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Name: _______________________

Unit 1 & 2 review Short Answer questions

Questions on the segregation of earths layers:

1. 4.6 billion years ago, Earths interior was a uniform mixture while today it is segregated into distinct layers.
Explain what caused this segregation to happen.
The decay of radioactive elements and heat generated by the colliding of particles, caused Earths
interior to melt.
This allowed Earths interior to segregate based on density.
The denser elements, nickel and iron, sank (center) while the lighter (silicates) floated (surface).
This segregation by density is still occurring today on a smaller scale and was responsible for the
layering of Earths interior into layers with different properties.
Questions on the the origin of the universe or of the solar system:
2. The Orion nebula is a cloud of dust and gas in space. Explain how this nebula could form a solar system
similar to the one in which we live.
The nebula hypothesis:
A huge rotating cloud of dust and gases begins to contract towards its center.
As it contracted it rotated faster and faster which caused the material to flatten into a disk shape.
The material concentrated in the center formed the protosun.
The remaining material within the flattened disk began to form the planets we see today.
In time most of the remaining debris was added to the planets or was swept out into space
Questions on how the different spheres interact during an event.
3. Describe the interaction among the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere, in the formation of
Hydrosphere - the microorganisms that eventually create petroleum lived in the oceans
Biosphere - Microorganisms are what create petroleum
Atmosphere - in order to create petrolium it must be away from the atmosphere (little oxygen)
Lithosphere - petroleum is formed from the rapid sedimentation of the microorganisms

Questions on uniformitarianism and catastrophism:

4. With reference to uniformitarianism, describe how mass extinctions may occur on Earth again.
Uniformitarianism suggests that the processes that shaped Earth in the past are
essentially the same as those operating today. Thus in the future the same
processes will continue to affect Earth. Plate tectonics and meteorite impacts are
two possible explanations that scientist believe caused mass extinctions in the
past. These phenomena continue to occur today and will continue into the future
which may once again be the cause of mass extinctions.

Questions on cross-sections, and layers of the earth (relative dating):

5.Describe the sequence of events that lead to the formation of this geological Cross-section

Sequence of events include the following:

1) Deposition of layers C, A, and B.
3) Faulting of layers C, A, and B.
5) Erosion of folded and faulted layers.
7) Intrusion of rock unit E.

2) Folding of layers C, A, and B.

4) Uplift of folded and faulted layers.
6) Sinking followed by deposition of layers G and D.
8) Intrusion of rock unit F.

Questions on geologic history:

6. Give two reasons why we know so little about Precambrian life forms.
Evidence of Precambrian lifeforms are scarce for several reasons;
1) Rocks of this time are greatly metamorphosed and deformed, extensively eroded, and covered by
layers of rock strata.
2) Life forms from this time are microscopic and are not easily seen.
3) Most life forms from this time were thought to be soft bodied are would not be recorded in the rock
Questions on radiometric dating:
7. (a) 1200 g of a radioactive element has decayed to produce 75 g of the element. If the half-life of the mineral
is 0.40 billion years, what is the age of the sample? Show calculations.
Half lives lived

Age (billion)

Amount of parent material










The radioactive sample is 1.6 billion years

7. (b) The parent isotope of a radioactive element has a half-life of 250 million years. If a sample contains
12.5% of the parent isotope, how old is the rock? Show all workings.

Number of half lives lived

Age (million)

Amount of parent material








The sample is 750 million years old

Questions on fossilization:
8. Explain how a plant leaf may become fossilized as a result of carbonization.

When a plant leaf becomes trapped between sediments compression results.

The compression removes volatile compounds (water and gases) and transforms the organic
structure, leaving a thin film of carbon.
The film is made of stable carbon that remains after the rest gets dissolved away.
This carbon creates an impression of the leaf in the rock outlining the fossil