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Living with Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Geology

By Travis Hudson

Published by Routledge

Published Date: Feb 11, 2010


For many students with no science background, environmental geology may be one of the only science courses they ever take. Living With Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Geology is ideal for those students, fostering a better understanding of how they interact with Earth and how their actions can affect Earth's environmental health. The informal, reader-friendly presentation is organized around a few unifying perspectives: how the various Earth systems interact with one another; how Earth affects people (creating hazards but also providing essential resources); and how people affect Earth. Greater emphasis is placed on environment and sustainability than on geology, unlike other texts on the subject. Essential scientific foundations are presented - but the ultimate goal is to connect students proactively to their role as stakeholders in Earth's future.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.   What Does “Living with Earth” Mean?
1.1  Environmental Geology and You

1.2  How People and Earth Interact
Human Population
Resource Consumption
The Technology Factor
Earth’s Impact on People
In the News: The Increasing Costs of U.S. Natural Disasters
1.3  How Earth Systems Interact
Energy and Systems
Matter and Systems
Two Types of Systems
1.4  How Science Helps
The Scientific Method
Science in Your Future
Availability of Water
Transition from Oil to Other Energy Sources
The Effects of Global Climate Change
1.5  How to Achieve Sustainability in the Future
Sustaining Biodiversity
Carrying Capacity
Easter Island
1.6  Understanding Your Role

Chapter 2.   Earth Systems
2.1  Earth’s Geosphere
The Geosphere’s Origin
The Compositional Structure of the Geosphere
The Core
The Mantle
The Crust
The Physical Structure of the Geosphere
The Inner and Outer Core
The Lower Mantle
The Mantle Transition Zone
The Upper Mantle
The Asthenosphere
The Lithosphere
2.2  Earth’s Atmosphere
The Atmosphere’s Origin
The Second Atmosphere  
The Third Atmosphere
The Compositional Structure of the Atmosphere
The Homosphere
The Heterosphere
The Temperature Structure of the Atmosphere
The Troposphere
The Stratosphere
The Mesosphere
The Thermosphere
2.3  Earth’s Hydrosphere
Origin of Earth’s Water
In the News: Deep Impact—Investigating Water’s Origin
Reservoirs in the Hydrosphere
        The World Ocean
Glaciers, Ice Caps, and Ice Sheets
The Water Cycle
You Make the Call: Whose Water Is It?
2.4  Earth’s Biosphere
Life’s Beginnings
Establishing the Foundation
Darwin and Wallace
Natural Selection
Mass Extinctions
The Passenger Pigeon
What You Can Do: Investigate Mass Extinctions
2.5  Understanding Geologic Time and Earth History
Relative Geologic Ages
Sedimentary Rocks
Fossil Succession
The Geologic Time Scale
Absolute Geologic Ages
Natural Clocks
Radiometric Dating
Rates of Earth-System Processes
People’s Place in Earth History

Chapter 3.   The Dynamic Geosphere and Plate Tectonics
3.1  Early Thoughts About Moving Continents
Setting the Stage
Alfred Wegener and Continental Drift
3.2  Explaining Moving Continents—Plate Tectonics
Wandering Magnetic Poles
Exploring the Ocean Basins
Seafloor Spreading
Magnetic Stripes
Earthquakes Provide Another Test
Plate Tectonics Today
3.3  Plate Boundaries—Where the Action Is
In the News: Watching Earth Move
Divergent Plate Boundaries
Convergent Plate Boundaries
Transform Plate Boundaries
You Make the Call: Living on a Plate Boundary
3.4  Plate Tectonics—The Big Picture
Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes
What You Can Do: Keep Track of Earthquakes
Plate Tectonics and Volcanoes
Plate Tectonics and Mountain Building
Accretion along the Continental Margin
Compression at Convergent Plate Boundaries
Collision of Continents at Convergent Plate Boundaries
The Role of Magma
Plate Tectonics and Mineral Resources

Chapter 4.   Geosphere Materials

4.1  The Geosphere’s Chemical Composition
The Composition of the Geosphere
The Composition of the Crust
4.2  Minerals—Where Elements Reside
Making Minerals
Quartz—the Silicon and Oxygen Mineral
Physical Properties and Occurrence
The Feldspars
Physical Properties and Occurrence
Changing Feldspars
The Ferromagnesium Minerals
Olivine and Pyroxene
Changing Olivine and Pyroxene to Serpentine
In the News: 9/11 Dust
Biotite and Amphibole
Living (and Dying) with Fibrous Amphibole
Other Minerals—the Sulfides, Oxides, and Carbonates
What You Can Do: Investigate Mineral Use
4.3  Rocks—Where Minerals Reside
Making Oceanic Crust
Making Continental Crust
Changing Rocks in the Rock Cycle
Igneous Rocks and Crustal Melting
Weathering and Erosion
Sedimentation and Lithification
4.4  Using Rocks
What You Can Do: Investigate Rock Use
Aggregate Mining and the Environment
Physical Disturbances
Dust and Noise
Congestion and Safety
You Make the Call: Aggregate Mining in Your Neighborhood

