Geology is the study of solid planetary components such as rocks which make up the Earth or other celestial bodies. This branch of science is also commonly referred to as Earth science. A geologist investigates the evolution of planetary bodies through forces such as plate tectonics, climate change, sea level change and erosion. A geologist examines the natural history of the Earth as well as the history of life on our planet. Geology is used in a variety of commercial and governmental programs to help analyze and distinguish factors which can effect environmental changes and problems that could affect life on Earth. Another important factor explored by geologists is through exploration of natural resources such as minerals, hydrocarbons, fossil fuels and water resources. Data compiled from these observations can be used for energy needs, environmental analysis and water supply resources.
The search and acquisition of natural resources has been an integral part of humanity since the dawn of civilization. Natural resources include minerals, rocks, gemstones, hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) and water among other resources types. Mineral resources are vital for agriculture and other aspects of the stability of humanity. The ability to acquire, synthesis and recycle natural resources is uniquely human and has allowed us to modify the environment around us to created a suitable habitat for humans in almost all regions of the Earth.
Energy resources are one of the most important areas of exploration in geology. This is currently being done through the use of geothermal power plants and the search for fuel resources such as coal, oil, petroleum, natural gas and uranium which is used to generate nuclear power. Salt is another vital resource acquired through geologic mining operations and is used for a variety of purposes including food storage.
Geologic time is a way for humans to learn about the natural history of the Earth, even outside the scope of humanity’s existence on this planet. This is most commonly accomplished through examining cross sections of rock formations and analyzing the variations of the elements composed in the Earth. In addition to this fossil discoveries help biologists and other scientists to determine the evolution of life forms on our planet through the analysis of extinct, prehistoric organisms.
Plate tectonics is one of the primary aspects of geology as it governs the makeup of all solid land found on Earth. This process is not only important for solid land however, it is also one of the factors that drive currents and the systems of the ocean. Plate tectonics is characterized by the dynamic movements of land mass and the study of convection zones and hot spots around the world. The ring of fire is an area of dynamic interactions within the Earth and surrounds the Pacific Ocean region of our planet. This area has tremendous volcanic and seismic activity which allows its study to make predictions around the globe for environmental and weather phenomenon.
Fossilization is the process of compressing the remains of living organisms in rock structures. This is done through the combination of pressure and heat which conserves the physical makeup of deceased organisms. Discoveries in fossils have allowed biology to develop its taxonomic classification system in more detail as well as the discovery of extinct species. This is one of the most vital aspects in exploring the natural history of Earth and understanding how life has evolved through a variety of environmental and geographical changes which constantly affect the Earth.
The study of geology involves analyzing the different layers of the Earth and understanding how these layers interact with each other to create influences on the crust of the Earth where most life inhabits. The Earth is made up of varying rock components in varying states and is found in layers similar to our atmosphere. Pressure and heat are two of the factors which play vital roles in the cycle of Earth’s geological activity. The Earth is made up of the inner core, outer core, lower mantle, upper mantle and the crust. Continental plates sit on the crust of the earth which can be moved around the planet through plate tectonics.
A variety of geologic processes are responsible for creating the world we know today. Some of these include plate tectonics, sedimentary deposits, erosion, faults, volcanism, seismic activity, and weathering. All of these processes have a direct impact on life on Earth however some may not be apparent to many people as geological processes can take a long time to influence the planets cycles.
Natural disasters are a phenomenon which will always plague humanity along with other life on our planet. Geologists are particularly interested in the occurrences of volcanic and seismic activity. Volcanic activity is essential in the formation of land masses on our planet and is responsible for the majority of island creation in the Pacific Ocean. Seismic activity is considered to be one of the most unpredictable and devastating occurrences which can affect humans. Devastation from seismic activity can occur not only through the shaking of the Earth causing fissures and structural damage to bridges and roads, however if Earth quakes occur in coastal regions this can cause tsunamis which is arguably one of the most deadly forms of natural disasters humanity can face.
The formation of land masses is one which is uniquely explored in geology. These formations have a direct impact on how life adapts and evolves to become suitable for a variety of conditions. Geography is one of the most essential aspects of natural selection and the theories of evolution. Variation is vital towards sustaining life on Earth and geological variations are just one factor which influences this.