Geo100 Final Exam Study Guide


Know These Facts and Concepts


I. Major Theories and Concepts in Geology (Ch 1)

          A. The Scientific Method - The way scientists answer questions

     The various steps used in formulating a scientific theory

1. Pose a question about nature

2. Preliminary observations and data recording

3. Hypothesize an explanation

4. Test the hypothesis (more observations and data recording)

5. Re-Hypothesize and re-test

6. After years of intensive testing a Theory can be proposed

7. Theories are always open for further tests and challenges


B. Theories of the Origin of the Solar System

     Cold Accretion Theory

1. Accretion of interstellar cloud into solar nebula

2. Further accretion into a denser rotating disc

3. Formation of proto-sun and planetisimals

4. Final consolidation and differentiation of Sun and planets

          around 4.6 billion years ago


          C. Theories on the Differentiation of the Earth

     Early homogeneous Earth underwent separation of core & mantle

     Initiation of Plate Tectonics begins differentiation of crust from mantle

     Basics concepts concerning the Theory of Plate Tectonics

     Basic concepts concerning the Rock and Hydrologic Cycles


II. Basic Chemistry and Minerals (Chapter 2) (Know stuff marked in red)

          A. Very General Chemistry

     Basic structure of an atom, atomic and mass number.

     Define an Element and describe the basics of the Periodic Table

     The three states of matter

     Define Ionic and Covalent chemical bonds

     Define Compound, mixture, solution, and alloy


B. Minerals

     Definition of a mineral

     Name the “BIG 8” rock-forming minerals

     Name several characteristics of a mineral

     Identify hand specimens of minerals (not part of this final)

III. Magmatism (Chapters 3 & 4)

     Definitions for magma and lava

     Identify earth’s major regions of active volcanism

1. Subduction zones, spreading centers, and hotspots

   The types of magma associated with each region of magmatism

   Name and describe the three types of volcanoes

   Volcanic eruption materials

   Types of underground intrusion features

   Several types of volcanic eruption warning signs


IV. Rocks and the Rock Cycle (Chapters 1, 3, 6 & 7)

     The 3 major types of Rocks

     The Rock Cycle processes

     Igneous Rocks

1.    Two main groups – plutonic and volcanic

2.    Three major types – mafic, intermediate, and felsic

                   3. Igneous rock origin and structures

     Sedimentary Rocks

1.    Three main sedimentary classes – based on origin

2.    The major rock types – like sandstone, shale, etc.

3.    Sedimentary rock origin and structures

     Metamorphic Rocks

1.    Two types of metamorphism – Contact and Regional

2.    Classification - Foliated versus nonfoliated

3.    Metamorphic rock origin, names, and textures


V. Resources (Chapters 2, 6 & 12)

     Two types- renewable and nonrenewable

     Explain what ores are and how they form

     Explain what a fossil fuel is and how it forms

     Types of fossil fuels

     Other types of energy sources including nuclear and alternative


VI.  Weathering, Erosion and Mass Wasting (Chapters 5 & 14)

     Definition of Weathering

     Two types of weathering – name and general description

     Examples of each type, like ice wedging, and carbonation

     Factors that effect the rate of weathering

     Definition of Erosion

      Methods of Soil conservation

     Forms of slow and fast movement erosion, like landslide and creep

     Erosional landform features

VII. Geologic Time and the Age of the Earth (Chapter 8)

     The difference between relative and absolute time

1. How is relative time determined? Methods?

2. How is absolute time determined? Methods?

     The Principle of Uniformatarianism

1. The present is the key to the past

2. Geologic processes occurring today have been occurring for

       billions of years in order to create the Earth of today

     The 5 Principles of Stratigraphy - Determining relative order of events

     How are fossils used in relative dating of rock units?

1. What is an Index fossil?

     Define and Explain Significance of Unconformities

1. Types of unconformities

2. How are they created?

     What is stratigraphic Correlation? Its usefulness?

     How is the Geologic Timescale organized?

