Math in the Natural Sciences

Math in Geology

How is modeling and simulation used in geology?

Like so many other fields of science, mathematical modeling and simulation is used in geology to understand the intricacies of physical events in the past, present, and future. For example, hydrologists (geologists who study water flow above and below the Earth’s surface) often use models to simulate the effects of increased groundwater pumping of wells. They may also use a simulation to determine how much water can be presently pumped out of a well, or how much can be pumped out in the future without harm to the environment. Other hydrologists may use modeling to understand the flow of water in a river, bay, or estuary, for example, to determine how the water erodes a shoreline. Still other researchers may model how snow on a volcanic mountain melts, gathers debris, and potentially flows toward populated areas during an eruption event. (For more about modeling and simulation, see “Math in Computing.”)


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