Geology Optional

Geology Optional



1. General Geology: The Solar System, meteorites, origin and interior of the earth and age of the earth; Volcanoes—causes and products, Volcanic belts. Earthquakes—causes, effects, seismic of the zone of India; Island arcs, trenches and mid-ocean ridges; Continental drift; Seafloor spreading, plate tectonics. Isostasy.

2. Geomorphology and Remote Sensing: Basic concepts of geomorphology. Weathering and soil formations; Landforms, slopes and drainage. Geomorphic cycles and their interpretation. Morphology and its relation to structures and lithology; Coastal geomorphology; Applications of geomorphology in mineral prospecting, civil engineering; hydrology and environmental studies; Geomorphology of Indian sub-continent. Aerial photographs and their interpretation—merits and limitations; The Electromagnetic spectrum. Orbiting Satellites and Sensor Systems. Indian Remote Sensing Satellites. Satellite data products; Applications of remote sensing in geology; The Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS)—its applications.

3. Structural Geology: Principles of geologic mapping and map reading, projection diagrams, Stress and strain ellipsoid and stress-strain relationships of elastic, plastic and viscous materials; Strain markers in deformed rocks. The behaviour of minerals and rocks under deformation conditions. Folds and faults classification and mechanics; Structural analysis of folds, foliations, lineations, joints and faults, unconformities; Time-relationship between crystallization and deformation.

4. Palaeontology: Species—definition and nomenclature; Megafossils and Microfossils. Modes of preservation of fossils; Different kinds of microfossils; Application of microfossils in correlation, petroleum exploration, paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic studies; Evolutionary trend in Hominidae, Equidae and Proboscidea. Siwalik fauna. Gondwana flora and fauna and its importance; Index fossils and their significance.

5. Indian Stratigraphy: Classification of stratigraphic sequences: lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic, chrono-stratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic and their interrelationships; Distribution and classification of Precambrian rocks of India; Study of stratigraphic distribution and lithology of Phanerozoic rocks of India concerning fauna, flora and economic importance. Major boundary problems—Cambrian/ Precambrian, Permian/Triassic, Cretaceous/Tertiary and Pliocene/Pleistocene; Study of climatic conditions, palaeogeography and igneous activity in the Indian sub-continent in the geological past. Tectonic framework of India. Evolution of the Himalayas.

6. Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology: Hydrologic cycle and genetic classification of water; Movement of subsurface water; Springs; Porosity, permeability, hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity and storage coefficient, classification of aquifers; Water-bearing characteristics of rocks; Groundwater chemistry. Saltwater intrusion. Types of wells. Drainage basin morphometry; Exploration for groundwater; Groundwater recharge; Problems and management of groundwater; Rainwater harvesting; Engineering properties of rocks; Geological investigations for dams, tunnels highways, railway and bridges; Rock as a construction material; Landslides causes, prevention and rehabilitation; Earthquake-resistant structures.


1. Mineralogy: Classification of crystals into systems and classes of symmetry; an International system of crystallographic notation; Use of projection diagrams to represent crystal symmetry; Elements of X-ray crystallography. Physical and chemical characters of rock-forming silicate mineral groups; Structural classification of silicates; Common minerals of igneous and metamorphic rocks; Minerals of the carbonate, phosphate, sulphide and halide groups; Clay minerals. Optical properties of common rock-forming minerals; Pleochroism, extinction angle, double refraction, birefringence, twinning and dispersion in minerals.

2. Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology: Generation and crystallisation of magmas. The crystallisation of albite—anorthite, diopside—anorthite and diopside— wollastonite—silica systems. Bowen's Reaction Principle; Magmatic differentiation and assimilation. Petrogenetic significance of the textures and structures of igneous rocks. Petrography and petrogenesis of granite, syenite, diorite, basic and ultrabasic groups, charnockite, anorthosite and alkaline rocks. Carbonatites. Deccan volcanic province. Types and agents of metamorphism. Metamorphic grades and zones; Phase rule. Facies of regional and contact metamorphism; ACF and AKF diagrams; Textures and structures of metamorphic rocks. Metamorphism of arenaceous, argillaceous and basic rocks; Minerals assemblages. Retrograde metamorphism; Metasomatism and granitisation, migmatites. Granulite terrains of India.

3. Sedimentary Petrology: Sediments and Sedimentary rocks: Processes of formation; diagenesis and lithification; Clastic and non-clastic rocks-their classification, petrography and depositional environment; Sedimentary facies and provenance. Sedimentary structures and their significance. Heavy minerals and their significance. Sedimentary basins of India.

4. Economic Geology: Ore, ore mineral and gangue, the tenor of ore. Classification of ore deposits; Processes of formation of mineral deposits; Controls of ore localisation; Ore textures and structures; Metallogenic epochs and provinces; Geology of the important Indian deposits of aluminium, chromium, copper, gold, iron, lead, zinc, manganese, titanium, uranium and thorium and industrial minerals; Deposits of coal and petroleum in India, National Mineral Policy; Conservation and utilization of mineral resources. Marine mineral resources and Law of Sea.

