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Decond Eoluon

Laboratorg Exercises in


Laboratorg Exercises in
Second Edition

2-3 Hebrew Unuersty of Jerusalem



- iifilMcGraw-Hill
Boston, Massachusetts Burr Ridge, Illinois Dubuque,
Madison' wisconsin New York, New York san"Fiancrr., Iowa
4 culiforniast. Louis, Missouri

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Introduction ix EXERCISE THIRTEEN 95
Reviewers x
Solid Waste Disposal


What ls Environmental Geology? Coastal Erosion


Minerals Seismic Risk and Earthquakes


Rocks Volcanoes and Eruptions


Topographic Maps Nonfuel Mineral Resources


Geologic Maps Petroleum and Natural Gas


Soils and Soil Pollution Coal


Swelling Soils Air Pollution
Slope Stability and Landslides Alternative Sources of Energy


River Processes Mathematical Conversion Factors
Geologic Time Scale
EXERCISE TEN 69 Earth Science lnformation Centers
Floods Journals with Environmental Concerns



Water Pollution

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of interest in For example, problems of floods and coastal erosion seem
the relationship between geology and the everyday concerns more immediate in Louisiana than in Idaho.
of the average citizen. But why should someone who is not This manual is designed to be used in conjunction with
a professional geologist care about planet Earth? So what if textbooks on physical geology and environmental geology.
the earth's surface is composed of plates, rather than an un- For this reason I have avoided the lengthy theoretical dis-
broken, homogeneous skin? Why should anyone care cussions normally included in those texts. I have, however,
whether or not a rock layer contains oriented clay minerals? described some of the basic principles that underlie each
Will the fact that calcium carbonate is more soluble than laboratory exercise.
quartz affect your life in any meaningful way? These principles cannot be discussed without reference
The answers to these questions reveal that the average to size and distance. How far is a house from an unstable
citizen can indeed be affected by such concerns. The frac- hillside? Is the hill slope steep or gentle? Scientists usually
tured, platy character of the earth's crust, for example, af- use a metric scale in answering such questions; engineers
fects the cost of house insurance in California and else- and other professionals use the familiar, nonmetric scale of
where. The presence of oriented clay minerals predisposes feet and inches. Scale problems arise with temperature mea-
inclined rock layers to slide downhill in many parts of the surements. Scientists use the centigrade or Kelvin scale
United States. The difference in solubility between calcium rather than the Fahrenheit scale more familiar to American
carbonate and quartz causes some Florida homes to collapse students. To help students gain familiarity with various sys-
into huge pits. tems, this manual uses different scales in different exer-
The relationship between geology and short-term hu- cises. Students also need to learn how to convert easily from
man concerns (periods of no more than a few hundred years) one set of units to another: therefore. numerous conversion
is termed environmental geology. The purpose of this labo- factors are included in Appendix A.
ratory manual is to provide examples of how rocks and min- During the past 25 years, the increasing importance of
erals exposed at the earth's surface and geological processes environmental problems has led to the publication of many
affect the natural environment. books that are important references for environmental con-
At most schools, environmental geology is taught at the cerns. Books that deal with geological influences on the en-
first-year level, commonly as an alternative to a standard vironment include the following:
Physical Geology course, and is designed for students who
need to fulfill a college science requirement. The course Blatt, H., 199'1 . Our Geologic Environment. New York, Prentice-
also serves as an elective for students interested in the en- Hall,541 pp.
Coates, D. R., 1981. Environmental Geology. New York, John
vironment. Because of the dual function of this course, stu-
Wiley & Sons, 701 pp.
dentsin the class often have quite varied science back-
Coates, D. R., 1985. Geology and Society. New York, Chapman
grounds. Some have had a previous university science
and Hall, 406 pp.
course, while others have had none, and might even have Costa, J. E., and Bake, V. R., 1981. Surficial Geology. New
avoided science and mathematics in high school. To help York, John Wiley & Sons, 498 pp.
accommodate the needs of both groups, the exercises in this Dennen, W. H., and Moore, B. R., 1986. Geology and
laboratory manual typically contain more questions than Engineering. Dubuque, Iowa, Wm. C. Brown, 378 pp.
can be answered within a standard two- to three-hour labo- Garrels, R. M., Mackenzie, F. T., and Hunt, C., 1975. Chemical
ratory class, and the questions vary in difficulty. In addition, Cycles and the Global Environment: Assessng Human
.a!'h exercise contains a mixture of hands-on and thought- Influences. Los Altos, California, William Kaufmann,
:rtrr oking questions that deal with social, ethical, or politi- 206 pp.
Goudie, A., 1990. The Human Impact on the Natural
,.. issues of environmental relevance. The instructor can Environment, 3rd ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT
-.: ''ihichever questions seem most appropriate. Press,388 pp.
The manual also contains more than enough exercises
Griggs, G. B., and Gilchrist, J. 4., 1983. Geologic Hazards,
: : ::: normal 14 labs per semester, so instructors can Resources, and Environmental Planning, 2nd ed.
-:. r:i rhe erercises most suitable for their geographic area. Belmont, California, Wadsworth, 502 pp.

Keller, E. A., 1996. Enyironmental Geology, Tth ed. New York, Murck, B. W., Skimer, B. J., and Porter, S. C., 199.
Prentice-Hall, 560 pp. Environmental Geology. New York, John \\ile1. 5-.5 F?
Legget, R. F., 1973. Cities and Geology. New York, McGraw- Pipkin, B. W., and Trent, D. D, 199'1 . Geolog; and rhe
Hill,624 pp.
Leveson, D., 1980. Geology and the Urban Environment. New
York, Oxford University Press, 386 pp.
Environment, 2 d edition. Belmont. California-
Wadsworth Publishing Company, 522 pp.
Ward, K. (ed.), 1989. Great Dsasters. Pleasantville. \es l'crt-
Lundgren, L., 1986. Environrnental Geology. New York, Reader's Digest Association, 320 pp. l'
Prentice-Hall, 576 pp.
McCall, G. J. H., DeMulder, E. F. J., and Marker, B. R. (eds.),
1996. Urban Geoscience. Rotterdam, Holland, A. A.
I hope students will finish this laboratory manual ni e
Belkema, 273 pp.
Montgomery, C. W., 1998. Environmental Geology, 5th ed.
a better understanding and appreciation of the ground be-
neath their feet. I encourage both faculty and student users
Dubuque, Iowa, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.,
544 pp.
of this manual to send suggestions for improving any of the
exercises to either the author or the publisher. G




This second edition of Loboratory Exercises in Environmental science majors and therefore do not have the necessary
Geology has been heavily revised based on suggestions made background to handle these equations. Hence, the amount
by users of the first edition. For example, the three exercises of chemistry in this edition has been considerably reduced.
on rocks have been condensed into a single exercise to make I again encourage the inclusion of field trips in the en-
room for additional exercises on environmental topics. Other vironmental geology course, either as a substitute for labo-
exercises in the first edition were either eliminated or com- ratory time or as weekend excursions. Governmental agen-
bined with others. New exercises in this edition include those cies and companies involved with environmental problems
on the nature of environmental geology, swelling soils, water are usually more than happy to explain what they do and
pollution, mineral resources, air pollution, and alternative en- why. These include the U.S. Geological Survey and state
ergy sources. The number of exercises has been cut from 24 geological surveys, groundwater companies, companies that
to 21. In addition, reference lists have been updated and operate sanitary landfills, mining companies, and compa-
shortened and a glossary has been added. nies that deal with sources of alternative energy, such as
Perhaps the most frequent complaint by users of the wind power and solar power.
first edition was the level of mathematics. It was consider- As with the first edition, I hope studenrs will finish
ably greater than is traditional in geology laboratories. In their environmental geology course with an increased un-
response to this concern, most of the math has been either derstanding of the world in which they live. If this labora-
abbreviated or eliminated in this edition of the manual. tory manual contributes to this understanding, I will feel my
Another objection to the first edition was the use in several writing effort was worthwhile. Once again, I encourage
exercises of chemical equations to illustrate what occurs in users of the manual to send their suggestions for improve-
nature. Many of the students who take this course are not ment to the publisher.




I wish to extend a special thanks to the following people for G
their thoughtfrrl comments and suggestions in prepublica-
tion reviews: G

:. First Edition Reviewem:

John R. Huntsman
#*m University of North Carolina at Wlmington (
Rob Sternberg
FranHin and Marslull College e
Mary P.Anderson
U niv ersity of Wis c ons in-M adis on
Paul D. Nelson
Louis Com.munity CoIIege at Meramec

George P. Merk e
Michigan State University
James R. Lauffer e
Bloomsburg University
Mlliam D. Nesse
University of Northern Colarodo
Jim Constantopoulos
Eastern New Mexico Universitv
David L. Ozsvath
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Second Edition Reewens:

Michael Whitsett
University of lowa
Barbara Ruff
University of Georgia e
Their contributions were enlightening, challenging, and en- t
couraging throughout the development process.






