Earth Science

Question

Using a search engine such as Google, research a mineral or minerals that are mined in your area. Then read about the process(es) used to mine this mineral. What are some of the safety or environmental concerns associated with this type of mining? In your comments to another student, discuss whether you think the economic benefits outweigh the safety or environmental concerns. (calcite is minded in my area) NO WORD MINIMUM

List and describe the different characteristics of sedimentary rocks and discuss the processes that change sediment into sedimentary rock.

How is a scientific hypothesis different from a scientific theory? How does a scientific theory differ from a regular theory (i.e., a non-scientific theory in the way the term is used by lay people)?

Explain, with examples, how a change in each sphere will affect each of the other three spheres.

Sample paper

Earth Science

Mining Calcite

Calcite is one of the most abundant minerals that occur in the earth’s crust. Calcite occurs in the sedimentary rocks. It may occur either deep within the earth’s crust or on the surface of the earth (Azcue, 1999). As such, calcite extraction occurs through underground mining or surface mining. One of the environmental concerns associated with underground calcite mining is the disruption of underground water systems such as aquifers and flow of streams. Since calcite occurs in limestone region, underground mining may lead to development of sinkholes on the land. Man-made sink holes are dominant in areas having underground mining (Azcue, 1999). On the other hand, surface mining leads to destruction of the natural vegetation, leading to development of derelict land. The economic benefit of mining calcite outweighs safety or environmental concerns especially where environmental restoration occur following mining.

Characteristics of sedimentary rocks

Sedimentary rocks form through lithification of rock particles, which undergo transportation and are deposited in layers to form compact sedimentary rocks. The first characteristic of sedimentary rocks is stratification, which involves having multiple layers (Stewart, 2002). The second characteristic is fossilization. Sedimentary rocks contain animal and plant fossils that date back different historical periods. Another characteristic is porosity, which means that water can percolate through them. Sedimentary rocks weather easily. Lastly, sedimentary rocks formed near coastlines contain marks and imprints caused by waves. The process of lithification occurs when weathered rock debris are transported from one place to another. The rock particles become sorted and rounded during the transportation process (Stewart, 2002). Upon deposition, the weathered rock debris hardens due to pressure from overlying material. Dead organic matter also undergoes lithification, forming part of sedimentary rocks.

Hypothesis

A scientific hypothesis is a statement that explains an observable phenomenon, or a prediction of the probable causal relations among different phenomenon. On the other hand, a scientific theory is an explanation of observable phenomenon that is verified or backed up by well-substantiated evidence. A scientific theory is based on evidence, while a regular theory links fact without concrete evidence.

Effect of change in each sphere

A change in hydrosphere can affect the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, causing changes in precipitation. A change in the hydrosphere can affect the biosphere by changing precipitation rates. High precipitation rates may lead to flooding and landslides, while low precipitation rates can lead to events such as drought (Ernst, 2000). This may lead to destruction of natural ecosystems. Changes in hydrosphere can affect geosphere by changing the rate of weathering and erosion.

A change in atmosphere can affect the level of water held up in the hydrosphere (Ernst, 2000). For instance, climate change may lead to excess water being held in oceans due to melting of ice in the polar region. Changes in atmosphere can affect the biosphere. For instance, high number of dust or smoke particles in the air may impact the ability of animals to breathe, causing deaths of species. Ash particles in the atmosphere from volcanoes may affect the geosphere. For instance, the ash particles may be deposited in far off areas causing a change in PH of the soil.

Changes in the biosphere such as reduced vegetation can affect the geosphere (Ernst, 2000). For instance, reduced vegetation may lead to increased erosion and weathering of rocks. Changes in biosphere such as reduced vegetation cover may affect the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and consequently precipitation rates. Reduced vegetation cover may affect precipitation in an area. This may affect the hydrosphere by decreasing the amount of water in streams.

Changes in geosphere such as increased erosion rates may affect the hydrosphere by increasing the amount of sediments in stream water, lakes and oceans (Ernst, 2000). Changes in geosphere such as changes in PH levels of the soil may affect the biosphere by causing changes in the growth of plants. Dry conditions in geosphere may lead to high rates of wind erosion and increase in dust particles in the atmosphere. This may alter the quality of air.

References

Azcue, J. M. (1999). Environmental Impacts of Mining Activities: Emphasis on Mitigation and    Remedial Measures. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Ernst, W. G. (2000). Earth systems: Processes and issues. Cambridge: Cambridge University       Press.

Stewart, M. (2002). Sedimentary rocks. Chicago, Ill: Heinemann Library.

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