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hydrologic cycle

the natural process by which water is purified and made fresh through evaporation and precipitation. The cycle provides all the fresh water available for biological life.


the falling to earth of any form of water (rain or snow or hail or sleet or mist)


water that is absorbed by the soil and funneled down to groundwater


water that flows over the ground surface rather than soaking into the ground


the process by which water evaporates from a plant's leaves

drainage basin

the geographical area draining into a river or reservoir

Dendritic drainage

An irregular stream drainage network that resembles the limbs of a branching tree.

Radial drainage

a system of streams running in all directions away from a central elevated structure such as a volcano

Rectangular drainage

Looks like all of the streams met at right angles; small streams converge into a single river; common in rock that has cracks at right angles

Trellis drainage

The courses of streams are largely controlled by a pattern of alternating parallel ridges and valleys.


The ability of a stream to erode and transport materials is determined by velocity

Base level

Lowest elevation to which the stream can erode downward, for many streams, the water surface level of the body of water into which they flow

Stream Valleys

stream erosion forms valleys that are v-shaped in cross sections.

Darcy's Law

A groundwater movement equation formulated by Henry Darcy during the mid-1800's based on experiments on the flow of water through beds of sand. It forms the scientific basis of fluid permeability used in earth science. Q = K A(DH/DL)

Hot springs

formed when magma heats groundwater and the water rises and collects in a natural pool. is 6 - 9 °C warmer than the mean air temperature of the locality


a fountain of water and steam that erupts from the ground


(noun) A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter.

Salt cracking

salts dissolve out of minerals, recrystallizes in rocks when water evaporates, creates pressure


granite sheets peel off rock due to hydrolysis expansion (clays form and swell up)

creep landslides

slow movement, often of unconsolidated sediment (soil creep)

Debris flow landslide

more than ½ the particles larger than sand sized, speed varies

Earth/mud flow landslide

movement of fine-grained particles and water

Slump landslide

downward slipping of Earth materials, usually involves a rotation on concave surface


generally rapid movement of detached bedrock


A thick mass of ice that originates on land from the accumulation, compaction, and recrystallization of snow


Formed under glacier where debris load exceeds capacity of glacier to transport sediment; asymmetrical hills


(geology) the leaping movement of sand or soil particles as they are transported in a fluid medium over an uneven surface

Suspended load

The fine sediment carried within the body of flowing water or air.


(geology) the erosion of soil as a consequence of sand and dust and loose rocks being removed by the wind


A fine-grained unstratified accumulation of clay and silt deposited by the wind


Geographical zones located directly north and south of the tropics, approximately centered on 30°S and 30°N. (13.3)


are the areas between 30 and 60 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. In this region the climate undergoes the greatest seasonal changes in temperature and moisture.

Rock dredge

An open-mounted steel net dragged along the sea floor behind a research ship for the purpose of sampling rocks from submarine outcrops.


takes a sample of sediment from the ocean floor with a hollow tube and a drill

Sea-floor drilling

A process in which drill rigs mounted on off-shore platforms or on research vessels cut cylindrical cores from both sediment and rock of the sea floor, which are then brought to the surface for study.


small research submarines that allow oceanographers to visit deep seas

Submarine canyon

a seaward extension of a valley that was cut on the continental shelf during a time when sea level was lower, or a canyon carved into the outer continental shelf, slope, and rise by turbidity currents

Abyssal fan

Fan shaped accumulation of sediment from rivers that is deposited at the base of a submarine canyon within a ocean basin.

Turbidity currents

dense current that carries large amounts of sediment down the continental crust


total amount of dissolved salts expressed as a percentage

Longshore current

a water current that travels near and parallel to the shoreline

Beach drift

the transport of sediment in a zigzag pattern along a beach caused by the uprush of water from obliquely breaking waves

Emergent coastline

Coastline that results from either a drop of sea level or an uplifting of the land

Submergent coastline

A landform formed when sea level rises or when land sinks


Sand on the seaward side of the berm, sloping toward the ocean, to the low-tide mark.


Sand on the shoreward side of the berm crest, sloping away from the ocean.


stone barriers built perpendicular to beach intended to stop flow of sand along shore


gaseous components of magma dissolved in the melt. They will readily vaporize at surface pressures

seismic profiler

A device that emits a high-energy signal that penetrates and reflects from layers in sediment and rock beneath the sea floor; the data are used to construct a topographic profile of the sea floor.


Device used to map the ocean floor that detects small changes in a magnetic fields.

Microwave radar

measuring instrument in which the echo of a pulse of microwave radiation is used to detect and locate distant objects

Accreted terrane

a piece of lithosphere that becomes part of a larger landmass when tectonic plates collide at a convergent boundary.


A large, flat-topped seamount resulting from erosion of an island volcano when it was above sea level.


a submerged mountain on the ocean floor that is at least 1,000 m high and that has a volcanic origin

Oceanic island

An island that rises from the ocean floor.

Spring tide

highest tides, occur when Earth, Sun & Moon are in alignment

Neap tide

lower high tide, when Earth, Sun & Moon form a 90o angle

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