Wnar Is

Geology is the study of the earth: its history, its rocks, its view? Other environmental issues whose outcome may affect
waters, its atmosphere, and the life that exists on it. These you personally include the possibility of a flood in your area,
are our surroundings. This is our environment. So, in a sense, acid rain on your newly painted house, the likelihood of a
the expression environmental geology contains an unneces- landslide on the neighboring hillside, and the stability of the
sary word: environment. Geology is by definition an envi- soil your house stands on. The list is endless. All of these top-
ronmental subject. This has not always been obvious, how- ics, and others. will be considered in this laboratory manual.
ever. For most of the 20th century and until recently, most They are also treated in your textbook in more detail.
geologists were involved in the search for underground sup-
plies of oil and gas. The connection to human concerns at Inronmnon
the earth's surface, such as landslides, soil quality and food What do you need to know about the scientific aspects of
production, or the occurrence of floods, was not obvious. So our environment in order to have an informed opinion about
the term environmental geology arose to indicate those parts environmental issues?
of geology that were clearly related to those human concerns
that deal with surface processes. Environmental geology is Earth Materials
a fast-growing area of study, and employment opportunities Of what is the earth's surface composed (Figure 1.1)? What
are increasing explosively for environmental geologists. is a mineral? What is a rock? Do some minerals cause en-
Most of you in this laboratory don't intend to become vironmental problems? What is soil? How does soil form?
professional geologists. But all people will benefit by know- Is all soil equally nourishing for crops? How does soil be-
ing something about their sunoundings. A large and growing come polluted? Can soil pollution be prevented? How does
proportion of America's domestic concerns are environmen- well water get into the ground? Is it always safe to drink
tal issues that every citizen is asked to vote on. Sometimes the and, if not, why not?
irsues are local, such as whether it is necessary to develop a
rerr sanitary landfill in which to place the town's garbage or Earth Locations
: enlarge the city sewage plant. Will the location of the land- Which areas are environmentally at risk or dangerous? Is a
'.. ose a threat to the underground water supply that feeds landslide more likely here or there? Is a major flood likely
' -i :,r\\ n's wells? Sometimes the environmental issues are na- where I live? Is sea level likely to rise and erode the beach
' '. :.. -uch as the question of how much federal money (your and innundate my beach house (Figure 1.2)? Will there be an
'- - ..;:.) should be spent to decrease air pollution or to earthquake in my area soon? Surface mining of coal (strip
- -.: _:.'rbal rvarming. Does your congressional representa- mining) can cause water pollution. Where are the nearest coal
: -::l:-: rour view, industry's view, or the government's deposits? The answers to these questions can be found only

Figure Ll

li'igurc 1.2
Did the water in this flooded rice field originate in the mountains n This beach house along the Atlantic shore in Nc.:- l= e
the background? Why doesn't the water sink into the ground and danger of collapse during the next winter storm. !'i :-:
dsappear from view? What is the soil made of? protect it? What else might be done? Should the hc-s:
built in this location? tf--




by refen'ing to maps that show the shape of the land surface
and maps that show the distribution of rocks and sedirnent.

Earth Underground e
Most crops are irrigated. and most of the water fbr irri-ra-
tion comes from under-qround. Will this under_eround water
always be available? How do we know? Will the water flow Why do earthquakes and volcanoes occur in some
faster if the rock layers below the ground are tilted toward
my well? How serious a problem is pollution of my well
places but not in others? Is there a pattern to their locations e
that might be useful for predictions (Figure L3)? If so, what
water? Can polluted underground water be cleansed? causes it? Is my house in danger?

Figure 1.3
Patterns of earthquake and volcanic activity based on historic records.





Figure 1.4
Aerial photograph showing the result of the most destructive landslide in the history of Hong Kong, June 18, 1972. Almost 26 inches of rain
fell during the preceding two days, saturating and undermining the steep slope, which is composed of soil and underlying unlithified coarse
sediment.The slope failure was 220feet wide and destroyed a 4-story building and a 13-story apartment building; 67 people were killed.
Hong Kong's population density and topographic relief make it impossible to completely avoid construction in unsafe areas.



Why do oil and natural gas occur where they do? Are IIow soon. Will the harmful chemical from the railroad
we running out of these resources? Where and why? Are accident sink into the ground and contaminate my under-
there any practical alternatives to these sources of energy ground water supply next week, next year, or in 50
that we rely on to fuel our industrial society? years? When will the retreating shoreline become a
ploblem fbr my coastal city?
The Air We Breathe How serious. Are the amounts of lead and arsenic in
TV tells me there is some evidence that the climate is be- my drinking water too high for safety? Is the amount
coming warmer and wetter because of the greenltottse ef'- of soot in the air high enough to damage my lungs?
.fec't. What is the greenhouse effect, and can anything be Relationships among things. Does the rise in air
done about it? And what is the ozone hole? For that matter,
pollution parallel the increase in automobile use?
n hat is ozone? Will alternatives to petroleum help to keep
Does the dumping of chemicals in the water upstream
the air clean? Why? Do I need to be concerned about radon
correlate with an observable increase in rectal cancer
.,rs entering my house from the soil below?
downstream? Is the relationship between these things
strong enough to make us believe it is meaningful, or
might it just be coincidental? Cigarettes and lung
Numerns cancer? Dioxin and birth defects? Coal dust and em-
. .rere is the question of numbers. Numbers tell us physema?
H r, far Is the unstable slope near enough to threaten Numbers are essential for evaluating the significance of en-
- ,..: (Fi-sure 1.4)? Am I located so close to the vironmental information, as will be evident in many of the
- : r,.. the next flood is likelv to wioe me out? exercises.
T:igrrrt' |.5 [-igurc 1.7
Spheres of the earth. Shark in roof, Oxford U.K.


Everything is connected to everything else. Water (hy-
dlosphere), rocks (lithosphere). air (atnrosphere), and living
matter (biosphere) are interrelated (Figure 1.5). Rain hits
the land and dissolves rocks and minerals. This "impure"
water is taken in by plant roots. which use many of the irn-
purities as nutrients. However, sorne irnpurities are pollu-
tants to both the plant and to the animals that eat the plant.
And. of colrrse. humans drink the stream water that has
flowed through the surf-ace rocks and soil.
Plant roots are rootecl in soil ("clirt") that was produced
by the rotting of rocks caused by chernical reactions be-
tween rock (lithosphere). rain (hydrosphere), and atmo- Sorne of the water that fell as rain or snow evaporates
spheric gases. The soil also contains organic material (bio- directly back to the atmosphere to raise the huntidity. Some
sphere) frorn dead and decornposing plants and aninrals runs off on the ground surface toward the ocean. Also en-
(plant leaves, worm skins. and other carcass parts you'd terin-g the air we breathe are various hannful chemicals that
rather not think about). pour fi'om industrial smokestacks (Figure 1.6). These in-
clude the gases that are implicated in global warming.

Fisure l 6 What we do to one thing we do to everything.

What should be done about the colored plumes coming from
these smokestacks? lmagine thousands of factories worldwide MrrHonoLocY
spewing these fumes. Do you want to breathe this stuff? Will your The goal of science is to discover the interrelationships
lungs suffer?
among the objects in our physical world. Environmental ge-
ologists. like other scientists, approach problerns in a cer-
tain way, cornrnonly called the scientific ntethotl.
l. A scientist observes a phenomenon. This may be water
flowing in a stream, a building shaking in an
eafihquake, a mass of rock hurtling downslope toward
a village below, or some unexpected event (Figure 1.7).
2. The scientist establishes a htpothesis to explain the
observation. A hypothesis is a statement of the scientist's
frrst guess at the explanation for the observed event.
3. The scientist makes additional observations or
nleasurements or conducts experiments to test the
hypothesis. Every eflbrt is rade to exclude personal
bias l-nrrn the observutions.
4. The scientist analyzes the results of all observations Does your state have a certification program for geologists,
and experiments to determine whether they are or can anyone claim expertise? Ask a geologist or the
expected or are consistent with the hypothesis. After a office of your state's geological survey. (Check the phone
sufficiently large number of observations have been book again.)
made and found to be consistent with the hypothesis, What happens to the garbage you put in your trash can or
the scientist becomes confident enough in the dumpster that is picked up by the city garbage truck? Who
hypothesis to upgrade the explanation to the status of a handles this chore for your town? Where does the truck
theory. After much additional testing over an extended take it? To a big hole in the ground outside of town (a
period of time. usually many years, the theory may be landfill) or to an incinerator to be burned? Is the disposal
upgraded to the status of a law. area filling up? How much garbage is collected each day,
5. Based on observations, the scientist looks for patterns. and how large is the hole it is put in? What does the town
These patterns are used to create models that may plan to do when the hole is full?
explain how parts of nature work. The models of 4. Who is responsible for monitoring the amount and purity
science may be mathematical, such as the law of of the drinking water in your town? How often is the water
gravity: checked for contaminants? What contaminants does the
,--ffi1ffiz person responsible look for?
' -L rz 5. Suppose you were worried about a geologic hazard in your

where F : force of gravity

town, such as a flood in the river that runs through the city,
a volcano l0 miles away that is emitting plumes of smoke,
flaking asbestos in city buildings, or an unpleasant taste
/??1 : rn&sS (density X volume) of the first object
and color in your drinking water. Where would you go for
m2: m&ss of the second object
r: distance between the centers of the two masses
information and advice about such matters?
6. World population has reached 6 billion (6,000,000,000)
The models may also be physical, such as the internal struc- people, with 100 million more (100,000,000) added yearly.
ture of a mineral represented by a few colored balls and Most of them are in the poorer areas of the world. Perhaps
wires (Figure 1.8). Earth science, or environmental science, more frightening, the percentage of people living in urban
is basically a detective story with the scientist as the detec- areas is growing and has now reached about 50%. What
tive and the earth as the mvsterv. types of environmental problems might these trends cause
or make worse?
Problems 7. Consider a common object such as a pencil. What
l. Look in the telephone book to see whether any geologists resources or materials from the earth were required to
are listed. If so, is there a subheading for environmental manufacture it? Which of them do you think might be
geologists? Are there any companies that deal with renewable or inexhaustible, and which might we eventually
environmental issues, such as water testing and run out of?
remediation, garbage disposal, earthquake-proofi ng of 8. Suppose you wanted to conduct a survey to determine the
houses, or the manufacture of wind turbines or solar views of those in your community about environmental
panels? issues. Prepare a list of five questions you would ask.
Explain how you would choose the people to survey to get
a balanced and fair representation of the "average person."
Figure 1.8 What factors would you need to consider?