     Identify the major Eras and Periods in the GTS


VIII. Earthquakes (Chapter 9)

     Define an earthquake

     Explain the elastic rebound theory

     Define and identify focus, epicenter, and fault zone

     The three major earthquake zones

     Types of seismic waves and their characteristics

     Locating an earthquake – use of S-P intervals and three stations

     Richter scale versus the Mercalli scale – magnitude versus intensity

     Explain how earthquakes create tsunamis


IX. Earth's Interior Design (Chapter 10)

     Identify, name, and order the major internal layers of the Earth

     Identify, name, and order the major internal boundaries in the Earth

     Describe the basic physical characteristics of each layer

1. Solid or liquid

2. General mineral/chemical composition

     Know the general behavior of seismic waves through the Earth

      1. Gradual refraction (bending) within each layer

                        2. Abrupt refraction (bending) and reflection at internal boundaries

     What is the significance of the P- and S-wave shadow zones?

     What is the geothermal gradient?

     What are the two major internal heat sources of the Earth?



X. Plate Tectonics (Chapters 11 & 12)

     Explain Wegener’s Continental drift hypothesis

     Pangaea and Panthalassa and the last 200 million years

     Basic evidence for continental drift

     Describe the process of seafloor spreading

     Basic evidence for seafloor spreading

     Describe the process of subduction

     Basic evidence for subduction

     Summarize the theory of Plate Tectonics

     Name and describe the three types of plate boundaries

     The causes of plate motion

     Explain the theory of suspect terranes


XI. Deformation and Mountain Building of the Crust (Chapter 13)

     Define stress and strain – compare and relate the two

     The three general types of stress and its effect on the crust

     1. Compression = Shortening and Thickening

     2. Tension = Extending and Thinning

     3. Shearing = Translation and Rotation

     Explain the concept of isostacy

     Describe the results of crustal stress – Folding and Faulting

1.    Which type of stress creates folds?

2.    Faults are created by which type(s) of stress?

        3. Name and identify the three major types of faults

     Mountain-building at the plate boundaries – Unique for each type

    1. The dominant stress regime associated with each plate boundary

    2. The unique geologic structures found at each plate boundary

     Name and identify Earth's three major global mountain belts

     Name the four types of mountains


XII. Surface Waters and The Hydrologic Cycle (Chapter 15)

     Outline/illustrate the stages of the water cycle

     The component processes of the water cycle

     Define a water budget and some its factors

     Examples of water conservation methods

     River Systems – origin, description, and terms

1.    Stream erosion – channel bank and bed erosion

2.    Distinguish youthful, mature, old-age, and rejuvenated stages of


3.    Define 1) Discharge and 2) Stream gradient

4.    Stream deposition – deltas, alluvial fans, and flooding

5.    Flood control

XIII. Groundwater (Chapter 16)

     Definitions of 1) Aquifer and 2) Aquiclude

     Factors that affect groundwater

1.    Porosity, Permeability, and Sediment Sorting

     Zones of Groundwater – aeration, saturation, and water table

     Types of aquifers - normal, perched, and artesian

     Ordinary versus artesian wells and springs

     Development of Karst topography

1.    Factors: rock type, climate, groundwater chemistry

2.    Types of Karst features


XIV. Glaciers (Chapter 17)

     How do glaciers form?

     Name and compare the two types of glaciers – valley and continental

     Two types of ways that a glacier moves – basal and IPF

     Several ways that a glacier causes erosion

     Glacier erosion features

     Glacier depositional features

     Definition of an ice age

     Explain Milankovitch theory for the cause of an ice age.


XV.  Shorelines and Deserts - Wind and Wave Processes (Ch 18 & 19)

      Waves generated by wind

      Interaction of wind waves and the shoreline

      Ways that waves erode a shoreline

      Longshore transport, ripcurrents, and sand migration

1. Longshore sand transport

2. Yearly cycle of beach sand depletion and replenishment

      Wave erosional features – cliffs, terraces, stacks, arches, etc.

      Wave depositional features – beaches, spits, barriers islands, etc.

      Human-generated shoreline erosion and structures

Note: desert processes not covered in this final

      Two ways that wind erodes the land – deflation and abrasion

      Wind erosion features – desert pavement and deflation hollows

      Wind deposition features – dunes and loess deposits