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Virtual Earth Science Textbook

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Earth 10 Student Expectations

Students are expected to follow course guidelines and actively participate in assigned work. Appropriate classroom decorum, reasonably focused effort, and combinations of individual-work and team-collaborations are important aspects of this curriculum. (topic)

The Big Picture

Earth 11 What is Earth Science?

Earth Science is the study of the Earth and its neighbors in space. It is an exciting science with many interesting and practical applications. Some Earth scientists use their knowledge of the Earth to locate and develop energy and mineral resources. Others study the impact of human activity on Earth’s environment, and design methods to protect the planet. Some use their knowledge about Earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes to plan communities that will not expose people to these dangerous events. (topic)

Earth 12 Scientific Method and Safety

The scientific method has been used in natural science since the 17th century. It consists of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, testing, and modification of hypotheses. High school students are expected to be familiar with the scientific method and its applications. Earth science tends to be an advanced subject, and students may have previously become sufficiently acquainted with rigor associated with the scientific method. Still, and emphasis on safety – especially pertaining to geologic field work – may be of benefit to students. (topic)

Earth 13 Connections Across Content

Honeycutt Science emphasizes opportunities for “cross-curriculum” – and connections across content. Earth science intersects with physics, chemistry and biology – as well as other disciplines. A partial list of these intersections is as follows: physical geography (geography); engineering geology (engineering); geophysics (physics); soil science (agriculture); ecology (life science); hydrology (city planning); atmospheric chemistry (chemistry); and atmospheric physics (physics).   (topic)

Maps and Models

Earth 14 Map Interpretation

Broadly, map analysis is  a study is made regarding map types (which could include geologic maps, isopach maps, contour lines etc.), and the unique physical qualities of a map such as scale, title, and legend. It is also a ways of decoding the message and symbols of map and placing it within its proper context. A map is an image of an area, usually of the Earth or part of the Earth. A map is different from an aerial photograph because it includes interpretation. The word “map” can also be used to talk about a chart or drawing that shows relationships between ideas, people, events, or anything else you can think about. People who make maps are cartographers. (topic)

Earth 15 Types of Models

There are an almost limitless number of types of models. Listed elsewhere at Honeycutt Science, students can discover a variety of model-types used across the natural sciences. In recent years, a robust set of digital and math-based models have been developed to better understand Earth. An example is The Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), ESMF is open-source software for building climate, numerical weather prediction, data assimilation, and other Earth science software applications. This topic explores the variety of model-types, and examines specific model opportunities to better understand Earth. (topic)

Earth’s Composition

Earth 16 Earth 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. (topic)

Earth 17 Minerals of the Earth’s Crust

mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic solid, with a definite chemical composition, and an ordered atomic arrangement. Minerals are naturally occurring. They are not made by humans. Minerals are inorganic. Minerals have specific properties that can be measured and compared: color, streak, hardness, cleavage, crystalline structure, transparency, tenacity, and magnetism. (topic)

Earth 18 Rocks and Rock Types

The previous topic introduced minerals. Here we explore rocks and rock types. A rock is a naturally occurring aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids. The three categories are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Example of each are as follows: Igneous Rocks (Basalt. Gabbro. Granite. Obsidian. Volcanic Ash and Tuff); Sedimentary Rocks. (Clays, Mudstones and Shales. Limestones. Sandstone); Metamorphic Rocks (Gneiss. Marble. Quartzite. Schist. Slate). (topic)

Earth 19 Resources and Energy

A natural resource is something that is found in nature and can be used by people.Earth’s natural resources include light, air, water, plants, animals, soil, stone, minerals, and fossil fuels. People need some natural resources to stay alive. Water resources are useful to humans – needed for life to exist. A renewable resource is a resource which can be used repeatedly and replaced naturally. Examples include oxygen, fresh water, solar energy and biomass. Hydrocarbon resources are often known as fossil fuel resources as hydrocarbons are the primary constituent of natural gas, oil, and coal. (topic)

Earth’s History

Earth 21 The Rock Record

The rock record is nothing more than the rocks that currently exist. The rock record does not show a tidy, orderly progression of geologic events. Rock formations are eroded, buried, torn apart, melted, squashed together, even turned upside down. This geologic record is the history of Earth as recorded in the rocks that make up its crust. Rocks have been forming and wearing away since Earth first started to form, creating sediment that accumulates in layers of rock called strata. (topic)

Earth 22 Earth’s Past

Beginning with the Precambrian period, Earth’s past is a vast series of time-periods – chronological dating that relates geological strata to time. The geologic time scale (GTS) is used by geologists, paleontologists, and other Earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships of events that have occurred during Earth’s history. The Precambrian started with the origin of the earth about 4.5 billion years ago and ended 570 million years ago. The timeline is grouped into eons, eras, and periods (each successively smaller units of time). (topic)

