Thermal analysis in earth science is a relatively mature field with a huge background of experience. Throughout its development thermal analysis has been preoccupied with characterization of rocks and minerals, the primary use of thermal analysis in earth science. The clays, now largely a standardized part of ceramics studies, claimed a major part of the early work. Recently, however, development of thermal analysis in the area of earth science has slackened. The widespread routine use of thermal analysis in soil characterization, clay testing, and raw material evaluation for several types of manufacturing insures that the field is still viable. Both the routine application and the decline in published developments, however, indicate that thermal analysis in earth science is a mature field whose basic information has largely been amassed. Development now requires (1) moving in new directions which can exploit this amassed knowledge, and (2) accepting problems of broader scope like the study of more complex materials. An example of such a material is oil shale of the Green River Formation. Scope of the oil-shale problem is outlined. This paper attempts to highlight patterns for development by surveying and evaluating some of the information already compiled, reviewing problems specific to applying thermal analysis to earth science, suggesting ways of meeting these problems, surveying new development, and postulating directions that thermal analysis might move in earth science.