Essay: Earth Science Info Age and Technology

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Earth Science, Information Age, And Technology

General Earth Science WA-2

General Earth Science WA-3

General Earth Science WA-4

General Earth Science WA-5

Living in the Information Age WA-2

Living in the Information Age WA-3

Living in the Information Age WA-4

Living in the Information Age WA-5

Living in the Information Age WA-6

Living in the Information Age WA-7

American History 2 WA-5

Earth Science, Information Age

General Earth Science WA-2

The recent earthquake and tsunami that beset Japan last March 11, 2011 made people around the world aware of the effects faults in bringing about these disasters. Faults are fractures or cracks in the earth's crust that causes movement. There are several types of faults such as normal, reverse, thrust, dip-slip and strike-slip faults. "Faults are distinguished on the basis of the movement of the footwall relative to the hanging wall A normal fault is one in which the hanging wall falls down relative to the foot wall due to tensional stress while a reverse fault is one in which the hanging wall moves up relative to the foot wall due to compression (Ritter, 2009)." Normal faults are also dip-slip faults because of the occurrence of vertical disarticulation. Where dip-slip faults have vertical displacements, strike-slip faults have horizontal movements "measured east or west of true north (Ritter, 2009)." In contrast with the movement of reverse faults, thrust faults are where "the hanging wall is pushed up and then over the foot wall at a low angle (Ritter, 2009)." The Teton Mountains in North America are a result of normal faulting while a reverse fault in marble can be seen in Jazida do Urubu, Brazil. The San Andreas Fault is a well-known strike slip fault caused by the Pacific Plate sliding past the North American Plate. (Ritter, 2009)

Rocks and rock formations may seem non-malleable and brittle especially when struck against each other or by another hard object. However, rocks are formed via bending and folding, the latter particularly "occurs when rock is compressed, as it is along colliding plate boundaries. Upturned folds are called anticlines and down turned folds are called synclines (Ritter, 2009). Age of rocks can be determined by where they are located; thus, "older rocks will be in the center of an anticline while younger rocks will be in the center of a syncline (Shirley, 2002)." Various types of rocks are apparent not only in anticlines and synclines but at domes and basins as well. Dome structures are found where forces deep under the crust have thrust a portion of the earth upward. The cuestas or overlapping folds face inward. Basins are similar, except the overlaps face outward as the structure forms a depression. (Slackpacker, 2005) Bearing these in mind, "older rocks are exposed in the center of eroded anticlines and domes while younger rocks are exposed in the center of eroded synclines and basins (Shirley, 2002)."

Humans undergo various age ranges such as childhood and adulthood. The Earth itself has several "age ranges" known as the geologic time scale -- "the division of Earth history into blocks of time - eons, eras, periods, and epochs. The time scale was created using relative dating principles (Shirley, 2002)." Aside from how the Earth was during a particular time period, life forms have also been differentiated based on a particular geologic time scale. In terms of eras, the following eras show which life forms evolved and diminished (Geocraft, 2002):

Precambrian Era -- first invertebrates

Paleozoic Era -- first fishes, land plants, amphibians and reptiles

Mesozoic Era -- first dinosaurs, mammals and birds

Cenozoic Era -- end of dinosaurs, evolution of humankind

"Relative time (chronostratic) is the subdivisions of the Earth's geology in a specific order based upon relative age relationships (most commonly, vertical/stratigraphic position). These subdivisions are given names, most of which can be recognized globally, usually on the basis of fossils. Absolute time (chronometric) is the numerical ages in 'millions of years' or some other measurement. These are most commonly obtained via radiometric dating methods performed on appropriate rock types. (MacRae, 1996)" The latter is best for dating igneous rocks because of the presence of radioactive isotopes in them while the former is best for sedimentary rocks because their layers provide a chronological order of occurrence and setting.