The Dynamic Earth

Earth 23 Plate Tectonics and Today’s Earth

Plate tectonics is a science theory explaining the structure of the earth’s crust and many associated phenomena as resulting from the interaction of rigid lithospheric plates that move slowly over the underlying mantle. From the deepest ocean trench to the tallest mountain, plate tectonics explains the features and movement of Earth’s surface in the present and the past. (topic)

Earth 24 Deformation of the Crust

Crustal deformation refers to the changing earth’s surface caused by tectonic forces that are accumulated in the crust and then cause earthquakes. So understanding the details of deformation and its effects on faults is important for figuring out which faults are most likely to produce the next earthquake. The three main types of stress go along with the thred types of plate boundaries: compression is common at convergent boundaries, tension at divergent boundaries, and shear at transform boundaries. (topic)

Earth 25 Earthquakes Volcanoes & Tsunamis

An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.  A tsunami  is unlike normal ocean waves, which are generated by wind, or tides, which are generated by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun. Rather, these are a seismic sea wave – a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. (topic)

Earth 26 Weathering Erosion & Rivers

In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes (such as water flow or wind) that remove soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth’s crust, and then transport it to another location. Rivers of the world are a significant factor in erosion. Rivers exert hydraulic action – a force of the river against the banks can cause air to be trapped in cracks and crevices. Rivers also exert abrasion – rocks carried along by the river wear down the river bed and banks. Erosion and weathering are not the same thing. Weathering does not include movement. Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soil, and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, water, and biological organisms. (topic)

Earth’s Resources

Earth 27 Agricultural Resources

According to New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, agricultural resources means the land and on-farm buildings, equipment, manure processing and handling facilities and processing and handling facilities which contribute to the production, preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products as a commercial enterprise. Wikipedia defines agriculture as the cultivation of land and breeding of animals and plants to provide food, fiber, medicinal plants and other products to sustain and enhance life. This topic explores the importance of agriculture and its intersection with the study of Earth science. (topic)

Earth 28 Hydrocarbons and Energy

The expression hydrocarbon is equal to the expression “fossil fuel resources.” Hydrocarbons include natural gas, crude oil, and coal. Most hydrocarbons found on Earth naturally occur in crude oil, where decomposed organic matter provides an abundance of carbon and hydrogen which, when bonded, can catenate to form seemingly limitless chains. In practice, crude oil is sent through a catalytic cracking process – where chemical oil refineries break-apart “big molecules” found in crude oil to make smaller molecules needed for fuel, such as gasoline. Natural gas and coal are used as fuel to generate heat. That heat boils water. Steam from boiled water turns the turbine of large electric generators – generating electric power for the utility grid. (topic)

Earth 29 Summative Review

During this first half of the year, students began with a “big picture” of the many facets of Earth science and how it relates to other natural sciences. Students explored maps, models, and how to use and interpret them – followed by an emphasis of Earth’s composition, its chemistry, along with the varieties of minerals and rocks. Multiple topics introduced Earth’s dynamics including the theory of plate tectonics along with the observable realities of earth quakes and other natural phenomena. Last, an outline of weathering, erosion, impacts of rivers, and the importance of wise usage of natural resources was emphasized. (topic)

Atmospheric Forces

Earth 31 Wind & Waves!

Wind is the flow of air on a large scale – and smaller (local) scale also. Wind consists of the bulk movement of air. Meteorologists describe wind using its strength, speed and direction. Short bursts of wind are often called gusts. Gusts last from a few seconds up to a minute. Stronger winds are called squalls. Squalls last for over a minute. The longest duration winds have a variety of names depending on average strengths. Some of these descriptions are commonly used during news and weather reports. These include breeze, gale, storm, and hurricane.

Several important expressions describe global winds and their effect. Starting from the equator and moving toward the poles, these expressions are: doldrums, trade winds, westerlies, and polar easterlies. Air flowing from the poles does not flow in a straight line. Further, each hemisphere has three “looping” patterns – called convection cells. Something interesting about comparing these convection cells between the two hemispheres – they are somewhat of mirror images to each other. The  six major convection cells result in “prevailing winds.” (topic)

Earth 32 The Atmosphere

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere and how processes in the atmosphere determine Earth’s weather and climate. Meteorology is a very practical science because everyone is concerned about the weather. How climate changes over time in response to the actions of people is a topic of urgent worldwide concern. The study of meteorology is of critical importance in protecting Earth’s environment. (topic)

Earth 33 Erosion, Weather & Climate

Weather plays a large part in creating the valley and mountains that we see today. Snow, rain, and wind are large factors in the continued erosion, creating deeper mountain canyons, new creeks, wider rivers, filled-in lakes and determining the type of vegetation and animals that can exist here. Climate too has an impact on erosion – although over longer periods of time. There have been at least five major ice ages in the Earth’s history. During such periods of large-scale glaciations (lasting several million years, each), Earth’s surface has been drastically reshaped – even the features of entire continents. (topic)

