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Something to Consider
all about geology
The first thing you should know about rocks is that the people who study them are known as geologists. Geologists don't study just rocks, they study the Earth—our home. And, just like doctors, geologists have specialties…
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  1. Physical Geology
    1. Dating
      1. Relative dating
      2. Absolute dating
    2. Time
      1. Eons, eras, periods, epochs
      2. Pre-Archean Eon, Archean Eon, Proterozoic Eon
  2. Fundamental Principles of Geology
    1. Geologic Record
      1. Sedimentary rocks
        1. Lithification
    2. Principle of Original Horizontality
    3. Principle of Superposition
    4. Principle of Lateral Continuity
    5. Law of Cross-Cutting Relationships
    6. Fossil Succession
    7. Principle of Uniformitarianism
  3. What Are Rocks Made of?
    1. Minerals
    2. Physical Properties
    1. Hardness
      1. Mohs hardness scale
    2. Cleavage
    3. Fracture
    4. Luster
    1. Metallic
    2. Nonmetallic
  4. Magma and Lava
    1. Igneous Rocks
      1. Extrusive
      2. Intrusive
    2. Lava Flow
      1. Pahoehoe flow
      2. Aa flow
    3. Pyroclastic materials
      1. Ash
      2. Pumic
      3. Tuff
    4. Volcanic Edifices
      1. Shield Volcanoes
      2. Composite Volcanoes
      3. Cinder Cones
      4. Fissure Eruptions
        1. Basalt plateaus
        2. Nuèe ardente

True or False

1. True or false: Geologists not only study the earth, but they can specialize and study things like the oceans and even other planets.

2. True or false: The eon we live in currently, the Phanerozoic, is divided into three eras.

Multiple Choice

3. The concept of geological time is based on:
a) relative time and obsolete time
b) absolute time and relative time
c) relative time and relative fossils
d) absolute time and deep time

4. Which of these segments of time is longest?
a) eon
b) epoch
c) era
d) period

5. Placing geological events in a chronological sequence by observing the rock record is called:
a) principle dating
b) double dating
c) relative dating
d) radioactive dating

6. Around how long ago did humans start to appear on Earth?
a) 40,000 years
b) 400,000 years
c) 4 million years
d) 40 million years

7. The process of turning a sediment into a sedimentary rock is:
a) lithification
b) cross-cutting
c) condension
d) mummification

8. What principle are we using if we see marine fossils in Ohio and assume that Ohio was once under ocean water?
a) uniformitarianism
b) faunal dating
c) metamorphism
d) lateral continuity

9. Most sedimentary rocks are deposited in flat-lying layers. This idea is called the principle of:
a) uniformitarianism
b) faunal dating
c) metamorphism
d) lateral continuity

10. The principle of uniformitarianism includes:
a) events that are sudden and catastrophic.
b) geological events that occur slowly.
c) ice ages and meteor impacts.
d) modern processes.
e) all of the above

11. In where do geologists commonly find fossils?
a) sedimentary rock
b) meteorites
c) colonial houses
d) Fossils Rí Us

Fill in the Blanks

12. Rocks are made of ____________.

13. A/an ____________ lava flow has a lumpier texture than a pahoehoe lava flow.

14. Pyroclastic materials include ash, pumice, and ____________.

15. The big, concave-sided symmetrical edifices we usually associate with volcanoes are called ____________.

Click here to see the answers.

something to consider
1. What stereotypes do you think people have about geologists? Even if geology isn't your favorite subject, what aspects of geology do you think attracts people to the field?

2. How is a volcano eruption similar to a snowfall? How is it different?

3. Which other field of discipline do you think geology has most in common with? Biology? Chemistry? Ecology? Or something else entirely?

4. What's the difference between magma and lava?

5. Scientists can predict fairly accurately how often a section of a country will flood over a 10-year period. If scientists knew that there is a 90% that an area would have a major flood every ten years, do you think people should be allowed to live there? Why or why not? Also, do you think home insurance companies should be required to insure homes in that area?

coming soon

Scientists believe Earth was formed 4,600 million years ago. That's a big number - not quite as big as the number of burgers sold by some burger chains, but still pretty big.

top ten
Top Ten Reasons To Be a Geologist

10. Volcanic fumes are good for your skin

9. Crystal, Ruby, Opal…a FONT of names for your daughter

8. If you choose your field of research well, you could get paid to be at the beach

7. Diamonds are a girl's best friend

6. Rocks rock

5. Minerals generally are very accepting and non-judgmental

4. Laugh at the people who said you'd never be a rock star

3. You can get paid to date

2. "Magma" is a neat word to say. Say it with me: "magma." See?

1. Papa was a rollin' stone

aa — A type of lava flow characterized by its lumpiness and viscosity. When it cools, the rock it forms may be sharp.

absolute dating — A technique that geologists use to assign specific dates to rock formations and geologic events.

ash — A substance that shoots out of a volcano that's two millimeters or smaller in diameter.

cleavage — The way crystalline minerals split or break along an even plane (planar surfaces).

cross cutting relationships — A fundamental principle of geology, which states that rocks that cut through other rocks are younger than the rocks being cut.

faunal & floral
— A fundamental principle of geology, which states that unless disturbed, the oldest fossils in a rock bed should be at the bottom.

fracture — In rocks, a break along an uneven (non-planar) surface.

geologists — Cool guys and gals who study rocks and the Earth.

hardness — A rock or mineral's ability to resist abrasion.

igneous rock — A rock that forms when molten rock cools down and crystallizes.

lateral continuity — A fundamental principle of geology, which states that sediments are deposited initially in a layer that extends horizontally in all directions.

lava — Hot, melted rocks that reach the Earth's surface.

lithification — The process that turns sediment into sedimentary rock.

luster — The way that minerals reflect light. There are two types of luster: metallic and nonmetallic.

magma — Hot, melted rock that's below the Earth's surface.

Mohs hardness scale — A scale that measures and compares the hardness of minerals.

original horizontality — A fundamental principle of geology, which states that sediments settle and accumulate horizontally on the sea floor.

pahoehoe — Congealed surface lava is dragged along over hot-moving lava. The congealed part rolls over the hot part, forming folds that look like ropes.

pumice — A form of volcanic glass that's filled with holes. These holes form when gases escape from lava.

relative dating — A technique geologists use to assign a sequential order to the age of rocks and geologic events. The oldest comes first, and subsequent events follow on a relative dating line.

— Rocks formed from things like little pieces of gravel, sand, silt, and clay, as well as the remains of animals and plants.

A fundamental principle of geology, which states that if a rock bed hasn't been disturbed since it was formed, it is younger than the layer of rock below it.

tuff — A type of igneous rock formed by the consolidation of ash.

— A fundamental principle of geology, which states that we can understand geologic events of the past by looking at geologic events of the present. According to uniformitarianism, a volcano eruption that happens today is pretty much like a volcano eruption that happened million years ago.

Check out this cool resource from the U.S. Geological Survey!

Like volcanoes? You'll love this site—Volcano World!

How about earthquakes? Learn all about them here!

Don't forget about us minerals!

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