SET Syllabus


1. The Earth and the Solar System:
Milky Way and the solar system. Modern theories on the origin of the Earth and other planetary bodies. Earth’s orbital parameters, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, Geological Time Scale; Space and time scales of processes in the solid Earth, atmosphere and oceans. Age of the Earth. Radioactive isotopes and their applications in earth sciences. Basic principles of stratigraphy.
Theories about the origin of life and the nature of fossil record. Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields and its thermal structure: Concept of Geoid and, spheroid; Isostasy.

2 A. Earth Materials, surface features and Processes:
Gross composition and physical properties of important minerals and rocks; properties and processes responsible for mineral concentrations; nature and distribution of rocks and minerals in different units of the earth and different parts of India

2 B. Surface features and Processes
Physiography of the Earth; weathering, erosion, transportation and deposition of Earth’s material; formation of soil, sediments and sedimentary rocks; energy balance of the Earth’s surface processes; physiographic features and river basins in India

3. Interior of the Earth, Deformation and Tectonics
Basic concepts of seismology and internal structure of the Earth. Physico-chemical and seismic properties of Earth’s interior. Concepts of stress and strain. Behaviour of rocks under stress; Folds, joints and faults. Earthquakes – their causes and measurement. Interplate and intraplate seismicity. Paleomagnetism, sea floor spreading and plate tectonics.

4. Oceans and Atmosphere
Hypsography of the continents and ocean floor –continental shelf, slope, rise and abyssal plains. Physical and chemical properties of sea water and their spatial variations. Residence times of elements in sea water. Ocean currents, waves and tides, important current systems, thermohaline circulation and the oceanic conveyor belt. Major water masses of the world’s oceans. Biological productivity in the oceans. Motion of fluids, waves in atmospheric and oceanic systems. Atmospheric turbulence and boundary layer. Structure and chemical composition of the atmosphere, lapse rate and stability, scale height, geopotential, greenhouse gases and global warming. Cloud formation and precipitation processes, air- sea interactions on different space and time scales. Insolation and heat budget, radiation balance, general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean. Climatic and sea level changes on different time scales. Coupled oceanatmosphere system, El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). General weather systems of India, - Monsoon system, cyclone and jetstream, Western disturbances and severe local convective systems, distribution of precipitation over India. Marine and atmospheric pollution, ozone depletion.

5. Environmental Earth Sciences
Properties of water; hydrological cycle; water resources and management. Energy resources, uses, degradation, alternatives and management; Ecology and biodiversity. Impact of use of energy and land on the environment. Exploitation and conservation of mineral and other natural resources. Natural hazards. Elements of Remote Sensing.



Concept of point group, space group, reciprocal lattice, diffraction and imaging. Concepts of crystal field theory and mineralogical spectroscopy. TEM and SEM applications. Lattice defects (point, line and planar). Electrical, magnetic and optical properties of minerals. Bonding and crystal structures of common oxides, sulphides, and silicates. Transformation of minerals – polymorphism, polytypism, and polysomatism. Solid solution and exsolution. Steady-state geotherms. Genesis, properties, emplacement and crystallization of magmas. Phase equilibrium studies of simple systems, effect of volatiles on melt equilibria. Magmamixing, -mingling and - immiscibility. Metamorphic structures and textures; isograds and facies. Mineral reactions with condensed phases, solid solutions, mixed volatile equilibria and thermobarometry. Metamorphism of pelites, mafic-ultra mafic rocks and siliceous dolomites. Material transport during metamorphism. P-T-t path in regional metamorphic terrains, plate tectonics and metamorphism. Petrogenetic aspects of important rock suites of India, such as the Deccan Traps, layered intrusive complexes, anorthosites, carbonatites, charnockites, khondalites gondites and granitoids.

