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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
42
votes
6answers
98k views

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 ...
40
votes
2answers
6k views

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 ...
37
votes
5answers
18k views

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?
37
votes
4answers
907 views

Why do the Siberian methane craters have smooth vertical walls?

I expect most of you have heard of this by now. All the news is about whether or not they were formed by the release of methane, but it is also mysterious to me why this crater has jagged edges but ...
36
votes
3answers
7k views

Does gravity increase the closer to the core you get?

Or does the mantle and crust above you counteract the increase at one point and it actually decreases?
33
votes
3answers
14k views

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 ...
33
votes
5answers
6k views

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 ...
32
votes
3answers
10k views

Is it true that earthquakes are not felt in a cave?

I took a tour of a cave in northern California last weekend. The tour guide asked us, "If an earthquake occurred, what would we feel in here?" My answer was, "fear," but she said we would feel ...
26
votes
2answers
8k views

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 ...
26
votes
4answers
6k views

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 ...
25
votes
3answers
35k views

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 ...
25
votes
1answer
9k views

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....
24
votes
2answers
4k views

Natural nuclear explosions

I'm aware of the Oklo reactor and other natural nuclear fission reactors, in which geological processes can lead to the formation of a sustained, self-regulating uranium fission reactor. Is it also ...
23
votes
2answers
16k views

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 ...
22
votes
3answers
22k views

Where can obsidian be found?

Where is obsidian found? Is it typically found on the surface or underground? If underground, how far under (meters or feet would be perfect)? Also, is it found everywhere on Earth, or just in areas ...
22
votes
6answers
111k views

Is there a difference between rock and stone?

I couldn't find the definitions from either source: Geology Dictionary Glossary of Geologic Terms
21
votes
3answers
409 views

Is fracking likely to produce earthquakes?

Post Christchurch-2011 earthquake, there was much concern that fracking in the surrounding areas might lead to further quakes, as was rumoured to have happened elsewhere in the world. Is there ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
20
votes
1answer
64k views

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 ...
20
votes
1answer
504 views

Is there geological evidence that the moon once collided with the Earth?

I've seen models in astronomy that show how the Earth-Moon system must have come together after a collision. However, I have not heard whether there is any actual physical evidence on Earth that ...
20
votes
1answer
674 views

What is the origin of the Montmartre mountain in Paris?

I have always wondered what is the origin of Montmartre mountain in Paris. What surprises me is that the whole area seems quite flat, and yet there's a very steep hill in the middle. How has that ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

What causes intra-plate faults, such as the New Madrid fault?

There's been news (some recently) about the New Madrid fault and other active intra-plate faults. For those living in the midwest of the United States, it's been a bit of a shock to learn they have ...
19
votes
4answers
16k views

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 ...
19
votes
2answers
839 views

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 ...
19
votes
2answers
5k views

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 ...
19
votes
2answers
44k views

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?
19
votes
2answers
407 views

To what accuracy and precision do we know the volume of the Earth?

Satellites such as GOCE and GRACE measure the geoid with unprecedented accuracy. Altimeters can determine local surface elevation with millimetre-precision. This makes me wonder: to what precision ...
19
votes
1answer
356 views

What are the physical upper bounds on the magnitude of an earthquake?

Given what we know about the physical mechanisms underlying earthquakes, what do the theoretical upper bounds on the magnitude of an earthquake look like? What physical phenomena impose those upper ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
18
votes
3answers
14k views

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....
18
votes
1answer
48k views

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?
18
votes
2answers
802 views

Why are minerals found in “large” quantities and not scattered throughout the earth as individual atoms?

Heavier elements are created in stars. After stars die they scatter these heavier elements throughout the universe. These elements eventually gather to form planets. But why do we find "chunks" of ...
18
votes
3answers
16k views

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 ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

How did Earth's plate tectonics start?

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 ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

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)...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does sea level correspond to boundary between oceanic and continental crust?

Is it a coincidence? the first is determined by the amount of water on the Earth and the second comes from evolution of tectonic plates. Still, oceans seem to fill exactly the oceanic crust.
17
votes
1answer
18k views

What are the differences between geology, petrology, and lithology?

What differences are there between geology, petrology, and lithology? If I were to get into any of those fields, what exactly would I be studying? Also, are petrology and lithology just branches of ...
17
votes
2answers
14k views

What determines a mineral's hardness?

Mohs Hardness Scale is basically a measurement of the hardness of a material, or more specific, a rock or mineral. But I have never been able to figure out why some minerals are harder than others.
17
votes
3answers
9k views

Is there a reason most mountain ranges seem to run parallel to coastlines?

Eyeballing a map of the world, it seems that most mountain ranges that don't occur along continental fault lines run parallel to coastlines. Is there a reason for this?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does a subduction zone produce a serpentinization diapir rather than volcanism?

The classic Troodos Ophiolite in Cyprus has been uplifted by a 'serpentinization event'. Upper mantle (peridotite) has been serpentinized creating a buoyant diapir. This has uplifted the ocean crust ...
16
votes
2answers
56k views

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 ...
16
votes
2answers
344 views

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 ...
16
votes
2answers
359 views

Why did people draw so many continuous squares in the sand on the beach at Cape Juby?

At Cape Juby, Morocco, we can see with Google Maps a rectangle of 3 km long, in which there is hundreds of little squares. What method was used to draw these squares on the sand? More importantly, why ...
16
votes
1answer
330 views

Is Iceland an example of a hot-spot overlying a mantle plume?

Iceland has been cited as the location of a hot-spot overlying a mantle plume (similar to that of the Hawaii chain in the Pacific), though for some time this model has been challenged (see Gillian ...
15
votes
1answer
4k views

How old is the Earth?

According to most articles I've read online, the estimated age of Earth is 4.5 billion years. Question: How old is the Earth? So I actually want to confirm that this is the case. Maybe there are ...
15
votes
1answer
242 views

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 ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there any evidence for higher air pressures in the geological past?

I was curious about how the Earth's overall air pressure has varied over time, and tried to take a look around the internet. However, Google pops up a lot of sites with questionable science proposing ...
15
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
27k views

How do geologists find ore deposits?

From my research, there is lots of information on how to extract ore, but I can't find any information on how these ore deposits are found in the first place, apart from 'looking for surface ...

1
2 3 4 5
13