Intro to Environmental Geology

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Department
Geological Sciences
Course
GEOL 2390
Professor
William M.Last
Semester
Fall

Description
Introduction to Environmental Geology terminological inexactitude of "environmental geology" basic consensus • application of earth sciences to overall benefit of humans and biosphere; integrated application of many branches of earth science OR • coordinated physical/chemical/geological study… During the term • pragmatic viewpoint: ◦ corrective earth science(treating problems after human activity has creat- ed them) • versus ◦ preventative earth sciences (anticipation of problems) MUCH EG TODAY 1. statement/id of problem 2. proposed solution geoscience excellent for purpose: basically an historic science and predictive science HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY • old as awareness of physical world --- primitives much better EG than we are! • Romans: extensive sewers, aqueducts, control structures: basic geoengineering ef- forts why would you do more (much more) research on bedrock geology instead of surface geology? • the only reason this was done was oil! • 25% compared to 90%!!! Mission of EG • develop information about earth for public purposes ◦ must be systematic ◦ focus on some problem(s)…. society slow to accept earth science/geologic conservation some reasons: 1. man is superior attitude - we are meant to exploit 2. nature is self healing - nature will renew 3. nature is cyclic - inevitability of trends 4. we live in the present - now generation 5. limitless resources - land resources plentiful and even if we do exhaust - always can find new sources OR science is soooo intelligent it will get us out of any problem several often-referred to fundamental concepts 1. closed system - everything effects everything else 2. earth (currently) only habitat and resources 3. uniformitarianism rules! - rates can change 4. always has been/will be natural hazards - risk to human population is increasing - we are also moving into more hazardous areas 5. planning - both $ and aesthetics 6. cumulative effects - threshold concepts 7. geologic factor - THE most important component 8. complexity - normal in natural systems 9. feedback Great Plains Groundwater Usage • large volume, cheap resource ◦ overpumping ◦ lowered water table ◦ collapse, subsidence ◦ deeper drilling required ◦ increased cost of pumping ◦ increased energy cost ◦ deeper water is of lesser quality and more saline ◦ salinization of soil ◦ crops and agriculture/ranching effected BACTERIA STUDY exponential growth in finite environment • growth by division 1 =>2, 2 =>4 • assume division time = 1 minute • 1 bacterium in bottle at 11 pm • bottle is full at 12 noon ◦ But at 11:58 --> massive effort to find more resource ◦ 11:59: discover 3 new empty bottles ◦ 3x original resources ◦ How much longer will this extend their time?! ◦ 2 minutes Summary Pop Growth • 9 billion by 2050 • slow growth until mid 19t
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