Earth Science 11th Edition Vocabulary Chapter 1

By Megan Andrews  (GLY 1001 Student North Campus Fall 2006)


Abyssal plain- very level area of the deep ocean floor, usually lying at the foot of the continental rise.


Asthenosphere- subdivision of the mantle situated below the lithosphere. This zone of weak material exists below a depth of 100 kilometers, sometimes as deep as 700 kilometers rock easily deformed is easily deformed in this area.


Astronomy – scientific study including observation, and interpretation of celestial bodies and phenomena.


Atmosphere- gaseous portion of planet the environments envelope of air one of the traditional sub divisions of earths’ physical science.


Biosphere- totality of life on earth the parts of solid earth hydrosphere, atmosphere, in which living organisms can be found


Closed system- system that is self contained with regards to matter that is no matter enters or leaves.


Continental margin- portion of seafloor adjacent to the continents may include shelf, rise, slope, and rise.


Continental shelf- gently sloping submerged portion of the continental margin extending from sphere continental slope.


Continental Slope- steep gradient that leads to the deep ocean floor, and marks seaward edge of shelf.


 Core – beneath mantle, inner moss layer of the earth divided in to outer core and inner core.


Crust- a very thin outermost layer of earth.


Deep ocean basin- portion of seafloor that lies between the continental margin and the oceanic ridge system. This ridge system compromises almost 30 % of earth surface.


Deep ocean trench-An elongated depression in the sea floor produced by the blending of the ocean crust during subduction.


Earth Science- name of all science collectively seeking to understand earth: geology, oceanography, meteorology and astrology


Earth system science – an interdisciplinary study that seeks to examine earth as a system composed of numerous interacting parts or subsystems.


Environment- everything that surrounds and influences an organism


Geological time scale- division of the earth history into books of time, eons, eras, periods, and epochs.


Geology- the science that examines earth, its forms and composition and changes it has undergone and is undergoing.


Geosphere- the solid earth, the largest of earths four major spheres.


Hydrosphere- water portion of our planet; one of the traditional sub divisions of earth’s physical environment.


Hypothesis- a tentative explanation that is tested to determine of it is valid.


Inner core- solid innermost layer of the earth about 1300 km.’s (800 miles in radius)


Interface- common boundary where different parts of a system interact.


Lithosphere- rigid outer layer of earth including crust and upper mantle.


 Lower mantle- extends from the core mantle to a depth of 660 km


Mantle- the 2900 km thick layer of earth located below the crust.


Meteorology- scientific study of the weather and climate.


Model- a term often used synomously with hypothesis but is less precise because it sometimes is used to describe a theory as well.


Nebular hypothesis – the basic idea that the sun and planets formed from the same cloud of gas and dust interstellar space.


Negative feedback-mechanism a feedback mechanism that tends to maintain a system as it is that is maintains a status quo.


Nonrenewable resource- resources that form or accumulate over such long time spans that it must be considered as fixed in total quantity.



Oceanic ridge- a continuous elevated zone on the floor of the entire major ocean basins and carrying in width from 500 to 5000 kilometers. The rifts at the crest of ridges represent divergent plate boundaries



Oceanography- the scientific study of the oceans and oceanic phenomena.



Open system-one in which energy and matter flow both into and out of the system. Most natural systems are of this type


Outer core-a layer beneath the mantle about 2200 kilometers or 1364 miles thick that has the properties of a liquid.


Paradigm- a theory that is held with a very high degree of confidence and is comprehensive in scope.


Physical environment- the part of the environment that encompasses water, air, soil, and rock as well as conditions such as temperature humidity and sunlight.


Plate- one of numerous rigid sections of the lithosphere that moves as a unit over the material of the asthenosphere.


Plate tectonics- the theory that purposes that earths outer shell consists of individual plates that Interact in various ways and thereby produce earth quakes, volcanoes, mountains, and the crust itself.


Positive feedback mechanism- a feedback mechanism that enhances or drives change.


Renewable resource- a resource that is virtually inexhaustible or that can be replenished over relatively short time spans.


Seamount- an isolated volcanic peak that rises at least 1000 meters above the deep-ocean floor.


Shield- a large, relatively flat expanse of ancient metamorphic rock within the stable continental interior.


Stable platform- that part of the craton that is mantled by relatively under formed sedimentary rocks and underlain by a basement complex of igneous and metamorphic rocks.


System- any size group of interacting parts that form a complex whole.


Theory- a well tested and widely accepted view that explains certain observable facts.