The Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences was formed in April 1996 with the amalgamation of the old Departments of Geological Sciences, Oceanography, and the geophysics component of Geophysics and Astronomy. In April 2000 the Department considerably expanded its activity in atmospheric sciences when the administrative home of the Atmospheric Science Program, and two-thirds of the academic appointments of each of the three physically oriented atmospheric scientists in Geography (Phil Austin, Douw Steyn, Roland Stull) were transferred to Earth and Ocean Sciences. In April 2012 the department name was changed to Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.
The research focus of the new department extends from pure science studies of the earth`s deep interior, through near-surface geological studies and environmental earth science, to the oceans and atmosphere. To realize their research objectives, UBC earth scientists draw on a broad base of knowledge from the basic sciences of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics. An integrated approach is increasingly required to understand the complex interactions due to human impact on the earth in such problems as climate change, resource exploitation and waste disposal. One specialized group is the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) which undertakes programs supported by the mineral exploration industry.
The Department maintains active ties with the mining and petroleum industries, consulting firms and government labs where many students find employment during summers and after graduation.
Undergraduate academic programs administered here include majors, honours and applied science programs involving Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geological Sciences, Geophysics and Oceanography as well as an EOAS Majors program.
These programs attract some 350 undergraduates, and large service courses for non-science majors attract many more students. The Department's modern facilities, demanding curriculum and award winning faculty, place it among the most prominent in North America and allows it to offer challenges to students at all levels.
The Geological Engineering Program in the Faculty of Applied Science, administered through a Board of Studies, provides undergraduates with a unique blend of earth science and applied techniques.
The Department is currently participating in the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative.
Research and teaching is carried out by approximately 47 faculty members, a staff complement of 40, a total of 36 research associates and postdoctoral fellows, and 167 graduate students. Many of the researchers are active in national and international programs such as LITHOPROBE, a multidisciplinary Canadian program dedicated to the study of the Earth`s lithosphere, and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), a program to understand the global carbon flux.