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 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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How are the patterns in solid rock born

I took this photo on my vacation in Finland showing white stripes in the rock going different ways. How are these patterns born?
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In what sense did the Oklo reactor “trap” its own nuclear waste?

A number of popular writings on the natural fission reactor at Oklo, Gabon (e.g. here) state that some of the energetic byproducts (krypton and xenon, presumably 85Kr and 133Xe) of the reactor were "...
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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 ...
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Can ultrasounds be used to map the density of large underground regions?

This question arose from a related one at Physics.SE, along with my own personal quest to better understand mineralogical prospecting. I want to know if some kind of ultrasound machine can determine ...
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Why is the temperature between the earth core and surface not distributed linearly?

So I read somewhere that the inner core temperature of Earth might be as high as 7000 °C. Depending on the composition of the different layers towards the surface, the temperature should decline ...
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What is a good definition of the word “rock” for teaching?

Note that it needs to include coal and chert, therefore the common answer "a rock is made of minerals" is incomplete.
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Would oceans regenerate if removed?

On Earth, there is enough Hydrogen and Oxygen to make 13,88 million km$^3$ of water (calculation below). However, oceans contain only a tenth of that. Clearly, most of the hydrogen must be stored in ...
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How and where do double-terminated crystals form?

How and where do double-terminated crystals form? Most terminated crystals form by 'growing' out of a rock. Which causes one side to be flat,(or whatever the shape of the rock it 'grew' out of was ...
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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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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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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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Width of strata in stratigraphic column

I am trying to understand whether there is one "standard" meaning of the width of represented strata in stratigraphic columns, but I can find nothing online or in my geology books. I notice that, ...
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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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What's it like inside a natural gas cavern on Earth?

I suppose natural gas underground caverns on Earth have substantial volume and gas is in gaseous form there. As such I wonder how it would look like inside such cavern (with artificial light of ...
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How to interpret the use of late and early Tertiary from older literature?

When reading older papers how should I interpret the use of "Late Tertiary" and "Early Tertiary"? Would these periods equate to Paleogene and Neogene, or was there a different accepted boundary age ...
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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 lithologies are deemed most suitable for the storage of nuclear waste

I have visited storage- and test facilities that are within salt and clay (Opalinuston) lithologies. What are other lithologies that are considered for the storage of nuclear waste and what are their ...
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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 ...
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viable geothermal energy supply from exhausted fracked gas wells?

The UK legislator with primary responsibility for energy has claimed that exhausted fracked natural-gas wells will be suitable for re-use as a geothermal energy supply (not necessarily geothermal for ...
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How is abundance of elements in the Earth's crust estimated?

In an quiz app I surprisingly learned that aluminium has a larger abundance then iron. When researching this on Wikipedia, I found this article, which also had the comment: Note that numbers are ...
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What is this “hole” that blows sand into the air?

This video clip, "Strange Hole in the desert Blows Sand into the air in Saudi Arabia" (alternative link), shows a hole in the desert that erupts like a geyser, except with sand instead of water. It is ...
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Is Mount Everest currently becoming taller or shorter every year?

Is Mount Everest becoming taller or shorter every year? By how much? I would like an explanation in terms of tectonic plate movement if possible. Source: IamKatieHoffman.com
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What sort of rock is the large polished boulder?

This large polished boulder sits outside one entrance the University College Hospital in London: Here is a close up: What sort of rock is it and how would it have formed?
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How to determine how long ago a rock was broken?

I know that there are techniques that help scientists determine the age of a rock. But is it also possible to determine how long ago a rock was broken? For example, how could we date the formation of ...
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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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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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Earth's ocean basins

Was Earth's sea-floor always carved with the numerous geological features that we see today, or was it at some point flat and boring as Mars is today?
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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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Zeolites, odor control, and the witchcraft of sunlight

Various companies offer "volcanic crystals" or "volcanic rock" available in small mesh bags for odor control. The best description I have found is that these are made up largely of Zeolites. All of ...
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How did CO₂ originate on Earth before there was life?

