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Chapter 15

Geology and
Nonrenewable Mineral
Resources

Chapter Overview Questions
 What

major geologic processes occur within
the earth and on its surface?
 What are nonrenewable mineral resources
and where are they found?
 What are rocks, and how are they recycled
by the rock cycle?
 How do we find and extract mineral
resources from the earth’s crust, and what
harmful environmental effects result from
removing and using these minerals?

Chapter Overview Questions (cont’d)
 Will

there be enough nonrenewable mineral
resources for future generations?
 Can we find substitutes for scarce
nonrenewable mineral resources?
 How can we shift to more sustainable use of
nonrenewable mineral resources?

Updates Online
The latest references for topics covered in this section can be found at
the book companion website. Log in to the book’s e-resources page at
www.thomsonedu.com to access InfoTrac articles.





InfoTrac: Residents discuss towns' deaths. Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma
City, OK) August 2, 2006.
InfoTrac: All that glitters: the demand for gold is soaring. Jane Perlez,
Kirk Johnson. New York Times, May 8, 2006 v138 i14 p12(6) .
InfoTrac: In Old Mining Town, New Charges Over Asbestos. Kirk
Johnson. The New York Times, April 22, 2006 pA1(L).
Science Daily: Putting Coal Ash Back Into Mines A Viable Option For
Disposal, But Risks Must Be Addressed
National Park Service: Mining Operations Management
Arizona Mining Association: From the Ground Up: Mining/Mineral
Resource Development

Core Case Study: The
Nanotechnology Revolution
 Nanotechnology

uses science and
engineering to create materials out of
atoms and molecules at the scale of less
than 100 nanometers.

Little environmental harm:
• Does not use renewable resources.

Potential biological concerns.
• Can move through cell membranes:

Figure 15-1

GEOLOGIC PROCESSES
 The

earth is made up of a core, mantle, and
crust and is constantly changing as a result
of processes taking place on and below its
surface.
 The earth’s interior consists of:

Core: innermost zone with solid inner core and
molten outer core that is extremely hot.
Mantle: solid rock with a rigid outer part
(asthenosphere) that is melted pliable rock.
Crust: Outermost zone which underlies the
continents.

GEOLOGIC PROCESSES

 Major

features of the earth’s crust and upper
mantle.
Figure 15-2

Volcanoes
Abyssal hills

Oceanic crust
(lithosphere)

Abyssal Oceanic
floor
ridge

Abyssal
floor

Trench

Folded
mountain
belt

Abyssal plain

Craton

Continental
shelf

Continental
slope

Continental
rise
Continental crust (lithosphere)
Mantle (lithosphere)

Fig. 15-2, p. 336

Spreading
center

Collision between
two continents

Subduction
zone
Continental
crust

Oceanic
crust

Ocean
trench

Oceanic
crust
Continental
crust

Material cools Cold dense
as it reaches material falls
the outer back through
mantle
mantle
Hot
Mantle
material
convection
rising
cell
through
the
mantle

Two plates move
towards each other.
One is subducted
back into the mantle
on a falling convection
current.

Mantle
Hot outer
core Inner
core

Fig. 15-3, p. 337

GEOLOGIC PROCESSES
 Huge

volumes of heated and molten rack
moving around the earth’s interior form
massive solid plates that move extremely
slowly across the earth’s surface.

Tectonic plates: huge rigid plates that are
moved with convection cells or currents by
floating on magma or molten rock.

The Earth’s Major Tectonic Plates

Figure 15-4

The Earth’s Major Tectonic Plates

 The

extremely slow movements of these
plates cause them to grind into one another
at convergent plate boundaries, move apart
at divergent plate boundaries and slide past
at transform plate boundaries.
Figure 15-4

Fig. 15-4, p. 338

JUAN DE
FUCA PLATE

EURASIAN PLATE

NORTH
AMERICAN
PLATE

ANATOLIAN
PLATE

CARIBBEAN
PLATE

ARABIAN

AFRICAN PLATE
PLATE

PACIFIC
PLATE

SOUTH
AMERICAN
NAZCA PLATE

PLATE

SOMALIAN
SUBPLATE

CHINA
SUBPLATE
PHILIPPINE
PLATE

INDIAAUSTRALIAN
PLATE

ANTARCTIC PLATE
Divergent plate
boundaries

Convergent plate
boundaries

Transform
faults

Fig. 15-4a, p. 338

Trench

Volcanic island arc

Craton
Transform
fault

Lithosphere
Asthenosphere
Divergent plate boundaries

Lithosphere
Rising
magma
Asthenosphere
Convergent plate boundaries

Lithosphere
Asthenosphere
Transform faults

Fig. 15-4b, p. 338

GEOLOGIC PROCESSES
 The

San
Andreas Fault is
an example of a
transform fault.

