Term Paper: Geology

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[. . .] These include: the fact that the continents look like their shapes would fit together into a larger whole, that fossils which have been found in regions such as South America and Africa indicate that similar if not indeed the same types of animals lived on that landscape at one time, that seismic and volcanic activity occur frequently along believed plate boundaries, and sea floor spreading which shows that new land is being formed because of volcanic activity at the boundaries.

5. Provide a reason why some scientists believe the Pleistocene is over and a reason why other scientists believe we are now in an interglacial stage. Some believe, for example, that since areas of pack ice and glacial ice still exist we are still in an ice age. Others, on the other hand, seeing the rapid retreat of ice and snow pack in many areas, believe that this period of glaciation has ended. So, using some other justifications, why do we see some differences in interpretation? Is there some scientific data available that can support both sides view? If so, provide it. Why hasn't this controversy been solved? What impact does this division of views have on the public policies that are enacted by state, national and international bodies?

Scientists have debated about the current period of world history and what type of age it is that we currently live in. Some believe that what is known as the Pleistocene Period is over has been over for 11,000 years now. After the last ice age and the emergence of Homo-sapiens, this new era began. These folks refer to the present era as the Holocene epoch. Since the end of the Pleistocene Era, the earth has warmed and during the era, the world was not a continual ice age. Throughout that time, there were periods of warming and cooling which may have lasted millennia. Given this information, it is possible to theorize that this is in fact another interglacial period (Cartmill 2009,-page 13). Others argue that this is in fact not a true era, but an interglacial period between the last ice age and the next one that is to come. Scientists have defined historical eras as those in which it can be proven that animal life ceased to exist and then all new forms of animal life came to be. One of the reasons that scientists have become reluctant to accept this as a new era in world history has to do with the continued presence of species which have been in existence since the Pleistocene Era (Hall 2002). The large number of animals on the endangered species list gives further evidence that the era is on the way to ending but has not yet reached that point.

This controversy over the continuation or completion of the Pleistocene Period has yet to be solved because there is simply not enough empirical data to prove which side is correct. Greenhouse gases and global warming have been issues of concern and government agencies around the world have made concerted efforts to find sustainable and renewable energy sources. Companies have been encouraged to "go green" and world consumers have been likewise encouraged. If this is indeed an interglacial period, then the warming of the earth is a natural process such as marked the Pleistocene in its entirety. However, if the former era is over and this is a new period in history, then the preservation of life should be the paramount concern of those in positions of authority.

6. How do the above affect the hydrosphere, the biosphere, and the lithosphere?

The earth is comprised of four geological spheres: the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. The lithosphere comprises the earth's crust. With the influx of activity that will likely occur in the hydrosphere and biosphere, there will be increased pressure upon the lithosphere which will likely result in additional crust movement and plate movement activity. The hydrosphere is the water that covers the earth, the oceans, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Finally, the biosphere is the part of the earth which includes all living organisms, plant and animal alike. If the ice age has not finished, and the water freezes, then there will be no way to sustain life. If the world continues to get warmer, then there is fear that the polar ice caps will melt, causing a surge of water which will then overrun the land. The biosphere, where all life exists will face mass extinction if this is the end of the Pleistocene era because termination of life is one of the ways that scientists indicate the end of an historical period.

Works Cited:

Campbell, N.A. (1996). Biology. Benjamin Cummings: Menlo Park, CA. 4th.

Cartmill, M. & Smith, F. (2009). The Human Lineage. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.

Certini, G. & Scalenghe, R. (2007). Soil forming factors. The Encyclopedia of Earth. Boston University: Boston, MA.

Committee on Challenges and Opportunities in Earth Surface Processes (2010). Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface. National Research Council. National Academic: Washington, DC.

Egger, A. (2003). The hydrologic cycle: water's journey through time. Vision Learning. (Eas-2:

2). Retrieved from http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=99

Hall, B.E. (2002). Pleistocene epoch. Animal Sciences.

Hughes, S. (2012). Groundwater -- process, supply and use. Environmental Geology.

Pratt, D. (2000). Plate tectonics: a paradigm under threat. Journal of Scientific Exploration.

(14:3). 307-52.

Stetson, N. (2000). Desert. Blue Planet Biomes. Retrieved from http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert.htm

Van Wagner, L. (2012). The great continental drift mystery. Yale-New Haven Teacher… [END OF PREVIEW]

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