To start life there has to be $\ce{CO2}$. $\ce{Solar energy + 6CO2 + 6H2O -> C6H12O6 (sugars) + 6O2}$ $C_6H_{12}O_{6} + O_2 \longrightarrow H_2O + {CO}_2 + \text{Energy}$ So to start this cycle, ...
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Can rocks have pressure signatures?

Since rocks can have magnetic signatures, as is the case with paleomagnetism, can they store past pressures also? For example, when researchers are trying to determine past ocean levels, they ...
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How can I tell if a rock is really petrified wood?

I found a rock in the Mojave desert and it resembles a tree branch including what appears to be wood grain. Is there some test or observation that can be done at home to conclusively answer my ...
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How high can a mountain possibly get?

Mount Everest is 8,848 metres (29,028 feet) above sea level and is the result of a continental plate smashing into another continental plate. Can a tectonic process build a mountain that's even higher?...
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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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What causes “hydrocarbons” to take the form of petroleum versus natural gas?

"Hydrocarbons" are found in geological formations consisting of strata or layers of rocks. Specifically, they are formed from decomposed organic material (that contains carbon), that bonds with ...
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How can scientists be confident of isotope ratios in past eras and varied locations, used for radiometric dating?

Radiometric dating relies on past isotope ratio predictions being very reliable. However, this is not necessarily so. For example, in Uranium forensics, 235U and 238U ratios are about the same for ...
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Why would a suite of related rocks have one anomalous sample?

I have a suite of rocks that have nearly identical major element chemistry, but a single sample has quite different trace element concentrations. All the rocks are trachydacites. I know the analysis ...
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Mechanism for Pluto's young surface

According to recent reports (e.g. in Nature), Pluto is geologically active. It has some mechanism by which it has "recycled" its surface. I originally thought we had a similar case to Jupiter's moon ...
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Which theory is stronger, that iron came from outside or was formed within earth?

Where is the current body of science learning towards, that iron came from meteor or it was somehow formed on earth?
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What is the difference between a geologist and a geophysicist?

What are the main differences between geologists and geophysicists?
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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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Undersea riverbeds?

On a meandering bit of research through Wikipedia, I was looking at the Google Maps location of Texas Tower 4. South-east of that location there is what looks like a river valley under the ocean. If ...
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How can poor tropical soils be enriched by biological means?

I have been reading a lot recently about agriculture in Africa, and one of the big impediments in a lot of places is the poor quality of the soil. Primarily this refers to a lack of usable molecular ...
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Carbonate reef not horizontal in seismic section?

Carbonate reefs usually appear as homogeneous bodies surrounded by sediment layers in seismic reflection data, but in the figure below the high amplitude reflection from the top of sediment (layer 2 ...
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Why are alkali basalts found at rifting centres and on top of 'plumes', whereas MORBs are generally tholeiitic?

So I was essentially wondering why it was that the basalts on top of 'plumes' at 'hotspots' (sometimes called OIBs, ocean island basalts) and at continental rifting centres are enriched in alkaline ...
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Is there a “submerged object” in Australia that causes a magnetic deviation of 20 degrees?

This answer quotes this blogpost as an example of a magnetic anomaly: Basalt formation, “Mt. Jim”, in remote north-east Victoria, Australia, has a magnetic anomaly -20 degree magnetic compass ...
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What kind of coal did I find?

I found a piece of (what I believe is) coal, on Cape Cod last week. Its density is 1.43 grams per milliliter. With this information is it possible to know whether it's Anthracite, Bituminous or ...
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Rocks sparking under water

I have searched for an answer to this question for years, to verify if it was true. A man that lived on a river in the rugged part of the northern Washington Cascades told me an interesting story. He ...
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What are the challenges in predicting lithology directly from acoustic impedance?

Seismic inversion methods help to visualize the subsurface layers of the earth in terms of petrophysical properties (e.g. impedance). Still some geophysicists use the final inverted impedance model in ...