Chapter 1: Introduction to Physical Geology and the Environment
What is Geology?
•Geology: the study of the Earth.
•William Smith: father of English geology.
•William Logan: first to systematically describe the geology of Canada.
•Alfred Wegener: wrote about continental drift; the movement of continents on the Earth’s
oPangea: today’s continents had previously been clustered together in a large land
mass but had subsequently moved apart.
oNorthern Pangea: Laurasia
oSouthern Pangea: Gondwana
•Tuzo Wilson: developed plate tectonics theory.
•Mid-Oceanic Ridge: a giant mountain range that lies under the ocean.
•The Earth is estimated to be at least 4.55 billion years old.
•Exploration Geologists: work for an exploration company looking for gold, silver and
•Geoscientists: can specialize in a number of areas within the discipline like geochemists
(work in laboratories), mineralogists (study minerals), petrologists (study rocks),
seismologists (study earthquakes), paleontologist (study fossilized remains) and
geophysicists (study the nature of physical conditions on or under the Earth’s surface).
•Environmental geoscientists deal with environmental problems like managing drinking
water and dealing with radioactive wastes.
•Engineering geologists are concerned with providing information about the substrates on
which buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure are to be built.
•Geomaticians create digital maps and 3D geological models for resource exploration and
environmental and engineering applications; they collect, organize and analyze the
geographic data in digital form.
What is the Scientific Method?
•Identify a Problem
•Select a Methodology: to collect data in order to help solve problem.
•Analyze and Interpret the Information: can use maps or computer graphics to come up with a
•Hypothesis: a theoretical explanation (may use multiple hypotheses).
•Testing: incorrect hypotheses can be discarded.
•Theory: a hypothesis that passes through repeated testing.
How Did the Earth Form?
•The universe was formed by the clumping together of gas and debris in the aftermath of the
Big Bang that is thought to have occurred 15 billion years ago.
•Milky Way: a galaxy in the universe that contains our own solar system and planet Earth.