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All of us are confronted daily – often unknowingly – confronted with geology: from the ground on which we live, past the concrete as part of a building’s foundation, to the copper in the mobile telephone, so much has to do with geology.

Geology everyday life: a glass of water
A glass of water – twice geology. The water comes from the (geological) ground, the glass is manufactured from quartz sand, a mineral resource.


Geology surrounds us daily

Geology is ubiquitous in our life. However, we do not usually perceive it directly.

Geology encompasses:

  • The ground and soil, on which we live
  • Buildings and roads, on which we build
  • Raw materials, from the subsurface, of which many everyday objects consist
  • Water resources, which flow below the ground surface
  • Natural hazards, to which we are exposed
  • The natural heritage, from which Switzerland benefits as a tourist destination
  • The waste industry, which recovers useable raw materials from used materials
  • The natural radioactivity (radon), which we are exposed to daily

Raw materials: a valuable good

  • Lime and fluoride in toothpaste
  • Graphite in pencils
  • Lead in batteries
  • Salt on the dinner table
  • Trace elements in screens, on which you are reading this text
  • Quartz sand, from which glass is manufactured…

Have you ever thought about where these raw materials come from? Every one of these raw materials has to do with geology and was recovered from a mineral resource somewhere in the world, industrially processed and supplied for its intended application.

Society has become accustomed to the fact that raw materials are available in whatever quantities. At the same time, most people are not aware that the Earth’s mineral resources are limited and not growing. In the future it will therefore be more important than ever, to deal carefully with mineral resources. In addition, we must develop efficient methods to again remove as much of the raw materials as possible from the daily growing mountain of waste. 

Geology in everyday life

ETH Zurich Department of Earth Sciences
Georesources Switzerland Group
NO F35
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich
+41 44 632 37 28