Surface of the Earth

Volcanic ash or lava flows blanket the surface

Geology is the science and study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, and the processes by which they are formed, moved, and changed.

Aerial photography
The Lena Delta Reserve is the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia – photo: USGS

The study of the composition

Geology is the science and study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, and the processes by which they are formed, moved, and changed. The field is a major academic discipline, and is also important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, knowledge about and mitigation of natural hazards, some Geotechnical engineering fields, and understanding past climates and environments.

Deposition

Rock units are first emplaced either by deposition onto the surface or intrude into the overlying rock. Deposition can occur when sediments settle onto the surface of the Earth and later lithify into sedimentary rock.

Volcanic material

Deposition can occur when sediments settle onto the surface of the Earth and later lithify into sedimentary rock, or when as volcanic material such as volcanic ash or lava flows, blanket the surface.

Supercontinent

Continents formed, then broke up and reformed as the surface of Earth reshaped over hundreds of millions of years, occasionally combining to make a supercontinent. Roughly 750 million years ago.

Pannotia

The earliest known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia which broke apart about 540 million years ago.

Civilization

Several million years ago, a species of small African ape gained the ability to stand upright. The subsequent advent of human life, and the development of agriculture and further civilization allowed humans to affect the Earth more rapidly than any previous life form.

Global climate

Affecting both the nature and quantity of other organisms as well as global climate. By comparison, the Great Oxygenation Event, produced by the proliferation of algae during the Siderian period, required about 300 million years to culminate.

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Jane Roe

Jane Roe

Jane is a 24-year-old researcher who enjoys charity work, cycling and cookery. She is allergic to artificial food colourings. She has a severe phobia of sharks, and is obsessed with milkshakes.