Environmental Geology An Earth Systems Approach

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 3/28/2014
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman

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Emphasizing the interconnected nature of environmental geology and the multidimensional processes of the Earth, this highly anticipated new edition of Merritt's classic text provides a balanced approach to environmental issues and builds an informed student understanding with case studies, conceptual explanations, and relevant presentation of material. By far the most concise book for its course, it remains the only textbook to use an earth systems approach to exploring how the Earth works, the human impact on the environment, and the characteristics of different natural hazards.

Author Biography

Dorothy Merritts is a geologist with expertise on streams, rivers, and the impact of humans and geologic hazards on landscape evolution. In the western United States, she conducted research on the San Andreas Fault of coastal California, and her international work focuses on fault movements in South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, and Costa Rica. Her primary research in the eastern United States is in the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, where she is investigating the role of climate change and human activities in transforming the valley bottom landscapes and waterways of Eastern North America. Recently she partnered with other scientists and policy makers from multiple state and national government agencies to develop and test a new approach to stream and wetland restoration. She is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is an author or co-author of more than 70 scientific articles, and the editor and contributing writer for numerous scientific books and field guides.

Kirsten Menking is an environmental Earth scientist in the Department of Earth Science and Geography at Vassar College. Her research interests include using lake sediments to unravel Earth’s history of climatic change, linking this history to atmospheric and hydrologic processes through a combination of numerical modeling experiments and collection of weather and stream discharge data, analyzing the evolution of landforms in response to climatic and tectonic processes, and studying the impacts of urbanization on streams. She has published journal articles documenting glacial–interglacial cycles in the Sierra Nevada mountains and adjacent Owens Valley of California, determined the climatic conditions necessary to produce a Pleistocene lake in the now-dry Estancia Basin of New Mexico, and un-covered a centuries-long mid-Holocene drought in New York’s Hudson River valley. Her current research involves quantifying the amount of road salt entering the groundwater system,a topic of concern both for people dependent on well water and for aquatic ecosystems.

Andrew de Wet is a classically trained geologist specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing and their application to environmental problems on Earth and geological processes on Mars. He holds an honors degree in geology from the University of Natal (now the University of Kwazulu-Natal), South Africa, and a doctorate from Cambridge University, England. He has done field work in South Africa, Greece, the United Kingdom, Mongolia, Chile, Antarctica, and the United States. He teaches environmental geology, GIS and Natural Resources, and an interdisciplinary course on comparative planetology with a focus on Mars. He served as director of the Keck Geology Consortium for three years and has led Keck Geology research projects numerous times. Professor de Wet’s capacity for visualizing complex systems has clarified concepts and inspired students to better understand the interconnectedness of natural systems. Through his travels across seven continents he has acquired a deep knowledge of geological and environmental conditions, which he transcribes into dynamic graphics portraying natural and anthropomorphic processes. He has published articles on geological pedagogy in the Journal of Geological Education and on shared faculty positions in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering and Geotimes. He is a member of the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union. He is involved in a long-standing collaboration with researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and publishes on environmental issues and planetary

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction
1. Dynamic Earth Systems
Earth System Science
The Concept of Systems
Earth's Environmental Systems
Earth's Energy Systems
Population, Resources, Pollution, Hazards, and Planetary Boundaries

Part II: Solid Earth Systems and Geologic Time
2. Plate Tectonics: Solid Earth in Motion
An Early Conundrum and the Scientific Method
Plate Properties and Motions
Piecing the Theory Together
The Driver of Plate Tectonics

3. Earthquakes: Their Causes, Hazards, and Risks
The Build-up and Release of Seismic Energy
Assessing Earthquake Hazards
Minimizing the Risks from Earthquakes

4. Earth Materials: Elements, Minerals, and Rocks
Minerals: Building blocks of the lithosphere
Rocks and the Rock Cycle
Rock and Mineral Resources

5. Volcanoes
Volcanic Eruptions
Volcanic Hazards
Minimizing the Risks from Volcanic Eruptions

6. Geologic Time
Scales of Time and Earth System Cycles
Measuring Time: Relative and Absolute Age Dating
Fossils, Evolution, and Relative Geologic Time
Global Change over Different Scales of Time

Part III Earth's Surface Systems
7. The Biosphere
Biosphere Structure and Functioning
Ecosystem Services
Water Purification
Human Impacts on the Biosphere

8. Soil and Weathering Systems
The Pedosphere: A Geomembrane to Other Earth Systems
Biological Processes and their Role in Weathering
Pedosphere Resources: Soils, Clays, and Mineral Ores
Soil Erosion Hazards, Land Degradation, and Soil Conservation
Soil Erosion: A Quiet Crisis
Mass Movement Hazards and Their Mitigation

Part IV Fluid Earth Systems
9. Earth
The Hydrologic Cycle
Drainage Basins and Streams
Altered Streams
Managing and Restoring Streams and Wetlands
Water Resources and Protection

10. The Groundwater System
Water in the Ground
Groundwater As a Resource
Groundwater Hazards
Groundwater Pollution and Its Cleanup

11. The Atmospheric System
The Atmosphere: An Envelope of Gases
Atmospheric Circulation and Climate
Severe Weather
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
Human Influence on Atmospheric Chemistry
Air Pollution and Environmental Management

12. The Ocean and Coastal System
The Ocean Basins
Sea Level Changes
Seawater Chemistry
Ocean Structure and Circulation
Circulation in the Surface Mixed Layer
Circulation in the Deep Ocean
Coastal Processes and Hazards of Living by the Sea
Coastal Erosion and Attempts to Control It
Controlling Cliff Erosion
Human Impacts on the Seas
Waste Disposal and Polluted Runoff Along Continental Shelves

Part V Energy, Changing Earth, and Human-Earth Interactions
13. Energy
Energy and Humans
Earth's Energy System
Petroleum: Crude Oil and Natural Gas
Renewable Energy: Solar, Wind, And Hydroelectric
The "New Energy Era": Green Buildings and the Road Taken

14. Understanding Climatic and Environmental Change
Climate on Terrestrial Planets
Causes of Climatic Change
Influence of Plate Tectonics on Climate
Indicators of Environmental Change
Global Climate Models

15. Humans and the Whole Earth System: Living in the Anthropocene
Planetary Boundaries
Anthropogenic Climate Change
Impacts of Rising Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
Sea Level Rise
Coming to Grips with the Anthropocene

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