The science of geology is founded on basic principles that are useful for making observations about the world around us.
This chapter presents a mix of information that is essential (fundamental) to all following chapters.
The chemical composition of Earth's crust has similarities with other stony planets, with silicate-rich rocks being dominant in most locations on the surface.
In addition, basic geologic principles can be applied to resolving the order of events leading to the formation of rocks and landscape features. Cross Sections - interpretations of vertical views of geologic features below the surface.
The lightest element, hydrogen, has one proton, whereas the heaviest naturally occurring element, uranium, has 92 protons. Isotopes are each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties.
Some isotopes are not stable and ultimately break down or change in other elements.
Stone is another common term used to describe rock. Figure 2-2 shows how minerals can be combined to form different kinds of rocks that form under different environmental conditions.
The mineral composition of a rock reflects the physical environment and geologic history where a rock formed.
This also applies to rocks, minerals, and derivative materials (such as sediments and soil).
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Classified information is not to be entered into these applications.
For instance, rocks and minerals formed deep underground may not be stable in the surface environment where they are exposed to water, air, temperature changes, and other physical and chemical conditions.
All matter is made up of atoms, and atoms are made up of atomic particles (electrons, protons, and neutrons - see Figure 2-5).