Atomic structure of halite, ordinary table salt (sodium chloride,

NaCl). The large spheres are chlorine atoms, the smaller spheres
Further Reading/References
are sodium atoms.
Blatt, Harvey, 199'7. Our Geologic Envronment. New York,
Prentice-Hall, 541 pp.
Montgomery, Carla W., 1998. Environmental Geology, 5th ed.
Dubuque, Iowa, WCB/lMcGraw-Hil1, 544 pp.
Keller, Edward A,., 1996. Environmental Geology, Tth ed. New
York, Prentice-Hall, 560 pp.
Pipkin, Bernard W and D. D. Trent, 1997. Geology and the
Envronment. Belmont, California, Wadsworth
Publishing Company, 544 pp.



Although our planet is composed of 90 chemical elements, even less so as our industrial civilization expands.
they are not present in equal amounts. Eight elements form
99.4Vo by weight of the crusl-the upper 30 miles under the
Substitutes for most of them have yet to be found or syn- e
land surface-while the other 82 elements total only 0.6Vo.
The abundant elements are
Elements tend to combine into larger groupings be-
cause of their electronic structures. The change in electron
distribution that results when elements combine determines
the physical and chemical characteristics of the materials
Element Weight Vo (e.g., minerals) produced. Unfortunately, however, the new ?-
Oxygen 46.4 chemical properties cannot be predicted from the properties
Silicon 28.2 of the individual, uncombined elements. For example, at 1
room temperature sodium (Na) is a metal and chlorine (Cl)
is a gas. But when the two combine as sodium chloride
(NaCl, halite), they produce a solid-ordinary table salt.
The properties of table salt (including very high solubility
in water or in steak juice) are determined by the distribution
Magnesium L.) of electrons in this sodium chloride aggregate, just as the e
All others
properties of the uncombined sodium (metallic appearance,
high melting temperature) and chlorine (irritating odor,
greenish yellow color) are determined by their electronic
The composition and relative abundance of minerals reflect Just as the properties of solid NaCl differ from those of
the chemical composition of the crust. The most abundant uncombined sodium and chlorine, so do they also differ
minerals are composed largely of oxygen, silicon, and alu- from the properties of sodium and chloride ions (charged
minum. atoms) dissolved in water. The "salty" taste sodium ions
create in water (or saliva) is well known. The arrangement
Also noteworthy is the fact that most of the economi-
cally important elements are not among the eight most abun- of electrons around atomic nuclei underlies the physical and
chemical properties of all materials.
dant elements. For example, titanium makes up only 0.57Vo
of the crust of the earth, manganese is only O.O97o,
chromium is only 0.017o, and other elements such as nickel,
Two properties of great importance to environmental
scientists studying minerals are hardness and solubility.
copper, and lead are even less abundant. Concentrations of Quartz (SiO2) is very hard and relatively insoluble in water;
most of these elements are uncommon-and are becoming calcite (CaCO) is soft and moderately soluble in water;
halite (NaCl) is very soft and very soluble in water. The inl- mineral with rn object of known hardness. Harder
portance of these chemical properties to drinking-water minerals scratch softer ones. Geologists use a
quality and to building construction in humid climates is hardness scale devised in 1824 by a German
obvious. rnineralo-sist. Friedrich Mohs, and known as the
Mtlts lrurtltrcss scale (Table 2.2). Surf'ace alteration
Imponrnnr PnopenrrEs oF Mrxnnnls can decrease hardness: therefore, hardness must be
A mineral is a naturallr occurring. inorganic solid with a determined on a fresh mineral surface.
regular, periodic internal structure and a fairly definite chem- 2. Clectvcrge.'l'he strength of chemical bonds in a
ical cornposition tTable 2.I ). Because of this fixed internal mineral diff'ers fbr different pairs of elements.
structure and chernical composition. the physical and chenr- Because of this difference. and because the elements
ical properties of a nrineral are constant and can be used to occur in fixed positions in its crystal structure, a
identify it. The tirllowin-u properties are those most useful mineral can have some planerr surf-aces across which
in nrinerrrl identitleution: bonding is weaker. When hit, the mineral tends to
break along these weaker planes. which are called
1 . Hurdttess, deflned as the ability of a mineral to
cleut,oge suhc'es (Figure 2.1). Minerals can have
resist abrasicln, is deterrnined by scratching the
one, two, three, four. or six different cleavage
directions, and these can be diagnostic fbr the
TABLE 2.1 rineral. For example, micas have one cleavage
direction and cleava-ses occur as sheets. In a hi-ehly
Common Rock-Formins Minerals micaceous rock, slippage and slope failure tend to
parallel oriented groups of rica f'lakes.
Abundant Some minerals do not show cleavage, either
because their cleava-ee surfaces are poorly
Mineral Chemical composition
developed or because their chemical bonds are
Quartz sior
nearly equal in all directions. Quartz is a mineral
Orthoclase feldspar KAlSi.rOs
with no obvious cleavage.
Plagioclase feldspar NaAlSi Os to CaAlzSizOg Cleavage f-aces should not be confused with
Biotite mica hydrous K. Fe. Mg. Al silicate crystal faces. Cleavage faces are planar surfaces of
Muscovite mica KAlsAlSirOro(OH)r preferential breakage that reflect planes of
Hornblende Ca, Na. Mg, Fe. Al silicate weakness in a crystal structure. Crystal f'aces, in
contrast. are external planar surfaces that fbrm as a
Augite Ca. Mg. Fe. Al silicate
mineral grows from a solution: they reflect the
Olivine (M-s. Fe):SiO+
geometry of the internal structure. Only rarely is
Chlorite hydrous Mg, Fe. Al silicate the shape of cleavage fragments of a n.rineral the
Illite clay hydrorrs K. Al. Fe. M! silicate same as the shape of its fully fbnned crystals.
Montmorillonite clay hydrous Na. Ca. Al. Fe. M-s silicate
Kaolinite clay Alrsiro5(oH)1
Calcite CaCO
Dolomite CaMg(CO:):
Gypsum CaSOI' 2H2O Mohs Hardness Scale
Halite NaCl
Relative Index Common
Hernatite Fe2O3
Hardness Mineral Objects
Less Abundant but Still Common
l0 Dian-rond

\Iineral Chemical composition 9 Corundum

Garnet Fe, Mg. Ca. Al silicate Topaz
Kvanite Alrsios 1 Quartz
Steel flle-6.5
Sillimanite AlsSiOs b Orthoclase
Glass, knif'e, nail-5.5
S teurolite Fe. Mg, Al silicate 5 Apatite
: li dote Ca, Fe. Al silicate 4 Fluorite
I.:: netite Fe-O+ 3 Calcite Copper penny-3.0
inlte FeTiO Fingernail-2.5
: - -..
FeSl Cypsum
- ic C Talc

,l t t:

Figure 2.1 is said to have a metallic luster. \rrn:t-.i::.. -

Cleavage patterns of minerals. Few common minerals have more mineral surfaces can be yitreous (slu..', ,-.::
than three cleavage directions. resinous, pearly, sillcy, dull, or rr'lrr. .\.
examples, quartz is vitreous, sphalerite i. ::..:. -.
Number of cleavage talc is pearly, satin spar gypsum is silkr. :c
directions Shape Sketch
microcrystalline hematite is dull or earth).
0 No cleavage, lrregular masses 6. Specific gravity is the ratio between the r.r'ei-chr . :
only fracture (quartz) s-,b_ a mineral and the weight of an equal volume of
\A</ water. Most minerals have specific gravities of
1 Flat sheets
@ between 2.6 and 3.5. In general, the higher the
content of heavy elements such as iron and lead.
2 at 90' Elongated form with
rectangular cross-section
(prism: spodumene) @ the higher the specific gravity of the mineral. For
example, the specific gravity of magnetite (FeO+)
is 5.2; that of galena (PbS) is 7.5. Gold, at 19, has
2 not at 90' Elongated form with
parallelogram cross-section
(prism: hornblende) @
.-,=7t J:t4
the highest specific gravity of any mineral.
1. Other physical properties are sometimes useful in
mineral identification (Table 2.3). For example,
3 at 90" Cube t4-Lt
calcite is the only important mineral that dissolves
in cold, dilute hydrochloric acid. Magnetite is the
3 not at 90' Rhombohedron -e
/+L/ZU/ only mineral attracted to a small hand magnet,
while halite has a unique salty taste. Micas are


elastic when bent. Minerals usually occur as
aggregates composed of many crystals, rather than
as single crystals. The most diagnostic properties
of the common minerals are listed inTable 2.4
Ecoxovrrc MrxrnnlocY
Crystals normally are bounded by many more A group of about 25 minerals includes probably 99Vo, by
surfaces intersecting at different angles than are
volume, of those present in the earth's crust. These abun-
cleavage fragments. Among the few examples of dant minerals predominate in the common rocks. But more
cleavage fragments identical to fully formed
crystals are halite cubes, galena cubes, and
than 3,500 different minerals are known, and many of the
less common ones are important sources of chemical ele- v
ments needed in our industrial civilization (Table 2.5).
dolomite rhombohedra.
3. Color. Many of the abundant or common rock- Others are used for decorative purposes, such as gems in e4
jewelry. Many cities have gem and mineral societies that or-
forming minerals have distinctive colors that are
ganize meetings and exhibitions to display and trade semi- |4
useful for identification. Some minerals (particularly
precious gemstones.
qluarfz, fluorite, and calcite) can occur in a wide
variety of colors, but one color is the most common.
ExvnonMENTAL Aspncrs
Colors generally result from the presence of
impurities that selectively absorb wavelengths of oF MINERALS e
light entering the mineral. Those wavelengths that
are not absorbed give the mineral its color.
Some minerals can cause environmental problems because
of their physical properties and chemical compositions-
4. Streak, the color of the mineral powder, is
determined by powdering a sample, usually by
for example, calcite, halite and gypsum, pyrite, and clay
scratching it across a piece of unglazed porcelain
(hardness 7). The mineral must be softer than the
Calcite is the essential mineral in limestone and is also
one of the more easily dissolved of the abundant minerals.
porcelain, or it will scratch (powder) the porcelain
rather than being powdered itself. Most
Because limestones are such widely distributed rocks, dis-
solution of the ground surface and shallow subsurface is a
nonmetallic minerals have a white or colorless
streak; hence, streak is not a helpful diagnostic
common phenomenon in many areas. Rainwater seeps into
cracks in the limestone and within a few hundred to a few
tool for the abundant minerals, almost all of which thousand years can create large holes in the rock. When this
occurs at shallow depths, perhaps a few tens of feet below

are nonmetallic. Streak is more helpful for
identifying metallic minerals, many of which are the ground surface, it produces caverns such as Carlsbad
of great economic importance. Cavern in New Mexico. The ground above such a cavern

