Earth Science Midterm Study Guide

Astronomy
Study of space, the universe, lunar phases, tides, eclipses

Meteorology
Study of weather, climate, atmosphere

Oceanography
Study of earth’s oceans

Geology
Study of earth and its processes, volcanoes, faults and folds, erosion, plate tectonics, and geologic history

Hypothesis
A possible explanation that can be tested. Shows relationship between the variables

Controlled experiment
An experiment that tests only one variable or factor at a time, keeping all other variables some or constant.

Control Group
The standard for comparing experimental effects. A trial in which there is no alteration to the independent variable

Independent Variable
The part of the experiment that is purposefully changed

Dependent Variable
The part that changes in response to the I.V. The thing that you’re measuring. Quantitative or Qualitative.

Levels
The independent variables that can affect change in the dependent variables

Map
A representation of the features of a physical body such as Earth

Reference point
A fixed place on the Earth’s surface from which direction & location can be described.

Compass
Shows the cardinal directions as well as combinations of these directions

True North
The direction to the geographic North Pole

Magnetic declination
The difference between the magnetic north and the true north

Latitude
The distance north or south from the equator; expressed in degrees

Longitude
The distance east and west from the prime meridian

Prime Meridian
The line that represents zero degrees longitude

Topographic Map
A map that shows surface features, or topography

Elevation
The height of an object above sea level

Contour Lines
Lines that connect points of equal elevation

Contour Interval
The difference in elevation between one contour line and the next

Relief
The difference in elevation between the highest & lowest points of the area being morphed

Index contour
A darker heavier contour line that is usually every 5th line and that is labeled by elevation.

Distortion
Changes in the distance, shapes & sizes of landmasses and oceans on maps

Cylindrical projection
A map projection that is made by moving the surface features of the globe onto a cylinder

Conical projection
A map projection that is made by moving the surface features of the globe onto a cone

Azimuthal projection
A map projection that is made by moving the surface features of the globe onto a plane

Title
Gives you info about the subject of the map

Compass rose
Shows you how the map is placed in relation to true north

Scale
Shows the relationship between the distance on Earth’s surface & the distance on the map

Legend
A list of the symbols used in the map & their explanations

Date
Gives you the time at which the information on the map was recorded

Remote sensing
The process of gathering and analyzing information about an object without physically being in touch with the object

Geographic Information System
GIS stands for

Ore
A mineral deposit large enough and pure enough to be mined for profit

Reclamation
The process of returning land to its original condition after mining is complete

Carat
The mass of a gemstone

Mineral
Inorganic, solid, naturally occurring, crystalline structure

Compound
Two or more elements that are chemically bonded together

Crystal
A solid whose atoms, ions, or molecules are arranged in a definite pattern

Luster
The way in which a mineral reflects light

Streak
The color of the powder of a mineral

Cleavage
The splitting of a mineral along smooth, flat surfaces

Fracture
The manner in which a mineral breaks along either curved or irregular surfaces

Hardness
A measure of the ability of a mineral to resist scratching

Element
A substance that cannot be separated or broken down into simpler substances by chemical means

Silicate mineral
A mineral that contains a combination of Si, O, and 1 or more metals

Nonsilicate mineral
A mineral that does not contain compounds of silicon and oxygen

Density
The ratio of the mass of a substance to the volume of the substance

Rock
A naturally occurring solid mixture of one or more minerals & organic matter

Rock Cycle
The continual process by which new rock forms from old rock material

Erosion
The process by which sediment is removed from its source

Deposition
The process in which sediment moved by erosion is dropped and comes to rest

Composition
The chemical make up of a rock; describes either the minerals or other materials in the rock

Texture
The quality of a rock that is based on the sizes, shapes, and positions of the rock’s grains

Intrusive Igneous Rock
Rock formed from the cooling & solidification of magma beneath the Earth’s surface

Extrusive Igneous Rock
Rock that forms as a result of volcanic activity at or near the Earth’s surface

Strata
Layers of rock

Stratification
The process in which sedimentary rocks are arranged in layers

Foliated
The texture of metamorphic rock in which the mineral rains are arranged in planes or bands

Non-foliated
The texture of metamorphic rock in which the mineral grains are not arranged in planes or bands

Natural resource
Any natural material that is used by humans, such as water, petroleum, minerals, forests, and animal

Renewable resource
A natural resource that can be replaced at the same make which the resource is consumed

Non-renewable resource
A resource that forms at a rate that is much slower than the rate at which it is consumed

Recycling
The process of recovering valuable or useful materials from waste or scrap; the process of reusing some items

Fossil fuel
A non-renewable energy resource formed from the remains of organisms that lived long ago

