of these, along with the design of new materials, the development of alternative energy sources and soil understanding. Including other development areas like prevention, mitigation and remediation of natural and anthropic impacts, as well as evaluation of the interaction between geological factors and public health. It promotes the consolidation of knowledge related to the organic and inorganic world, and its values, and resources associated with the natural heritage and compatible uses, from a sustainable development perspective. Beliefs the use of communication technologies for innovative thinking and consistent spreading of geological knowledge.