5. Luster is the appearance of a fresh mineral surface can collapse into it, carrying with it buildings, automobiles,
in reflected light. A mineral that appears metallic and even people. Numerous cases of ground collapse have
Mineral Classifi cation Chart

MetallicLuster OtherCharacteristics Mineral

Perf'ect cubic cleavage; H = 2.5; heavy, sp. gr. = 7.6; silver gray color Galena
=f, PbS

? :"1 \'fagneticl black to dark gray; H = 6; sp. gr. = 5.2; commonly Magnetite
occurs in granular masses; single crystals are octahedral Fe3Oa

Steel gray; soft, smudges fingers and marks paper, greasy feel; Graphite
'-7 H = l; sp gr. = 2t luster may be dull C

Golden yellow color; may tarnish purple; H = 4; sp gr. = 4.3 Chalopyrite

.2 CuFeS,
0i; Brass yellow; cubic crystals; common in granular aggregates; Pyrite
H = 6-6.5; sp. gr. = 5; uneven fracture FeS2

Steel gray, black to dark brown, red to red-brown streak; Hematite

';:3 granular, fibrous, or micaceous; single crystals are thick Fe2O3
.aZ plates; H = 5-6; sp. gr. = 5; uneven fracture

tq-, Yellow, brown, or black; hard structureless or radial Limonite
fibrous masses: H = 5-5.51 sp. gr. = 3.5-4 FeOOH.nH2O

Nonmetallic Luster-Dark Color

Cleavage-2 directions nearly at 90"; dark green to Pyroxene Group
black; short prismatic 8-sided crystals; H = ; sp. gr. = 3.5 Complex Ca, Mg,
Fe. Al silicates

v Cleavage-2 directions at approximately 60' and 120"; Amphibole Group

dark green to black or brown; long, prismatic 6-sided crystals; Complex Na, Ca,
o H = 6; sp. gr. = 3.35 Mg, Fe, Al silicates

Q White to gray; good cleavage in two directions at Plagioclase Feldspar
o! approximately 90o; striations on cleavage planes; NaAlSi3Os to CaAl25i2Og
H = 6: sp. gr. = 2.62-2.16

L Various shades of green; sometimes yellowish; commonly Olivine

occurs in aggregates of small glassy grains; transparent (Mg, Fe)2SiOa
to transluscent; glassy luster; H = 6.5-11sp. gr. = 3.54.5

Red, brown, or yellow; glassy luster; conchoidal fracture Garnet Group

resembles poor cleavage; commonly occurs in well-formed Fe, Mg, Ca, Al silicates
12-sided crystals; H = 7-i.5: sp. gr. = 354.5
Conchoidal fracture; H = 7; gray to gray-black; vitreous Quartz
luster; sp. gr. = 2.65 si02

TABLE 2.3-Continued
Brown to black; 1 perfect cleavage; thin, flexible, and
elastic when in thin sheets; H = 2.5-3; sp. gr. = 3-3.5
Hydrous K. Fe. \13
Al silicate t=
Green to very dark green; I cleavage direction; commonly Chlorite 14

occurs in foliated or scaly masses; nonelastic plates;
H=2-2.5.; sp. gr. = 2.5-3.5
Hydrous Mg, Fe.
Al, silicate e
Rto Yellowish brown; resinous luster; cleavage in 6 directions;
o!t Sphalerite
yellowish brown or nearly white streak; H =3.54; sp. gr. = 4

Four perfect cleavage directions;
green through deep purple; transparent to translucent;
cubic crystals; H = 4; sp. gr. = 3
CaF2 e
q Red, earthy appearance; red streak; H = 1.5; sp. gr. = 5.26 Hematite
Fe2O3 (earthy variety) e
Yellowish brown streak; yellowish brown to dark brown; Limonite
commonly in compacted earthy masses; H = 1.5; sp. gr. = 3.64.0 FeOOH'nH2O

Luster-Light Color e
Good cleavage in 2 directions at approximately 90o; Orthoclase feldspar: e
commonly flesh-colored to dark pink; pearly to vitreous luster;
H = 6; sp. gr. = 2.6
Good cleavage in 2 directions at approximately 90o;
white to gray; striations on some cleavage planes
Plagioclase feldspars:
NaAlSi3Os to
O H = 6: sp. gr. = 2.62-2.76 CaAl2Si2Og e
Conchoidal fracture; transparent to translucent; vitreous luster; Quartz
6-sided prismatic crystals terminated by 6-sided triangular faces in SiO2 (silica)
well-developed crystals; vitreous to waxy; colors range from milky Varieties:
white, rose pink, violet, to smoky gray; H = 7; sP. gr. = 2.65 Milky; Smoky;

Rose; Amethyst
Conchoidal fracture; variable color; translucent to opaque; dull or
clouded luster; colors range widely from white, gray, red, to black;
Quartz SiO2
H = 7; sp. gr. = 2.65 Varieties:
Agate; Flint; Chert; e
Jasper; Opal (amorphous)
Perfect cubic cleavage; salty taste; colorless to white;
soluble in water; H = 2-2.5; sp. gr. = 2
NaCl e
Perfect cleavage in 1 direction; poor in 2 others; Gypsum e
white; transparent; nonelastic1' H = 2; sp. gr. = 2.3
Selenite: colorless, transparent
Alabaster: aggregates of small crystals V
Satin spar: fibrous, silky luster
TABLE 2.3-Conrinued
Perf'ect cleavage in 3 directions at approximately 75"; Calcite
eff-ervesces in HCI; colorless, white, or pale CaCO3
yellot'n,. rarely gray or blue; transparent to opaque; (fi ne-grained crystalline
O H = 3: so. sr. = 2.1 aggregates form
limestone and marble)
Three directions of cleavage as in calcite; eifervesces Dolomite
in HCI only if powdered; color variable but commonly CaMg(CO):
t uhite or pink; rhomb-faced crystals; H = 3.5-4; sp. gr. = 2.8

Good cleavage in 4 directions; colorless, yellow, blue, green Fluorite

or violet; transparent to translucent; cubic crystals; CaFz
Perfect cleavage in I direction, producing thin, elastic Muscovite
sheets; transparent and colorless in thin sheets; KAl3AlSi3Oro(OH)2
H = 2-3: sp. gr. = 2.8

Green to white; soapy feel; pearly luster; fbliated or Talc

compact masses; one direction of cleavage forms MgrSiloro(oH)z
thin scales and shreds; H = l; sp. gr. = 2.8

White to red; earthy masses; crystals so small no cleavage Kaolinite
QO visible; becomes plastic when moistened; earthy odor; Al2siros(oH)4
soft; H = 1.2; sp. gr. = 2.6

occurred in the midcontinent and in populated areas of by swelling clays. Buildings constructed on slopes under-
Florida and other southeastern states that have widespread. lain by shales sometimes slide downhill when the shale be-
abundant limestone. comes saturated with water, a common phenomenon in hilly
Halite and gypsum are much more soluble than calcite, areas such as those of southern California.
but also much less abundant, so they cause fewer cases of
ground collapse. However, they pose a great danger to the Problems
water supply in many regions, because even small amounts
l. Identify each of the minerals provided, specifying the
of sodium or sulfate ions in water can produce a salty taste particular physical properties you used in the
(sodium) or a laxative effect (sulfate). These problems are identifrcation. Be specific (e.g., green color rather than
so severe in some areas, such as parts of west Texas, that simply "color," two cleavages at right angles rather
the residents must purchase bottled water imported from than only "cleavage").
other regions. 2. The chemical fbrmulas of solid compounds such as
Pyrite causes environmental problems in some of the minerals are expressed by the smallest number of each
mining areas where it is particularly abundant. The mineral type of atom necessary for there to be no net charge.
dissolves and combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to By convention, the positively charged ion is listed
fbrm hydrogen ions, a major cause of acidic stream water. first. For example, sodium chloride, the mineral halite,
is written in chemical symbols as NaCl. Write the
+ 15 02 + 8 H2O -->2Fe2O3 + 8 SO4-2 + 16H+
-l FeS2 chemical fbrmulas of each of the followins minerals:
pvrite oxygen water hematite sulfate hydrogen a. sylvite, potassium chloride
ion ion b. quartz, silicon dioxide
c. corundum. aluminum oxide
SLrch waters, called acid mte drainag, cause serious pol-
d. hematite, iron oxide (iron is +3)
lution problems.
3. Biotite mica and muscovite mica have identical crystal
Clay minerals (kaolinite, montmorillonite, and illite) structures. Why, then, are they considered different
."J. to a lesser extent, micas can trigger environmental minerals? Is this reason reflected in the criterion you
-- because their crystal structure causes easy cleav- used to distinguish between them? Why or why not?
-: The sheetlike structure of these minerals permits rain- 4. The musical stage play Oklahonta contains a mention
.- : i , pDtrate between the sheets, causing the sheets to of a surrey with "isinglass windows you can roll right
- - ..:'.1 slip. Houses and other structures built on clay- down." Isinglass is an obsolete name fol one of the
- - - -.,- .uch as shales can have their foundations cracked minerals in your tray. Identify it and state the physical