Chapter 5   Earthquakes

5.1  Earthquake Basics
What Earthquakes Are
Where Earthquakes Occur
Transform Plate Boundaries
Convergent Plate Boundaries
Divergent Plate Boundaries
Intraplate Earthquakes
Earthquakes and Faults
The Elastic Rebound Theory of Earthquakes
Creepy Faults
Earthquake Waves
Body Waves
Surface Waves
5.2  Investigating Earthquakes
Measuring Earthquakes
Strong-Motion Seismometers
Experiencing What Seismometers Measure
Earthquake Magnitude
Earthquake Intensity
What You Can Do: Map Earthquake Intensity
Locating Earthquakes
Locating the Epicenter
Determining Earthquake Depth
5.3  Earthquake Hazards
Ground Shaking
Distance from the Focus
Site Geology
Ground Displacement and Failure
Slope Failure
Surface Ruptures
Crustal Deformation
Construction Design
In the News: The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
5.4  Earthquake Prediction
Short-Term Predictions
Seismic Gaps
Recurrence Intervals
Making Forecasts
5.5  Mitigating Earthquake Hazards
Earthquake Hazards Mapping
What You Can Do: Investigate Earthquake Hazards
Engineering for Earthquakes
Emergency Response
Earthquake Early Warning Systems
Public Education and Preparedness
In the News: Tsunami Education Saves Lives
Tsunami Warning Systems
You Make the Call: Who Is Responsible for Tsunami Warning Systems?

Chapter 6.   Volcanoes

6.1  Volcano Basics
What Volcanoes Are
Defining and Counting Volcanoes
Types of Magmas
Types of Volcanoes
Shield Volcanoes
Flood Basalts
Cinder Cones
Large Calderas
Eruption Magnitude
The Benefits of Volcanoes
6.2  Volcanoes: Where and Why
Volcanoes at Divergent Plate Boundaries
Volcanoes at Convergent Plate Boundaries
Volcanoes Within Plates
The Coast Might Be Toast (Someday)
What You Can Do: Investigate Volcanism in Your State
6.3 Volcanic Hazards
Hazards of Stratovolcanoes
Ash Hazards on the Ground
Ash Hazards in the Atmosphere
Pyroclastic Flows
A Stratovolcano in Action: Mount St. Helens
Hazards of Shield Volcanoes
Lava Flows
Shield Volcanoes in Action: Kilauea
Volcanic Gases
Hazards to People
Hazards to Plant Life
Climate Changes
In the News: Getting Your Own Weekly Volcano Report
6.4  Living with Volcanoes
Going to War with Pele
How Science Helps
Volcanology—a Hazardous Profession
Hazard Assessments
Monitoring Volcanic Activity
Monitoring Eruption Precursors
Volcanic Crisis Response
Pinatubo: A Successful Crisis Response
What Made the Difference?
How Communities Respond to Volcanic Hazards
You Make the Call: Living in the Shadow of Mount Rainier

Chapter 7   Rivers and Flooding
7.1  River Basics
What You Can Do: Investigate Your Watershed
Flow, Discharge, and Channels
Base Level
Longitudinal Profiles and Gradient
Sediment Transport
Sediment Deposition
7.2  Floods
What Floods Are
Precipitation and Flooding
Failing Dams and Flooding
Failure of Landslide Dams
Failure of Ice Dams
Failure of Constructed Dams
Land Use and Flooding
Effect of Cultivation
Loss of Wetlands
In the News: The Eastern Deluge of 2006
Man-Made Floods  
Types of River Floods
Flash Floods
Riverine Floods
7.3  Measuring and Forecasting Floods
What You Can Do: Investigate Real-Time Stream Gage Data
Flood Recurrence Intervals
The 100-Year Flood
Flood Probability
Limitations of Historical Data
7.4  Living with Floods
Flood Hazards
Mitigating Floods: The Structural Approach
Channel Alteration
Flood-Control Dams
You Make the Call: Would You Build the Three Gorges Dam?
Diversion Channels/Floodways
Detention Ponds
The Mississippi River Flood-Control System
Pros and Cons of the Structural Approach
Mitigating Floods: The Nonstructural Approach
The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Relocations and Voluntary Buyouts
Sustainable Floodplain Management