Theory of stress and strain. Behaviour of rocks under stress. Mohr circle. Various states of stress and their representation by Mohr circles. Different types of failure and sliding criteria. Geometry and mechanics of fracturing and conditions for reactivation of pre-existing discontinuities. Common types of finite strain ellipsoids. L-, L-S-, and S-tectonic fabrics. Techniques of strain analysis. Particle paths and flow patterns. Progressive strain history. Introduction to deformation mechanisms. Role of fluids in deformation processes. Geometry and analyses of brittle-ductile and ductile shear zones. Sheath folds. Geometry and mechanics of development of folds, boudins, foliations and lineations. Interference patterns of superposed fold. Fault-related folding. Gravity induced structures. Tectonic features of extensional-, compressional-, and strike-slipterranes. and relevance to plate boundaries.

Theories on origin of life. Organic evolution – Punctuated Equilibrium and Phyletic Gradualism models. Mass extinctions and their causes. Application of fossils in age determination and correlation. Paleoecology, Life habitats and various ecosystems, Paleobiogeography. Modes of preservation of fossils and taphonomic considerations. Types of microfossils. Environmental significance of fossils and trace fossils. Use of microfossils in interpretation of sea floor tectonism. Application of micropaleontology in hydrocarbon exploration. Oxygen and Carbon isotope studies of microfossils and their use in paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic interpretation. Important invertebrate fossils, vertebrate fossils, plant fossils and microfossils in Indian stratigraphy.

Clastic sediments- gravel, sand and mud; biogenic, chemical and volcanogenic sediments. Classification of conglomerates, sandstones and mudstones, and carbonate rocks. Flow regimes and processes of sediment transport. Sedimentary textures and structures. Sedimentary facies and environments, reconstruction of paleoenvironments. Formation and evolution of sedimentary basins. Diagenesis of siliciclastic and carbonate rocks. Recent developments in stratigraphic classification. Code of stratigraphic nomenclature – Stratotypes, Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP). Lithostratigraphic, chronostratigraphic and biostratigraphic subdivisions. Methods of startigraphic correlation including Shaw’s Graphic correlation. Concept of sequence stratigraphy. Rates of sediment accumulation, unconformities. Facies concept in Stratigraphy – Walther’s law. Methods for paleogeographic reconstruction. Earth’s Climatic History. Phanerozoic stratigraphy of India with reference to the type areas– their correlation with equivalent formations in other regions. Boundary problems in Indian Phanerozoic stratigraphy.

Morphologic and tec tonic domains of the ocean floor. Structure, composition and mechanism of the formation of oceanic crust. hydrothermal vents-. Ocean margins and their significance. Ocean Circulation, Coriolis effect and Ekman spiral, convergence, divergence
and upwelling, El Nino. Indian Ocean Dipole Thermohaline circulation and oceanic conveyor belt. Formation of Bottom waters; major water masses of the world’s oceans. Oceanic sediments: Factors controlling the deposition and distribution of oceanic sediments; geochronology of oceanic sediments, diagenetic changes in oxic and anoxic environments. Tectonic evolution of the ocean basins. Mineral resources. Paleoceanography – Approaches to paleoceanographic reconstructions; various proxy indicators for paleoceanographic interpretation. Reconstruction of monsoon variability by using marine proxy records Opening and closing of ocean gateways and their effect on circulation and climate during the Cenozoic. Sea level processes and Sea level changes. Methods of paleo Sea Surface temperature. Quantifications.

Structure and atomic properties of elements, the Periodic Table; ionic substitution in minerals; Phase rule and its applications in petrology, thermodynamics of reactions involving pure phases, ideal and non-ideal solutions, and fluids; equilibrium and distribution coefficients. Nucleation and diffusion processes in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary environments, redox reactions and Eh-pH diagrams and their applications. Mineral/mineral assemblages as ‘sensors’ of ambient environments. Geochemical studies of aerosols, surface- , marine-, and ground waters. Radioactive decay schemes and their application to geochronology and petrogenesis. Stable isotopes and their application to earth system processes; geochemical cylcles.