Diagnostic Characteristics of the Common Minerals
Mineral Characteristics tf-
Quartz Transluscent; conchoidal fracture; hardness 7 t4
Orthoclase feldspar Righrangle cleavage; commonly pink; hardness 6
Plagioclase feldspar Right-angle cleavage; commonly white, striated
Biotite mica
Muscovite mica
Sheet structure and cleavage; dark green-black; hardness 2.5
Sheet structure and cleavage; transluscent; hardness 2-2.5
Two cleavages at 56" and 124"; elongate; dark green to black
Two cleavages at 87' and 93'; black
Olivine Light green; conchoidal fracture e
Clay minerals
Sheet structure and cleavage; green; hardness 2-2.5
Microscopic crystals occurring as aggregates; hardness 2; kaolinite is white, montmorillonite
and illite ae green
Calcite Dissolves with effevescence in dilute HCI; rhombohedral cleavage; normally white but other

colors possible
Same as calcite but does not dissolve/effervesce unless powdered
Gypsum Hardness 2; usually transluscent to white but other colors possible; three unequally good cleavages
Salty taste; three righrangle cleavages; hardness 2.5
Hematite Red-brown streak; metallic luster in visible crystals; earthy when microcrystalline
Usually red but other colors possible; hardness 7; commonly has l2-sided crystal outlines
Bladed crystals; bluish; hardness 5 parallel to crystal length, 7 normal to length; vitreous-pearly
Long slender crystals often in parallel groups; frequently fibrous; hardness 6-7
Staurolite Red-brown to black; resinous to vitreous lusterl hardness 7--7.5; common interpenetrating
right-angle twins

Epidote Pistachio green; one perfect cleavage; hardness 6-7
Magnetite Highly magnetic; black; hardness 6
Ilmenite Like magnetite but nonmagnetic
Pyrite Brassy yellow; typically in cubic crystals; streak greenish or brownish black
Graphite Sheet structure and cleavage; readily soils fingers and marks paper (pencil "lead");
greasy feel; black
property that enabled it to be used in lieu of glass,
which was very expensive in the 1800s.
5. How might you distinguish between the smooth
surfaces of a perfectly formed crystal and the cleavage
quartz e
surfaces of the same mineral?
Graphite is commonly used as a lubricant. Explain
8. Most caves are formed in limestone, a rock composed
entirely of the mineral calcite. e
why this is possible, in terms of a visible physical
property of the mineral.
a. Give two reasons why this is true.
b. Quartz and feldspar are the two most abundant
minerals exposed at and near Earth's surface. Yet
7. What product in your house or dormitory might be
made from each of the followins minerals?
there are no commercial caves formed in rocks
composed of these minerals. Why not?
a. graphite
b. calcite V


Ore and Gem Minerals

Element Recovered Major Ore Mineral Chemical Formula

Antimony Stibnite SbzS

Arsenic Orpiment, Realgar As2S3, AsS
Beryllium Beryl Be3Al2Si60 3

Chromium Chromite FeC12Oa

Cobalt Cobaltite (Co, Fe)AsS
Copper Chalcopyrite CuFeS2
Iron Hematite Fe2O3
Lead Galena PbS
N,ianganese Pyrolusite MnO2
\4ercur1, Cinnabar Hgs
Molybdenum Molybdenite MoS2
Nickel Pentlandite (Fe, Ni)eSg
Tin Cassiterite SnO2
Titanium Rutile TiOz
Tungsten Wolframite, Scheelite (Fe, Mn)WO+, CaWOa
Uranium Carnotite K2(UO2)2(VO4)2 . 3H2O
Vanadium Carnotite K2(UO2)2(VO4)2. 3H2O
Zinc Sphalerite ZnS
Zirconium Zircon ZrSiOa
Native (uncombined) elements Gold, platinum, silver, sulfu

Major Gem Minerals

Aquamarine (blue beryl) BejAl2Si60g
Chrysoberyl BeAl2Oa
Diamond C
Emerald (green beryl) Be3Al2Si60g
Garnet (common) Fe3Al2(SiOa)3
Jade NaAlSi206
Lapis lazuli (Na, Ca)a(AlSiO4)3(SO1, S, Cl)
Olivine (Mg, Fe)2SiOa
Opal sio2.H2o
Ruby (red corundum) Al2O3
Sapphire (blue corundum) Al2O3
Topaz Al2sio4F2
Tourmaline Borosilicate of variable composition
Turquoise CuAl6(POa)a(OH)8 . 4H2O
Z:r.-on ZrSiO+
Plagioclase showing typical white color and striations Hornblende crystals. Hornblende usually occ--s :s ::-:.: ::
crystals in rocks and is identified by its clear,,a::

Muscovite mca showing excellent sheetlike cleavage and
translucency. Biotite mica is dark green.

s e


Quartz crystal with striations.
Augite, which usually occurs as sand-size crystals, is identified by Calcite. Note double refraction and rhombohedral cleavage
its cleavaqe.

Cubic and rectangular cleavage fragments of halite.

Garnet crystals and white plagioclase feldspar.

Pyrite showing brassy yellow color

Gypsum (hardness of 2) is easily scratched by a fingernail

(hardness of 2 112\.

i: "-. -i;1""
Galena. Showing metallic luster and cubic cleavage.

t6 Minerals








RocKr ?

Environmental geologists are interested in rocks for six rea- a volcano and solidifies as it cools while flowing down the
SONS. flanks of a volcano. Much molten rock material solidifies V
below the ground, although much more slowly.
1. Some rocks decompose to yield nutrient-rich soils
for plants, while others yield relatively
Sedimentary rocks are formed at Earth's surface. u4
Fragmental sediment such as sand becomes buried as new
unproductive soils that must be heavily fertilized
(Exercise 7).
sediment is deposited on top of it. While it is buried, water v
flows through it and deposits minerals that cement the sand
2. Rocks may contain minerals that swell when wet,
making building foundations unstable (Exercise 8).
grains into a rock. Sedimentary rock may also precipitate
entirely from water. Rock salt (halite) is an example.
3. Some rocks fall apart or dissolve easily, leading to Metamorphic rocks are formed from either of the other v
landslides, collapse of buildings, and erosion of two types or from another metamorphic rock by heat and
coastlines (Exercises 9, 15). pressure. Temperatures of metamorphism range from
4. Rocks may contain interconnected holes through 300-700'c.
which may flow water, oil, or solutions that drip The conversion of any one of the three types of rocks v
through garbage disposal areas (Exercises 12, 13, into one ofthe others has been occurring continuously since
14. 19). the earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. It is also V
5. happening right now, starting at a depth of perhaps 10 miles
Some rocks are very susceptible to chaotic
behavior during earthquakes, leading to almost under your feet. The transitions are illustrated in Figure 3.1.
It is called the rock cycle.
certain destruction of structures built on them
(Exercise l6).
How ro Tnll OnE Tvpn FRoM
6. Rocks may contain economically valuable minerals
(Exercises 18, 20). Anornnn rN HAND Specmnn e
CmssmcATroN oF RocKs
There are no infallible criteria that separate small pieces (hand
specimens) of the three groups of rocks because the groups
grade into one another in appearance. There are exceptions to
Geologists group rocks into three categories based on the
processes that form them. These three categories are inde- all of the criteria given below, but the criteria are usually reli- V
pendent of environmental concerns. A rock in any of the
three may have environmental significance.
able. Some criteria are textural, others mineralogic.

1. Does the rock contain fossils, evidence of living

Igneous rocks are formed by solidification from molten organisms? Perhaps there is a piece of clam shell
material. One well-known example is lava that pours from or imprint of a leaf. Only sedimentary rocks
Figure 3.1
The rock cycle.

// \
- x\\DsEDtMe*taRYRocts

.t'":"-:1:":F = Rock breakup



contain fossils because living organisms cannot 8. Does the rock contain parallel bands of different
survive at temperatures of more than 300' C. minerals or visible alignment of needle-shaped
2. Is the rock fragmental, composed of rounded minerals? If so, the rock is metamorphic.
grains held together by a cement of some sort? 9. Is the rock glassy? If so, it is igneous.
Only sedimentary rocks are fragmental.
3. Is there a wide variation in grain size of a single Icxeoas Roct<s
mineral, such as quarz? If so, the rock is
In all igneous rocks the minerals have an interlocking tex-
ture, characteristic of minerals that crystallize from a liquid.
Is the rock composed entirely of calcite or Most igneous rocks contain at least 507o feldspar and are
dolomite? If so, it is either sedimentary or classified as shown in Figure 3.2. Certain minerals have a
metamorphic. In a metamorphic rock composed of strong tendency to group together as the molten rock
carbonate minerals, the crystals are normally much (magma) crystallizes. One very common association is
larger than in a sedimentary rock. In an quartz, orthoclase feldspar, and biotite mica. A rock formed
unfossiliferous limestone, the crystals are commonly of these minerals is called granite, if the crystals are coarse
either too small to see or are barely visible. enough to be visible, and rhyolite if the crystals are too
5. Does the rock contain more than 40-50Vo small to see. Another common association is plagioclase
feldspar? If so, it is either igneous or metamorphic. feldspar, augite, and sometimes olivine. A rock with this
Does the rock contain noticeable amounts of mineralogy is called gabbro, if coarse-grained, and basalt,
r"isibly micaceous minerals in parallel orientation? if fine-grained.
If so, the rock is metamorphic.
Does the rock contain noticeable amounts of Classifying lgneous Rocks
nrinerals other than quartz and feldspar, minerals To classify an igneous rock you must identify both its tex-
ture and mineral composition.
',...-h as garnet, kyanite, or epidote? These minerals
,,:rJ others) form only in metamorphic rocks. Step l. Is the rock glassy (vitreous luster, frothy
appearance, conchoidal fracture) or
ldentifying an igneous rock