Petroleum
A liquid mixture of complex hydrocarbon compounds; used widely as a fuel source

Natural gas
A mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons located under the surface of the Earth, often near petroleum deposits; used as a fuel

Coal
A fossil fuel that forms underground from partially decomposed plant material

Acid precipitation
Rain, sleet, or snow that contains a high concentration of acids

Smog
Photochemical haze that forms when sunlight acts on industrial pollutants and burning fuels

Nuclear energy
The energy released by a fission or fusion reactions the binding energy of the atomic nucleus

Chemical energy
The energy released when a chemical compound reacts to produce new compounds

Solar energy
The energy received by the Earth from the sun in the form of radiation

Wind Power
The use of a windmill to drive an electronic generator

Hydroelectric energy
Electrical energy produced by falling water

Biomass
Organic matter that can be a source of energy; the total mass of the organisms in a given area

Gasohol
A mixture of gasoline and alcohol that is used as a fuel

Geothermal Energy
The energy produced by heat within the Earth

Reduce
Use less of a resource

Reuse
Find a new use for discarded products

Recycle
The recovering of valuable or useful material from waste or scrap

Uniformitarianism
A principle that states that geologic processes that occurred in the past that can be explained by current geologic processes

Catastrophism
A principle that states that geologic change occurs suddenly

Paleontology
The scientific study of fossils

Relative dating
Any method of determining whether an event or object is older or younger than other events or objects

Superposition
A principle that states that younger rocks lie above older rocks if the layers have not been disturbed

Geologic column
An arrangement of rock layers in which the oldest rocks are at the bottom

Unconformity
A break in the geologic record created when rock layers are eroded or when sediment is not deposited for a long period of time

Absolute Dating
Any method of measuring the age of an event or object in years

Isotope
An atom that has the same number of protons or the same number of as other atoms of the same element do but that has a different number of neutrons and thus a different atomic mass

Radioactive decay
The process in which a radioactive isotope tends to break down into a stable isotope of the same element or another element

Radiometric dating
A method of determining the age of an object by estimating the relative percentages of a radioactive parent isotope and a stable daughter isotope

Half-life
The time needed for half of a sample of a radioactive substance to undergo radioactive decay

Fossil
The remains or physical evidence of an organism preserved by geological processes

Trace fossil
A fossilized mark that is formed in soft sediment by the movement of an animal

Mold
A mark or cavity made in a sedimentary surface by a shell or other body

Cast
A type of fossil that forms when sediments fill in the cavity left by a decomposed organism

Index fossil
A fossil that is found in the rock layers of only one geologic age and that is used to establish the age of the rock layers

Geologic time scale
The standard method used to divide the Earth’s long natural history into manageable parts

Eon
The largest division of a geologic period

Era
A unit of geologic time that includes two or more periods

Period
A unit of geologic time into which eras are divided

Epoch
A subdivision of a geologic period

Extinction
The death of every member of a species

Crust
The outermost layer of the earth

Mantle
The layer of the Earth between the crust & the core

Core
The layer of the Earth that extends from below the mantle to the center of the Earth

Lithosphere
The outermost, rigid layer. 2 parts- crust & rigid upper part of the mantle. It’s divided into tectonic plates

Asthenosphere
A plastic layer of the mantle on which pieces of the lithosphere move. Made of solid rock that flows very slowly

Mesosphere
The strong, lower part of the mantle between the asthenosphere & the outer core

Outer core
The liquid layer of the Earth’s core that lies beneath the mantle & surrounds the inner core

Inner core
The solid, dense, center of our planet

Tectonic plate
Pieces of the lithosphere that move around on top of the asthenosphere

Continental Drift
The hypothesis that states that the continents once formed a single landmass, broke up, and drifted to their present locations

Sea-floor spreading
The process by which new oceanic lithosphere forms as magma rises toward the surface & solidifies

Plate tectonics
The theory that explains how large pieces of the Earth’s outermost layer move and change shape

Convergent boundary
The boundary formed by the collision of 2 lithospheric plates

Divergent boundary
The boundary between two tectonic plates that are moving away from each other

Transform boundary
The boundary between tectonic plates that are sliding past each other horizontally

Convection
The transfer of thermal energy by the circulation or movement of a liquid or gas

Compression
Stress that occurs when forces act to squeeze an object

Tension
Stress that occurs when forces act to stretch an object

Folding
The bending of rock layers due to stress

Anticline
Upward-arching folds

Syncline
Downward, trough-like folds

Monocline
Rock layers are folded so that both ends of the fold are horizontal

Fault
A break in a body of rock along which one block slides relative to another

Uplift
The rising of regions of the Earth’s crust to higher elevations

Subsidience
The sinking of regions of the Earth’s crust to lower elevations

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