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Environmental Geology Exam I
Terms in this set (76)
Rachel Carson and her role in the environmental movement
- wrote book about widespread pesticide poisoning which focused on the effects of DDT on bird shells-> DDTbaned in 1972
- Helped launch Environmental Policy: Governments should not only reserve Earth, but regulate and punish those who pollute it
the role of the USEPA including the Clean Air Act
- creation and enforcement of enviornmental protection standards consistent with national enviornmental goals
- Clean air act of 1970: development of comprehensive federal and state regulatoins to limit emissions from both industrial and mobile sources-> prevented over 220,000 deaths from air pollution
definition of environmental geology
- Interactions of humans and geological environment ( human effect on enviornment, effects of enviornment on humans)
goals of enviornmental geology
- decrease enviornmental threats to humans
- aid in minimizing adverse effects on ecosystems
- provides scientific foundation for decision makers
the Aral Sea case study
- Two inflowing rivers diverted to irrigate sottin and rice fields
- Loss of lake caused local climate damage
Solution: Irrigation halted and canals drain waterlogged fields into sea-> slowly improving
the effects of human population growth on environmental issues
- need more resources like soil, water, energy
- creates additional waste
the definition of sustainability
capable of being continued with minimal long term effect on environment
implications of sustainability
-energy- increasing energy demands dictate alternatives to burning limited reserves of fossil fuels
the definition and example of carrying capacity
number of people that earth can support sustainably at a defined level of economic and social well-being
- Easter island is an example of capacity overload
hazardous Earth processes (natural hazards) and natural disasters
Have always been earth processes that are hazardous to people-- must be recognized and avoided where possible
general understanding of the precautionary principle
- scientific investigations are complex and take time
- when serious environmental situation arises, take a precautionary approach--assume the worst?
what is a system?
a group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent parts that together form a whole
the definition of Earth's systems: atmosphere, geoshere, biosphere and hydrosphere
atmosphere- gases that surround Earth
geosphere- rock ( solid and molten) and material derived from rock that make up Earth
Hydrosphere- water ( both liquid and frozen) on Earth's surface and underground
Biosphere- all living organisms that inhabit Earth
what is the age of the Earth? How do we know Earth's age - the nebular hypothesis
Earth is 45 myr
- nebular hypothesis: immense cloud of gas and interstellar debris began to collapse under its own gravity. Denser hotter center became sun, dust rocks and gases swirling around sun coalesced to form solar system planets
what are Earth's layers (e.g. core) and their basic characteristics
Solid inner core- made of iron and nickel
-Liquid outer core- iron, some nickel, and up to 10 percent lighter elements
Mantle- mostly Si, O, MG, Fe
Crust- Continental made of granite and Oceanic made of basalt
what are the characteristics of the continental crust (e.g. granite) and oceanic crust
Continental-( grey less dense) forms continental crust
Basalt- ( black, denser) forms ocean crust
what are the basic characteristics of the lithosphere and asthenosphere
lithosphere- brittle, cold, uppermost mantle and crust ( tectonic plates)
Weak warm zone ( non-brittle) upper mantle just below lithosphere is asthenosphere
What is the composition and structure (layers) of the modern atmosphere
- N,O make up 99% of atmosphere
What is the ozone layer? Where is it located? What are its benefits
within stratosphere, O3 rather than O2: screens out harmful UV rays
What are the major reservoirs in the hydrosphere
Oceans - 97%
Fresh water 3% and of that 3%, 70% is frozen in glaciers and 30% is underground. Remainder in streams, rivers, lakes
What is the water cycle
geosphere, hydrosphere and Biosphere, atmosphere
What are glaciers? What are some recent trends regarding glaciers
mountain= mountainous ice cap or alpine glacier- ice flows downhill, confined by valley walls.
Glaciers are shrinking
What is the scientific method? What is it designed to accomplish? What is a hypothesis, theory, and law
Process by which scientists, collectively over time, endeavor to construct an accurate representation of the world. The goals are to explain how the universe works and acquire new knowledge.
hypothesis- initial explanation for a set of observations or facts that can be tested
theory hypothesis that survives many tests
Law- theory for which there are no sensible reasons to challenge
Define Continental Drift. What scientist proposed it? What was his evidence for this hypothesis
Modern day continents now separated were joined in Earth's past. Alfred Wegener proposed it first. He used the evidence that separated but similar sequences of sedimentary rocks ere found containing same fossils. glacial deposits clustered around Antarctica radiated from central point, ages of mountain belts matched
Harry Hess and the Seafloor Spreading hypothesis - what happens at the mid-ocean ridge and subduction zones (trenches). What evidence was used to support sea-floor spreading?
at MOR, new oceanic crust forms as lithosphere pulls apart and magma from mantle wells up, cools, and solidifies.
Deep sea oceanic trenches- narrow depression where lithosphere is subducted and destroyed. Magnetic measurements supported sea floor spreading
Theory of Plate Tectonics - understand how it works; what phenomena it explains.
