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Questions tagged [geology]

The science comprising the study of the rocks Earth is composed of, and the processes by which they change. Some subfields of geology are petrology, mineralogy, and geophysics.

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What are the high field strength and large ion lithophile (HFS or HFSE & LIL or LILE) elements?

There are two groups of elements that are frequently mentioned when discussing incompatible trace elements. They are the high field strength elements (HFS or HFSE) and the large ion lithophile ...
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What are the causes of the supercontinent cycle?

Throughout geologic history, Earth's continents have broken apart and come together to form supercontinents multiple times, in a somewhat regular period, known as the supercontinent cycle. The length ...
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In what geological situations can I find gold?

I've heard that gold ore is often associated with quartz veins. What geological processes enable gold particles to naturally cluster together like this? What characteristics/properties should I look ...
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Why is Earth's age given by dating meteorites rather than its own rocks?

Reading a course on Precambrian, I read that: Earth Age (around 4.5 billion years) is dated thanks to the meteorites hitting Earth during its formation rather than the inner materials composing the ...
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What do continents “lay” on?

It's a simple question.. What do continents "lay" on? Do they float on water? or are they huge bodies that "emerge" from the sea floor/bed? are they connected to the bottom of the oceans? Hope the ...
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Are Richter-magnitude 10 earthquakes possible?

The largest earthquake since 1900 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) was Richter-9.5 magnitude quake in Chile in 1960. Are magnitude 10 earthquakes possible? If so, what is the ...
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Farthest point from the center of the Earth

At first glance, this seems like such a simple question of "What's the highest point on Earth". However, I also know that the Earth isn't perfectly round. So that "highest point" may be in a ...
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If the Earth were a smooth spheroid, how deep would the ocean be?

At the moment there are deep seas and high mountains. But imagine that the land elevation of the Earth is equal everywhere. How deep would the ocean be in that case?
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Why is relative sea-level falling in Hudson Bay?

Why is the sea level in Hudson Bay decreasing so much? Hudson Bay is pretty far up north, much closer to glaciers. Would it make sense for it to recede at this level with sources of fresh water ...
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How long until Earth's core solidifies?

How much longer does Earth have until the core turns solid? Does global warming change these estimates at all?
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What are rare earths and why do they cluster near alkaline magmatism?

'Rare earths' play a vital role in the modern economy, and they are becoming more of a point of focus in geopolitical realms. What are 'rare earths' and why do they appear to cluster in association ...
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What is the difference between eluvium and alluvium?

I was reading about kimberlite on Wikipedia and it mentioned eluvium. I've heard of alluvium, alluvial fans, alluvial deposits, etc. However, when I looked up eluvium, it sounded exactly like alluvium....
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What caused the bend in the Emperor/Hawaii chain of islands, 45 million years ago?

What caused the bend in the Emperor/Hawaii chain of islands, 45 million years ago? Has there been any updates to this mystery I am unaware of? Are there any new theories that could potentially ...
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Are the processes of the rock cycle currently in dynamic equilibrium?

The standard representation of the rock cycle usually looks like this: Does each stage of the rock cycle currently balance? That is, are the various processes in dynamic equilibrium, so that the ...
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How could this pyramidal Mountain have been formed?

How could this pyramidal peak have been formed in Antarctica? Little is known about it as far as I know but what is known is that its miles away from any existing plate boundary and its shape is also ...
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How is the mass of the Earth determined?

According to textbook knowledge, the mass of the Earth is about $6 × 10^{24}\,\mathrm{kg}$. How is this number determined when one cannot just weight the Earth using regular scales?
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Why do crystals, like quartz and diamonds, form in different colors?

Some crystals, like quartz and diamonds, form in a variety of different colors. For example, quartz can be clear, 'foggy', pink, yellow, and even blue. What happens during the crystal's formation to ...
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What is the origin of the ocean's salt?

We know we cannot live without salt, but an investigation into the origins of ocean's salt leads one to believe that this issue is not fully resolved yet. What geological phenomenon caused the earth ...
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What was the first rock in the rock cycle?

I am an undergraduate student but I am a tutor at a High School, and one student asked me. Attempting to explain the rock cycle "if one rock turns into the other then which came first" my gut is ...
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How do seismologists locate the epicenter and focus of an earthquake?

I know the focus of an earthquake is where the earthquake originated from, but what I could never figure out is, how to scientists find out where exactly the focus (and epicenter) are located?
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How did tectonic plates originally come to form?

Plate tectonics is a theory which describes Earth's lithosphere as being composed of distinct plates which are able to move atop of the underlying asthenosphere. At plate boundaries, this movement ...
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Are coral cays and coral atolls just volcanic islands?

Are coral cays and coral atolls just a different type of volcanic island? When I hear: "volcanic island" I think at places like Moorea or Hawaii, but ultimately, coral cays and coral atolls lay their ...
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How does one measure what causes earthquakes?

I know that they occur when energy that was previously stored is released in seismic waves. But how is the energy stored in the earth in the first place, and what can trigger the release of such ...
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Which are the biggest methodological differences between the archaeological and geological approaches to stratigraphy?

Stratigraphy, or study of rock or soil layers (strata), was originally introduced as a branch of geology. However, it is often applied in other disciplines, especially in archaeology and paleonthology....
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How do I derive the formula for lithostatic (overburden) pressure?

