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GPE Unit 3


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A self-regulating set of organisms in interaction with their physical environment.
Global-scale ecosystems whose limits are controlled by climate.
Fundamental Niche
The set of all environments under which individuals of a species cna grow and reproduce.
Realized Niche
The set of environments under which individuals of a species actually occur.
Storage of solar energy into chemical bonds.
Release of stored energy for other life activities.
Gross Primary Productivity
Total energy stored by photosynthesis.
Net Primary Productivity
The difference between gross primary productivity and the respiration of the plant. It signifies the energy available for the rest of the ecosystem.
Net Ecosystem Production
The difference between Net Primary Productivity and the respiration of animals. It signifies the long term sequestration of carbon and energy.
Food web
The flow of energy through econsystems. Composed of producers, consumers, and detritivores.
Trophic levels
The individual levels within the food webs.
The study of charcteristics, origin, and development of landforms.
A natural inorganic solid with specific chemical composition and structure and a crystalline lattice.
The process by which similar in size, shape, or specific gravity sedimentary particles are selected and separated from associated but dissimilar particles by the agent of transportation.
Refers to the movement of eroded debris, whether by rivers, glaciers, wind or ocean currents and tides. Particle sizes can vary from tiny clay particles suspended in moving water, to pebbles and boulders. Deposition occurs when the speed of movement of the transporting medium becomes insufficient to hold the particles.
Transportation does not apply to the passive movement of material under the influence of gravity, as might happen to boulders on a scree.
Doctrine in geology that physical, chemical, and biologic processes now at work on and within the Earth have operated with general uniformity (in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity) through immensely long periods of time and are sufficient to account for all geologic change. In other words, the present is the key to the past.
An example of uniformitarianism. It is the study of modern volcanoes to understand ancient eruptions.
Landform characteristics
Structure, Erosion, Glacial Formation
Abiotic processes
All physical and nonliving chemical factors, such as soil, water, and atmosphere, which influence living organisms.
Biotic environment
That environment comprising living organisms, which interact with each other and their abiotic environment.
The middle era of the three major divisions of the Phanerozoic Eon of geologic time, encompassing an interval from 245 to 65 million years ago (Ma) based on various isotopic age dates. Also known as the Age of the Dinosaurs and the interval of middle life.
A major division of time in geologic history, extending from about 540 to 250 million years ago (Ma). It is the earliest era in which significant numbers of shelly fossils are found, and Paleozoic strata were among the first to be studied in detail for their biostratigraphic significance.
This is the youngest and the shortest of the three Phanerozoic geological eras. It represents the geological time (and rocks deposited during that time) extending from the end of the Mesozoic Era to the present day.
Seismic Waves
A wave that travels through the Earth, most often as the result of a tectonic earthquake, sometimes from an explosion.
P waves
These are longitudinal or compressional waves, which means that the ground is alternately compressed and dilated in the direction of propagation. These waves generally travel through any type of material.
S waves
These are transverse or shear waves, which means that the ground is displaced perpendicularly to the direction of propagation. They can travel only through solids, as fluids (liquids and gases) do not support shear stresses.
A very hard mineral composed of silica, SiO2, found worldwide in many different types of rocks, including sandstone and granite.
A common crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate, CaCO3, that is the basic constituent of limestone, marble, and chalk.
It is a common mineral. It is also known as CaMg(CO3)2 and is a type of compact limestone consisting of a calcium magnesium carbonate.
Sedimentary rocks
Rock formed at or near the Earth's surface by the accumulation and lithification of fragments of preexisting rocks or by precipitation from solution at normal surface temperatures. They can be formed only where sediments are deposited long enough to become compacted and cemented into hard beds or strata. They are the most common rocks exposed on the Earth's surface but are only a minor constituent of the entire crust. Their defining characteristic is that they are formed in layers.
This is the process whereby sediments compact under pressure, expel connate fluids, and gradually become solid rock.
