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37250_Ward's World+MGH Environmental Geology

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Environmental Geology Article by: Harvey Blatt, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel. Access to this content is available to Ward's World readers for free from McGraw Hill's AccessScience, an award-winning, digital STEM resource that provides immediate, authoritative answers to students' thirst for scientific knowledge on topics such as climate change, virology, pollution, and more. Ward's World and McGraw Hill have partnered to offer educators a no-obligation, free trial subscription to this product. Request your free trial today and discover how valuable AccessScience can be for you and your students. The branch of geology that deals with the ways in which geology affects people. Examples of the effect of geology on human civilizations include (1) how fertile soils develop from rocks and how these soils can become polluted by human activities; (2) how rocks and soils move down-slope to destroy roads, houses, and other human constructions; (3) how sources of surface and subsurface water become polluted; (4) why floods occur where they do and how human activities affect floods; (5) why earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur where they do and what dangers they pose (see illustration); (6) where mineral resources such as copper, oil and gas, and uranium are located, and how mining these resources can pollute the environment; (7) how human activities can pollute the atmosphere and cause global warming, sea-level rise, and ozone depletion. Soil Most environmental concerns center on three materials essential to human life: soil, water, and air. Soils develop from chemical reactions between rocks, water, and atmospheric gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. The most abundant solid product of these reactions is a variety of clay minerals, which are major contributors to agricultural fertility. Ions on clay surfaces and decaying organic matter are the sources of nutrient elements for growing plants. Clay minerals are also responsible for destructive events, such as when they absorb water and cause soil to swell, resulting in foundation cracking and other structural problems in buildings. Changes in clay minerals as they lie in the soil are also the cause of many types of landslides. + ward ' s science Content • Soil • Water • Pollution • Floods • Atmosphere • Earthquakes and Volcanoes Key Concepts • Environmental geology addresses the effects of Earth science on human civilizations, including issues of soil erosion, water and air pollution, flooding, earthquake and volcanic activity, mining, and global warming. • Most environmental concerns center on three materials essential to human life: soil, water, and air. • Most soil erosion results from poor farming practices and overzealous logging, while soil pollution is mostly caused by synthetic pesticides. • Water depletion is a serious problem in areas where surface water supplies are inadequate and underground sources of freshwater are withdrawn faster than are naturally replenished by rain and snowfall. • Concerns about air quality revolve around increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide, decreases in the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere, and pollution in the lower atmosphere. • Natural geologic hazards, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, can cause loss of life and property.

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