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Resources include the Geology merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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This is the Geology merit badge for Scouts, Lone Scouts, and qualified Venturers or Sea Scouts.
Geology merit badge requires prior counselor and/or parent approval for requirement(s) #4a, 5c.

Geology merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1953
Replaced: Rocks and Minerals
BSA Advancement ID: 058
Requirements revision: 2006
Latest pamphlet revision: 2008


Geology is the study of Earth. It includes the study of materials that make up Earth, the processes that change it, and the history of how things happened, including human civilization, which depends on natural materials for existence.

Geology is one of the elective merit badges for the William T. Hornaday awards for Scouts BSA.

Geology merit badge requirements

  1. Define geology. Discuss how geologists learn about rock formations. In geology, explain why the study of the present is important to understanding the past.
  2. Pick three resources that can be extracted or mined from Earth for commercial use. Discuss with your counselor how each product is discovered and processed.
  3. Review a geologic map of your area or an area selected by your counselor, and discuss the different rock types and estimated ages of rocks represented. Determine whether the rocks are horizontal, folded, or faulted, and explain how you arrived at your conclusion.
  4. Do ONE of the following:
    (a) With your parent's and counselor's approval, visit with a geologist, land use planner, or civil engineer. Discuss this professional's work and the tools required in this line of work. Learn about a project that this person is now working on, and ask to see reports and maps created for this project. Discuss with your counselor what you have learned.
    (b) Find out about three career opportunities available in geology. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for the profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.
  5. Do ONE of the options listed below (a OR b OR c OR d):
    (a) Surface and Sedimentary Processes Option
    (1) Conduct an experiment approved by your counselor that demonstrates how sediments settle from suspension in water. Explain to your counselor what the exercise shows and why it is important.
    (2) Using topographical maps provided by your counselor, plot the stream gradients (different elevations divided by distance) for four different stream types (straight, meandering, dendritic, trellis). Explain which ones flow fastest and why, and which ones will carry larger grains of sediment and why.
    (3) On a stream diagram, show areas where you will find the following features: cut bank, fill bank, point bar, medial channel bars, lake delta. Describe the relative sediment grain size found in each feature.
    (4) Conduct an experiment approved by your counselor that shows how some sedimentary material carried by water may be too small for you to see without a magnifier.
    (5) Visit a nearby stream. Find clues that show the direction of water flow, even if the water is missing. Record your observations in a notebook, and sketch those clues you observe. Discuss your observations with your counselor.
    (b) Energy Resources Option
    (1) List the top five Earth resources used to generate electricity in the United States.
    (2) Discuss source rock, trap, and reservoir rock - the three components necessary for the occurrence of oil and gas underground.
    (3) Explain how each of the following items is used in subsurface exploration to locate oil or gas: reflection seismic, electric well logs, stratigraphic correlation, offshore platform, geologic map, subsurface structure map, subsurface isopach map, and core samples and cutting samples.
    (4) Using at least 20 data points provided by your counselor, create a subsurface structure map and use it to explain how subsurface geology maps are used to find oil, gas, or coal resources.
    (5) Do ONE of the following activities:
    (a) Make a display or presentation showing how oil and gas or coal is found, extracted, and processed. You may use maps, books, articles from periodicals, and research found on the Internet (with your parent's permission). Share the display with your counselor or a small group (such as your class at school) in a five minute presentation.
    (b) With your parent's and counselor's permission and assistance, arrange for a visit to an operating drilling rig. While there, talk with a geologist and ask to see what the geologist does onsite. Ask to see cutting samples taken at the site.
    (c) Mineral Resources Option
    (1) Define rock. Discuss the three classes of rocks including their origin and characteristics.
    (2) Define mineral. Discuss the origin of minerals and their chemical composition and identification properties, including hardness, specific gravity, color, streak, cleavage, luster, and crystal form.
    (3) Do ONE of the following:
    (a) Collect 10 different rocks or minerals. Record in a notebook where you obtained (found, bought, traded) each one. Label each specimen, identify its class and origin, determine its chemical composition, and list its physical properties. Share your collection with your counselor.
    (b) With your counselor's assistance, identify 15 different rocks and minerals. List the name of each specimen, tell whether it is a rock or mineral, and give the name of its class (if it is a rock) or list its identifying physical properties (if it is a mineral).
    (4) List three of the most common road building materials used in your area. Explain how each material is produced and how each is used in road building.
    (5) Do ONE of the following activities:
    (a) With your parent's and counselor's approval, visit an active mining site, quarry, or sand and gravel pit. Tell your counselor what you learned about the resources extracted from this location and how these resources are used by society.
    (b) With your counselor, choose two examples of rocks and two examples of minerals. Discuss the mining of these materials and describe how each is used by society.
    (c) With your parent's and counselor's approval, visit the office of a civil engineer and learn how geology is used in construction. Discuss what you learned with your counselor.
    (d) Earth History Option
    (1) Create a chart showing suggested geological eras and periods. Determine which period the rocks in your region might have been formed.
    (2) Explain to your counselor the processes of burial and fossilization, and discuss the concept of extinction.
    (3) Explain to your counselor how fossils provide information about ancient life, environment, climate, and geography. Discuss the following terms and explain how animals from each habitat obtain food: benthonic, pelagic, littoral, lacustrine, open marine, brackish, fluvial, eolian, protected reef.
    (4) Collect 10 different fossil plants or animals OR (with your counselor's assistance) identify 15 different fossil plants or animals. Record in a notebook where you obtained (found, bought, traded) each one. Classify each specimen to the best of your ability, and explain how each one might have survived and obtained food. Tell what else you can learn from these fossils.
    (5) Do ONE of the following:
    (a) Visit a science museum or the geology department of a local university that has fossils on display. With your parent's and counselor's approval, before you go, make an appointment with a curator or guide who can show you how the fossils are preserved and prepared for display.
    (b) Visit a structure in your area that was built using fossiliferous rocks. Determine what kind of rock was used and tell your counselor the kinds of fossil evidence you found there.
    (c) Visit a rock outcrop that contains fossils. Determine what kind of rock contains the fossils, and tell your counselor the kinds of fossil evidence you found at the outcrop.
    (d) Prepare a display or presentation on your state fossil. Include an image of the fossil, the age of the fossil, and its classification. You may use maps, books, articles from periodicals, and research found on the Internet (with your parent's permission). Share the display with your counselor or a small group (such as your class at school). If your state does not have a state fossil, you may select a state fossil from a neighboring state.