Metamorphic rock
A rock formed from preexisting solid rocks by mineralogical, structural, and chemical changes, in response to extreme changes in temperature, pressure, and shearing stress.
Distinct layers of sediment.
Refers to the condition where planes divide sedimentary rocks of the same or different lithology. Generally, it is the arrangement of sedimentary rock in layers of stratification. The term may also be applied to igneous or metamorphic rock.
Alfred Wegener
German geophysicist, meteorologist, and explorer who proposed the theory of continental drift.
Of a fold or the side of a fold, tilted beyond the perpendicular. Also known as inverted; reversed.
A thrust fault that has a low dip or a net slip that is large. Also known as low-angle thrust; overthrust fault. A thrust fault with the active element being the hanging wall.
In geology, an undulation or wave in the stratified rocks of the Earth's crust. Stratified rocks were originally formed from sediments that were deposited in flat, horizontal sheets, although in some places the strata are no longer horizontal but have warped. The warping may be so gentle that the inclination of the strata is barely perceptible, or it may be so pronounced that the strata of the two flanks are essentially parallel or nearly flat. Folds vary widely in size; the tops of large folds are commonly eroded away on the Earth's surface.
In geology, a fracture in the rocks of the Earth's crust, where compressional or tensional forces cause the rocks on the opposite sides of the fracture to be displaced relative to each other.
Hanging Wall
The overlying block of a fault having an inclined fault plane.
Normal fault
A fault in which the hanging wall has moved downward relative to the footwall.
The underlying block of a fault having an inclined fault plane.
Reverse fault
A fault in which the hanging wall has moved upward relative to the footwall.
Strike-slip fault
A fault in which surfaces on opposite sides of the fault plane have moved horizontally and parallel to the strike of the fault.
Thrust fault
A reverse fault in which the fault plane is inclined at an angle equal to or less than 45°.
A hypothetical supercontinent that included all the landmasses of the earth before the Triassic Period.
A small piece of lithosphere (crust) accreted onto another, larger piece
A stationary and deep magma source resulting in volcanoes.
A block of the earth's crust uplifted along faults relative to the rocks on either side. A mass of the earth's crust limited by faults and standing in relief.
A usually elongated depression between geologic faults.
Rift Valley
A valley that has developed along a rift, especially one bounded by normal faults in an area of lithospheric thinning.
A narrow opening in a rock caused by cracking or splitting. A high, narrow passage in a cave.
Fault block mountains
These are produced when normal (near vertical) faults fracture a section of continental crust. Vertical motion of the resulting blocks, sometimes accompanied by tilting, can then lead to high escarpments. Tilted blocks are common in the Basin and Range region of the western United States. Level blocks lead to the horst and graben terrain seen in northern Europe.
This is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the point where an earthquake or other underground explosion originates.
Signs of an active fault
Spring, scarp, sag pond, linear ridge, and an offset stream.
Richter scale
A logarithmic scale used to express the total amount of energy released by an earthquake. Its values typically fall between 0 and 9, with each increase of 1 representing a 10-fold increase in energy.
Effects of Earthquakes
Groundshaking, surface faulting, liquefaction, land slides, fires, tsunamis
Shield volcano
A broad, low volcano shaped like a flattened dome and built of basaltic lava. Also known as basaltic dome; lava dome.
A volcano composed of alternating layers of lava and ash.
Extrusive rock
Any igneous rock derived from magma that is poured out or ejected at the Earth's surface.
Intrusive rock
Formed from magma forced into older rocks at depths within the Earth's crust, which then slowly solidifies below the Earth's surface, though it may later be exposed by erosion.
Any molten rock
Molten magma that is extruded onto the surface of Earth, where it cools and solidifies.
Volcanic Hazards
Lava, Ash falls, pyroclastic flows, bombs, land slides, mudflows, and earthquakes.
Pyroclastic flows
They are fast-moving fluidized bodies of hot gas, ash and rock (collectively known as tephra) which can travel away from the vent at up to 150 km/h.
The outermost solid layer of the Earth
Mohorovicic discontinuity
The boundary between Earth's crust and the mantle.