Figure 15-5

Wearing Down and Building Up the
Earth’s Surface
 Weathering

is

an external
process that
wears the
earth’s
surface
down.

Figure 15-6

Parent material
(rock)

Biological
weathering
(tree roots and
lichens)

Chemical
weathering
(water, acids,
and gases)

Particles of parent material

Physical weathering
(wind, rain, thermal
expansion and
contraction, water
freezing)

Fig. 15-6, p. 340

MINERALS, ROCKS, AND THE
ROCK CYCLE
 The

earth’s crust consists of solid inorganic
elements and compounds called minerals
that can sometimes be used as resources.

Mineral resource: is a concentration of
naturally occurring material in or on the earth’s
crust that can be extracted and processed into
useful materials at an affordable cost.

General Classification of
Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
 The

U.S. Geological Survey classifies
mineral resources into four major categories:

Identified: known location, quantity, and quality
or existence known based on direct evidence and
measurements.
Undiscovered: potential supplies that are
assumed to exist.
Reserves: identified resources that can be
extracted profitably.
Other: undiscovered or identified resources not
classified as reserves

General Classification of
Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
 Examples

are
fossil fuels (coal,
oil), metallic
minerals (copper,
iron), and
nonmetallic
minerals (sand,
gravel).
Figure 15-7

Reserves

Other
resources

Economical

Identified

Not economical

Decreasing cost of extraction

Undiscovered

Decreasing certainty

Known

Existence
Fig. 15-7, p. 341

GEOLOGIC PROCESSES
 Deposits

of nonrenewable mineral resources
in the earth’s crust vary in their abundance
and distribution.
 A very slow chemical cycle recycles three
types of rock found in the earth’s crust:


Sedimentary rock (sandstone, limestone).
Metamorphic rock (slate, marble, quartzite).
Igneous rock (granite, pumice, basalt).

Rock Cycle

Figure 15-8

Erosion
Transportation

Weathering
Deposition

Igneous rock
Granite,
pumice,
basalt

Sedimentary
rock
Sandstone,
limestone
Heat, pressure

Cooling

Heat, pressure,
stress

Magma
(molten rock)

Melting

Metamorphic rock
Slate, marble,
gneiss, quartzite

Fig. 15-8, p. 343

ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF
USING MINERAL RESOURCES

 The

extraction, processing, and use of
mineral resources has a large environmental
impact.
Figure 15-9

Surface
mining

Metal ore

Separation
of ore from
gangue

Smelting

Recycling

Melting
metal

Conversion
to product

Discarding of
product
(scattered in
environment)

Fig. 15-9, p. 344

Natural Capital Degradation
Extracting, Processing, and Using Nonrenewable Mineral and Energy Resources

Steps

Environmental effects

Mining

Disturbed land; mining
accidents; health hazards,
mine waste dumping, oil
spills and blowouts; noise;
ugliness; heat

Exploration,
extraction
Processing

Use

Solid wastes; radioactive
material; air, water, and
soil pollution; noise;
safety and health
hazards; ugliness; heat

Transportation or
transmission to
individual user,
eventual use, and
discarding

Noise; ugliness; thermal
water pollution; pollution
of air, water, and soil;
solid and radioactive
wastes; safety and health
hazards; heat

Transportation,
purification,
manufacturing

Fig. 15-10, p. 344

ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF
USING MINERAL RESOURCES
 Minerals

are removed through a variety of
methods that vary widely in their costs, safety
factors, and levels of environmental harm.
 A variety of methods are used based on
mineral depth.

Surface mining: shallow deposits are removed.
Subsurface mining: deep deposits are removed.

Open-pit Mining
 Machines

dig

holes and
remove ores,
sand, gravel,
and stone.
 Toxic
groundwater can
accumulate at
the bottom.
Figure 15-11

Area Strip Mining
 Earth

movers
strips away
overburden, and
giant shovels
removes mineral
deposit.
 Often leaves highly
erodible hills of
rubble called spoil
banks.
Figure 15-12

Contour Strip Mining
 Used

on hilly or
mountainous
terrain.
 Unless the land is
restored, a wall of
dirt is left in front
of a highly
erodible bank
called a highwall.
Figure 15-13

Undisturbed land
Overburden

Pit

Bench

Spoil banks
Fig. 15-13, p. 346

Mountaintop Removal
 Machinery

removes the tops
of mountains to
expose coal.
 The resulting
waste rock and dirt
are dumped into
the streams and
valleys below.
Figure 15-14

Mining Impacts
 Metal

ores are
smelted or treated
with (potentially toxic)
chemicals to extract
the desired metal.

Figure 15-15

SUPPLIES OF MINERAL
RESOURCES
 The

future supply of a resource depends on
its affordable supply and how rapidly that
supply is used.
 A rising price for a scarce mineral resource
can increase supplies and encourage more
efficient use.

SUPPLIES OF MINERAL
RESOURCES
 Depletion

curves
for a renewable
resource using
three sets of
assumptions.

Dashed vertical
lines represent
times when 80%
depletion occurs.
Figure 15-16

Production

A

Mine, use, throw away;
no new discoveries;
rising prices
Recycle; increase reserves
by improved mining
technology, higher prices,
and new discoveries

B

Recycle, reuse,
reduce consumption;
increase reserves by
improved mining
technology, higher
prices, and new
discoveries

C

Present Depletion Depletion Depletion
time A
time B
time C

Time

Fig. 15-16, p. 348

SUPPLIES OF MINERAL
RESOURCES
 New

technologies can increase the mining of
low-grade ores at affordable prices, but
harmful environmental effects can limit this
approach.
 Most minerals in seawater and on the deep
ocean floor cost too much to extract, and
there are squabbles over who owns them.

Getting More Minerals from the
Ocean
 Hydrothermal

deposits form when
mineral-rich
superheated water
shoots out of vents
in solidified magma
on the ocean floor.

Figure 15-17

Black
smoker

White
smoker

Sulfide
deposits

Magma
White
crab

White clam
Tube
worms

Fig. 15-17, p. 350

USING MINERAL RESOURCES
MORE SUSTAINABLY
 Scientists

and engineers are developing new
types of materials as substitutes for many
metals.
 Recycling valuable and scarce metals saves
money and has a lower environmental impact
then mining and extracting them from their
ores.

Solutions
Sustainable Use of Nonrenewable Minerals
• Do not waste mineral resources.

• Recycle and reuse 60–80% of mineral resources.
• Include the harmful environmental costs of
mining and processing minerals in the prices
of items (full-cost pricing).
• Reduce subsidies for mining mineral resources.
• Increase subsidies for recycling, reuse, and
finding less environmentally harmful substitutes.

• Redesign manufacturing processes to use less
mineral resources and to produce less pollution
and waste.
• Have the mineral-based wastes of one
manufacturing process become the raw
materials for other processes.
• Sell services instead of things.
• Slow population growth.
Fig. 15-18, p. 351

Case Study:
The Ecoindustrial Revolution
 Growing

signs point to an ecoindustrial
revolution taking place over the next 50
years.
 The goal is to redesign industrial
manufacturing processes to mimic how
nature deals with wastes.

Industries can interact in complex resource
exchange webs in which wastes from
manufacturer become raw materials for another.

Case Study:
The Ecoindustrial Revolution

Figure 15-19

Sludge

Pharmaceutical plant

Sludge

Greenhouses

Waste
heat

Fish farming

Waste heat
Oil refinery
Surplus
sulfur

Local farmers

Surplus
Electric power
natural gas
plant
Waste
calcium
sulfate

Cement manufacturer

Sulfuric acid
producer
Wallboard factory

Area homes

Fig. 15-19, p. 352