191 terms

Earth and the Environment


Terms in this set (...)

a set or assemblage of things connected, associated, or interdependent, so as to form a complex unity; a whole composed of parts in orderly arrangement according to some scheme or plan
Earth System
composed of interacting physical, chemical, and biological processes that move and change materials and energy on earth.
Carrying capacity
the biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available in the environment
New geological age marked by humans
Sedimentary rock
Formed from particles of sand, shells, pebbles, and other fragments of material AKA sediment
Metamorphic rocks
Formed under the surface of the earth from the metamorphosis (change) that occurs due to intense heat and pressure (squeezing)
Igneous rocks
Formed when magma (molten rock deep within the earth) cools and hardens
The 4 spheres
Biosphere, Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere
Ecological overshoot
The difference between bio-capacity and ecological footprint
IPAT equation
P= population
Environmental geology
Applied science concerned with the practical application of the principles of geology in the solving of environmental problems
Absolute time
Process of determining an age on a specified time scale in archaeology and geology, calendar dating
Relative time
Geologic time determined by the placing of events in a chronologic order of occurrence, especially time as determined by organic evolution or superposition
Rock cycle
Group of changes
Mineral factors
Naturally occurring, solid, inorganic, fixed chemical formula, orderly crystalline structure
Age of the Earth
4.5 billion years
Oldest rock
Solid, inorganic substance of natural occurence
Theory of plate tectonics
States that the Earth's outermost layer is fragmented into a dozen or more large and small plates that are moving relative to one another, as they ride atop hotter, more mobile material
Divergent boundaries
Where new crust is generated as the plates pull away from each other (Mid atlantic ridge; ocean crust created)
Convergent boundaries
Where crust is destroyed as one plate dives under another (Washington-oregon; ocean crust is destroyed)
Transform boundaries
Where crust is neither produced nor destroyed as the plates slide horizontally past each other (Transform fault)
Hawaii and Iceland
Major objection to continental drift theory
Could not describe a mechanism that was capable of moving the continents across the globe
Seafloor spreading
Seafloor spreading is when divergent plate boundaries occur and magma flows to fill in the space, meaning that ocean crust is created.
Paleomagnetism is how Earth's magnetic field has changed over time
Convection cell
Slow movements of hot, softened mantles that lies below the rigid plates. Cycle is repeated over and over to generate ____
Process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plates moves under another tectonic plate and sinks into the mantle as the plates converge
a single land mass that included all continents
Evidence of Pangea
continents fit together like a puzzle, fossil separation, climate, plants and animal life separation
A rigid layer made up of the uppermost part of the mantle and the crust.
layer of softer, weaker rock beneath Earth's lithosphere which can flow slowly
Continental crust
thicker, less dense, older crust making the continents
Oceanic crust
the portion of Earth's crust that is usually below the oceans and not associated with continental areas, thinner and higher in density that continental crust and basaltic rather than granitic in composition
Earthquake hazards
Groundshaking, liquification, subsidence
Fault creep
slow, gradual displacement that happens smoothly with little seismic activity
Earthquake magnitude
measurement of the amplitude of the seismic waves
Earthquake intensity
Subjective measure that describes how strong a shock was felt at a particular location
A giant wave caused by rapid vertical motion on the seafloor
A device that records ground movements caused by seismic waves as they move through Earth
Surface waves
travel along earth's surface
P waves
Travel quickly through Earth's core, displace material ahead/behind them
S waves
Travel less rapidly, Displace material at right angles of their path
Brittle deformation
Rocks breaking; causes earthquakes
Ductile deformation
Rocks bending
Recurrence interval
Average amount of time between individual earthquake/volcano/flood on any one fault/area/river
Where the earthquake's energy originates from
Point on the earth's surface directly above focus
Plinian eruption, variable composition
Shield volcano
Hawaiian eruption, basalt lava flows, broad, domed
Mix of volcanic ash/debris and water
Pyroclastic flow
Fast moving mix of volcanic ash/debris/gas/air
Airborne volcanic products
Large rock frags
Ash fall
Ash falling
A mountain that opens downward to a pool or molten rock below the surface of the earth
Spreading center volcanism
Occurs at divergent plate margins (Mid-Atlantic ridge)
Subduction zone volcanism
Occurs at convergent plate margins (Pacific plate)
Intraplate volcanism
Describes volcanic eruptions within tectonic plates
Silica content
Increased ____ changes the composition, and increases explosivity
Repose period
Time between volcanic eruptions
Volcanic Explosivity Index
Factors of VEI
Volume of products, eruption cloud height, qualitative observations
Hot spots
Intraplate regions of voluminous volcanism
Hawaii and Iceland are
Groundwater discharge
The volumetric flow rate of groundwater through an aquifer
Groundwater recharge
Recharge zone is where water enters the aquifer. Infiltration
Residence time
Length of time that water spends in the groundwater portion of the hydrologic cycle
Residence time calculation
System capacity to hold a substance over flux
The state or quality of a material that causes it to allow liquid or gas to pass through it
Describes the volume of pore space
Water table
The upper surface of the saturated zone
Freshwater that fills in the pores in soil and rock.
