The topics covered in this chapter can be summarized as follows:
|1.1 Earth in Space
|The Earth is a closed system with respect to matter but we receive energy from the sun, and emit energy to space. Energy from the sun, and energy from within the Earth drive a range of different Earth systems that are moderated by life and by chemical and physical processes.
|1.2 Earth System Science
|The Earth is as system of biological, chemical and physical components interconnected by transfers of energy and matter. Many of those interaction involve geological processes such as volcanism, weathering, plate tectonics and moving water and ice. Most of the energy that drives earth systems comes from the sun, which drives biological processes and the hydrological cycle, contributes to rock weathering, and heats the land surface which in turn heats the atmosphere. Thermal energy within the Earth drives plate tectonics and therefore virtually all geological processes. Humans are playing an increasing role in interrupting the natural Earth Systems. A significant result of that is climate change, but there are many others.
|1.3 Environmental Geology
|The aspects of geology covered in this book include climate change, glaciation, slope failure, earthquakes, volcanism, resources, energy resources, soils and clay minerals, surface water and groundwater, karst and caves, flooding, and waste disposal.
Review Questions for Chapter 1
Answers for the review questions can be found in Appendix 1
- Explain the mechanism for the formation of Earth’s moon.
- Not all of the water transfers illustrated on Figure 1.2.1 are included on Figure 1.2.2. List some of those that are not.
- What role(s) does the sun play in powering ocean currents?
- Explain how the existence of mountains can lead to changes in the composition of the atmosphere.
- What roles does volcanism play in the Earth system.
- List five ways that human activities have led to changes in the Earth system.
- The tractor shown in “Field Trip 1.1” (which has been there for several decades) appears to be preventing plant growth in the immediate surroundings. Can you think of any reasons why this might be the case?