Texture Mineral Composition Rock Name Origin r-

Nonfrothy Glass Noncrystalline Obsidian
(glass, no minerals) =
Frothy Glass Noncrystalline
(glass, no minerals)
Pumice Scoria
(minerals not visible)
Orthoclase feldspar,
Quartz, Mica or

Plagioclase feldspar, Basalt

Augite or Hornblende ?
Coarse-Grained Orthoclase feldspar, Granite
(minerals visible) Quartz, Mica

Plagioclase feldspar,
Auoite or Hornblende
Color Light Dark
If the rock is crystalline, are individual
Step 2.
crystals visible to the naked eye? If not, is the
Obsidian glass, used by preindustrial peoples for making cutting
tools and weaoons. e
Step 3.
rock color light or dark?
If the rock is coarse-grained, identify both the e
abundant minerals (at least 2O7o of the rock)
and the less-abundant ones (accessory minerals). e
Step 4. Place the rock in the appropriate pigeonhole
and give it a name, for example, biotite
granite or hornblende gabbro.
Some of the more common isneous rocks are illustrated on
pages 20-21. t4
SrnrqnnraRY RocKS V
Sedimentary rocks are of great importance to envlronmen-
tal scientists for several reasons. e
l. They cover two thirds of the earth's land surface.
Therefore, the characteristics of sedimentary rocks
Pumice, showing characteristic frothy vesicular texture. This glassy
rock is used as an abrasive in Lava soap. e
are critically important in most construction projects.
2. They are the host rocks for many economically
important minerals, such as carnotite (uranium) for
nuclear power plants, gypsum for drywall paneling
in home construction, sulfur for the manufacture of
sulfuric acid, and halite (table salt).
3. Almost all water, oil, and natural gas occurs in
sedimentary rocks.

Sedimentary rocks can have either a fragmental or an inter-

locking texture (Figure 3.3). Those with an interlocking tex-
ture have crystallized from a liquid (water) and include

chert, evaporites, and many limestones and dolostones.
Fragmental sedimentary rocks are called conglomerates,

Scoria. Dark, vesicular rock formed as a glassy crust on basaltic Granite. The pink mineral is orthoclase feldspar; the dark mineral
lava flows. is biotite mica; the clear grains are quartz; the whte grains are
plagioclase feldspar.

=-' :o
=-6 E-s
= =,

=r 3 i:,'.

,', :'rii..

Rhyolite. The crystals are too small to be visible to the unaided

eye. but the pale pinkish color suggests the dominance of pink Gabbro. The dark mineral is augite; the light mineral is calcium-rich
feldspar and quartz. plagioclase.



Basalt. The crystals are too small to be vsible to the unaded eye, sandstones, or mudrocks, depending on the size of the frag-
but the dark color suggests a large percentage of ferromagnesian rnents (Table 3.1). Rocks that contain a mixture of sizes
may be called muddy sandstone. sandy conglomerate, or
other appropriate terms.
In geologic and environmental studies, it is also useful
to describe the variation in sizes in fiagmental rocks. This
variation is called sorting (Figure 3.4). To a geologist,
a well-sorted rock is one with a narrow range in grain
size. To a construction engineer, however, a well-sorted
rock is one with a wide range in grain sizes. The reason
for this difl'erence is that geologists are concerned with the
F-N efficiency of the natural processes that work to narrow
the range of grain sizes, whereas construction engineers as-
sess the value of grain aggregates fbr manufacturing con-
crete, in which a wide range of grain sizes is desirable.
Hence, good sorting to a geologist is poor sorting to the
concrete producer. Degree of sorting is also important in
relation to groundwater flow; groundwater flows more
easily (faster) through sandstones with a narrow range in
grain size.
If a conglomerate or sandstone contains more than 90olo
quafiz, it is called a quartz conglomerate or sandstone. If it
contains less than 90c/c quarfz, and f'eldspar is more abundant

Rocks 2l

Figure 33 TABLE 3.1
Common textures of sedimentarv rocks.
Grain-Size Scale for Sediment and Fragmental e
Sedimentarv Rocks !D--
o) b=
t e
Name of Grain e
Size (mm)

Cobble 64-256 e
)4 e
Fragmental texture: rounded or angular
grains cemented by calcite.
Very coarse sand
Coarse sand
Medium sand 0.25-{.5
Fine sand
(a u) Very fine sand 0.0624.125
Coarse silt
Medium silt
0.01ffi.031 e
c) Fine silt
Very fine silt
Clay < 0.004 e
Figure 3.4
Sorting in sandstones.

ffi ffi
I nterlocking texture: crystals precipitated +
from solution.

than undisaggregated rock fragments, the rock is a feld-

spathic sandstone. If undisaggregated rock fragments are
more abundant, the rock is a lithic conglomerate or sand-
stone (Figure 3.5). Poorly sorted
Well sorted Moderately sorted
Fragmental rocks composed of grains smaller than
0.06 mm form about 65Vo of sedimentary rocks and are
called mudrocks because they form from compacted mud. Rocks composed entirely of calcite (CaCO) or
They contain various proportions of silt and clay, grains too
small to be seen with the naked eye. The average mudrock
dolomite [CaMg(CO)2] form aboaf I5Vo of sedimentary
rocks (Figure 3.7). Those composed of calcite are called
is mostly clay minerals, which are shaped like tiny micas, limestone; those composed of dolomite are dolostone. ?
sheetlike with cleavage parallel to the sheets. In most
mudrocks these clay minerals are well aligned and have a
Limestone is more abundant than dolostone. Both rock
types can either be fragmental or have the interlocking e
property calledfissility, a tendency to split along very closely
spaced parallel planes (Figure 3.6). This physical property
gives mudrocks a strong tendency to slip past each other on
texture of a chemical precipitate. Those with interlocking
texture are normally too fine-grained for individual crys-
tals to be visible, much like a rhyolite or basalt. Fossils
slopes, a major cause of landslides. Fissile mudrocks are are common in both fragmental and nonfragmental car- ?
called shale. bonate rocks.
Figure 3.5a Figure 3.5b-d
Pebble conglomerate. Pebbles are mostly quartz and chert; sand Coarse-grained sandstones of varying compositon. (b) is all
matrx is mostly quartz. Cement is quartz. clastic quartz, cemented by quartz, so the rock is very light-
colored; (c) is rich in feldspar (white grains) as well as quartz, and
is cemented by hematite (reddish color); (d) contains abundant
dark-colored rock fragments and is cemented by clay (grains too
small to be visible). All three sandstones are fairly well sorted and
may have some porosty. Most sand grains are about 1 mm in
diameter: scale is in centimeters.


Calcite and dolomite are very soluble in water com-

pared to nearly all other common minerals. Over periods of
hundreds or a few thousand years, limestones and dolo-
stones beneath the surface dissolve to form caves. Nearly all
natural caves are simply giant holes dissolved in limestones.
Sometimes the caves are so large and close to the surface
that their roofs collapse, occasionally carrying buildings
with them (Figure 3.8). Such collapse structures are com-
mon in limestone areas of the central Appalachians, Indiana,
Missouri. Florida. and elsewhere.
Although sandstones, mudrocks, and carbonate rocks
form at least957o of sedimentary rocks, several other types
are of suffrcient environmental importance to deserve men-
tion. Evaporites are deposits of very soluble minerals pre-
cipitated from pools of evaporating salty water. The most
comon minerals in these deposits are halite (NaCl) and gyp-
sum (CaSOa ' 2 HzO). Halite and gypsum are well known
as table salt and plaster of paris.
Chert is a rock composed of microcrystalline quartz pre-
cipitated from solution. It occurs in many colors, including
red (jasper), black (flint), and variegated (agate). Chert was
used by preindustrial peoples for weapons and tools because
of its hardness and splintery character (Figure 3.9).
Phosphorite is a rock composed of chemically precipi-
tated crystals of the phosphate mineral apatite. It is a rich
source of phosphate fertilizer and is mined extensively in
\\'estern Wyoming and Idaho. Phosphorites also contain
commercially important amounts of uranium and vanadium.
The uranium is used as a fuel in nuclear power plants, the
'. nadium in specialty steels.

Taconite is the commercial name for banded iron ores

: ..nd in Michigan, Minnesota, and several provinces of
Figure 3.6 Figure 3.7b
Shale showing excellent fissility. The gray color results from the Laminated microcrystalline limestone. ldentifled c,,' :s sc1-ess and
presence of about 17o organic matter. the fact that it fzzes when acid is dropped on it.

Figure 3.7a
Limestone consisting of fossil shells about 2 cm in length set in a
matrix of calcite crystals about 0.5 mm in diameter.

One house down, one to go in Frostproof (but not sinkhole proof), Florida. The neighbor is making a hasty exit. (Note the moving van.)


Figure 3.9 eastern Canada (Figure 3.10a). The bands are composed of
Chert, a microcrystalline rock composed of SiO2. Although it looks alternating layers of chert and hematite. Taconite is the ma-
like microcrystalline limestone, chert is very hard and does not jor source of America's iron fbr the manuf'acture of steel. A
react in acid. less-abundant but locally important type of iron ore is called
ironstone and is formed of sand-size balls of hematite
(Figure 3.10b).
Finally, there is coal, a sedimentary rock composed
of land plant debris that has been subjected to deep bur-
ial, high pressure, and temperatures of 100-250" C.
During burial, the plant material is chemically altered and
its percentage of carbon is increased at the expense of
other elements. The higher the carbon content, the better
the coal. Coal use is increasing worldwide, as an easily
mineable fuel and as a substitute for more expensive and
harder-to-find petroleum. Unfortunately, the burning of
coal causes more pollution than almost any other com-
monly used natural substance. Its only competitor for pol-
lution honors is gasoline.