Earth's lithosphere divided into large rigid plates
plates move horizontally in response to flow in asthenosphere
Explains location of volcanoes and earthquakes, location of modern, ancient mountain belts, location of ocean trenches, evolution and age of ocean basins
Characteristics of the lithosphere and the asthenosphere
lithosphere: earth's outer rigid, cooler shell
Asthenosphere: part of mantle beneath lithosphere that is hotter and capable of flow
Age of the seafloor; oldest oceanic crust and basic age trends.
oldest: 200 million years. Rocks became progressively older as one travels way from MORs
Types of plate boundaries - divergent, convergent (remember there are 3 types), and transform-fault. What happens at each plate boundary including types of hazards (e.g. volcanoes, earthquakes. Examples of each.
divergent- new seafloor is formed at spreading center, hot springs, basalt flows on sea floor
Convergent- two plates move towards each other, volcanoes and earthquakes, deep sea trenches and mountains. Ex- Himalayas and Tibetan plateau
Transform- plates slide sideways, earthquakes, absence of volcanism. Ex: San Andreas California
Hot Spots. What are they. Hawaii.
- Volcanic plumes independent of tectonic plates. Magmas can be derived from lower mantle and tattoo overriding plates with volcanoes
What are the common rock forming minerals?
quartz, feldspar, ferromagnesium minerals
What are some environmental issues related to quartz, feldspar, and clay?
quartz- tiny particles of quartz enter lungs, particles get stuck in openings, lungs deteriorate, silicosis
Feldspar- major source of led in environment, small quantities of radioactive uranium that decays to form radon gas
clay- clay swelling
What is asbestos? What are the basic types of asbestos? What are some environmental issues related to asbestos
heat resistant fibrous silicate, Chrysotile, Crocidoliute. Breathing in high levels of asbestos for long periods of time can lead to increased risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma
What are some environmental effects of sulfides
Sulfuric acid from oxidation of pyrite makes soil and water acidic; acid-rock drainage can harm habitats
What are carbonate minerals? What is karst topography and some of its common features?
Combinations of Ca2+, Mg 2+ ions with carbonate. Dissolution of soluble rocks. Common features are caves, sinkholes, disappearing streams
Case study of the Radium Girls
Radium is a million times more radioactive than uranium. From 19-17-1926, radium was used for luminous paint for military watches and instruments. Factory girls were encouraged to point brushes with their lips. For fun, they painted their nails, teeth, and faces. They were not told the effects of Radium and many became sick and some died
What is the difference between volcanic and plutonic igneous rocks? What is granite? What is basalt
Volcanic: fine grained
Plutonic: course grained
Granite: grey, less dense, forms ocean crust
Basalt: black, dense, forms continental crust
What is a clastic sedimentary rock? What are the basic types or clastic sedimentary rocks (e.g. sandstone)
Transported by moving water ( some by wind) and deposited in sedimentary basins. Clast size depends on velocity, strength of current ( basic types are gravel, sand, silt, clay)
What is a chemical sedimentary rock? What are the common types
Minerals precipitate from seawater. Ex: Limestone, salt
What is a metamorphic rock? What are the common types of metamorphic rocks? What is foliation? Why is the relationship between foliation and landslides?
Any rock that has changed texture or mineralogy in the solid state. Ex: Schist, gneiss, marble. Relationship between foliation and landslides is the alignment of the mineral may give way to landslides if it is unstable
What types of aggregates are there? What are some concerns with aggregate mining?
sand, gravel, and crushed stone. Some concerns are physical disturbances in the form of Quarries or pits
What is an earthquake? What is the focus and epicenter of an earthquake?
Trembling , shaking, or vibration of Earth produced by sudden release of strain energy stored in rocks
Focus: site of initial rupture on fault. Seismic waves propagate outward from focus
Epicenter: point on Earth's surface directly above focus
What is stress and strain? What is a fault? What is the relationship between faults and earthquakes?
Stress: force extended per unit area within rock
Strain: deformation ( change in size, shape, and orientation) of the rick caused by stress.
Most earthquakes are concentrated along plate boundaries
Have an understanding of the distribution of earthquakes and plate boundaries, and intraplate earthquakes. What are the basic characteristics of earthquakes at the three plate boundaries?
- Small percentage of earthquakes occur within plate interiors and can be quite damaging, even though not on plate boundaries
What is the elastic rebound theory and how does it relate to the earthquake cycle? What is a foreshock and an aftershock?
Sudden release of elastic strain built up along fault releases seismic energy causing earthquakes.
Fore shock: small earthquake preceding major quake
Aftershock: small earthquakes produced by additional movements several days- week after main quake
What is seismology? A seismometer (seismograph)? A seismogram? Understand the simple behavior of the three basic types of seismic waves - P waves, S waves, and surface waves, their travel time (arrival time), and potential for damaging structures.
Seismology- study of earthquakes and movement of waves through Earth
Seismometer: measure magnitudes of earthquakes and locate fault ruptures associated with earthquakes
Seismogram- recording of ground motions caused by seismic waves
P waves: 1st, P or primary wave
S wave : 2nd, S or secondary wave, damaging
Surface wave- has greatest amplitude and causes most damage
What are the basic characteristics of the intensity (Mercalli) and magnitude (Richter) earthquake scales?