The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Scouts BSA Requirements, 2019 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #648914)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Geology is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Geology requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

  1. Geology is a popular summer camp merit badge.

Requirement resources

1. Geology terms, history, methods, fields: Wikipedia - Rock Formations

2. Resources that can be extracted or mined - Common Minerals and Their Uses - Mining Methods - Minerals.Net Mineral Resources - WebMineral.Com - Iron Refining - Oil Refining - Diamonds - Gold - Coal
3. USGS What is a Geologic Map? - State Geologic Maps - State Geologic Maps - Tennessee/Kentucky Geologic Map - Tennessee Maps - Geology of North America US and State Maps - Geology of Virginia - Texas Minerals and Mining
4. Careers in Geology: Geology Careers - Geoscience Careers - Careers in Geology - Careers in Geology
5A1 & 5A4.Sediments - Suspension
5A2 Topographical Maps, Map reading

5A3 & 5A5. Stream Diagrams & landform photos - [more photos - Earth Science World Image Bank 5B. Terminology & Glossary: See #1 above.
5B1. See Energy Merit Badge for many more energy references.

5B2 & 5b4. USGS Origins of Petroleum With Diagrams - Source rock, trap, and reservoir rock diagram
5B3Geology Terms
5B3Datapoints and structure map
5b5. Minerals.Net Mineral Resources - WebMineral.Com
5B5a. Presentation resources:

5C. Rock - The three classes of rocks

Mineral Origin & Chemical Composition and identification properties

5D. Earth History Option - See Archaeology

USGS Time Chart - Chart of geological eras and periods - another time chart - Fossil - Fossil Facts - USGS Fossils - How Fossils are Formed - What is a Fossil?

5D5b. Structural Geology: Structural Geology Resources - Folds and Faults

Related awards

Science-related awards
Ecology-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools