Geology of the National Parks

Wrap Up


Review the Unit 1 Introduction

You have reached the end of Unit 1! Double-check the list of requirements on the Unit 1 Introduction page and the Course Calendar to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there.

Unit 1 Overview

Click here to review the Unit 1 Overview and make sure you understand all the main topics.

Overview of the main topics and ideas that you encountered in Unit 1.

Unit 1: Science!

  • is a human activity—it isn’t Truth, but it works;
  • is the best way we have to answer many questions (How does something work? How can we use that information to cure disease or find clean water or otherwise help us?);
  • cannot answer many questions (What should we do? Why are we here?).

Scientific Method:

  • Get a new idea (hypothesis) from somewhere (genius?).
  • See if new idea beats old idea in predicting what will happen (experiment).
  • If yes (after many tests), use the new idea; if no, still use old one.
  • Repeat—there’s always more to learn.
  • Ideas that work better may be True, Close, or Lucky, so science never sure.
  • Science can prove ideas wrong, but cannot prove them correct.
  • But, if we act as if science finds truth, we succeed in doing many things...
  • IF we follow the scientific method.

Why National Parks?

  • US idea, Yellowstone first (1870).
  • Take a quick visit to Yellowstone, and imagine it as a power plant or cola ad.
  • Problem: parks for “conservation unimpaired for future generations” but “enjoyment” for this generation.
  • Doing both is not easy.

Why Geology?

  • Find valuable things (oil, water, gems).
  • Avoid hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides).
  • Learn how Earth works to keep it and us happy and healthy.
  • Have fun (Why are the parks so pretty? What were dinosaurs like?).

Some Geological Background

  • We WILL cover evidence during the semester, but we have to start somewhere.
  • Earth 4.6 billion years old, pieces from space fell together under gravity.
  • Heated as it formed (natural radioactivity, and the heat from stopping those falling pieces—think of hot-brake smell after stopping a truck on a steep hill).
  • Heating melted Earth and allowed it to separate into layers (think of car-bottom clump on a snowy day—ice and rocks and dead-squirrel parts all lumped together, but separate when they melt in the garage).
  • Layers are: iron-rich core, iron-silica mantle, more-silica/less-iron crust (refer to Chemistry Sidebar in the text if this seems unfamiliar).

Reminder - Exercise #1 opened this week. You have two weeks to complete it, but please start early to avoid technological difficulties. See Course Calendar for specific dates.

Comments or Questions?

Please feel free to send an email to ALL of the teachers and TA's through Canvas conversations with any questions. Failure to email ALL teachers and TA's may result in a delayed or missed response. See "How to send email in GEOSC 10" for instructions