Mercalli- composed of 12 increasing levels of intensity, arbitrary ranking based on observed effects
Richter- measures energy released by earthquake, assigns single number to quantity amount of seismic energy released by earthquake
What is material amplification? How do builders compensate for it?
intensity of ground shaking, more severe in less unconsolidated materials like mud, less severe in hard rock like granite
Why is it so difficult to predict earthquakes on a short term basis (e.g. days)?
mechanics of earthquake generation are too complicated to predict
What are some of the ways we predict earthquakes on a long term basis?
include probability information, seismic gap along faults. Earthquake of a given magnitude has a high probability of occurring in a given area or fault segment within a specified number of years
What are some earthquake precursors?
What is a seismic gap? How can they be used for earthquake prediction?
areas along seismically active regions that have not produced recent earthquakes-therefore more likely to be an earthquake there
What is the definition and general characteristics of a tsunami?
sea wave of local or distant origin that results from large scale seafloor displacement
What are the causes of tsunamis? Where do they typically occur?
Earthquake displacing seafloor, landslide, undersea Eruption, meteor impact. Most often occur in pacific ocean and Indian ocean
How do we monitor for tsunamis? Why are they difficult to detect?
Difficult t observe, deep ocean buoys, typically occur after earthquakes, DART system uses seafloor bottom pressure recording system
What is the potential for an Atlantic coast tsunami?
What is a volcano? What is a crater and caldera?
a place that allows hot material contained inside the earth to escape.
Crater-steep-walled circular depression located at summit of many volcanoes, formed by extrusion of magma
Caldera- collapsed craters from explosive eruptions
What is the plate tectonic setting for volcanoes (e.g. types of boundaries and hot spots). What is the Ring of Fire?
Divergent plate boundaries within plates-> hot spots.
Ring of fire- convergent plate boundaries of stratovolcanoes
What is the relationship between the viscosity and composition of a magma and explosivity?
Viscosity is resistance to flow, and is dependent on composition. More viscous= more explosive
What types of material are ejected from volcanoes?
lava, pyroclastic deposits, gas
Know the basic types of volcanoes (e.g. shield), their general characteristics, plate tectonic settings, and typical volcanic hazards.
Shield- wide and gentle sloping, basaltic lava, on hot spots
Stratovolcanoes- towering steep sloped symmetrical mountains, viscous magma
Cinder Cones- small volcanoes with steep sides, short lived and low volume, erupt as shield volcanoes
Volcanic Domes- forms in crater, viscous lava, violent eruptions
What is the relationship between volcanoes and climate?
Can cause cooling from dust particles blocking sun, but also contribute to global warming because of emissions into the atmosphere.
What are the main types of volcanic hazards? Which are the most dangerous to us? Which hazards are associated with which types of volcanoes (e.g. shield volcanoes and lava flows).
Shield- basalt flows, non explosive,
Strato- explosive, pyroclastic flows, ejecta, lahars, ash
Cone - same as strato
Domes- explosive volcanism
How do we predict volcanic eruptions? What are the precursors to an eruption? How successful are scientists in predicting volcanic eruptions?
Geologic history of volcano, seismic activities, thermal and magnetic conditions, volcanic gas emission, topographic monitoring, tilting and bulging, radar. Precursors are earthquakes, ground deformation, etc. Successful
Definition of mineral resources
naturally occurring solid materials in or on Earth's crust that can currently or potentially be extracted as a useful commodity
What is the difference between a resource and a reserve?
resource: amount of mineral deposit that can potentially be extracted at a profit
Reserve: portion of mineral resource that is currently available. Distinction i based on current economic conditions and practical technology
What are the basic types of mineral resources.
What were some mineral resources mined in New Jersey's past?
Clay,ore ( magnetite, zinc)
What is an ore deposit? How do they form (e.g. hydrothermal deposits; sedimentary placer deposits).
mineral deposits with high enough concentrations of valuable elements to allow profitable mining and recovery of a saleable commodity. They form by crystallization processes in igneous rocks, surface processes that concentrate heavy metal-bearing minerals in sediments, chemical precipitation on seafloor, and interaction of water rich fluids and crystal rocks; igneous and metamorphic process
Kennecott Copper, Utah mine
world's largest copper mine, used to be a mountain
Cyanide heap-leaching techniques and environmental consequences.
some metals removed from rocks by leaching-> chemical solutions percolate through them. Hazards include open pit mining, waste rock piles, destructive to landscape, hazardous to wildlife, ground and surface water contamination
Acid rock drainage.
water collecting or draining through mines can become acidic and contaminated with metals which can degrade nearby surface water quality
Mining and social impacts.
New Mine: influx of workers unprepared for growth, stress on local services, change in land use, reduced air quality
closing of mine: loss of jobs, economy of small town dramatically affected
One reason for rising cost of mining. Increasingly enforced due to abuses of miners and land. Help make mining safer and less destructive
Ducktown, Tennessee Case Study.
copper mine, produced noxious gas, acid rain, extensive soil erosion, and left desert landscape. Hundreds of years for region to recover
Recycling and mineral resources.
extends use of finite resources and diminishes environmental consequences of mineral resource development and production
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