Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.
What is Geology?
Quick! Look around the room where you are right now, and see if you can count how many things are made of metal or stone. It's probably way more than you might have realized. These items are things you enjoy thanks to geology, which includes natural materials found on Earth and processes that take place within the Earth and on its surface. Let's explore some vocabulary words to help you become a geologic scientist!
Are you amazed at volcanic eruptions or earthquakes? So are geologists. Scientists who study geology are interested in a process called plate tectonics. This means that the surface of the Earth is divided into sections, or plates. When these plates move, they create different natural events, like earthquakes. They can also create openings in the surface for hot, molten rock to escape, which creates a volcano.
Rocks are divided into three main categories. One type is called sedimentary rock. This includes rock that is formed from small bits of other rocks or plants and animals that have died. Some examples of sedimentary rocks include coal and limestone. Over time, sedimentary rocks can layer on top of one another, and this creates something called strata. Strata look like lines along the sides of hills and cliffs, so when you see them you're looking at something that took thousands of years to create.
What happens to all of that hot, molten magma when it escapes from a volcano and comes onto the Earth's surface? It cools and dries, and becomes igneous rock. This is another category of rocks, and it includes over 700 different rocks! Some examples of igneous rock are granite and shiny black obsidian. One igneous rock, pumice, is actually used to scrub people's feet!
Have you ever seen a marble statue? If so, you were looking at a metamorphic rock, which is the third type of rock. Metamorphic rocks are created from existing rocks that change form due to intense pressure and heat, usually under the Earth's surface. They are pushed onto the Earth by movement of the tectonic plates. Some examples of metamorphic rocks include slate and quartzite.
Rocks and minerals can be described using geologic terms that explain different characteristics they have. This helps geologists put rocks into different categories. One of these terms is luster, which is how shiny a rock or mineral is. Other characteristics include hardness, which can be measured by how much a rock can scratch a smooth surface like glass - definitely don't try that one at home!
Some rocks can break very easily, while others can withstand pressure without breaking. This characteristic is called fracture. Finally, another characteristic can be seen when rocks are ground up into a very fine powder. The color of this powder is called the rock's streak.
The study of geology includes learning about natural materials and processes within the Earth and on its surface. Plate tectonics can cause earthquakes and openings for volcanic activity. There are three types of rocks, and rocks and minerals are put into categories based on characteristics like luster.
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