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Geology at Moscow State University

Dean of the Faculty, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor, Dmitry Yu. Puscharovsky with foreign guests of the Faculty at the grand meeting devoted to 250th Anniversary of Moscow State University.
Dean of the Faculty, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor, Dmitry Yu. Puscharovsky with foreign guests of the Faculty at the grand meeting devoted to 250th Anniversary of Moscow State University.
Geology was first introduced at Moscow State University at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1804 the Chair of Mineralogy and Rural Home Economics was established at the Department of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Within the same year the Department of Natural History and the Mineralogy museum were founded. In July 1935 the Chair of Mineralogy and Geodesy opened at the Department of Physics and Mathematics within the Faculty of Philosophy. Professor G.E. Shurovski, the founder of Moscow school of geologists, became the head of it. Later on with the expansion of teaching of geology at the University the Chair of Paleontology was formed in 1863. By the beginning of the XX century the world famous mineralogy and geochemistry school of Moscow University was established. Its formation is connected with the name of Professor V.I. Vernadski. In 1890 V.I. Vernadski was appointed mineralogy laboratory custodian at Moscow University, very soon he started teaching mineralogy and crystallography. In 1897 after the defense of a doctoral thesis he was assigned as a professor of mineralogy and crystallography of Moscow University.

From 1917 to 1930 the University offered courses in all principal sub-disciplines of geology: General Geology, Historical Geology, Dynamic Geology, Geology of the USSR, Petrography, Sedimentary Petrography, Geology of Quaternary Deposits, Mineralogy and Crystallography.

In 1930 as a result of restructuring of higher education all geology departments at all the universities of the country were closed. At Moscow State University geology was first taught to geography students and then to students of the Faculty of Soil Science and Geography. In compliance with the order of rector of July 23, 1938 the Faculty of Soil Science and Geography was split into the Faculty of Geography and the Faculty of Soil Science and Geology. So, that is the day when the Faculty of Geology of MSU was founded. The first dean of the new faculty was Professor Vladimir Vasilievich Gemmerling. At that time the faculty consisted only of three chairs (those of geology, soil science and pedology) and the Institute of Soil Science. Later, in 1939 the Chair of Mineralogy and Petrography and the Chair of Paleontology were opened. In 1943 the Chair of Geology split into two chairs: the Chair of Historical Geology and the Chair of Dynamic Geology. The Chair of Geology of Russia was established in 2001 on the basis of the Chair of Historical Geology (which was renamed in 1953 into the Chair of Historical and Regional Geology and in 2000 into the Chair of Regional Geology and History of the Earth).

In 1944 the Chair of Geophysical Prospecting was formed. Later it was renamed into the Chair of Geophysical Methods of Investigation of the Earth's Crust. In 1943 the Chair of Mineralogy and Petrography split into the Chair of Petrography and the Chair of Mineralogy. In 1991 the Chair of Petrography was renamed into the Chair of Petrology.

In 1945 the Chair of Natural Gas was formed which was renamed in 1946 into the Chair of Oil and Gas and later in 1953 into the Chair of Geology and Geochemistry of Caustobioliths.

In 1949 a separate Faculty of Geology was established in Moscow State University. It consisted of eight chairs which had previously belonged to the Faculty of Soil Science. In 1949 the Chair of Crystallography and Crystal Chemistry was formed. In 1952 - 1953 several new departments were added including the Chair of Natural Resources, the Chair of Geochemistry, the Chair of Hydrogeology and the Chair of Perfrostology (which was renamed into the Chair of Geocryology in 1985). In 1953 there were 13 chairs housed in a new spacious building of Moscow State University on Lenin Hills.

In 1957 a stationary training facility opened in the Crimea. Later it became a major international center for field studies.

Since its foundation the Faculty has graduated more than 10,000 geologists. 300 among them are people from other countries. More than 1450 specialists have undergone training through postgraduate programs and been awarded postgraduate degrees.

Now the Faculty of Geology is one of the major divisions of Moscow State University. The Faculty consists of 16 geology chairs, the Chair of Foreign Languages and five fundamental research laboratories (the Laboratory of Experimental Geochemistry, the Laboratory of Research into the Influence of Geologic factors on Physical and Chemical Consolidation Grouting, the Laboratory of Protection of Geologic Environment, the Laboratory of Diamond Deposits and the Laboratory of Economic Geology). There is also UNESCO research and training centre on marine geology and geophysics.

The Faculty provides higher education in the field of geology. In 1994 the Faculty changed its education system. Now there are three different degrees that are awarded to graduates: Bachelor's Degree (4 years), Specialist's Degree (5-6 years), and Master's Degree (6 years). As of December 1, 2002 949 students, 129 candidates for a master's degree, as well as 87 international students and 19 post-graduates and trainees from 8 countries studied at the Faculty. Geological education at Moscow State University is an important link in the whole system of higher education of the Russian Federation, and being the major educational and scientific centre of the country the Geology Faculty coordinates the work of other academic universities in the field of geological education.

As of October 1, 2003 the Faculty staff totaled 388 people, including 60 professors, 81 senior lecturers, 8 junior members of the teaching staff, 24 lecturers and tutors, 217 research officers. Many renowned specialists and talented young researchers (prize winners in national and international contests) work at the departments and in the laboratories of the Faculty.

Several major schools of thought in various fields of modern geology have formed on the basis of the MSU Faculty of Geology. They are the structural crystallography school, which is closely connected with the names of professors Ju.V. Voolf, E.S. Fiodorov, academician N.B. Bielov; the school founded by professors I.O. Brod and N.B. Vassoievich which develops the concept of genesis and evolution of oil-and-gas bearing basins; the school of academician V.I. Smirnov whose works are connected with the study of regularities of occurrence and distribution of mineral deposits; the school of academician V.A. Jharikov which is working on development of quantitative models of physical and chemical geochemical processes; the school of academicians V.E. Khain and E.E. Milanovskiy which studies cardinal problems of the global evolution of the Earth.

In 2003 under the auspices of Rector of MSU V.A. Sadovnichiy the Faculty began to replace its old research instrument facilities with new ones. As a result of this modernization the scientists will be able to use such modern equipment as single crystal and powder X-ray diffractometers, electron microanalyzers (including those with computer control) for automatic analysis of images, mass spectrometers with inductively coupled plasma and high resolution chromatography-mass spectrometers. The growing computer network which connects all departments, laboratories, lecture halls and computer rooms of the faculty makes it possible to receive geologic information much quicker than before.

Scientific research at the Faculty is conducted on 95 state-financed projects. Additional non-budgetary financing is through grants and contracts. Research grants are awarded in the following main categories: the Russian Federation for Basic Research, Program of Support for Leading Scientific Schools, "Universities of Russia" and Federal Special Purpose Program "Integration".

  Russia, Moscow 119899, Vorobievy Gory, MSU, Faculty of Geology , Phone: (095)939-2970 Fax: (095)932-8889, E-mail:  
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