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  • Stephen Marshak’s

    Essentials of Geology THIRD EDITION


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  • Stephen Marshak’s

    Essentials of Geology THIRD EDITION




    Full file at

  • Copyright © 2009, 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States of America

    Third Edition

    Composition and Layout by Roberta Flechner Graphics

    ISBN 978-0-393-93314-7

    W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110

    W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., Castle House, 75/76 Wells Street, London W1T 3QT

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    New Features for the Third Edition of Essentials of Geology: On Further Thought and Geotours vii

    Acknowledgments viii

    Chapter 1 | The Earth in Context 1

    Chapter 2 | The Way the Earth Works: Plate Tectonics 12

    Chapter 3 | Patterns in Nature: Minerals 25

    Chapter 4 | Up from the Inferno: Magma and Igneous Rocks 32

    Chapter 5 | The Wrath of Vulcan: Volcanic Eruptions 39

    Chapter 6 | Pages of Earth’s Past: Sedimentary Rocks 47

    Chapter 7 | Metamorphism: A Process of Change 56

    Chapter 8 | A Violent Pulse: Earthquakes 66

    Chapter 9 | Crags, Cracks, and Crumples: Crustal Deformation and Mountain Building 75

    Chapter 10 | Deep Time: How Old Is Old? 83

    Chapter 11 | A Biography of Earth 94

    Chapter 12 | Riches in Rock: Energy and Mineral Resources 104

    Chapter 13 | Unsafe Ground: Landslides and Other Mass Movements 114

    Chapter 14 | Running Water: The Geology of Streams and Floods 119

    Chapter 15 | Restless Realm: Oceans and Coasts 128

    Chapter 16 | A Hidden Reserve: Groundwater 138

    Chapter 17 | Dry Regions: The Geology of Deserts 146

    Chapter 18 | Amazing Ice: Glaciers and Ice Ages 154

    Chapter 19 | Global Change in the Earth System 161

    Answers to Multiple-Choice Questions 169

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  • New Features for the Third Edition of Essentials of Geology: On Further Thought and Geotours


    The Third Edition of Stephen Marshak’s Essentials of Geology includes a pair of features that are new and that should be of great value to both the student and the educator of introductory geology. The “On Further Thought” section at the end of each chapter includes new questions that go beyond the chapter synopsis, giving the student a chance to improve his or her critical thinking, reference, and basic math skills. Since the majority of students taking introductory geology will not be continuing further in the field, the questions in this new section are of great value in reinforcing skill sets needed for success in the rest of a degree program and beyond.

    The “Geotours” section that appears near the end of the book (after the Appendix) provides a guided tour of Earth’s varied landscape using the free Internet application Google Earth. Available for download at, Google Earth offers detailed mosaic satellite imagery of the continents and a coarser physiographic view of the ocean basins. The program may well be the best free application on the Internet. From my experience, students find the program engaging whether used in lectures to pinpoint a geologic feature of interest (its renderings of the Grand Canyon and Mount St. Helens are outstanding) or in the context of an exercise where students have to identify and explain physiographic features related to streams, coasts, plate tectonics, or glacial geomorphology (among other topics). In assembling the Geotours, Stephen Marshak has done a remarkable job of compiling some of the most interesting examples of geology visible at the scale of satellite surveillance and accessible from any well-equipped computer. The Geotours are an exciting addition to the text, and instructors with Internet capability in the classroom are encouraged to use them in their teaching.

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  • Acknowledgments

    Thanks to Stephen Marshak, who recommended my involvement in constructing the Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank, and to Jack Repcheck and Matthew Freeman at Norton. My dissertation advisor, Dan Blake, provided as good a role model as possible as to how a scientist thinks, acts, and writes. I thank my parents, Ed and Pinky Werner, who have been there for me since day one. Lastly, and most of all, I wish to thank my dear and loving wife, Melissa Wilder, for everything she has done to make my life a better place.


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    Learning objectives

    1. Students should be aware of the Big Bang and the major evidence supporting it. Distant galaxies are uniformly red-shifted, rather than blue-shifted; this implies that they are all moving away from us. The farthest galaxies are those that are most strongly red-shifted, meaning that they are receding fastest. Extrapolation of velocities and trajectories into the past suggests that all matter in the Universe was contained in a single point, approximately 13.7 billion years ago. At that time, the Universe came into existence explosively (hence the name Big Bang); radiation from the Big Bang still can be perceived in all directions in the sky (even apparently empty space) with a radio telescope.

    2. Stars, including our Sun, are nuclear fusion reactors. For most of stars’ life histories (on the order of billions of years), hydrogen atoms are fused together to form helium. Later stages in stellar evolution include fusion of helium atoms and other, heavier elements; ultimately, iron is the heaviest element that can be produced through fusion reactions within stars.

    3. After their cycles of fusion are complete, large stars violently explode, forming elements heavier than iron and leaving behind a residue of diffuse nebulae, which may be recycled to form a new star at some point in the future. These explosive events are termed novas and supernovas because some have been bright enough to be seen as “new stars” in the night sky. Historically, a few supernovae have even been bright enough to be seen during daylight.

    4. Our Sun is approximately 5 billion years old and is expected to continue fusing helium as it does today for about another 5 billion years. All planetary orbits are coplanar, and all planets orbit in the same direction (counterclockwise as viewed from above Earth’s north pole). These facts imply simultaneous planetary formation from a swirling nebula surrounding the Sun (the similarities in orbits would then be a natural result of conservation of angular momentum). The planets accreted from this nebula through gravitational attraction and haphazard collisions. Pluto, long considered the “ninth planet,” has recently seen its status demoted; astronomers now recognize only eight major planets in our Solar

    The Earth in ContextCHAPTER 1

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    System. Pluto belongs to a group of icy and rocky bodies beyond Neptune’s orbit termed the Kuiper Belt, the origination site for numerous comets.

    5. The terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are relatively small, dense, and rocky worlds because solar winds from the nearby Sun expelled most of the superabundant (but very light) elements, hydrogen and helium. The gas giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) retained these elements and are thus much larger and much less dense (Saturn is less dense than water).

    6. Our Moon, responsible for Earth’s tides, has a composition similar to Earth’s mantle; the Moon is thought to have originated from debris accumulated when a Mars-sized body impacted the Earth very early in Earth’s history.

    7. Students should be aware of the presence of Earth’s magnetic dipole, how the magnetic field arises, and its important consequences for life on Earth.

    8. Earth is composed of a variety of materials with disparate physical properties (minerals, organics, gases, and melts). This has led to a complex physical chemistry and biochemistry, allowing both Earth’s surface and its constituent life to evolve dramatically over time.

    9. Earth is chemically divided into a thin, rocky crust dominated by silicate minerals, a thick mantle dominated by iron- and magnesium-rich silicates (subject locally to partial melting), and a thick, metallic core which is primarily iron (the outer portion of which is liquid). Students should know how seismic waves tell us that the outer core must be liquid.

    10. Physically, the uppermost layers of Earth are the rigid lithosphere (crust and uppermost mantle) and th


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