Chapter 1: Introduction to Physical Geology and the Environment
•Geology: means the “the study of the earth.” Came into being in the
late eighteenth century. Geologists are those who investigated planet
earth and ways of exploiting the growing demand for minerals.
•William Smith published first detailed geological map in 1815. He was
called the father of English geology.
•In North America geological mapping began in the mid-nineteenth
century-driven by the need to locate resources for the expanding
•William Logan was the first to systematically describe the geology of
•Use to believe that the earth was 6000 years old, but the earth is
actually 4500 billion years old. And within that time there have been
dramatic changes in the physical geography of the planet.
•The German meteorologist Alfred Wegner, who wrote in 1912 of
continental drift, suggested movement of continents in the twentieth
oContinents use to be apart of a large land mass called the
Pangaea but were moved apart.
oHe could evidence to support his idea but couldn’t explain so he
theory was not accepted.
oGathering of geological data demonstrated to geoscientists that
continents do move and led to the plate tectonics theory.
oJ. Tuzo Wilson in the early 1970’s was responsible for bringing
together elements of what we call the plate tectonics theory.
•Geology involves greater amounts of time called deep time.
•Complex forms of animal life have existed for about the past 545
million years. Humans have only been here for the past 3 million years.
Refer to page 5 of how long each species have been on earth.
•“Nothing hurries geology” mark twain wrote in life on the Mississippi.
•Older geologists spent there time in the field looking (prospecting) for
signs of minerals.
•Exploration geologists: work for exploration companies looking for gold
•The expanding responsibility of the geologist in addition to the
scientific field are now correctly referred to as geoscientists.
oGeochemists: work in the laboratory and use high technology
equipment to analyze the chemistry of rocks or minerals.
oMineralogists or petrologists who study the make-up of rocks
and how they form.
oGeophysicists: use high tech equipment to learn about the
nature of the physical conditions on or under the earth’s surface.
oPetroleum geologists: search for oil and gas.
oSeismologists study how to measure and mitigate earthquake
oPaleontologist studies fossilized remains of ancient organisms.
oGlacial geologists: study the landforms and sediments left
behind when ice sheets covered parts of North America.
oHydro-geologists: study and protect water.
•Environmental geoscientist deals with managing of drinking water and
dealing with wastes ranging from radioactive waste to household