For a UPSC CSE aspirant, the optional subject is also an important subject. In the UPSC mains exam, optional marks have two papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2. Each paper is of 250 marks which makes a total of 500 marks. The UPSC optional subject list contains 48 subjects in total, one of which is Geology.




Syllabus for Paper I 

  • The Solar System
  • Meteorites
  • Volcanoes- causes and products, Volcanic belts
  • Origin, and interior of the earth and age of the earth  
  • Earthquakes- effects, causes
  • Island arcs, trenches, and mid-ocean ridges 
  • Seismic zones of India
  • Continental drifts 
  • Isostasy
  • Plate tectonics, Seafloor spreading 
  • Basic concepts of geomorphology
  • Landforms, drainage, and slopes
  • Weathering and soil formations
  • Morphology and its relation to structures and lithology
  • Geomorphic cycles and their interpretation
  • Applications of geomorphology in mineral prospecting 
  • Applications of remote sensing in geology
  • Geomorphology of the Indian subcontinent
  • Coastal geomorphology  
  • Civil engineering
  • Hydrology and environmental studies  
  • Aerial photographs and their interpretation- limitations, and merits 
  • The Electromagnetic spectrum 
  • Indian Remote Sensing Satellites
  • Orbiting satellites and sensor systems
  • Satellites data products
  • The Global Positioning System (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)- its applications.
  • Principles of geologic mapping and map reading
  • Projection diagrams
  • Strain markers in deformed rocks
  • Stress, and strain ellipsoid and stress-strain relationships of elastic, plastic, and viscous materials  
  • Classification and mechanics of folds and faults
  • The behavior of minerals and rocks under deformation conditions
  • Structural analysis of lineations, folds, foliations, joints, and faults, unconformities
  • The time relationship between crystallization and deformation.
  • Species- definition and nomenclature
  • Modes of preservation of fossils
  • Megafossils and Microfossils 
  • Different kinds of microfossils
  • Application of microfossils in correlation, petroleum exploration, paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic studies 
  • Siwalik fauna
  • Gondwana flora and fauna and its importance 
  • The evolutionary trend in Equidae, Hominidae, and Proboscidea
  • Index fossils and their significance
  • Classification of stratigraphic sequences: biostratigraphic, lithostratigraphic, chronostratigraphic, and magnetostratigraphic along with their interrelationships
  • Study of stratigraphic distribution and lithology of Phanerozoic rocks of India with reference to flora, fauna and economic importance
  • Distribution and classification of Precambrian rocks of India 
  • Study of climatic conditions, paleogeography, and igneous activity in the Indian subcontinent in the geological past
  • Major boundary problems- Permian/Triassic, Cambrian/Precambrian, Cretaceous/Tertiary, and Pliocene/Pleistocene
  • Tectonic framework of India
  • Evolution of the Himalayas
  • Hydrologic cycle and genetic classification of water
  • Movement of subsurface water
  • Porosity, permeability, hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity and storage coefficient, classification of aquifers
  • Springs  
  • Water-bearing characteristics of rocks
  • Drainage basin morphometry
  • Exploration for groundwater 
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Problems and management of groundwater
  • Ground-water chemistry 
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Types of wells
  • Saltwater intrusion
  • Engineering properties of rocks 
  • Rock as a construction material 
  • Geological investigations for dams, tunnels highways, railway, and bridges 
  • Landslides- prevention, causes, and rehabilitation 
  • Earthquake-resistant structures

Syllabus for Paper II 

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

2.Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology: 

  • Generation and crystallization of magmas
  • Crystallization of albite-anorthite, diopside-anorthite, and diopside-wollastonite-silica systems 
  • Magmatic differentiation and assimilation
  • Bowen’s Reaction Principle
  • Petrogenetic significance of the textures and structures of igneous rocks
  • Petrography and petrogenesis of syenite, granite, diorite, basic and ultrabasic groups, anorthosite, charnockite, and alkaline rocks
  • Carbonatites
  • Deccan volcanic province
  • Types and agents of metamorphism
  • Metamorphic grades and zones
  • Facies of regional and contact metamorphism
  • Structures and textures of metamorphic rocks
  • Phase rule 
  • ACF and AKF diagrams
  • Metamorphism of argillaceous, arenaceous, and basic rocks
  • Minerals assemblages Retrograde metamorphism
  • Metasomatism and granitisation, migmatites, Granulite terrains of India

3.Sedimentary Petrology: 

  • Sediments and Sedimentary rocks
  • Sedimentary facies and provenance
  • Sedimentary basins of India
  • Sedimentary structures and their significance
  • Processes of formation: lithification and digenesis
  • Clastic and non-clastic rocks their classification, petrography, and depositional environment 
  • Heavy minerals and their significance

4.Economic Geology: 

  • Ore, ore minerals and gangue, the tenor of ore, classification of ore deposits
  • Controls of ore localization
  • Process of formation of minerals deposits
  • Metallogenic epochs and provinces
  • Ore textures and structures
  • Geology of the important Indian deposits of chromium, aluminum, copper, gold, lead-zinc, manganese, titanium, uranium and thorium and industrial minerals
  • Deposits of coal and petroleum in India
  • Conservation and utilization of mineral resources
  • National Mineral Policy
  • Marine mineral resources and Law of Sea

5.Mining Geology: 

  • Techniques of sampling 
  • Methods of prospecting-geological, geophysical, geochemical, and geobotanical
  • Estimation of reserves or ore
  • Mineral beneficiation and ore dressing
  • Methods of exploration and mining metallic ores, industrial minerals, marine mineral resources, and building stones 

6.Geochemistry and Environmental Geology: 

  • Trace elements
  • Cosmic abundance of elements
  • Composition of the planets and meteorites
  • Structure and composition of Earth and distribution of elements
  • Elementary thermodynamics
  • Elements of crystal chemistry, types of chemical bonds, coordination number
  • 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
  • Sea level changes: causes and impact
  • Isomorphism and polymorphism
  • Pollution of ground and surface water, marine pollution
  • Environment protection – legislative measures in India
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