A layer of groundwater
Law of Conservation of Mass
States that mass in an isolated system is neither created nor destroyed by chemical reactions or physical transformations
Saltwater encroachment
When groundwater levels in an aquifer are depleted faster than they can recharge
Hydrologic cycle
Describes the storage and movement of water between the biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere
Water available for human use
less than 1%
Groundwater management
a system to preserve and let groundwater occur naturally and recharge before completely depleted
Too much water in the river channel to carry
A graph showing the rate of flow (discharge) versus time past a specific point in a river, or other channel or conduit carrying flow
Rill erosion
little streams carved in the soil
Sheet erosion
running water removes a thin layer of soil
Orographic effect on precipitation
Rain shadow
A dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area, the mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a "shadow" of dryness behind them
River discharge
The volume of water flowing through a river channel
Drainage basin
They are collection areas for rivers, and they generate river discharge from runoff
100-year flood
flood that is thought to happen every 100 years on average. Very big. 100 year recurrence interval
Flooding reduction mechanisms
dams, retaining walls, city planning, designated floodways
Flooding recurrence interval
RI= (n+1)/m
Non-point pollution
Pollution from diffuse sources (polluted run-off)
Point source pollution
Identifiable source of pollution (pipe emptying to stream)
An embankment built to prevent the overflow of the river
Consumptive water use
Longshore drift
the movement of material along a coast by waves that approach at an angle to the shore but recede directly away from it
Wave size
Wind velocity, duration of wind, length of fetch, wavelength, amplitude
El Nino
Weather condition that causes warm water in eastern Pacific ocean
Storm surge
Large waves or bulges in water associated with storms
Wave refraction
Concentrates wave energy on points and dissipates it in bays
Hurricane classification
1-5 on wind strength
decomposition of a rock
transport of weathered material
Physical weathering
Changes in particle size of the rock
Chemical weathering
Changes in the chemistry of the rock
Factors that increase weathering rates
Precipitation, temperature, biologic activity, surface area
The thin layer of weathered bedrock and organic material that supports plant life
O Soil Horizon
A Soil Horizon
Topsoil (zone of leaching)
B Soil Horizon
Subsoil (accumulation of salts)
C Soil Horizon
Bedrock (parent material)
A slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles
a mound or ridge of unsorted sediment deposited by a glacier
A long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs
Fjord example
Hudson river
Continental glaciers
Much larger, continuous masses of ice, icefields, icesheets, Greenland, Antarctica
Alpine glaciers
Flows downward between the walls of a valley, starts at a mountain top
Glacial force
Equilibrium line altitude
The point at which accumulation equals melting
Earth's orbit
Eccentricity, obliquity, precession
Glacial retreat
More ablation, less snowfall
Movement of glaciers
Moves as a solid, center of a glacier moves more rapidly than the sides
Indicator of climate change
Glacial retreat
Most abundant gas in atmosphere
Younger Dryas
Abrupt cooling event
Thermal expansion of water
Where sea level rises because it warms and particles move further apart
Albedo effect
A measure of how much of the Sun's energy is reflected off an object back out to space compared to how much is trapped in Earth's atmosphere
Scooped-out, amphitheater shaped basin at the head of an alpine glacier
Unique rock carried by a glacial formation that deviates in size and/or type relative to the native area
Greenhouse effect
Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as insulation and trap heat inside of the atmosphere
Study past vegetation
Shape of earth's orbit around the sun
Axal tilt
Hydrothermal minerals
A mineral deposit precipitated from a hot aqueous solution with or without evidence of igneous processes
