Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Student Resources

Student Resources

The geosciences require a good knowledge of quantitative skills, usually first learned in math or physics courses. These skills can quickly become rusty, half-remembered, or forgotten altogether, at which point a refresher is in order. On these pages we have gathered a selection of online resources with good reference material and quick lessons, with the hopes that it might be what an ailing petrology (or atmosphere, or ecology) student needs to get back up to speed.

Math in a Geoscience Context | General Math Sites | Basic Skills | Geometry | Trigonometry | Statistics | Calculus | Linear Algebra

Math in a Geoscience Context

General Math Sites

Below are general use sites, which cover broad ranges of information with what we find to be the best clarity, illustration, and depth. More specific topics may be browsed using the links above.

Basic Skills

Getting stuck on a basic skill like converting units or using the Pythagorean theorem can be more frustrating than getting confused on a higher-level concept. In sediments and stratigraphy, you may have to convert distances or measures. In mineralogy, you have to make sure you understand orders of magnitude and scientific notation. In hydrogeology or geochemistry, you might get stuck with complicated equations and polynomials. These skills are easily reviewed, if you know where to look.


Using a map to figure how far sites are from each other, how large a flood region is, what the volume of a resource or pluton might be -- these all require a good grasp of basic geometry. Including coordinate systems and graphs, which are relevant to almost any geoscience topic, makes a very important branch of mathematics. Use the pages below for review and reference on many geometry topics.


Trigonometry is useful when logarithms show up in your structural geology relationships, or when you have to find the angle in a particular crystal for mineralogy. Review the identities, theorems, and relationships on the pages listed here.


Geoscience research frequently results in and depends on large data sets. A grounding in statistical practice is crucial for a geoscience student to be able to manipulate and interpret their data. Whether the data come from readings off a stream gage, structural feature orientations recorded in the field, or sizes and types of grains found in a well core, use these pages as references when analyzing data.

For help with data analysis, including analysis of variance, experimental design and hypothesis testing, distributions, sampling, and curve fitting, look through the pages below.


Geoscience uses calculus in many upper-level classes. Derivatives are important for determining rates: decay in petrology, flow in hydrogeology, sedimentation in sediments and stratigraphy. Integrals can help determine sediment accumulation, vectors are applicable to structures such as faults, and matrices come in useful in atmospheric or structural geology. They're not always the most intuitive of skills, so use a reference like the pages below.

Linear Algebra

Systems of equation, matrices, and other topics that frequently fall under the class name linear algebra can be extremely useful when dealing with complicated geologic or atmospheric systems. Review linear transformations, eigenvalues, and more on the pages below.

Please recommend the resources you find most helpful for your students.