Division of Biogeoscience
Division of Geology and Geochemistry
Division of Urban Geograpahy and Regional Studies
Study Office

P.O. Box 64
(Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2a)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Department Office
Institute of Seismology

P.O. Box 68
(Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2b)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone +358 294 1911 (university exchange)
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History of the Division of Geology



Geology attained the status of an independent science at the turn of the nineteenth century, largely due to the efforts of such luminaries as Lyell, Hutton and Werner. The Chair of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Helsinki was founded very soon after, in 1852. Thus the department at Helsinki is among the oldest institutions teaching geology.

Famous persons in the history of the Division

The first person to graduate from the department was Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, who gave his dissertation in mineralogy in 1855. Nordenskiöld gained world fame in mineralogy and as an explorer, the latter especially for his exploration of the Northeast Passage in 1878-1879. Among the renowned scientists of the department is also J.J. Sederholm, who pioneered a large amount of terminology in petrology, especially in relation to his studies of the Finnish migmatites. Among the terms popularized was also the term Rapakivi granite. He was also the first scientist to collet a synthesis of the Finnish bedrock ain 1897. Following Sederholm to the international field were, among others, Wilhelm ramsay with his glaciomarine studies of the Baltic and the geochemists Th.G. Sahama and Kalervo Rankama. The facies model of metamorphic petrology is still a legacy of Pentti Eskola, taught in basic textbooks worldwide. Björn Kurtén was a great popularizer of science and a prominent scientist in the field of mammalian paleontology.


Until 2001 the department was situated in the Arppeanum building, next to the Dome Church and the  Finnish Government building. The building still houses the Rock museum of finland, so the geological tradition of the building continues. The department moved to the Kumpula Campus in 2001, where it has remained since.

From Department to Division

The department was first expanded when the chair of Geology and Palaeontology was founded in 1940. After this it was possible to graduate from two separate lines of study; Geology and Mineralogy  or Geology and Palaeontology, until the undergraduate course was combined in 2008 in accordance with the university reform and the Bologna process. In 2010 the department merged with the department of Geography and the department of Seismology to form the new Department of Geosciences and Geography. As a part of the new department, the Division of  Geology continues the valued tradition of high scientific standards and quality education that was begun in 1852.