Disseminated mineral deposits
Scattered, commonly a metallic ore
Volcanogenic mineral deposits
Volcanic origin, volcanic sediments
Mineral deposit
(Mineral reserve) Locally rich concentrations of minerals
Negative impact of coal mining
Groundwater contamination from acid mine draiange
Nonrenewable energy
replenished much more slowly than it is utilized, aka fossil fuels
2 main types of energy
Moving water has kinetic energy. Ex: dams
Solar power
electricity powered, sometimes powered by photovoltaic cells
Wind power
wind turbine produce energy
The cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit
Externality examples
Air pollution, greenhouse gases, environmental impacts of mining/extraction
Primary recovery of oil
uses natural pressure of the reservoir to push crude oil to the surface
Secondary recovery of oil
uses pressurized gas and water to drive the residual crude oil and gas remaining after the primary oil recovery phase to the surface wells
Centralia, PA
Mine fire, ghost-town
Strip mining
When miners strip a layer of earth to obtain ore
biofuel manufactured from organic materials
Years of coal left
Peak oil
The hypothetical point in time when the global production of oil reaches its maximum rate, after which production will gradually decline
Geothermal energy
Uses heat from the earth, can still produce greenhouse gases, danger of generating earthquakes
Injecting water, chemicals, steam, sand, and/or CO2 to release natural gas and/or oil
Tiny sea creatures that died millions of years ago, fell to the seafloor, buried under sediment, with heat and pressure, carbon turned to oil
Source of oil
Oil is hard to find
Pockets created when the earth changed and folded
Hard, black colored rock-like substance
Hardest and has the most carbon
Softest and lowest carbon
Natural gas
Lighter than air, example: methane
A fuel manufactured from organic materials; corn, farm waste, or coal. ETHANOL
Fuel cells
Generate electricity fueled by hydrogen, hydrogen usually produced by dissociating water into hydrogen and oxygen with an electric current, not emission free
Nuclear energy
Provides 20% of US energy needs, uses heat from radiation to produce steam that produces electricity
Main (natural) greenhouse gas that occurs in natural wetlands, agricultural activities, fossil fuel extraction and transport all emit
Nitrous oxide
Main greenhouse gas that occurs naturally- agricultural activities and biological processes, and burning fossil fuels
Carbon dioxide
Primary greenhouse gas that is absorbed/emitted naturally as a past of the carbon cycle and burning fossil fuels
Ice cores, tree rings, glacier lengths, pollen remains, ocean sediments
measure Earth's past climate
Scoria volcano
Strombolian eruption, basalt tephra, occasionally andesitic, straight sides w steep slopes
Most of Earth's water is in
Overall water use
Household, growing crops, manufacturing goods
Vadose zone
Agriculture, mining, landfills and hazardous waste facilities
Cause groundwater pollution
Defined by recurrence interval, flat area around a river
Causes of flooding
Large weather systems, melting snow
Basin open to the sea in which freshwater mixes with seawater, high biological productivity
Permanently frozen ground
A type of transported soil that is blown by wind
Glacial till
Material ground up and moved by glacier
the amount of water falling over a given area over a given time
the gradual filtering or passing of water through porous geologic materials or at and near earth's surface
the transformation of a liquid (water) to vapor (water vapor)
the transfer of water vapor from plant leaves to the atmosphere by evaporation
The return of water vapor to the atmosphere through evaporation from earth's surface and the escape of water vapor from plant leaves
The water that doesn't infiltrate into the ground but runs along the surface, eventually ending up in a stream or river
The ability of a substance to absorb water
Rural area
Infiltration is more, transpiration is less, runoff is less
Urban area
Runoff is more, transpiration is less, infiltration is less
Water vapor
Greenhouse gas that increases temperatures
the transformation of a liquid (water) to vapor (water vapor)