Tallinn University of Technology

History of the Department

The training of mining engineers and research in the field of earth sciences began at Tallinn University of Technology in 1938. In the Department of Chemistry and Mining, which had just been established, a new curriculum was approved, and Professor Jaan Kark was appointed as the professor of practical geology, along with Professor Artur Aleksander Linholm (Linari) as the professor of mining operations. Since then, over a thousand mining engineers and earth science specialists have graduated from the university, whose role in the exploration and utilisation of our mineral resources - and consequently in the economy - has been significant.

In 1997, the Institute of Geology, originally affiliated to the Academy of Sciences and then operating as a state research institution, joined Tallinn University of Technology. Twenty years later, a structural reform within the university brought together two institutes with similar profiles and focus - the Institute of Mining and the Institute of Geology - under the common roof of the School of Science. The merged institute retained the name Department of Geology, although it could just as well have been named the Department of Geology and Geotechnology.

The Institute of Geology of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, presently Department of Geology at Tallinn University of Technology, was founded on April 5, 1946 by a Decree of the Council of Ministers. The first director Prof Artur Luha was appointed from the 1st January 1947, but the actual work commenced in February when a group of geologists joined the Institute. 

During the first years, the staff remained small and there were three departments at the Institute – geology, applied geology and geophysics. The main research was focused on stratigraphy and lithology of Palaeozoic and Quaternary sediments and palaeontology. As there was no Geological Survey in Estonia at that time, the Institute was engaged in prospecting and study of mineral resources (oil shale, phosphorite and natural building materials) in addition to some hydrogeological investigations. However, the foundation was also laid to fundamental research.

In the early 1960s, most of the geological research institutes all over the Soviet Union were subordinated to the USSR Ministry of Geology in Moscow. The Institute of Geology in Estonia managed to preserve its affiliation to the Academy of Sciences. This was mainly due to the high level of fundamental research reached by the researchers of the Institute.

From 1960 to 1990, the staff grew rapidly and the structure of the Institute was changed several times. The growth of the staff was partly induced by the increasing role of applied studies on phosphorite and oil shale. From the 29 people in 1947, the number of staff had increased to 193 people in the early 1990s. Shortly after Estonia regained its independence, the Institute underwent great changes. During 1992- 1994, the staff was reduced by 54%. In 1996, by a Decree of the Estonian Government, the Institute was affiliated to the Ministry of Education. A year later, the Institute of Geology joined Tallinn University of Technology as an independent research and development institution.

In 2006 the Institute of Geology moved from city center (Estonia pst) to Tallinn University of Technology to current location. The institute got hold of the 4th floor of 4th housing and the brand new building with space for collections, labs and working rooms. Since 2006 there is PhD study programme called Earth Sciences in cooperation with Institute of Marine Systems. In 2007 began the Master course and in 2011 the Bachelor studies.

September 1st, 2016 due to structural reform the Institute of Mining was joined to Institute of Geology. The Institute of Geology lost its status as an independent institution. In January 1st, 2017, the Institute of Geology was reorganized under Faculty of Science and renamed as Department of Geology.