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The science of geology is founded on basic principles that are useful for making observations about the world around us.This chapter presents a mix of information that is essential (fundamental) to all following chapters.
Many elements have both stable and radioactive isotopes.Rocks are composed of chemical compounds naturally occurring in nature.Rocks are composed of particles ranging from microscopic grains to full sized crystals and crystal grains of different kinds of minerals, and containing many different identifiable physical characteristics.Slow processes creating rocks can be inferred by observing reefs growing in the oceans, or sediments being carried by flowing water in streams or moved by waves crashing on beaches.We can see sediments being deposited, but we cannot see them turning into stone because the process may take thousand or even millions of years.A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus.
Common examples of elements are iron, copper, silver, gold, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.
Basic concepts of chemistry are essential to understanding the physical and chemical properties of earth materials (minerals, rocks, organic matter, etc.).
The chemical characteristics of earth materials are reflect the environments how and where they are formed, they also determine their potential fate when exposed to chemical changes.
It is conceptually important that each rock has an origin in concepts of place, time, and physical and chemical conditions. These changes may be rapid (such as a volcanic explosion) or gradual, taking place over millions or billions of years, and involving movement over great distances, both at the surface or to deep within the Earth's crust below us.
Trying to explain the what, how, and when of a rock's journey is fundamental to explaining why rocks are significant to resolving questions about our Earth's history and conditions within the physical environments where we live.
This section presents many basic concepts that are universal to all physical sciences.1. A mineral is a naturally occurring, inorganic (never living) solid with a definite internal arrangement of atoms (crystal structure) and a chemical formula that only varies over a limited range that does not alter the crystal structure.