Rivers Lakes and Oceans

Earth 34 The Life of a River

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Nearly all rivers have an upper, middle, and lower course (stages in the life of a river). The upper course is the beginning of a river – when it flows quickly with a lot of energy. The middle course is when the river gets wide and slows down. Rivers often meander (following a winding path) along their middle course. When a river reaches the end of its journey, it is at the lower course – an old river. At the mouth, there is often a river delta (a large silty area where the river splits into many different slow moving channels with muddy banks). (topic)

Earth 35 Fresh Water

Hydrologists study the availability and distribution of the Earth’s freshwater resources including both surface water and aquifers. (topic)

Earth 36 Big Waters and the Oceans

Oceanography is the study of Earth’s oceans – their composition, movement, organisms and processes. The oceans cover most of our planet and are important resources for food and other commodities. They are increasingly being used as an energy source. The oceans also have a major influence on the weather, and changes in the oceans can drive or moderate climate change. Oceanographers work to develop the ocean as a resource and protect it from human impact. The goal is to utilize the oceans while minimizing the effects of our actions (topic)

Ecosystems and Life

Earth 37 Ocean Basins

Oceanography, or marine science, is the interdisciplinary study of the sea. Oceanographers may study currents, storms or waves. Oceanographers may use sophisticated technology to map the ocean floor or evaluate whether movement of subsea tectonic plates might cause rifting and tsunami waves. Oceanographers are frequently biologists who seek to understand and protect marine ecosystems. (topic)

Earth 38 Land and Life

Terrestrial refers to things related to land or the planet Earth. Six primary terrestrial ecosystems exist: tundra, taiga, temperate deciduous forest, tropical rain forest, grassland and desert. Terrestrial ecosystems are distinguished from aquatic ecosystems by the lower availability of water and the importance of water as a limiting factor. Terrestrial ecosystems differ from aquatic ecosystems in a number of other ways too – including greater temperature fluctuations, the availability of sunlight, and availability of gases (air). Terrestrial life is characterized by a community of organisms and their environment that occurs on the land masses of continents and islands. Generally continents are identified by convention rather than any strict criteria – seven regions are commonly regarded as continents.  An island is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Earth science overlaps with ecology and life science in understanding the symbiosis between land and life. (topic)

Earth 39 The Impact of Humans

The term anthropogenic designates an effect or object resulting from human activity.  Human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes changes to biophysical environments and ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources caused directly or indirectly by humans. Ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, and ecological crises are examples of negative impacts of human activity on Earth. (topic)

Solar System and Space

Earth 41 Climate Change

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions. Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. (topic)

Earth 42 Our Solar System

Planetologists study the planets of our solar system and beyond. Space probes send photos and data from distant systems. In our own solar system the robot probe Curiosity crawls the surface of Mars to analyze soil samples and transmit data to Earth. (topic)

Earth 43 Deep Space

Astronomy is the study of the universe. Here are some examples of why studying space beyond Earth is important: the moon drives the ocean’s tidal system, asteroid impacts have repeatedly devastated Earth’s inhabitants, and energy from the sun drives our weather and climates. A knowledge of astronomy is essential to understanding the Earth. Astronomers can also use a knowledge of Earth materials, processes and history to understand other planets – even those outside of our own solar system. (topic)

Careers in Earth Science

Earth 44 Outdoors and Nature

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly half of all jobs required outdoors.  For purposes of this topic, an outdoor career is one in which at least some workers spend a large part of their workday doing tasks outside. Industry sectors with opportunities for employment outdoors include: • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, Construction, Leisure and hospitality, Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, Transportation and warehousing, and Utilities. While not all workers in these industry sectors are outdoors, at least some of them are. Even people who work primarily outdoors, however, may spend at least part of their time indoors.(topic)

Earth 45 Inside Jobs and Knowledge Workers

Some universities have Earth Science programs but most offer more specific training in programs such as geology, meteorology, oceanography or astronomy. In these programs you will be required to take some challenging courses such as chemistry, physics, biology and math. Earth science is an integrated science, and professionals in that field must solve problems that require a knowledge of several fields of science. (topic)

Earth 46 Research and Investigation

To study the materials and forces that shape our planet, many colleges and universities offer research programs that span the earth sciences. Important current trends in these areas include climate history and impacts, the geosciences, environmental geology and hydrology, and marine geology and geophysics. Some universities separately emphasis planetary geoscience – with active research throughout the Solar system. (topic)

Earth 48 Summary Review

Today we live in a time when the Earth and its inhabitants face many challenges. Our climate is changing, and that change is being influenced by human activity. Earth scientists recognized this problem and will play a key role in efforts to resolve it. We are also challenged to: develop new sources of energy that will have minimal impact on climate; locate new sources of metals and other mineral resources as known sources are depleted; and, determine how Earth’s increasing population can live and avoid serious threats such as volcanic activity, earthquakes, landslides, floods and more. These are just a few of the problems where solutions depend upon a deep understanding of Earth science. (topic)

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