Fieure 3.10a
Banded iron ore such as this is called taconite and is mined in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Dark bands are hematitic chert (jasper) of
no economic value; light bands are a variety of hematite called specular hematite because its specks have a metallic appearance. Photo
courtesv H. L. James.
Fisure 3.10b dissolve when dilLrte acid is dropped on it? If
Rock formed of ooids of hematite (FezOs). The color is very it does. it is a limestone: if not. a dolostone.
distinctive, as is the reddish-brown streak. Step 3. If the rock is fine grained, fra-snlental. and not =
composed of carbonate minerals. estinlate its
grain size. lf it is microcrystalline, is it trssile?
If microcrystalline and not fissile, is it hard
(chert) or soft (mudrock)?
Step 4. Name the rock, for example, well-sorted, t=
medium-grained sandstone, lithic pebble
conglomerate, fossiliferous fragmental
limestone. or black shale.
MnramonPHrc RocKS
From the viewpoint of environmental science, the most im- =
portant fact about metamorphic rocks is that most of them
are foliated, a physical property similar in appearance to fis- ?
sility in mudrocks. Slopes underlain by foliated metamor-
Classifying Sedimentary Rocks
phic rocks can be as susceptible to landslides as shale slopes.
To classify a sedimentary rock, you must identify both its
What causes metamorphic rocks to be foliated?
texture and mineral composition, as was the case for ig-
Most sedimentary rocks are shales, and the abundant
neous rocks.
mineral in a shale is clay. The clay is transformed into mica =
Step I. If the rock is coarse-grained,
is it fragmental? at elevated temperature, an easy transition because both ?
Fragmental rocks consist of rounded grains mineral types are sheetlike and have similar chemical com-
held together by chemically precipitated positions (Exercise 2). As burial temperature increases, ?
cement, most commonly calcite. shale changes into the metamorphic rock called slate, then
Step 2. If the rock is fragmental, what are the relative into phyllite, then into schist (Figure 3.I la-c). Slate is much
percentages of quartz, feldspar, and rock like shale except that its flat surfaces are more planar. In
fragments? If it is a carbonate rock, does it both shale and slate, the crystals of clay or mica are too e
Classification of the Common Foliated Metamorphic Rocks Y
Crystal Size Rock Names Comments
n Microscopic, very Slate (Figure 3.12a) Well-developed planar surfaces but no sheen
tl fine-grained Y

Fine- to medium- Phyllite (Figure 3. l2b) Well-develooed silkv luster on mica surfaces :
r tl V
Coarse-grained, Muscovite schist Types of schist named on the basis
q) tl mostly micas but of mineral content
Chlorite schist
> tl often with other
o tl
Biotite schist
Tourmaline schist
- ll
v ll .t
Garnet schist (Figure 3.12c)
btl Staurolite schist
atl Kyanite schist
q) tl
r ll
I tl
Sillimanite schist
Hornblende schist

tl Coarse-grained, Gneiss (Figure 3.12d) Well-developed color banding due to alternating
f7ll mostly nonmicaceous layers of difTerent minerals, most commonly
minerals quartz, feldspar, and dark-colored minerals

nrctarnorphosed quanz sundstore) und nrarble r mctamorphoscd lme\tonc or doloslone rre u\uallv not foliated.

Figure 3.11a-g
a.-d. The important foliated metamorphic rocks. (a) Slate,
identified by its aphanitic texture and very platy breakage pattern.
(b) Phyllite, also aphanitic, but more micaceous, so a surface
sheen of reflected lighi is present. (c) Schist, characterized by a
predominance of coarse-grained micas. Dark red spots are garnet
crystals. (d) Gneiss, composed of white feldspar, clear quartz, and
dark streaks of biotite mica. Banding is diagnostic. (e) and (f) are
equigranular quartzite and marble, respectively. They are the most
common nonfoliated metamorphic rocks. (g) Natural asbestos'
comoosed of three related fibrous minerals.








small to be seen. In a phyllite, the micas are coarser but still 3. Which type(s) of rock do you think is (are) likely to
contain more pore space, a sandstone, a limestone. or
cannot be seen. They are, however, large enough to reflect
light from their flat and parallel surfaces. Phyllites have a a mudrock? Explain. What practical importance might
noticeable sheen in reflected light. this have?
Probably, most metamorphic rocks are either slate, phyl- 4. Sands are usually deposited in a different geographic
lite, or schist. Schist is composed of micas that are stable to location than are clay minerals. What is the reason fbr
temperatures of about 600" C, only 100" below the melting
this? t4
temperature of rocks. Above 600o, other, nonmicaceous min- 5. Micas and clay minerals can be compacted to a much
erals form. This new rock is called a gneiss (Figure 3.11d).
greater degree than quartz and feldspar grains. Explain
Micas are not the only minerals that form during meta-
morphism, but from an environmental point of view they 6.
why. What is the practical importance of this fact?
Why are slopes underlain by shale always unstable? e
are the most important. Other minerals in schists include
tourmaline and garnet, semiprecious gemstones, and as-
You are choosing a tombstone to mark your final
resting place. Would you have it carved from granite, ?
quartzite, or marble? Explain. Suppose the climate
bestos (Figure 3.1lg), a cause of much concern in deterio-
rating buildings.
were arid. Would this make halite a satisfactory rock ?
for your tombstone? Explain.

Classifying Metamorphic Rocks

8. Which type(s) of metamorphic rock would be the best ?
choices for roadbed material?
Classifying a metamorphic rock requires recognizing its
texture and mineral composition.
9. One type of metamorphic rock has been widely used ?
Step l.
Is the rock foliated or nonfoliated?
in place of wooden or composition roofing shingles.
The same rock was used in the last century to make
writing tablets for schoolchildren. Name the rock and
Step 2. If the rock is foliated, is it microcrystalline
with very planar surfaces (slate), or
erplain why it is so suitable for these uses. Why do
you think it is rarely used these days for either roofs
microcrystalline with a sheen in reflected light
(phyllite)? Does it have visible micas in
parallel orientation (schist), or foliation
or writing tablets?
What types of rock would be most durable for use as
facing for buildings such as banks or major offrce
defined by bands of different mineral buildings? Explain.

Step 3.
composition (gneiss)?
If the rock is foliated and coarse-grained, what Further Reading/References
Step 4.If
are the abundant minerals?
the rock is not foliated, simply identify the
Blatt, Harvey, 1992. Sedimentary Petrology, 2nd ed. New York, V
\\'. H. Freeman,514 pp.
abundant minerals. Blatt, Harvey, and Tracy, Robert, 1996. Petrology. New York, V
Step 5. Name the rock. Typical names might be W H. Freeman,529 pp.
biotite-quartz schist, quartz-feldspar-garnet
gneiss, or dolomite marble. Only the two or
Dietrich, Richard V., 1989. Stones: Their Collection,
Identffication and Uses,2nd ed. Prescott, Arizona,
three most-abundant minerals are used in the Geoscience Press.
Hannibal, J. T., and Park, L. 8., 1992.'A guide to selected
rock name.
sources of information on stone used for buildings,

Problems monuments, and works of arf." Journal of Geological =

1. Describe and name each of the rocks in your tray.
Education, v. 40, pp. 12-24.
Mack, Walter N., and Leistikow, Elizabeth A., 1996. "Sands of e
2. What can you infer about the earth's history from the the world." Scientific American, August, pp. 62-67.
fact that a coarse-grained granite is exposed at Earth's =

lgneous Rocks

Sample Name of
Number Rock

ToPoGRAPHTc fu[ps

A map is a representation, usually on a flat surface, of a part

of the earth's surface. It can be an actual photograph taken
Macnnnc DrcunATroN
The earth rotates around an imaginary line that passes
from an orbiting satellite or an airplane, or a numerical ap-
through the earth's center. The sites where this line inter-
proximation of the surface, with lines marking certain
sects the surface of the earth are called fhe north and
boundaries or elevations. Some maps show elevations above
sottth geographic poles, with geographic north shown on
sea level (topographic maps; Figure 4. I ) or below sea level
maps by an arrow. Also shown on geologic and many
(bathymetric maps). Some show the contacts between rock
other types of maps is magnetic north, the direction to the
units of geologic significance (geologic maps) or agricul-
ntagnetic north pole. Magnetic directions arise from the
tural significance (soil maps). Still others are derivative
fact that the earth acts like a simple bar magnet, with the
maps constructed for environmental or engineering pur-
imaginary bar passing through the center of the earth and
poses-for example, flood-frequency maps, land-use maps,
intersecting the surface near, but not at, the geographic
and maps of groundwater composition. In this and subse-
poles. Many maps have arrows pointing to both the geo-
quent exercises we will consider several types of maps that
graphic and magnetic poles; the angle between them is
are essential tools for environmental geologists.
fhe magnetic declination. When we use a magnetic com-
pass to determine directions in the field. we adjust it to
MAP Scru.n compensate for the magnetic declination, so that the nee-
Features on a map are smaller than the actual features they dle points to "true" (geographic) north.
represent. This reduction in size is termed the scole of the
map. A scale of 1:100 means that one unit on the map is
Mep CoonorxArEs
equal to 100 of the same units on the earth's surface. In geo-
Maps of use to environmental geologists range in scale from
logical studies, a common scale for maps is 1:62,500, mean-
very small to very large. For example, a map showing the
ing that one inch on the map equals 62.500 inches on the
outcrop pattern of America's premier underground water
ground-approximately one mile (l mi = 63,360 in.). A
source, a rock unit known as the Ogalalla Formation. needs
scale of 1:125.000 is a smaller scale than I :62.500 because
to be small scale because the Ogalalla extends over five
an inch represents two miles on the ground rather than one
midwestern states. The map needs to cover a very large
mile. A feature on the ground must be larger to be visible
area. In contrast, a map showing the location of a city's
on this smaller-scale map. Many maps used in environmen-
sewer lines that feed into the sewage treatment plant needs
tal studies have a numerical scale of l:24,000 (one in. =
to be at a much larger scale.
2.000 ft). In addition to a numerical scale. most maDs have
Figure 4.1
Reduced copy of the Baraboo, Wisconsin, 15-minute quadrangle, with principal features highlighted. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Longitude of
U.S. Public Land Survey eastern boundary
Name of Range coordinate
quadrangle ,.---- Latitude of
to northwest fasoo\ northern boundary
@=... [-h\

Section number

U.S. Public Land

Survey Township

Name of
to west
i' l

,^ Bench mark

elevation I^azz )
+ _-i-'..'}.:,
| |

"_--j' ,

i .-.-
.\ |

I aTvl

State Plane - i r:.,' .

