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APES Chapter 14 & 15


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Process in which a desired metal is separated from the other elements in an ore mineral.
Any naturally occurring inorganic substance found in the earth's crust as a crystalline solid.
Condition in which an area does not get enough water because of lower-than-normal precipitation or higher-than-normal temperatures that increase evaporation.
Convergent Plate Boundary
Form of surface mining used on hilly or mountainous terrain. A power shovel cuts a series of terraces into the side of a hill. An earthmover removes the overburden, and a power shovel extracts the coal, with the overburden from each new terrace dumped onto the one below.
Divergent Plate Boundary
Area where earth's lithospheric plates move apart in opposite directions.
Slow or rapid sinking of part of the earth's crust that is not slope-related.
Saltwater Intrusion
Movement of salt water into freshwater aquifers in coastal and inland areas as groundwater is withdrawn faster than it is recharged by precipitation.
Porous, water-saturated layers of sand, gravel, or bedrock that can yield an economically significant amount of water.
Zone of Aeration
Zone in soil that is not saturated with water and that lies above the water table.
Rock Cycle
Largest and slowest of the earth's cycles, consisting of geologic, physical, and chemical processes that form and modify rocks and soil in the earth's crust over millions of years.
Subduction Zone
Area in which oceanic lithosphere is carried downward (subducted) under the island arc or continent at a convergent plate boundary. A trench ordinarily forms at the boundary between the two converging plates.
Water that sinks into the soil and is stored in slowly flowing and slowly renewed underground reservoirs called aquifers; underground water in the zone of saturation, below the water table.
Layer of soil and rock overlying a mineral deposit.
Zone of the earth's interior between its core and its crust.
Inner zone of the earth. It consists of a solid inner core and a liquid outer core.
Molten rock below the earth's surface.
Water Table
Upper surface of the zone of saturation, in which all available pores in the soil and rock in the earth's crust are filled with water.
Metamorphic Rock
Rock produced when a preexisting rock is subjected to high temperatures (which may cause it to melt partially), high pressures, chemically active fluids, or a combination of these agents.
Strip Mining
Form of surface mining in which bulldozers, power shovels, or stripping wheels remove large chunks of the earth's surface in strips.
Flat valley floor next to a stream channel. For legal purposes, the term often applies to any low area that has the potential for flooding, including certain coastal areas.
Undiscovered Resources
Potential supplies of a particular mineral resource, believed to exist because of geologic knowledge and theory, although specific locations, quality, and amounts are unknown.
Transform Fault
Area where the earth's lithospheric plates move in opposite but parallel directions along a fracture (fault) in the lithosphere.
Contour Strip Mining
Form of surface mining used on hilly or mountainous terrain. A power shovel cuts a series of terraces into the side of a hill. An earthmover removes the overburden, and a power shovel extracts the coal, with the overburden from each new terrace dumped onto the one below.
Open-pit Mining
Removing minerals such as gravel, sand, and metal ores by digging them out of the earth's surface and leaving an open pit.
Purification of salt water or brackish (slightly salty) water by removal of dissolved salts.
Tectonic Plates
Various-sized areas of the earth's lithosphere that move slowly around with the mantle's flowing asthenosphere. Most earthquakes and volcanoes occur around the boundaries of these plates.
Economic Depletion
Exhaustion of 80% of the estimated supply of a nonrenewable resource. Finding, extracting, and processing the remaining 20% usually costs more than it is worth. May also apply to the depletion of a renewable resource, such as a fish or tree species.
Surface Runoff
Water flowing off the land into bodies of surface water.
Mountaintop Removal
Type of surface mining that uses explosives, massive shovels, and even larger machinery called draglines to remove the top of a mountain to expose seams of coal underneath a mountain.
High-grade Ore
Ore that contains a fairly large amount of the desired mineral.
Igneous Rock
Rock formed when molten rock material (magma) wells up from the earth's interior, cools, and solidifies into rock masses.
Series of large waves generated when part of the ocean floor suddenly rises or drops, usually because of an earthquake.
Other Resources
Identified and undiscovered resources not classified as reserves.
Land area that delivers water, sediment, and dissolved substances via small streams to a major stream (river).
Sedimentary Rock
Rock that forms from the accumulated products of erosion and in some cases from the compacted shells, skeletons, and other remains of dead organisms.
Shaking of the ground resulting from the fracturing and displacement of rock, which produces a fault, or from subsequent movement along the fault.
Study of the earth's dynamic history. Geologists study and analyze rocks and the features and processes of the earth's interior and surface.
Surface Water
Precipitation that does not infiltrate the ground or return to the atmosphere by evaporation or transpiration.
Plate Techtonics
Theory of geophysical processes that explains the movements of lithospheric plates and the processes that occur at their boundaries.
Process or group of processes by which loose or consolidated earth materials are dissolved, loosened, or worn away and removed from one place and deposited in another.
Unwanted rock and other waste materials produced when a material is removed from the earth's surface or subsurface by mining, dredging, quarrying, and excavation.
Area Strip Mining
Type of surface mining used where the terrain is flat. An earthmover strips away the overburden, and a power shovel digs a cut to remove the mineral deposit. After removal of the mineral, the trench is filled with overburden, and a new cut is made parallel to the previous one. The process is repeated over the entire site.
Reliable Runoff
Surface runoff of water that generally can be counted on as a stable source of water from year to year.
Theory of geophysical processes that explains the movements of lithospheric plates and the processes that occur at their boundaries.
Recharge Area
Any area of land allowing water to pass through it and into an aquifer.
Mineral Resource
Concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid, or gaseous material in or on the earth's crust in a form and amount such that extracting and converting it into useful materials or items is currently or potentially profitable. Mineral resources are classified as metallic (such as iron and tin ores) or nonmetallic (such as fossil fuels, sand, and salt).
Physical and chemical processes in which solid rock exposed at earth's surface is changed to separate solid particles and dissolved material, which can then be moved to another place as sediment.
Depletion Time
The time it takes to use a certain fraction, usually 80%, of the known or estimated supply of a nonrenewable resource at an assumed rate of use. Finding and extracting the remaining 20% usually costs more than it is worth.
Flowing body of surface water.
Solid outer zone of the earth. It consists of oceanic crust and continental crust.
Part of a metal-yielding material that can be economically and legally extracted at a given time. An ore typically contains two parts: the ore mineral, which contains the desired metal, and waste mineral material (gangue).
Zone of Saturation
Area where all available pores in soil and rock in the earth's crust are filled by water.
Using atoms and molecules to build materials from the bottom up using the elements in the periodic table as its raw materials.
Outer shell of the earth, composed of the crust and the rigid, outermost part of the mantle outside the asthenosphere; material found in earth's plates.
Vent or fissure in the earth's surface through which magma, liquid lava, and gases are released into the environment.
Indentified Sources
Deposits of a particular mineral-bearing material of which the location, quantity, and quality are known or have been estimated from direct geological evidence and measurements.
Surface Mining
Removing soil, subsoil, and other strata and then extracting a mineral deposit found fairly close to the earth's surface. See area strip mining, contour strip mining, dredging, mountaintop removal, open-pit mining.
Conversion of a liquid into a gas.
Low-grade Ore
Ore that contains a smaller amount of the desired mineral.
Natural Recharge
Natural replenishment of an aquifer by precipitation, which percolates downward through soil and rock.
Resources that have been identified and from which a usable mineral can be extracted profitably at present prices with current mining technology.
Subsurface Mining
Extraction of a metal ore or fuel resource such as coal from a deep underground deposit.
Any material that makes up a large, natural, continuous part of the earth's crust.

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