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Chapter 1 Geology Study Guide


Scientific study of the Earth and its major systems.

Physical geology

Study of the Earth's composition, structure, and the processes that shape it.

Historical geology

Study of Earth's history and history of life.

Geology is connected to

obtaining natural resources,

Geology is connected to

assessing and avoiding natural hazards

Geology is connected to

preventing or correcting environmental damage.

Geology expands awareness of

How beautiful and complex Earth is.

Geology expands awareness of

How much our survival depends upon understanding how Earth works.

Scientific method

A systematic, logical way of studying how nature works.


An attempt to explain the data.


a hypothesis that has tested true.

scientific law

a theory repeatedly tested over many years and never disproved.

What is the atmosphere

Gaseous envelope surrounding Earth.

What are its two most abundant components of the atmosphere?

Nitrogen and Oxygen

What is the hydrosphere

All of Earth's water.

What are the various components of the hydrosphere?

97% is in the oceans. Other natural water sources.

Which of the components of the hydrosphere contain the majority of its substance?


What is the geosphere

From the Earth's surface to its center.

Major subdivisions of the geosphere


Major subdivisions of the geosphere


Major subdivisions of the geosphere



Outermost and thinnest part of Earth. Two types exist.


Thicker, variable thickness, and granitic average composition.


Thinner, more uniform in thickness, and basaltic composition.

What is the biosphere?

(is this in book?)

What does it mean when we say that the atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere are in a state of dynamic equilibrium with respect to one another?

changing balance

continental shelves

Below sea level (shallow seas)

continental slopes

Below sea level (steeper slope that connects shallow sea to deep sea)

oceanic ridges

mountain range extending through all the oceans.

deep-ocean trenches

Trough-like depressions that are the deepest parts of the oceans.

volcanic island arcs?

Curving chains of volcanic islands that are next to a trench.

What is geologic time

Vast spans of time ranging from thousands to billions of years.

Why does geologic time enable us to use ordinary, observable processes to explain most of what we see on earth (uniformitarianism).

Most of Earth's features can be explained by observable processes acting over geologic time spans according to natural laws.

What is the basic premise of the rock cycle?

Continual transformation of rocks from one type to another.


formed when melted rock (magma) cools and solidifies.


formed when rocks weather and erode into sediment that becomes new rock.


formed when rocks recrystallize without melting, due to heat and pressure deep underground.

What is the basic premise of the hydrologic cycle

Continous transfer of water from one repository to another.

What are the components of the hydrologic cycle?

Cycle of Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation, Infiltration and Runoff.

What powers the hydrolic cycle? (see chapter 9 for a discussion of this topic)

Primary Water Source = Oceans. Primary Energy Source = Sun. (? Is this all you want us to know?)

What is the theory of plate tectonics?

Motion and interaction of rigid, interlocking plate-like segments of Earth.


Crust + uppermost mantle joined as a single rigid unit. Average thickness = 100 km (62 mi). This is what "plates" are made of.


Highly deformable (plastic) upper mantle. Allows plates to move.


Two plates pull apart and move away from one another. As they diverge, magma intrudes into cracks and forms new lithosphere. Almost all occur along the central part (axis) of oceanic ridges. Earthquakes and volcanic activity occur here.


Two plates collide and one is forced down under the other into the mantle where it is "recycled." This causes quakes and violent volcanic activity. Deep ocean trenches mark where one plate slips under the other. Volcanic island arcs and continental volcanic arcs form next to them. When two continental plates collide, a great mountain range is formed.


Two plates are sliding past one another along a transform fault. There is neither creation nor destruction of lithosphere. Quakes and deformation occur. Features on opposite sides of the boundary are offset.

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