Magmatic, hydrothermal and surface processes of ore formation. Metallogeny and its relation to crustal evolution; Active ore-forming systems, methods of mineral deposit studies including ore microscopy, fluid inclusions and isotopic systematics; ores and metamorphismcause and effect relationships. Geological setting, characteristics, and genesis of ferrous, base and noble metals. Origin, migration and entrapment of petroleum; properties of source and reservoir rocks; structural, stratigraphic and combination traps. Methods of petroleum exploration. Petroliferous basins of India. Origin of peat, lignite, bitumen and anthracite. Classification, rank and grading of coal; coal petrography, coal resources of India. Gas hydrates and coal bed methane. Nuclear and non-conventional energy resources.

Evolution of lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and cryosphere;, lithological, geochemical and stratigraphic characteristics of granite – greenstone and granulite belts. Stratigraphy and geochronology of the cratonic nuclei, mobile belts and Proterozoic sedimentary basins of India. Life in Precambrian. Precambrian – Cambrian boundary with special reference to India.

Definition of Quaternary. Quaternary Stratigraphy – Oxygen Isotope stratigraphy, biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy. Quaternary climates – glacial-interglacial cycles,eustatic changes, proxy indicators of paleoenvironmental/ paleoclimatic changes, - land, ocean and cryosphere (ice core studies). Responses of geomorphic systems to climate, sea level and tectonics on variable time scales in the Quaternary,. Quaternary dating methods, – radiocarbon, Uranium series, Luminescence, Amino-acid, relative dating methods. Quaternary stratigraphy of India– continental records (fluvial, glacial, aeolian, palaeosols and duricrust); marine records; continental-marine correlation of Quaternary record. Evolution of man and Stone Age cultures. Plant and animal life in relation to glacial and interglacial cycles during Quaternary. Tectonic geomorphology, neotectonics, active tectonics and their applications to natural hazard assessment.


(i) Remote Sensing and GIS: Elements of photogrammetry, elements of photointerpretation, electromagnetic spectrum, emission range, film and imagery, sensors, geological interpretations air photos and imageries. Global positioning systems. GIS- data structure, attribute data, thematic layers and query analysis.

(ii) Engineering Geology: Engineering properties of rocks and physical characteristics of building stones, concretes and other aggregates. Geological investigations for construction of dams, bridges, highways and tunnels. Remedial measures. Mass movements with special emphasis on landslides and causes of hillslope instability. Seismic design of buildings.

(iii) Mineral Exploration: Geological, geophysical, geochemical and geobotanical methods of surface and sub-surface exploration on different scales. Sampling, assaying and evaluation of mineral deposits.

(iv) Hydrogeology: Groundwater, Darcy’s law, hydrological characteristics of aquifers, hydrological cycle. Precipitation, evapotranspiration and infiltration processes. Hydrological classification of water-bearing formations. Fresh and salt-water relationships in coastal and inland areas. Groundwater exploration and water pollution. Groundwater regimes in India.


1) Geomorphology: Development in geomorphology. Historical and process Geomorphology. Landforms in relation to climate, rock type, structure and tectonics. Processes – weathering, pedogenesis, mass movement, erosion, transportation and deposition. Geomorphic processes and landforms – fluvial, glacial, eolian, coastal and karst. River forms and processes – stream flow, stage-discharge relationship; hydrographs and flood frequency analysis. Submarine relief. Geomorphology and topographic analysis including DEM, Environmental change– causes, effects on processes and landforms. Extraterrestrial geomorphology.

2) Climatology: Fundamental principles of climatology. Earth’s radiation balance; latitudinal and seasonal variation of insolation, temperature, pressure, wind belts, humidity, cloud formation and precipitation, water balance. Air masses, monsoon, Jet streams, tropical cyclones, and ENSO. Classification of climates – Koppen’s and Thornthwaite’s scheme of classification. Climate change.

3) Bio-geography: Elements of biogeography with special reference to India; environment, habitat, plant-animal association; zoo-geography of India; Biomes, elements of plant geography, distribution of forests and major plant communities. Distribution of major animal communities. Conservation of forests. Wildlife sanctuaries and parks.

4) Environmental Geography: Man-land relationship. Resources – renewable and nonrenewable. Natural and man-made hazards – droughts, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis. Ecological balance, environmental pollution and deterioration.

