Geology : The Study of the Earth
You may wish to print a copy of the lecture outline (minus the illustrations) and you have two options:
The United States Geological Survey maintains This Dynamic Earth. I would take a brief look at it now and bookmark the site. You will find this a useful resource throughout the course.
Imagine that you are on a space ship approaching the third planet from a relatively small star in the Milky Way Galaxy. From a distance you recognize that the surface is divided into two parts - solid (terrestrial) and liquid (your sensors tell you that the liquid is water). An atmosphere (with about 79% nitrogen, 20% oxygen and 1% water, carbon dioxide and other gases) is indicated by the presence of clouds.
As you approach you become aware of irregularities in the elevation of the land surface. From an intermediate distance you begin to see color differences on the land and in the water. Your sensors detect the probable presence of life (the presence of ozone, water, and oxygen). Closer still you begin to detect evidence for processes (wind, water and ice) which are actively modifying the surface of the planet. You and your fellow travelers speculate about the history of the planet you are about to visit. Are the gross features (the distribution of land and water, for example) permanent? How do areas become uplifted? An Overview of the Earth seems appropriate at this point.
A good interactive introduction to the properties of the major plates on Earth.
NASA scientists and engineers have produced a tremendous volume of material that relates to topics in this chapter. Now you can "search the NASA web from one place! This new service allows you to easily search through hundreds of thousands of documents published on NASA web sites. Enter a word or phrase and press the return key. The results will be sorted by best match and presented to you."
Read about impact structures and then take a virtual field trip to the Wetumpka Impact Structure.
Early in the history of the solar system impacts were much more frequent. Why do you think the moon is heavily impacted but the Earth's impact structures are much less visible?
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Copyright by John C. Butler, July 29, 1995