That portion of the Earth beneath the crust.
The solid, inorganic portion of the Earth. Also, tectonic plates consisting of crust and upper rigid mantle.
Plastic layer of the upper mantle that underlies the lithosphere. Its rock is very hot and therefore weak and easily deformed.
The rigid part of the deep mantle.
The Outer Core
The liquid shell beneath the mantle that encloses Earth's inner core.
The Inner Core
The solid, dense, innermost portion of Earth, believed to consist largely of iron and nickel.
Continental Drift
Theory that proposed that the present continents were originally connected as one or two large landmasses that have broken up and literally drifted apart over the last several hundred.
Plate Tectonics
A coherent theory of massive crustal rearrangment based on the movement of continent-sized lithospheric plates.
Solid material composed of aggregated mineral particles.
Surface exposure of bedrock.
Residual rock that has not experienced erosion.
Igneous Rock
Rock formed by solidification of molten magma.
An intrusive igneous rock that is coarse-grained. It has a “salt and pepper” appearance; high silica content; plutonic equivalent of rhyolite
An extrusive igneous rock that has a light color and high silica content
An extrusive igneous rock that is usually black in color and has a low silica content.
A sedimentary rock that is composed of very fine-grained sediments; typically thin bedded.
A sedimentary rock that is composed of sand-sized sediments.
A sedimentary rock that is composed of calcite and may contain shells or shell fragments.
A foliated metamorphic rock that is fine-grained and typically formed from low-grade metamorphism of shale.
A foliated metamorphic rock that is coarse-grained, has granular texture, and distinct mineral layers. It is formed by high-grade metamorphism.
A nonfoliated metamorphic rock that is composed primarily of quartz and often derived from sandstone.
Plutonic rock
Also known as intrusive rocks.
Cementing agents
Silica, Calcium carbonate, and iron oxide
The process of creating sedimentary rocks by packing the particles that are deposited by water and wind as a result of the weight of overlying material.
The process of creating sedimentary rocks by the infilling of pore spaces among the particles by a cementing agent such as silica, calcium carbonate, or iron oxide.
Surface configuation of the Earth. Also known as landforms.
An individual topographic feature, of whatever size.
The difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points in an area; the vertical variation from mountaintop to valley bottom.
An igneous rock layer that underlies the ocean basins and portions of some continents. Named for its most prominent mineral compounds: Silica and magnesium.
A discontinuous igneous rock layer apparently underlying only the continental masses, where it sits as immense bodies of rock embedded in the sima beneath. Named from its common constituents: silica and aluminum.
Maintenance of the hydrostatic equilibrium of Earth's crust.
Seafloor spreading
The pulling apart of lithospheric plates to permit the rise of deep-seated magma to Earth's surface in midocean areas.
Descent of the edge of a litospheric plate under the edge of an adjoining plate, presumbly involving the partial melting of the subducted material.
Divergent boundary
Location where two lithospheric plates spread apart.
Convergent boundary
Location where two lithospheric plates collide.
Oceanic-Continental Convergence
An oceanic lithospheric plate subducts below a continental lithospheric plate forming a mountain range.
Oceanic-Oceanic Convergence
Two oceanic plates collide and form an island arc.
Continental-Continental Convergence
Two continental plates collide and form a huge mountain range.
Transform Boundary
Two plates slipping past one another laterally in a typical fault structure.
Mantle plumes
Another word for hot spot
A general term that refers to movement of magma from the interior of Earth to or near the surface.
Plutonic activity
Processes involving the intrusion of magma deep below the surface of Earth.
Pyroclastic material
Solid rock fragments thrown into the air by volcanic explosions.
The Pacific Ring of Fire
Also known as the Andesite Line. A belt of seismic and volcanic activity roughly surrounding the Pacific Ocean. It includes the Andes Mountains of South America, the coastal regions of western Central America and North America, the Aleutian and Kuril islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Japan, the island of Taiwan, eastern Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand, and the island arcs of the western Pacific.
