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Earth’s Chemistry

With an atmosphere containing 78% nitrogen and 21%oxygen, the Earth is the only planet in the solar system capable of initiating and sustaining life-forms; the various chemical elements that make up the Earth, from the crust, down to the mantle and core, have a little something to do with that. Eight elements make up 98% of Earth’s crust and its core.


Lesson 1 (or “Day 1”) Material
Lesson 2 (or “Day 2”) Material
Lesson 3 (or “Day 3”) Material
Lesson 4 (or “Day 4”) Material

13:31 Minerals and Earth’s Chemistry

1:32 How Gold is Formed on Earth by Nature

3:56 Geology: Felsic vs Mafic


Compare Contrast and Debate

Kick-Off Debate Background: 

Most of the Earth is made up of just a handful of elements. For example iron and nickel are the primary elements of Earth’s core. Further, Earth’s crust is mostly made up of only a few elements: oxygen, 47%; silicon (27%); aluminum (8%); iron (5%); calcium (4%); magnesium, potassium and sodium, (2%). Some might argue that Earth Science students should focus only on their understanding of these specific elements. Others might argue that having a broad understanding of all known elements – even if they are rare – provides a better way to learn Earth Science.

  • Position A: Earth Science topics should focus only on the most-common elements on Earth which appear in the Periodic Table
  • Position B: Earth Science topics should include the entire Periodic Table – including elements which are rare and even synthetically produced.

Resources Documents and Links


Special Notes and Notices

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Ask questions and define problems.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Stability and Change.

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