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Key Words from Chapter 1

Physical Geology

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

Earth Science

The study of earth and space; includes geology, meteorology, astronomy, and oceanography.


The earth science dealing with phenomena of the atmosphere (especially weather).


The branch of science dealing with physical and biological aspects of the oceans.


The science that deals with the universe beyond the Earth. It describes the nature, position, and motion of the stars, planets, and other objects in the skies, and their relation to the Earth.

Nebular Hypothesis

The basic idea that the Sun and planets formed from the same cloud of gas and dust in interstellar space.

Inner Planets

The 4 small, rocky planets closest to the sun.

Outer Planets

The four large, gaseous planets farthest from the sun.

Historical Geology

The branch of geology that seeks an understanding of the origin and development of earth.


All the water on the surface of Earth and underground, including ice and water vapor.


The mostly solid, rocky part of the Earth; extends from the center of the core to the surface of the crust.


A mixture of gases that surrounds Earth.


The part of the earth where life exists.

Destructive Forces

Forces that slowly wear away mountains and other features on earth's surface.

Constructive Forces

Forces that shape the Earths surface by building up mountains and land masses.

Plate Tectonics

The theory that explains how large pieces of the lithosphere, called plates, move and change shape.


Distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.


Distance east or west of the prime meridian, measured in degrees.

Mercator Projection

Shows directions between places accurately on a rectangular map but distorts the size of continents, especially near the poles.

Topographic Map

A map that shows the shape of surface features and their elevations by use of contours.

Contour Lines

Lines that connect points of equal elevation.


The way size on a map or model compares with the size of the thing it stands for.

Geologic Map

A map representing the rock formations exposed at Earth's surface.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

A group of satellites that travels around the earth which can be used to tell exact locations on the earth.


Any size group of interacting parts that form
a complex whole, usually including energy and matter.

Renewable Resources

Usable materials that can be replenished in a relatively short period of time.

Nonrenewable Resources

Usable materials that are formed through processes that take millions of years for significant deposits to accumulate.


A proposed explanation for an observation.


A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world.

Scientific Method

A research method whereby a problem is identified, a hypothesis stated, and the hypothesis is tested.

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