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Geology Research Guide

Database Description

GeoRef is the most comprehensive index to the literature of geology and earth sciences.  Published by the American Geosciences InstituteGeoRef covers all aspects of geology from 1669 to the present for North America and 1933 to the present for the rest of the world.  Containing over 3.3 million records, GeoRef indexes journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports and theses. It also includes references to all publications of the U.S. Geological Survey. Masters' theses and doctoral dissertations from U.S. and Canadian universities are also covered. To maintain the database, GeoRef editor/indexers regularly review more than 3,500 journals in 40 languages as well as new books, maps, and reports.  See the GeoRef Factsheet for more details about the database structure.

HSU Library subscribes to GeoRef through Ei Engineering VillageIn addition to the information contained in this guide, you may get help for the Ei Engineering Village version by clicking on Help and/or Search Tips.


Searching GeoRef

Sample Record (Note: links are inactive)

Note that each part or field of the record is identified and you may specify which field you wish to search.


Quick Search

The Quick Search is the default in searching GeoRef.  See Quick Search Overview for more information. HSU Library also has a general tutorial on searching, Begin Your Research, which you may find helpful.

If you are using a computer from off-campus, you will be prompted for authentication information.  Enter your campus web email login and password. Click "Submit Query" and you should be able to get into GeoRef. 

The Quick Search screen appears below:

  1. Type your search term(s) into the search boxes.  Searches are case insensitive so you do not need to use capital letters (upper case).  Terms are automatically stemmed, except in the AUTHOR field. If you type sediment, you will search any term that begins with "sediment" unless you turn autostemming off. You may also use the asterisk (*) as a truncation symbol to cover variations.  For example, sediment* would search for any word beginning with the root sediment (sedimentary, sedimentation, sediments, etc.).  If you need help in developing search terms, you may use the Thesaurus Search tab or Browse Indexes links to the right of the search screen.

If you enter multiple words into one search box (e.g., fluvial sedimentation) and enclose them with quotation marks, they will be searched for as a phrase.

If you wish to combine terms using the connectors AND, OR, NOT, you may use the  pulldown menu between the rows OR you may add and, or, not between the terms in a single search box (e.g., fluvial fan* and clastic rock*). If you need more information on connectors (aka Boolean operators), see Using Boolean Operators or AND, OR, NOT (Boolean Operators).

Please note: You can add rows to the search form by clicking on the Add Search Field link.

    1. Choose where you want your search term(s) to appear from the Field Search Menu pulldown menu.


Choose the Subject/Title/Abstract option if you wish to search the title, abstract (summary), and index terms (AKA subject headings) simultaneously. The All fields option searches the entire record. If you wish to search a specific field or portion of the record, choose the desired field from the pulldown list.

  1. You may limit your search by document type (journal article, etc) and/or language by using the All Document Types, All Languages pulldown menus.
  2. Choose the date range you want searched using the Date range   pulldown lists.  The default is 1785 - present for North America, 1933 - present for rest of the world. If you want to limit your search to the last 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks, use the Updates Limit Menu pulldown menu.
  3. Click on the Search button to begin your search.


Expert Search


If you find the Quick Search screen to be too limiting, you may use the Expert Search option. To access the Expert Search screen, click on the Expert Search tab at the top of the search screen. You may search using Boolean Operators, Proximity Operators, and Field Codes.


Viewing Search Results

After you input your search on the Quick Search or Expert Search form, click on the Search button.  Your search results will appear as seen below. This search was for information on stream sediment in Humboldt County, California.

If you wish to see the abstract (summary), click on the Show preview link under each citation. If you wish to see the complete record including all fields, click on the Detailed link under each citation. You will see an option to see abstract (summary) and index terms (subject headings). 

Peer Reviewed Results Screen

Note the Refine Results options on the left side of the Results List. You may Limit to or Exclude any geographic term, author, author affiliation, document type, source title, etc. in the listings under the arrows. Simply check the box next to the item you wish to limit to or exclude and click the Limit to or Exclude button. You may add a new term by typing it in the box below the buttons.


Editing or Revising Your Search


Even the best designed searches don't always give you the results you want so you may have to edit your search. Simply click on the Edit link above the Results Screen and your original search will appear. You may then edit the terms in the search boxes. If you wish to start over, use the Reset  button to give you blank search boxes.


Automatically Run Your Search Every Week


Click on the Create Alert link at the top of the Results screen after doing your search if you wish to have it run automatically every week. OR go to your Search History (link is also at the top of the screen) and click on the Add Email Alert link which follows your preferred search statement. (All searches conducted during the current session will be listed on the Search History and you can choose your desired search from the list.) Enter your email address and password, then click 'Login'. If you are a new user to 'Alerts', then click on Register Now to create a personal profile. Any new search results (up to 25) will be sent to you each week. See Creating an email alert for more information.

Printing/Downloading/Emailing Search Results


Once you have viewed the list of results (citations) and/or the complete record(s), select (mark) the records you want to keep by clicking on the check box to the left of each citation or record.  Then click on the icons for Email, Print, Download, or Save to Folder and choose which options you want. For more information, see the Email/Print/Download help page.


Obtaining the Article or Publication Found in GeoRef


The first step is to see if HSU Library owns the title by clicking on the Image of SFX button button near each search result and the SFX page that appears will have a link to full text availability of that publication.  

If there is no full text available from the SFX page, you may check the HSU Library Catalog for books, reports, dissertations, and other items that are not considered to be serial in nature. You should also use the Journal and Newspaper Finder, a searchable guide to the 15,000 journals, magazines, newspapers and other serials accessible online (fulltext) as well as to the 13,000 print periodicals  & serials in HSU Library.  The Journal and Newspaper Finder has been enhanced with common periodical abbreviations. You can search an abbreviation, e.g., jacs, and retrieve Journal of the American Chemical Society.

If you have a full reference to an article that includes at least the year, volume, issue and starting pages of your article, you may use the Citation Linker to locate it if the Journal and Newspaper Finder indicates that the full text of the journal is available in electronic format for the date(s) of interest.

Remember that most government documents prior to 1998 are not listed in the Library Catalog. If you wish to find a government document, consult the guides: How to Find Federal Documents in the HSU Library and How to Find California Documents in the HSU Library. You may also ask a reference librarian for assistance at the Research Help Desk on the first floor (hours) or in the Humboldt Room, room 308 (hours).

If the HSU Library does not have the item, you may place an Interlibrary loan (ILL) request.  See Interlibrary Loan Policies & Guidelines and/or watch our captioned video Using Interlibrary Loan for more information.  Requests may be placed by logging on to the Interlibrary Loan System. There are also links to the ILL System from Image of SFX button pages when the HSU Library doesn't have full text. This process can take as long as TWO WEEKS for books and ONE WEEK for articles so it is a good idea to begin your research early.