Chapter 8.   Unstable Land

8.1  Slope Stability Basics
The Driving Force—Gravity
Resisting Gravity
Slope Materials
Slope Steepness
Water Content
8.2  Types of Unstable Land
Slope Failures
What You Can Do: Tour an Earthflow
Complex Mass Movements
Regional Subsidence
Karst-Related Subsidence
Mining-Related Subsidence
8.3  Causes of Land Failure
El Niño
In the News: Landslide Weather
You Make the Call: What Would You Do with La Conchita?
Slope Steepening
People and Slope Failure
People and Subsidence
Subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley
Regional Subsidence and Cities
Groundwater Pumping and Sinkholes
Urbanization and Sinkholes
8.4  Living with Unstable Land
Living with Unstable Slopes
Assessing Slope Hazards
Acting on Hazard Information
What You Can Do: Investigate Unstable Slopes in Your Community
Engineering Stronger Slopes
What You Can Do: Monitor the U.S. Highway 50 Landslide
Living with Subsidence
Regional Subsidence
Karst-Related Subsidence
Mine-Related Subsidence

Chapter 9.   Changing Coasts

9.1  Coastal Basics
Measuring Waves
Waves in Deep Water
Waves in Shallow Water
Wave Refraction
Nearshore Currents
Longshore Drift
Rip Currents
What You Can Do: Keep Track of Tides
Sea Level Change
Global Sea Level Change
Local Sea Level Changes
9.2  Coastal Features
The Atlantic Coast
Florida’s Living Coast
The Gulf of Mexico Coast
The Pacific Coast
The Alaska Coast
A Closer Look at Beaches
Beach Anatomy
Beach Materials
Sediment Supply
The Beach in Action
9.3  Coastal Erosion and Sedimentation
Coastal Erosion
Beach Erosion
Sea Cliff Erosion
Coastal Sedimentation
Where Sediment Is Deposited
The Mississippi River Delta
In the News: Sustaining the Mississippi Delta
9.4  Coasts and Storms
Winter Storms
Coastal Storm Hazards
Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
You Make the Call: What Do We Do with New Orleans?
9.5  Living with Changing Coasts
Hard Stabilization
Seawalls, Bulkheads, and Revetments
Groins and Jetties
Soft Stabilization
Beach Nourishment
Saving Miami Beach
Dune Restoration
Managing Sediments
Sediment Contamination
Mitigating Coastal Storm Hazards
Coastal Zone Management
You Make the Call: Dealing with Falmouth’s Changing Coast

Chapter 10.   Water Resources
10.1  Water Resources
Surface-Water Resources
The Colorado River
In the News: Great Lakes Water Wars
Groundwater Resources
The High Plains Aquifer
You Make the Call: Who Wins in Las Vegas?
Surface and Groundwater Connections
Making Fresh Water—Desalination
10.2  How People Use Water
Water Use in the United States
Freshwater Use
Public Water Supplies
Electric Power Generation
        Other Water Uses
10.3  Water Withdrawal and the Environment
Groundwater Mining
Land Subsidence
Groundwater Pumping and Surface Water
Saltwater Intrusion
10.4  Water Quality and Pollution
Dr. John Snow and Water-Borne Disease
Natural Water Quality
Pure Rainwater?
Arsenic in Natural Water
Parasites in Natural Water
Pollution and Water Quality
Inorganic Contaminants
Human-Made Chemicals
Sources of Pollutants
Point Sources
Nonpoint Sources
Groundwater Pollution—A Special Problem
What You Can Do: Investigate Your Water Quality
10.5  Sustaining Water Resources
Water Treatment
Recycling Wastewater
Conservation—Using Less Water
Household Water Conservation
Community Water Conservation
Water-Saving Agriculture
Results of Water Conservation
Resource Management—Making Better Use of Water Resources
Groundwater Management
Comprehensive Water Management

Chapter 11.   Soil Resources

11.1  What Soil Resources Are
Soil Definitions
Soil Functions
Food and Fiber
Water Storage and Cleaning
Waste Recycling
Soil as Habitat
Earth Systems Interactions
11.2  How Soils Form
Soil-Forming Processes
The Soil Profile
Soil Variations
11.3  Soil Properties
Physical Properties
Compositional Properties
Biological Properties
Soil Quality
11.4  Soil Degradation and Loss
Soil Contamination
In the News: Pathogens in Your Produce
Biodiversity Depletion
Nutrient Depletion
You Make the Call: Is Ethanol a Sustainable Energy Resource?
Urbanization and Soil
11.5  Sustaining Soil Resources
Soil Conservation
What You Can Do: Use Your Local Soil Conservation District
Soil Remediation
Desalination of Soil
Soil Protection

Chapter 12.   Mineral Resources

12.1  What Mineral Resources Are
What You Can Do: Investigate Mineral Resource Economics
Making Mineral Deposits
The Shapes of Mineral Deposits
12.2  Finding, Mining, and Processing Mineral Resources
Finding Mineral Resources
In the News: Donlin Creek Gold Deposit
Mining Mineral Resources
Open-Pit mining
Underground Mining
The West’s Legacy—Abandoned Mine Lands
Processing Mineral Resources
Recovering Metals from Ore Concentrate
12.3  Environmental Concerns
Physical Disturbances
Surface Water Quality
Discharge of Acid Rock Drainage
Groundwater Quality
Soil Quality
Air Quality
Smelter Emissions
12.4  Mineral Resources in the Future
Future Mineral Resource Needs
Sustainability and Mineral Resource Use
You Make the Call: Where Should Mining Occur?