5) Geography of India: Physiography, drainage, climate, soils and natural resources – the Himalaya, Ganga-Brahmaputra Plains, and peninsular India Precambrian shield, the Gondwana rift basins, Deccan Plateau. Indian climatology with special reference to seasonal distribution and variation of temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation; Climate zones of India. Agricultural geography of India. Population – its distribution and characteristics. Urbanization and migration. Environmental problems and issues.


1) Signal Processing: Continuous and discrete signals; Fourier series; linear time invariant systems with deterministic and random inputs; band limited signal and sampling theorem; discrete and Fast Fourier transform; Z-transform; convolution; Filters: discrete and continuous, recursive, non-recursive, optimal and inverse filters; deconvolution.

2) Field theory: Newtonian potential; Laplace and Poisson’s equations; Green’s Theorem; Gauss’ law; Continuation integral; equivalent stratum; Maxwell’s equations and electromagnetic theory; Displacement potential, Helmhotz’s theorem and seismic wave propagation.

3) Numerical analysis and inversion: Numerical differentiation and integration, finite element, and finite difference techniques; Simpson’s rules; Gauss’ quadrature formula; initial value problems; pattern recognition in Geophysics. Well posed and ill-posed problems; method of least squares; direct search and gradient methods; generalized inversion techniques; singular value decomposition; global optimization.

4) Gravity and Magnetic fields of the earth: Normal gravity field; Clairaut’s theorem; Shape of the earth; deflection of the vertical, geoid, free-air, Bouguer and isostatic anomalies, isostatic models for local and regional compensation. Geomagnetic field, secular and transient variations and their theories; palaeomagnetism, construction of polar wandering curves.

5) Plate Tectonics and Geodynamics: Vine-Mathews hypothesis, marine magnetic anomalies, sea floor spreading; mid-oceanic ridges and geodynamics; plate tectonics hypothesis; plate boundaries and seismicity. Heat flow mechanisms, core-mantle convection and mantle plumes.

6) Seismology & Tomography: Seismometry: short period, long period, broad band and strong motion; elements of earthquake seismology; seismic sources: faulting source, double couple hypothesis, elastodynamics, Haskell’s function, seismic moment tensor, focal mechanism and fault plane solutions; seismic gaps; seismotectonics and structure of the earth; Himalayan and stable continental region earthquakes, reservoir induced seismicity; seismic hazards; earthquake prediction.

7) Gravity and Magnetic Methods: Gravimeters and magnetometers; data acquisition from land, air and ship; corrections and reduction of anomalies; ambiguity; regional and residual separation; continuation and derivative calculations; interpretation of anomalies of simple geometric bodies, single pole, sphere, horizontal cylinder, sheet, dyke and fault. Forward modelling and inversion of arbitrary shaped bodies and 2-D, 3-D interfaces. Interpretations in frequency domain.

8) Electrical and Electromagnetic Methods: Electrical profiling and sounding, typical sounding curves, pseudo-sections; resistivity transform and direct interpretation; induced polarization methods. Electromagnetic field techniques; elliptic polarization, in-phase and out of phase  components, horizontal and vertical loop methods; interpretation; VLF (very low frequency); AFMAG (Audio frequency magnetic) methods; and central frequency sounding; transient electromagnetic methods; magneto-telluric method; geomagnetic depth sounding.

9) Seismic Methods: Generalized Snell’s Law; Ray theory; reflection, refraction, diffraction; Zoeppritz’s equation; seismic energy sources; detectors; seismic noises and noise profile analysis; seismic data recording and telemetry devices; reduction to a datum and weathering corrections; Interpretation of a refraction seismic data by graphical and analytical techniques; CDP/CMP; seismic reflection data processing, velocity analysis, F-K filtering, stacking, deconvolution, migration before and after stack; bright spot analysis; wavelet processing; attenuation studies, shear waves, AVO; VSP; introduction to 3D seismics; seismic stratigraphy.

10) Well logging and other methods: Open hole, cased hole and production logging; Electrical logs; lateral, latero, induction, S.P; porosity logs; sonic, density, neutron; natural gamma; determination of formation factor, porosity, permeability, density, water saturation, lithology; logging while drilling. Radioactive and geothermal methods.


