Syllabus of UPSC CSE Geology Optional

Both the papers of Geology cover a vast syllabus. And the syllabus for both papers is mentioned below in a convenient manner for a better understanding.

UPSC Optional Paper Syllabus for Geology- Paper I


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 zones of India; Island arcs, trenches, and mid-ocean ridges; 
  • Continental drifts; 
  • Seafloor spreading, Plate tectonics; 
  • Isostasy. 


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 the Indian subcontinent. 
  • Aerial photographs and their interpretation-merits and limitations; 
  • The Electromagnetic spectrum; 
  • Orbiting satellites and sensor systems; 
  • Indian Remote Sensing Satellites; 
  • Satellites data products; Applications of remote sensing in geology; 
  • The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) - its applications.


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 behavior of minerals and rocks under deformation conditions; 
  • Folds and faults classification and mechanics; 
  • Structural analysis of folds, foliations, lineations, joints, and faults, unconformities; Timerelationship between crystallization and deformation.




  • 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; 
  • The evolutionary trend in Hominidae, Equidae, and Proboscidea; Siwalik fauna; 
  • Gondwana flora and fauna and its importance; 
  • Index fossils and their significance.


Indian Stratigraphy:

  • Classification of stratigraphic sequences: lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic, chronostratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic and their interrelationships; 
  • Distribution and classification of Precambrian rocks of India;
  •  Study of stratigraphic distribution and lithology of Phanerozoic rocks of India with reference to fauna, flora, and economic importance; 
  • Major boundary problems- Cambrian/Precambrian, Permian/Triassic, Cretaceous/Tertiary, and Pliocene/Pleistocene; 
  • Study of climatic conditions, paleogeography and igneous activity in the Indian subcontinent in the geological past; 
  • Tectonic framework of India; Evolution of the Himalayas.


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; Ground-water 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

UPSC Optional Paper Syllabus for Geology- Paper-II



  • Classification of crystals into systems and classes of symmetry; 
  • The 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.


Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology: 

  • Generation and crystallization of magmas; 
  • Crystallization 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.


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.


Economic Geology: 

  • Ore, ore minerals and gangue, the tenor of ore, classification of ore deposits; 
  • Process of formation of minerals deposits; 
  • Controls of ore localization; 
  • Ore textures and structures; 
  • Metallogenic epochs and provinces; 
  • Geology of the important Indian deposits of aluminum, 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.


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.


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.

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