Chapter 13.   Energy Resources
13.1  Energy Basics

13.2  Oil, Natural Gas, and the Environment
Oil and Natural Gas Exploration
Seismic Surveys
Oil and Natural Gas Production
Physical Disturbances
Produced Water
Oil and Natural Gas Transportation
Marine Tanker Transport
Oil in the Sea and You
What You Can Do: Recycle Used Motor Oil
Oil Refining
Refining Safety
Refinery Disturbances
Refinery Wastes
Oil and Natural Gas Consumption
In the News: It Wasn’t Just Dust from China
Transportation fuels
Coal combustion
Greenhouse gases
13.3  Coal and the Environment
Coal Production
Coal Processing
Coal Combustion
Pollutant Emissions
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Coal’s Future
13.4  Nuclear Energy and the Environment
Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Reactor Safety
Radioactive Waste Disposal
You Make the Call: Where Do We Put Nuclear Waste?
13.5  Renewable Energy and the Environment   
 Geothermal Energy
What You Can Do: Use a Geothermal Heat Pump
    Wind Power
    Solar Power
13.6  The Energy Challenges Ahead
The Cost of Oil
Energy Transitions
Oil Sands and Oil Shales
In the News: Mining Oil
A Natural Gas Age?
A Hydrogen Age?
An Energy Wild Card?
The Significance of Emissions
What You Can Do: Save Energy

Chapter 14.   Atmosphere Resources and Climate Change

14.1  What Atmosphere Resources Are
Compositional Characteristics
Physical Characteristics
What You Can Do: Monitor the Weather
14.2  Air Pollution
Volatile Organic Compounds
In the News: Why Do We Like “New Car Smell”?
Nitrogen Oxides
Sulfur Dioxide
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Acid Rain
What You Can Do: Investigate Acid Rain Damage in Washington, DC
Air Pollution and the Ozone Layer
14.3  The Atmosphere and Climate Change
Atmosphere Composition and Climate; Greenhouse Gases
Solar Radiation and Climate
Axis Tilt
Orbital Eccentricity
Earth’s Precession
Milankovitch Cycles
Tectonic Processes and Climate
Continent Size and Distribution
Mountain Ranges
14.4  History of Climate Change
Paleoclimatology—Studying Past Climates
Sedimentary Records
Oxygen Isotopes
Atmosphere Samples in Ice Cores
Sea Level History
Precambrian Atmosphere Composition and Climate
Phanerozoic Atmosphere and Climates
What You Can Do: Investigate Plate Tectonics and Climate Change
The Last Few Million Years
14.5  People and Climate Change
People and Greenhouse Gases
Assessing Climate Change
Climate Models
The IPCC 2007 Assessment
A Closer Look—Climate Change and Sea Level
IPCC Story Lines and Scenarios
Popular Portrayals of Sea Level Rise Due to Global Warming
The IPCC Projections
Sea Level Change after 2100
Rapid Climate Change—Another Wild Card
14.6  Dealing with Climate Change
The Kyoto Protocol
Carbon Sequestration: A Key Technology
What You Can Do: Calculate Your Contribution to Greenhouse Gases
Controlling Climate
You Make the Call: What’s the Optimum Global Climate for Earth?

Chapter 15.   Managing People’s Environmental Impact

15.1  Environmental Policy
What You Can Do: Investigate Corporate Environmental Policy
National Environmental Policy
National Environmental Policy Act
In the News: The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline
Clean Water Act
Clean Air Act
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
What You Can Do: Investigate Superfund Sites Near You
Land-Use Designations
State Environmental Policies
Special Interest Group Policies
Public Awareness and Environmental Policy
15.2  Environmental Regulation
Environmental Standards
Air Quality Standards
Water Quality Standards
Soil Quality Standards
15.3  Third-Party Litigation
In the News: Protecting the Spotted Owl
15.4  Economics and Environmental Management
Business Opportunities
In Situ Uranium Leaching
Recycling Consumer Electronics
Landfill Energy
Economic Influences on People’s Choices
You Make the Call: Raise Gasoline Prices?
Using Markets to Achieve Environmental Objectives
Funding Incentives
15.5  Decision Making
The Stillwater Mine Example
Our System’s Strengths


Living with Earth: An Introduction to Environmental Geology

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