1) Climatology: Same as under Geography

2) Physical Meteorology: Thermal structure of the atmosphere and its composition. Radiation: basic Laws - Rayleigh and Mie scattering, multiple scattering, radiation from the sun, solar constant, effect of clouds, surface and planetary albedo. Emission and absorption of terrestrial radiation, radiation windows, radiative transfer, Greenhouse effect, net radiation budget; Thermodynamics of dry and moist air: specific gas constant, Adiabatic and isoentropic processes, entropy and enthalpy, Moisture variables, virtual temperature; Clausius – Clapeyron equation, adiabatic process of moist air; thermodynamic diagrams: Hydrostatic equilibrium: Hydrostatic equation, variation of pressure with height, geopotential, standard atmosphere, altimetry. Vertical stability of the atmosphere: Dry and moist air parcel and slice methods. Tropical convection.

3) Atmospheric Electricity: Fair weather electric field in the atmosphere and potential gradients, ionization in the atmosphere. Electrical fields in thunderstorms, theories of thunderstorm electrification.

4) Cloud Physics: Cloud classification, condensation nuclei, growth of cloud drops and icecrystals, precipitation mechanisms: Bergeron, Findeisen process, coalescence process – Precipitation of warm and mixed clouds, artificial precipitation, hail suppression, fog and cloud – dissipation, radar observation of clouds and precipitation, radar equation, rain drop spectra, radar echoes of hail storm and tornadoes, radar observation of hurricanes, measurements of rainfall by radar.

5) Dynamic Meteorology: Basic equations and fundamental forces: Pressure, gravity, centripetal and Corolis forces, continuity equation in Cartesian and isobaric coordinates. Momentum equation Cartesian and spherical coordinates; scale analysis, inertial flow, geostrophic and gradient winds, thermal wind. Divergence and vertical motion Rossby, Richardson, Reynolds and Froude numbers. Circulation, vorticity and divergence; Bjerknese circulation theorem and applications, vorticity and divergence equations, scale analysis, potential vorticity, stream function and velocity potential. Atmospheric turbulence: Mixinglength theory, planetary boundary layer equations, surface layer, Ekman layer, eddy transport of heat, moisture and momentum, Richardson criterion; Linear Perturbation Theory: Internal and external gravity waves, inertia waves, gravity waves, Rossby waves, wave motion in the tropics, barotropic and baroclinic instabilities. Atmospheric Energetics: Kinetic, potential and internal energies – conversion of potential and internal energies into kinetic energy, available potential energy.

6) Numerical Weather Prediction: computational instability, filtering of sound and gravity waves, filtered forecast equations, barotropic and equivalent barotropic models, two parameter baroclinic model, relaxation method. Multi-layer primitive equation models. Short, medium and long range weather prediction. Objective analysis; Initialization of the data for use in weather prediction models; data assimilation techniques, application of satellite in NWP (Numerical Weather Prediction) and remotely sensed data.

7) General Circulation and Climate Modelling: Observed zonally symmetric circulations, meridional circulation models, mean meridional and eddy transport of momentum and energy, angular momentum and energy budgets; zonally asymmetric features of general circulation; standing eddies; east-west circulations in tropics: climate variability and forcings; feedback processes, low frequency variability, MJO Madden-Julian oscillation), ENSO, QBO (quasibiennial oscillation) and sunspot cycles. Basic principles of general circulation modelling; gridpoint and spectral GCMs; role of the ocean in climate modelling; interannual variability of ocean fields (SST, winds, circulation, etc.) and its relationship with monsoon, concepts of ocean – atmosphere coupled models.

