From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Geology (from Greek γη- (ge-, "the earth") and λογος (logos, "word", "reason")) is the science and study of the Earth, its composition, structure, physical properties, history, and the processes that shape it.
Geologists have helped establish the age of the Earth at about 4.5 billion (4.5x109) years, and have determined that the Earth's crust is fragmented into tectonic plates that move over a semi-molten upper mantle (asthenosphere) via processes that are collectively referred to as plate tectonics. Geologists help locate and manage the earth's natural resources, such as oil and coal, as well as metals such as iron, copper, and uranium. Additional economic interests include minerals such as asbestos, perlite, mica, phosphates, zeolites, clay, pumice, quartz, and silica, as well as elements such as sulfur, chlorine, and helium.
Astrogeology refers to the application of geologic principles to other bodies of the solar system. However, specialised terms such as selenology (studies of the Moon), areology (of Mars), etc., are also in use.
The word "geology" was first used by Jean-André Deluc in the year 1778 and introduced as a fixed term by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure in the year 1779. An older meaning of the word was first used by Richard de Bury. He used it to distinguish between earthly and theological jurisprudence.
Georg Agricola (1494-1555) wrote the first systematic treatise about mining and smelting works, De re metallica libri XII, with an appendix Buch von den Lebewesen unter Tage (book of the creatures beneath the earth). He covered subjects like wind energy, hydrodynamic power, melting cookers, transport of ores, extraction of soda, sulfur and alum, and administrative issues. The book was published in 1556.
James Hutton is often viewed as the first modern geologist. In 1785 he presented a paper entitled Theory of the Earth to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In his paper, he explained his theory that the Earth must be much older than had previously been supposed in order to allow enough time for mountains to be eroded and for sediment to form new rocks at the bottom of the sea, which in turn were raised up to become dry land.
Followers of Hutton were known as Plutonists because they believed that some rocks were formed by vulcanism which is the deposition of lava from volcanoes, as opposed to the Neptunists, who believed that all rocks had settled out of a large ocean whose level gradually dropped over time.
Sir Charles Lyell first published his famous book, Principles of Geology, in 1830 and continued to publish new revisions until he died in 1875. He successfully promoted the doctrine of uniformitarianism. This theory states that slow geological processes have occurred throughout the Earth's history and are still occurring today. In contrast, catastrophism is the theory that Earth's features formed in single, catastrophic events and remained unchanged thereafter. Though Hutton believed in uniformitarianism, the idea was not widely accepted at the time.
Important Principles of Geology Edit
There are a number of important principles in geology. Many of these involve the ability to provide the relative ages of strata or the manner in which they were formed.
The Principle of Intrusive Relationships concerns crosscutting intrusions. In geology, when an igneous intrusion cuts across a formation of sedimentary rock, it can be determined that the igneous intrusion is younger than the sedimentary rock. There are a number of different types of intrusions, including stocks, laccoliths, batholiths, sills and dikes.
The Principle of Cross-cutting Relationships pertains to the formation of faults and the age of the sequences through which they cut. Faults are younger than the rocks they cut; accordingly, if a fault is found that penetrates some formations but not those on top of it, then the formations that were cut are older than the fault, and the ones that are not cut must be younger than the fault. Finding the key bed in these situations may help determine whether the fault is a normal fault or a thrust fault.
The Principle of Inclusions and Components states that, with sedementary rocks, if inclusions (or clasts) are found in a formation, then the inclusions must be older than the formation that contains them. For example, in sedimentary rocks, it is common for gravel from an older formation to be ripped up and included in a newer layer. A similar situation with igneous rocks occurrs when xenoliths are found. These foreign bodies are picked up as magma or lava flows, and are incorporated, later to cool in the matrix. As a result, xenoliths are older than the rock which contains them.
The Principle of Faunal Succession is based on the appearance of fossils in sedimentary rocks. As organisms exist at the same time period throughout the world, their presence or (sometimes) absence may be used to provide a relative age of the formations in which they are found. Based on principles laid out by William Smith almost a hundred years before the publication of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, the principles of succession were developed independent of evolutionary thought. The principle becomes quite complex, however, given the uncertainties of fossilization, the localization of fossil types due to lateral changes in habitat (facies change in sedimentary strata), and that not all fossils may be found globally at the same time.
- economic geology
- engineering geology
- environmental geology
- historical geology
- hydrogeology or geohydrology
- marine geology
- plate tectonics
- soil science
- structural geology
- Timeline of geology
- List of geology topics
- Geologic modeling
- Geologic timescale
- International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS)
- Important publications in geology
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