Geology and Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
G. Tyler Miller’s
Living in the Environment
Major geologic processes
Earthquakes and volcanoes
rocks, and the
Non-renewable mineral resources
Structure of the Earth
Geology is the study of dynamic processes
occurring on the earth’s surface and in its
The surface of the earth is composed of a
series of gigantic plates that move very
slowly across the earth’s surface.
The surface features of the earth change due
to the effects of water and earth
Earthquakes and volcanic action are violent
and disruptive actions of the earth.
Three major zones of the earth are the core, mantle, and crust.
The crust is soil and rock that floats on a mantle of partly melted and solid rock.
The core is intensely hot. It has a solid inner part surrounded by a liquid core of molten or
The mantle is a thick, solid zone. It is mostly solid rock, but an area called the asthenosphere
is very hot, partly melted rock about the consistency of soft plastic.
The crust is thin and is divided into the continental crust and the oceanic crust.
Features of the Crust and Upper Mantle
There are three types of boundaries for lithospheric plates.
The boundaries are divergent plate boundaries, where
plates move apart in opposite directions, and
convergent plate boundaries,
where plates are pushed together by internal forces and
one plate rides up over the other. A trench generally
occurs at the subduction zone.
The third type of boundary is a transform fault and occurs
where plates slide/grind past one another.
The Dynamic Earth – Internal Processes
Geologic changes from
the earth’s interior generally
build up the earth’s surface.
Heat and gravity play a role
in these processes.
Heat from the core causes
much of the mantle to
deform and flow slowly like
Two kinds of movement
seem to occur in the mantle.
Convection currents move
large volumes of rock and
heat in loops within the
mantle. Mantle plumes flow
slowly upward, and when it
reaches the top of the
plume, it radiates out like
the top of an open umbrella.
Earth’s Major Tectonic Plates
Measurement of the magnitude of an
earthquake is done using the Richter
scale, where each higher number is
10 times greater than the next lower
Insignificant is less than 4.0 on the
Richter scale, minor is 4.0–4.9,
damaging is 5.0–5.9, destructive is
6.0–6.9, major is 7.0–7.9, and great is
An earthquake occurs at a fracture line or
causes a fracture and shift in the earth’s
Foreshocks may occur prior to the
main shock and aftershocks
occur up to several months after
the main shock.
Primary effects include shaking and
temporary to permanent
displacement of the ground.
Secondary effects include rockslides,
fires, and flooding due to
subsidence of the land.
Examination of an area for faults
prior to building can help save
lives and destruction of property
Expected Earthquake Damage
Fig. 16-7 p. 337
P – primary (compression waves)
S – Secondary wave (sheer waves)
Impact of waves
Building Collapse retrofit
Natural Hazards: Volcanic Eruptions
An active volcano releases magma onto the
earth’s surface. This release may be
violent or quiet.
Volcanic activity is generally concentrated
in the same areas as seismic activity.
Ash and gases may be ejected along with
Gases such as sulfur dioxide may remain
in the atmosphere and cause acid rain.
Particulate matter may remain in the
atmosphere for up to 3 years and cause
cooling of the atmosphere.
Fertile soils are produced from the
weathering of lava flows.
Scientists are studying phenomena that
precede an eruption to better predict their
External Earth Processes
Minerals and Rocks
Mineral (diamond, quartz)
Igneous (granite, basalt)
Sedimentary (limestone, sandstone)
Metamorphic (marble, slate)
Breaker and whoosh
Fig. 16-9 p. 339
Silver, Copper, Aluminum,
Coal, Oil and Natural Gas
Open-pit (surface mining)
Dredging (surface mining)
Area strip (surface mining)
Finding Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
Satellite and air imagery
Processing Mineral Resources
Fig. 16-10 p. 340
of ore from
Scattered in environment
Mining Act of 1872
What is the impact of the
The Hardrock Mining and
Reclamation Act of 2009
Surface Mining Control
and Reclamation Act
Mine lands must be
restored to pre-mining conditions
Taxes on mining companies
to restore pre-1977 sites
Environmental Effects of Mining Mineral Resources
Fig. 16-14 p. 344
Disruption of land surface
Erosion of solid mining waste
Acid mine drainage
Storage and leakage of
liquid mining waste
More Environmental Impacts of Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
Room and pillar
Supplies of Mineral Resources
Mining the ocean
Fig. 16-16 p. 346