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Geology 101, Weeks 1 & 2 Lecture Notes

by: Sarah Vernier-Dolin

Geology 101, Weeks 1 & 2 Lecture Notes GEOL 101

Marketplace > Western Washington University > Geology > GEOL 101 > Geology 101 Weeks 1 2 Lecture Notes
Sarah Vernier-Dolin
Western Washington University
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About this Document

These detailed notes cover what was discussed in class every day the first week and a half of the quarter.
Introduction to Geology
Paul A. Thomas
Class Notes
Geology, Plate Tectonics, Earthsystems, lithosphere, Asthenosphere, plate boundaries




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Vernier-Dolin on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to GEOL 101 at Western Washington University taught by Paul A. Thomas in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 81 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Geology in Geology at Western Washington University.

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Date Created: 10/03/16
GEOL101– Weeks1&2LectureNotes(9/21–9/23) The Earth System  Geological processes are powered by: o Solar energy (external source) o Radioactive decay (internal source)  Certain elements decay releasing energy & heat in the Earth’s core moving out to the Earth’s crust o Gravity – drives material down Humans & Geology  The great number of people on Earth has a huge effect on Earth & its processes o they’re natural processes/phenomena  these processes (mudslides, earthquakes, etc.) only become hazardous when people are living there to be affected by it Geologic Time – Earth ~4.5 Ga (Giga Annum = billions of years)  1000 years seems like a long time, but really it’s a small fraction in the whole scheme of things; even a million years is a small fraction The Earth’s Interior  Crust o Rigid, brittle, varies in thickness (5-70 km), it’s thinnest in the ocean & thickest in mountain ranges  Mantle o Solid, topmost layer also a bit brittle, but it’s made up with a different composition than the crust (which is how we differentiate between the crust & mantle). But overall the mantle behaves like plastic o we find out the compositions of the layers of Earth by sending signals down, there’s no direct contact  Outer Core o Believed to be liquid because signals disappear, & that would be because they cannot move through liquid  Inner Core o Solid metal core. It’s solidbecause there is so much pressure to maintain that solidity. Less pressure  melting Lithosphere & Asthenosphere  Lithosphere is made up of the crust & uppermost mantle o It’s brittle & strong  Asthenosphere is made up of the uppermost part of the mantle o It’s deformable (plastic) & weak  Lithosphere moves independently over the top of the asthenosphere o The lithosphere is what is broken up into plates Continental vs. Oceanic Lithosphere Continental Oceanic Thick Thin Old Young (back to 4 billion) (back to 2 million years; constantly being recycled) Light Dense Many rock types Basalt Plate Tectonics  Plates make up the lithosphere  Where the plates interact along the edges is wheregeological processes happen  Plates all move independently of each other  Plates to be aware of: o Pacific Plate  Almost strictly an ocean plate; it’s moving very quickly o North American Plate  Where we live; it’s continental & oceanic o Juan de Fuca Plate o Nazca & Cocos Plates Plate Boundaries & Earthquakes  99% of seismic energy is released at plate boundaries  Volcanoes also occur mostly at plate boundaries Theory of Plate Tectonics  Three types of plate boundaries o Divergent (away) o Convergent (towards & under) o Transform (side to side)  Ocean plates are the ones to dive underneath the less dense plates 2 Continental Drift  200 million years ago (early Jurassic period) Pangea existed o All the continents were one big continent that fit together like a big jigsaw puzzle o Rocks on South America & Africa matched & also had similar fossils that matched o The continents moved due to divergent plate boundary Mid-Ocean Ridges  They’re an underwater mountain ranger, shallower along crest  Sites of divergent plate boundary  “Seafloor spreading”  As the plates/seafloor spread, material comes up from below, & the mantle expands & melts. Because the seafloor spreads to release pressure, magma rises & solidifies to create new ocean floor  making the middle higher. (Magma rises through fractures)  Magma is made of basalt or creates basalt  As time goes on it spreads away  the oldest rock/seafloor is on the outer edges  New ocean floor is constantly being created and old ocean floor is constantly being destroyed  New ocean floor is created at divergent boundaries  There are four main ridge systems: Southwest Indian Ridge, Southeast Indian Ridge, East Pacific Ridge, Mid-Atlantic Ridge  Iceland is on top of a Mid-Ocean Ridge o There’s a lot of geothermal activity, volcanoes under glaciers leads to bad flood problems  The mantle is extremely basaltic Continental Rifting 1. Initial uplift comes from the rising mantle 2. Collapses downwards & stretching & faulting form rift (ex. East African Rift) 3. It can lead to seafloor spreading & a new ocean basin (ex. Red Sea) 4. The ocean widens with spreading (modern Atlantic) Convergent Boundaries (There are 3 types) Oceanic-Continental Boundary  Oceanic plate subducts (dives under) beneath the continental plate  Why? – because the ocean plates are think & dense  Then the older ocean floor is destroyed at convergent boundaries (after subducted)  The oceanic plate bends down, creating an oceanic trench right along the plate boundary  Water is driven from the subducting plate & interacts with the magma (mantle) below, melting it. The magma then rises to the surface & most of it solidifies within the crust. Sometimes it erupts in a volcanic eruption  linear chain volcanic arc “continental volcanic arc”  The denser the plate, the steeper it subducts. The older it is, the colder & denser it becomes, effecting steepness. 3 Oceanic-OceanicBoundary  One plate, the older one, subducts below the other  This results in a trench & island arc (with a curved path, usually)  The process is similar to Oceanic-Continental boundary’s process Continental-Continental Boundary  First, occurs the subduction of the oceanic part of the plate  Subduction brings the continents closer. When theyfinally hit subduction stops; you can’t shove one continent under another continent  This is how you get faults, mountains, etc.  Continental collision = wide zone of deformation  It basically shortens the crust horizontally & thickens it vertically  Volcanism stops Tectonics of Western Unites States  Juan de Fuca plate stretches from southern BC to northern CA, to the tip of the San Andreas Fault  Cascadia Subduction Zone 4


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