8) Synoptic Meteorology: Weather observations and transmission, synoptic charts, analysis of surface, upper air another derivative chart, stream-lines, isotachs and contour analysis; tilt and slope of  pressure/weather systems with height. Synoptic weather forecasting, prediction of weather elements such as rain, maximum and minimumtemperature and fog; hazardous weather elements like thunderstorms, duststorms, tornadoes. Tropical meteorology: Trade wind inversion, ITCZ; monsoon trough tropical cyclones, their structure and development theory; monsoon depressions; tropical easterly jet stream; low level jets, Somali jet, waves in easterlies; western disturbances; SW and NE monsoons; synoptic features associated with onset, withdrawal, break active and weak monsoons and their prediction. Air masses and fronts: sources, origin and classification of air masses; and fronts, frontogenesis and frontolysis; structure of cold and warm fronts; weather systems associated with fronts. Extratropical synoptic scale features: jet streams, extratropical cyclones and anticyclones.

9) Aviation Meteorology: Role of meteorology in aviation, weather hazards associated with takeoff cruising and landing, inflight – icing, turbulence, visibility, fog, clouds, rain, gusts, wind shear and thunderstorms, nowcasting and very short range forecasting.

10) Satellite Meteorology: Meteorological satellites – Polar orbiting and geostationary satellites, visible and infrared radiometers, multiscanner radiometers; identification of synoptic systems, fog and sandstorms, detection of cyclones, estimation of SST, cloud top temperatures, winds and rainfall: temperature and humidity soundings..


1) Physical Oceanography: T-S diagrams; mixing processes in the oceans; characteristics of important water masses. Wind generated waves in the oceans; their characteristics; shallow and deep water waves. Propagation, refraction, and reflection of waves. Wave spectrum, principles of wave forecasting. Tide-producing forces and their magnitudes; prediction of tides by the harmonic method; tides and tidal currents in shallow seas, estuaries and rivers. Factors influencing coastal processes; transformation of waves in shallow water; effects of stratification; effect of bottom friction, phenomena of wave reflection, refraction and diffraction; breakers and surf; littoral currents; wave action on sediments – movement to beach material; rip currents; beach stability, ocean beach nourishment; harbour resonance; seiches; tsunami; interaction of waves and structure. Estuaries: classification and nomenclature; tides in estuaries; estuarine circulation and mixing; depth – averaged and breadth – averaged models; sedimentation in estuaries; salinity intrusion in estuaries; effect of stratification; coastal pollution; mixing and dispersal of pollutants in estuaries and near-shore areas; coastal zone management. The global wind system; action of wind on ocean surface; Ekman’s theory; Sverdrup, Stommel and Munk’s theories; upwelling and sinking with special reference to the Indian ocean. Inertial currents; divergences and convergences; geostrophic motion; barotropic and baroclinic conditions; oceanic eddies, relationship between density, pressure and dynamic topography; relative and slope currents. Wind driven coastal currents; typical scales of motion in the ocean. Characteristics of the global conveyor belt circulation and its causes. Formation of subtropical gyres; western boundary currents; equatorial current systems; El Nino; monsoonal winds and currents over the North Indian Ocean; Somali current; southern ocean. Upwelling process in the Arabian Sea.

2) Chemical Oceanography: Composition of seawater – Classification of elements based on their distribution; major and minor constituents; behavior of elements; chemical exchanges across interfaces and residence times in seawater. Chemical and biological interactions – Ionic interactions; cycling and air-sea exchange of important biogenic dissolved gases; carbon dioxidecarbonate system; alkalinity and control of pH; abiotic and biotic controls of trace elements in the ocean; biological pump and controls on atmospheric composition.

3) Geological Oceanography: Same topics as under subhead “Marine Geology & paleooceanography

4) Biological Oceanography: Classification of the marine environment and marine organisms. Physio-chemical factors affecting marine life – light, temperature, salinity, pressure, nutrients, dissolved gases; adaptation and biological processes. Primary and secondary production; factors controlling phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance and diversity; nekton and fisheries oceanography; benthic organisms; coastal marine communities and community ecology – estuaries, coral reefs and mangrove communities, deep-sea ecology including hydrothermal vent communities. Energy flow and mineral cycling – energy transfer and transfer efficiencies through different trophic levels; food webs including the microbial loop. Human impacts on marine communities; impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity. Impact of pollution on marine environments including fisheries.

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Page Last Updated on 12.03.2020


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