Flood Basalt
A large-scale outpouring of basaltic lava that may cover an extensive area of Earth's surface.
Large, steep-sided, roughly circular depression resulting from the explosion and subsidence of a large volcano.
Volcanic neck
Small, sharp spire that rises abruptly above the surrounding land. It represents the pipe or throat of an old volcano, filled with solidified lava after its final eruption. The less resistant material that makes up the cone is eroded, leaving the harder, lava choked neck as a remnant.
Pyroclastic flow
High speed avalanche of hot gases, ash, and rock fragments emitted from a volcano during an explosive eruption
Volcanic mudflow
A fast moving muddy flow of volcanic ash and rock fragments.
A one-limbed fold connecting horizontal or gently inclined strata.
A simple symmetrical upfold in the rock structure.
A simple downfold in the rock structure.
The bending of crustal rocks by compression and/or uplift.
Fault zone
Zones of weakness in the crust where faulting occurs
Fault line
The intersection of the fault zone with Earth’s surface
Fault scarp
Cliff formed by faulting
Sag ponds
A pond caused by the collection of water from springs and/or runoff into sunken ground, resulting from the crushing of rock in an area of fault movement.
Offset stream
A stream course displaced by lateral movement along a fault.
Natural mechanisms of seed dispersal
Wind, water, and animals
Plant succession
The process whereby one type of vegetation is replaced naturally by another.
Plants that can live more than a single year despite seasonal climatic variations.
Plants that perish during times of climatic stress but leave behind a reservoir of seeds to germinate during the next favorable period.
Seed reproducing plants that carry their seeds in cones.
Plants that have seeds encased in some sort of protective body, such as fruit, a nut, or a seedpod.
Woody plants
Plants that have stems composed of hard fiborous material - mostly trees and shrubs.
Herbaceous plants
Plants that have soft stems, mostly grasses, forbs, and lichens.
A tree or shrub that sheds its leaves on a sporadic or successive basis but at any given time appears to be fully leaved.
Deciduous tree
A tree that experiences an annual period in which all leaves die and usually fall from the tree, due either to a cold season or a dry season.
Trees that have flat and expansive leaves.
Needleleaf trees
Trees adorned with thin slivers of tough, leathery, waxy needles rather than typical leaves.
Angiosperm trees that are usually broad-leaved and deciduous. Their wood has a relatively complicated structure, but it is not always hard.
Gymnosperm trees; nearly all are needleleaved evergreens with wood of simple cellular structure but not always soft.
Climax vegetation
A stable plant association of relatively constant composition that develops at the end of a long succession of changes.
An assemblage of trees growing closely together so that their individual leaf canopies generally overlap.
Tree-dominated plant association in which the trees are spaced more widely apart than those of forests and do not have interlacing canopies.
Plant association dominated by relatively short woody plants.
Plant association dominated by grasses and forbs.
A plant association dominated by short grasses and bunchgrasses of the midlatitudes.
A low-latitude grassland characterized by tall forms.
A tall grassland in the midlatitudes.
Climate, landscape or biome associated with extremely arid conditions.
A complex mix of very low-growing plants, including grasses, forbs, dwarf shrubs, mosses, and lichens, but no trees.
Landscape characterized by shallow, standing water all or most of the year, with vegetation rising above the water level.
Vertical Zonation
The horizontal layering of different plant associations on a mountainside or hillside.
Adret slope
A slope oriented so that the Sun's rays arrive at a relatively direct angle. Such a slope is relatively hot and dry, and its vegetation will not only be sparser and smaller but is also likely to have a different species composition from adjacent slopes with different exposures.
Ubac slope
A slope orientated so that sunlight strikes it at a low angle and hence is much less effective in heating and evaporating than on adret slope, thus producing more luxuriant vegetation of a richer diversity.
Riparian vegetation
Anomalous stream-side growth, particularly prominent in relatively dry regions, where stream courses may be lined with trees, although no other trees are to be found in the landscape.

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