2. General Earth Science WA-3

Like the land structure of the earth, the ocean floor comprises of peaks and valleys such as "rugged mountains, active volcanoes, vast plateaus and almost bottomless trenches. Around most continents are shallow seas that cover gently sloping areas called continental shelves. These reach depths of about 650 feet (200 m). (Science Learning Network, 1998)" From the ocean floor, various sediments can be found and these are divided into biogenous, hydrogenous, and terrigenous seafloor sediments. "Biogenous sediments consist of the shells and other hard parts of sea creatures that fall to the sea floor when they die. To be considered biogenous, the sediment must have at least 30% or more material derived from living creatures. Hydrogenous sediments are generated by water; this sediment precipitates directly out of the sea water. These sediments consist of minerals that crystallize directly from the ocean water through various chemical reactions. Terrigenous sediments are rock fragments eroded off of the land and include sediment transported by rivers to the sea. (Munn, 2011; Science learning Network, 1998)"

Ocean currents are not unidirectional but rather flow based on various factors such as salinity of water, climatic/weather conditions, water temperature, Coriolis and others. Generally, there are two major ocean current systems: surface currents (surface circulation) and deep water currents (thermohaline circulation). Surface currents make up about 10% of all the water in the ocean and these waters are the upper 400 meters of the ocean. Deep water currents make up the other 90% of the ocean, and move around the ocean basins by density driven forces and gravity. The density difference is a function of different temperatures and salinity. (Stott, 2011) Salinity of the ocean is a major contributor not only in water currents but other functions as well. The average ocean salinity is 35 ppt. This number varies between about 32 and 37 ppt. Rainfall, evaporation, river runoff and ice formation cause the variations. (CyberScientist, 2009) Precipitation is made up of fresh water and adds water to the ocean but lessening salinity. River runoff adds water also but depending on the sedimentary contents of the water, salinity can increase or decrease. Ice formation removes water from the ocean but salinity increase because the salt contents are maintained and concentrated.

3. General Earth Science WA-4

Weather and climate can be differentiated based on time factor. Weather describes the condition of the atmosphere over a short period of time e.g. from day-to-day or week to week, while climate describes average conditions over a longer period of time (Weather & Climate, 2010). Thus, there may be rainy weather in a tropical region or a temperate zone and a cool climate in the American continent or the European continent. Weather patterns and climate types take similar elements into account, the most important of which are: (1) temperature and humidity of the air; (2) type and amount of cloudiness and precipitation; (3) air pressure; and (4) wind speed and direction (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2010)." Climates can be described as hot/warm climates or cold/temperate climates. The former occurs in regions nearest the earth's equator while the latter occur in regions farthest from the Earth's equator. Rain is a contributing factor to weather and climatic conditions. But prior to the completion of the precipitation cycle, rains are formed in the Earth's atmosphere as clouds of varying types. The following are the forms and height of different clouds (Weather & Climate, 2010):

Fog -- ground level cloud

Stratus -- flat or layered, are much longer and wider than they are tall

Altostratus -- stratus cloud about 2 miles above the Earth; when these clouds rain or snow, they are called nimbostratus

Cirrostratus -- lie at an altitude of about 2 miles above the Earth

Cumulus -- puffy in form and located about a mile above the surface of the Earth

Stratocumulus -- layered cumulus cloud about a mile above the ground

Altocumulus -- similar cumulus cloud at an altitude of 2 miles

Cirrocumulus -- with smaller puffs found about 4 to 5 miles up

Cirrus -- occur at an altitude of 4 miles or more, where the temperature is always below freezing; hence, these clouds are always filled with ice crystals

Air mass is determined based on the temperature and water vapor content and like weather or climatic conditions covers a wide area and has several differences. Some of the different air masses are maritime tropical (mT), maritime polar (mP), continental tropical (cT), and continental polar (cP). "Maritime tropical (mT) air masses are warm, moist, and usually unstable; they originate in the subtropical Pacific Ocean, where it is warm and air must travel a long distance over water. Maritime polar (mP) air masses are cool, moist, and unstable; they… [END OF PREVIEW]

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