The title pretty much says it. I have the formula: $P = \rho g h$ where $\rho$ is the density, $h$ is how deep the pressure is in the Earth and $g$ is the gravitational acceleration(?). I don't get ...
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What is the current status of geophysical global cooling theory?

Plate tectonics effectively rubbished the theory of geophysical global cooling as a means of explaining many surface features on the Earth. However, this wiki says that the same process is responsible ...
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In an Earth-like planet with no history of carbon-based life forms, would there be limestone?

The extent of my understanding of limestone is about what Wikipedia says at the very top of the page: Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed mainly of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such ...
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What was the likely composition of Earth's early crust (how did crustal composition evolve)?

Was the first crust entirely mafic (oceanic) crust which was later distilled via volcanic arcs along subduction zones to make felsic rocks or did the earth start with bits of felsic crust? Are the ...
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How and why did the oceans form on Earth but not on other planets?

Earth is the only planet in our solar system that has copious amounts of water on it. Where did this water come from and why is there so much water on Earth compared to every other planet in the ...
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Why is Earth's inner core made of an iron-nickel alloy?

This question has puzzled me for a while. I know that earth's mantle is made of different minerals, metals and rocks etc. and that has always made complete sense to me. But why is the inner core made ...
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Is there a difference between rock and stone?

I couldn't find the definitions from either source: Geology Dictionary Glossary of Geologic Terms
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How much of a mountain is below the surface?

Is there some kind of math rule for how much does a mountain extend (depth) below the surface? I found an article like this http://www.livescience.com/6595-depth-himalayan-mountain-roots-revealed....
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Why are oceanic plates denser than continental plates?

In the theory of tectonic plates, at a convergent boundary between a continental plate and an oceanic plate, the denser plate usually subducts underneath the less dense plate. It is well known that ...
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How do I prepare for the International Earth Science Olympiad?

Recently I have been selected for the National Camp of INTERNATIONAL EARTH SCIENCE OLYMPIAD of my country. How do I prepare for it? Resources, books, etc. I know there are 4 parts- geology, ...
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What are these metallic nodules that were found at low tide on the UK south coast?

Smooth spherical crystalline metal nodules Outside and inside surface does not scratch with a knife blade Inside lustre brassy, radially striated metallic crystals radiating from a lumpy centre at the ...
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When can taste be used to help identify rocks?

Taste can be used to distinguish halite (ordinary salt) from sylvite (which has some bitterness) and siltstone from mudstone (the latter has a creamy texture while the grains of the former can be felt)...
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How much fossil fuel came from the Carboniferous?

It is said that most of the fossil fuels in existence today (coal, oil, gas) came from the Carboniferous period. A unique set of circumstances lead to the creation of fossil fuels, which depends on ...
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Why is continental crust less dense than oceanic?

Why is it that continental crust is less dense than oceanic, where in fact continental crust is thicker than oceanic crust?
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Determining a rock age using volcanic ash layer

I wanted to know if volcanic ash deposits found in the geologic record are most useful in correlating the age of rock layers if the volcanic ash was distributed over a large area during a short period ...
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Newton's estimate of the age of the Earth

I was reading many articles about estimates of the age of the Earth throughout the ages. I was dumbfounded when I read that Newton, arguably one of the greatest scientists ever to have ‘calculated’ ...
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Himalayas are currently rising. What will be the highest point they can reach?

Himalayas are currently rising about 5 mm/year. What will be the highest point they can reach?
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Is there sand in Antarctica?

There's a song "Blizzard's Never Seen the Desert's Sand". Given Antarctica is a desert, someone questioned the title's validity. BUT is there sand in Antarctica? I'd imagine yes as it's a pretty ...
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Is the magma in one volcano different from the magma in every other volcano?

First off, a confession: I'm asking this question because of The Lord of the Rings. If you're not aware already, in the story, a magical ring can only be destroyed in a specific volcano. The reason ...
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Did the impact event that caused the Chicxulub-Crater definitively and single-handedly cause the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction?

Opinions abound on the web. What is the state of the current science regarding this theory and what is the best evidence? Is the theory gaining or losing traction? If it's losing what's the best of ...
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Are there situations where the groundwater table doesn't follow the morphology of the surface?

In most or all geological site reports I read, the groundwater table (of the uppermost groundwater layer) always followed the morphology of the surface. Is this always the case? Are there signs for ...
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Is there any correlation between La Niña/El Niño and seismic activity?

I've read in the past that extreme precipitation levels may have an effect on seismic activity, and wondered if anyone has ever analysed the La Niña / El Niño cycles to see if there are any ...
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What do the derivative or the integral of amplitude of a seismogram mean?

I'm doing a project in which I'm analyzing earthquake seismogram waves. I used a program to graph the exact amplitudes and how they changed over the course of a single earthquake. For the project I ...
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What is the reasoning behind the statement “Faulting will occur along the plane where the shear stress is the highest”?

In "An Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes and Earth Structure", authors Seth Stein and Michael Wysession made the statement: "Faulting will occur along the plane where the shear stress is the ...
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Did an impact crater influence the formation of uranium deposits in South Australia?

As a supplementary question Did an impact crater cause the formation of the gas fields in north eastern South Australia . South Australia is a well documented uranium province. Could an impact crater, ...
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How old are Chile's fjords?

Do we have any knowledge about the age of Chile's fjords, more specifically, those found near the Northern Patagonian Ice Field? Is it reasonable to conclude that they were formed in Quaternary given ...