5. Mining Geology: Methods of prospecting—geological, geophysical, geochemical and geobotanical; Techniques of sampling. Estimation of reserves or ore; Methods of exploration and mining-metallic ores, industrial minerals, marine mineral resources and building stones. Mineral beneficiation and ore dressing.

6. Geochemistry and Environmental Geology: Cosmic abundance of elements. Composition of the planets and meteorites. Structure and composition of earth and distribution of elements. Trace elements. Elements of crystal chemistry-types of chemical bonds, coordination number. Isomorphism and polymorphism. Elementary thermodynamics. Natural hazards—floods, mass wasting, coastal hazards, earthquakes and volcanic activity and mitigation; Environmental impact of urbanization, mining, industrial and radioactive waste disposal, use of fertilizers, dumping of mine waste and fly-ash. Pollution of ground and surface water, marine pollution. Environment protection—legislative measures in India; Sea-level changes: causes and impact.

How to prepare for geology optional for IAS?

Geology is one of the optional subjects provided by UPSC for the main exam. It is not among those subjects which easily come in mind, unlike other optional subjects. It is a highly specialized subject so the number of students for this subject is really few. It is a scoring subject. Here are a few tips that can be used by candidates while preparing for geology optional.

1. While answering the questions make sure to include every relevant facts and figure. Don’t miss out on anything, not a single piece of information. Unlike other humanities subjects, geology is not about much interpretation. It is solely based on rational and logical bend mindset. You don’t need to memorize anything. Just focus on what is asked and give an answer in a precise format instead of making stories. You will be marked on the basis of the information you provide in the answer and not on the basis of the long unnecessary content which hardly has any relevant facts.

2. You can simply clear your basic knowledge about the concepts. Try to make a notebook where you can compile all the important new concepts. This can comprise of new as well as any other concepts that might confuse you. Geology as an optional subject is easy to understand. Still, if there are concepts that are tough to grasp you can clear them by using the study material. But make sure you are thorough with the concepts. It is because maximum questions test you on the basis of your basic understanding.  Thus clear all your doubts and be prepared for the final exam.

3. Another important step during preparation is to have prior knowledge of the subject. It is required to understand the basics. Also, it is a specialized subject, thus prior conceptual clarity is needed to understand the topics of the syllabus. This will help to enhance the knowledge about the subject.

4. Keep a good amount of time for the preparation. The syllabus of geology is extensive in nature and requires a lot of time for preparation. So devote proper time for its preparation. Start preparing as soon as you are done with the preliminary exam. In this way, you will have more time to prepare. Also if you are having more time then you can study without being stressed and tensed. You will be able to prepare with a calm and peaceful mind. This will indeed help you to absorb the content in a better way and smooth manner.

5. The next important aspect is to have an interest in the subject. You need to develop an interest in order to better understand the concepts. If you lack interest in the subject then it will become monotonous to study it. And this way it will hamper your preparation. So for better results keep yourself curious and have an interest in it. With interest, you will be more attracted to the subject. In this way, you will be learning everything with more zeal and enthusiasm and preparation will become fun for you. This in turn is useful for better results.

6. From the exam point of view, environmental geology is important and needs to be studied well. There are other portions of the syllabus that require equal attention like a mineral revelation, ore genesis, Indian mineral silt, etc. In addition to this mineral trading and lending, the geology of energies, designing topography, groundwater science, underground water examination, issues and administration, incident, and designation of water are some more areas of the syllabus that need to be studied in detail. In the geology optional no topic can be left uncovered. So it’s better to cover the whole syllabus in entirety and leaving no topic.

7. One of the biggest advantages of geology optional is that some of the topics of syllabus overlap with geography optional. This makes the preparation easier since no extra efforts are required to cover these common topics. It enhances the preparation and gives the candidates an opportunity to fasten up the preparation. It also helps to cover the entire syllabus in much less time since some of the topics are already studied. So these topics only require revision and thus are covered easily. Also, the syllabus is relatively limited but lengthy as well. So if studied in a proper way then marks can be easily scored.

8. It would be an added advantage if you solve previous year question papers because most of the questions are repeated. So if you will solve past year questions then you will have an idea as to what are the possible questions that might be repeated and asked in this year's question paper. This will help you to score better. Also by solving past year questions you get a fair idea as to what are the questions that you are able to solve and what are the questions that you are unable to solve and requires practice.

9. Also unlike other subjects, you don’t need to be updated with current affairs. Most part of the syllabus is static in nature so no linkage with current affairs is needed. It act as an advantage for you. This helps in the long run since you don’t need to elaborate on your answers in the question paper with current facts and figures.  The time saved here can be utilized by doing preparation of general studies and optional subjects.

10.       There is plenty of study material available on geology optional. Rely on it different reference books to clear the concepts. Make the basics of the topics strong enough so that no question goes unanswered in the main exam. There are many courses provided by foreign universities on geology optional subjects which are helpful in preparation. So a candidate needs not to worry about the notes. The notes on geology are self-explanatory and available in abundance. You only need the curiosity to learn and grow. If you have that nobody can stop you from achieving the highest rank in civil service examination.