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vocab, concepts, and comparisons from exploring planet earth ch 3

Water Cycle

continuous movement of water from the oceans and freshwater sources to the air an land and finally back to the oceans


land area in which surface runoff drains into a river or system of rivers and streams


artificial lake used as a source of fresh water

Surface Runoff

water that enters a river or stream after a heavy rain or during a spring thaw of snow or ice

Water Table

Surface between the zone of saturation and the zone of aeration that marks the level below which the ground is saturated, or soaked with water

Zone of Aeration

relatively dry underground region in which the pores are filled mostly with air

Zone of Saturation

underground region in which all the pores are filled with water


layer of rock or sediment that allows ground water to pass freely


term used to describe material through which water cannot move quickly; opposite of permeable


process by which water vapor changes back into a liquid; second step of the water cycle


underground passage formed when limestone is dissolved by carbonic acid in groundwater

Pore Space

Space between particles of soil


term used to describe material through which water can move quickly


process by which energy from the sun causes water on the surface of the earth to change to water vapor, the gas phase of water; first step of the water cycle


water that soaks in the ground and remains in the ground

What is a crevasse and how does it form?

A crevasse is a crack on the surface of a valley glacier. It forms when a valley glacier's weight pulls down on the ice while twisting down the mountain, causing the ice to crack.

How do icebergs form?

Icebergs form when the ice from continental glaciers hands out over a cliff and the weight becomes so heavy that it breaks off. A glacier forms when snow layers on top of each other pressing down. The snow becomes so compact, that it turns to ice.

what are differences and similarities between permeable and impermeable?

Similarities: They are both used to describe how fast water can move through a material. They are both underground. They are both needed to make an aquifer. Differences: Permeable~ water can move easily through. Impermeable~ water cannot move easily through. P~ big pore space I~ little pore space. P~ex. sandstone I~ex. clay. P~water percolates through. I~ water stops percolating when it reaches this layer.

What is the difference between valley and continental glaciers?

Continental are huge, thick sheets of ice that move in all directions. They form in the polar regions. Valley glaciers are long, narrow glaciers that move faster then continental glaciers down the steep sides of mountain valleys. They form at the top of mountains and slide downward.

What is a reservoir and why is it important?

A reservoir is an artificial lake. They are made by damming a river or stream. They are important because they are used for flooding prevention, water storage, sources of drinking water, irrigation, and electricity generation.

What is the difference between a lake and a reservoir?

Lakes are natural depressions in the Earth's crust that are filled with rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Reservoirs are artificial lakes made by backing up a stream or river. Lakes are mostly used for recreation, but reservoirs are used for other things.

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