COOrOlnaIe r I

nrrb"rflo-) I- --

-ry -- t.

Quadrangle name
fiu) v""t published
Graphic Contour Fractional \_-/\\
Declination scales interval scale
l'igure.l.2 I"igtrre J.3a-c
The basis of numbering latitude and longitude Generalized diagram of the PLSS. (a) Tier an:
township, 6 x 6 miles. (c) Onesection, 1 . 1 r -

Tiel 3N
Tiel 2N

it,i por n
Tie I IN I I n

Ra q
I ir 1
11S T1S T1S

6mi. o T2S
ile 3S
lte 4S T4S =.

6 4 1
eqLtrtor a place is and is nreasured in dcgrees. TIre erLrato| is
7 A I 10 12
0" of latitude. A place at 30" lititude lics where a linc llom 11

the surfhce 1o the earth's center intersects the plane of the

equator at an angle of 30". Latitude lines on the sulfrce ale
18 16 t3 14 13 I
parallel to each other. Both Phoenix. Arizona. and Baghclad.
Iraq. are at 33" nolth latitucle. 30



27 o z5
East-west on the earth's surfiice are given by
JI JC 36
Ion-situde. Zero longitude is a nortl.r-soLlth line fnrnr pole to
pole that nlns throLlqh Greenwich. En-gland. as established in (b)
lllll:1 when England was the pfemiel'world power. It is called
the Prime Mericlian. A place iit 30o lon-uitLrde lies where r Y
line fiorn the surlace to the earth's centcr intersects the plane
of the Prime Meridian at an arrgle of 30'. Meridians (lon-ci- V
trcle lines) are nurnbered both erst and west fiom the zero
line at Greenwich flonr zero to 180'east and zelo to l80o V
west. The 180' line is a nreliclian that runs thlough the west-
SE l/4 of the
ern Paciflc Ocean. All locatitns on a north-south line have sw 1/4 | of the -.,;;', NE 1/4 of the V
the same lon-sitLlcle. The area of the :18 conterr.r.rinous United SE 1/4 of
States is ror-rghly shaped like a rectan-rular box bounded by SW 1/4 SE 1i4
Section 19,
T2S, R4E -
3[J" and 48' N latitudes and by 70o ancl 12.1' W lon-situcles. of the of the
In 178.5. the f-edelal sovernment instituted the Pttltlic sE 1/4 SE 1/4 e"
Lottd Sun'er Sr',r't,nr to deal with the problem of -ueographic
locitions in snrall areas during land survcying filr westward Y
expansion. Thirty-fbur of the fifiy states are subdiviclecl ac-
cordins to the PLSS. Most of the other l6 were part of the E,ach of the six-mile squares (u hich. Lrntbrtunately. was
also called a township) u'as further sLrbdivided into 36 one-
original l3 colonies.
The PLSS was established in each state by sulveyin-e at nrile squares called .i'rr,r and numbered in the rather pe- {
least one east-west base littc and one nolth-south triut'itrtl culiar pattern shown in Figure .1.3b. In flat areas of the rnid-
ntcridiut (Fi-gure ,:1.3). Acljacent states sornetimes hacl the continental United Strtcs. most of the main rural roads {
sanre base lines or principal nreridians. Once the lines were lirllow section lines. Subdivision of sections (Fi-qure -1.3c)
was less fornral and introduced no new terms. Rct'erence
established ancl related to latitude and lon-gitude. aciclitional
lines parallel to them were drawn at six-mile intervrls might be nrade to the S l/2 of a section. or perhaps to the
thnrr-rghout each state. creating grids of scpllres. each square SE l/4 of a scction. Morc specific klcations lr'ere desig- {
six rniles on a sicle. nated simply ls quarters of quarter-sections-fbr example.
Squares akrnq each east-west strip of the grid were called the NW l/'1 of the NE l/.1 (rn area of -10 acres)-and so on.
iers ot' totrtt.sltit.s and were numbered. relative to the base
line. as Township lN. T2N. T3N (or T lS. T2S). etc. Squares Er-Evnrrons a
Coast and Geodetic Survey. More local ret'erence points ure of equal precipitation'. rn isotuclt. points of equal thick-
bettc'h marks, inland elevations deterrnined accurately by ness of a rock unit; an isothentt, points of eclual terrpera-
the United States Geolo-sical Survey. Bench marks are ture; and an 1lnc, points of equal earthquake in-
widely scattered. so a particr.rlar map area mi-ght not cclntairr tensity. The diffbrence in value between adjacent lines is
one. The map rnight. however. include points whose eleva- called the conf()rtr inten'ul. The choice of contour interval
tion above sea level has been fhirly acculately deterntined. is arbitrary and based on the scale of variation in the plop-
erty being considered. For exanrple. a map of an area in
Conroan LlxEs Kansrs ruight reqr"rire a topographic contour interval of l0
Contour lines are lines thrt connect points of equal value f-eet to show iniportant f'eatLrres; in nei-ehboring Colorado
of a variable. ThLrs. a topographic contour line connects the cor"rtour interval might vary from l0 f'eet in the etstern
points of equal eleration lbove sea level: an r.rolllet, points part of the state to 100 f'eet in the western. ntore ntoun-
tainous part.
I;'igure {.{
Properties of Contour Lines TopocnePHrc MAPS
Topo-eraphic rnaps show the shape of'the earth's sulface by
Ineans of contour lines. Variations in the surfhce shapc help
Properties of Contour Lines" control streurflow raies. the likelihood of landslides. the
probability of flooding. and nrany otl.rel things important to
1. Every point on a contour /lne is the exact same elevation;
that s. contour lines connect ponts of equal elevation. e ut, i rort rn en t r |
o I cl-g i st s. A to po-u raph i c c on to u r Ii ne. w h ic h

2. Contour lines always separate points of higher elevation

connects points of etual elevation above ser level. is firnlled
(uphll) from ponts of lower elevation (downhill). One must by the intelsection of an imatinary level sulfiice with the
determine which directon on the map is hgher and which is ground (Fi-gure 4.4). A naturil exanrple of a contour line is
lower, relalive to the contour lne n question, by checking
a shoreline around a lake. An exanrple created by people of
adiacent elevations.
successive contours at difl'erent elevations is the pattern pro-
3. The elevation between any two adjacent contour lines on a
topographic map is the contour interval. Often every f ifth
duced by contour plowin-s. a plowin-u pattel'n designed to re-
contour line is heavier, so you can count by five-times the duce soil erosion. Contour lines that cross a low area such
contour interval. These heavier contour lines are known as is a streanr channel will fbrnl a V-shape that points up-
index contours, because they generally have elevations
orinted on them.
strelm (Figure :1.5.

4. Contour lnes never cross one another, except in one rare Ii-igurc -1.5
case: an overhanging cliff. ln such a case, the hidden
contours are dashed. The relationship between the shape of the land surface and
contour lines on a topographic map. Steep slopes are shown by
5. Gontour lines merge to form a single contour line only where
closely spaced contours, gentle slopes by widely spaced ones. In
there is a vertical cliff.
this example, the steep slope results from resistant layered rocks
6. Contour lines never split. and the gentler slope from less resistant rocks such as shales.
7. Contour lnes that are Note that when contours cross streams, they V upstream. The
a. evenly spaced indicate comparatively uniform slopes. sand spit at the bottom of the map has no elevation that reaches
b. closely spaced show steep slopes. 20 feet above sea level, so that no contour lines are present on
c. wdely spaced portray gentle slopes. the spt. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.
d. irregularly spaced signify irregular slopes.
8. Contour lines form a V pattern when crossing streams.
The apex of the V always points upstream (uphll).
9. A concentric series of closed contours represents a ni)77)
10. Depression contours have hachure marks on the downhill
side, always close, and represent a closed depression:ft5
a. Where the topography slopes downhll and a standard
contour is adjacent to a hachured contour, the
hachured contour is one contour interval lower than
the standard contour.
b. Where the topography slopes uphill and a standard
contouf is adjacent to a hachured contour, the two
contours have the same elevation.
c. Where one closed hachured contour encloses another
closed hachured contour, the inner contour is one
contour interval lower.
: Where a closed standard contour is enclosed by a
-achured contour, they both have the same elevation.

'--::: same rules apply to bathymetric maps, which show the

:::::-::-,/ of the floors of lakes or oceans.

Most precise locations do not fall exactly on a contour the ground slope. A five-foot contour interval, rather than
line-for example, a spring might be located between con- ten-foot, would reduce the potential for error.
tour lines representing 430 and 440 feet above sea level. In Relief is defined as the difference in elevation between
such cases, we estimate the elevation by measuring with a two points on a map. Local relief is the maximum differ-
graduated scale from the spring to one of the contour lines. ence in elevation within a designated small area on the map; -
If the spring is 65Vo of the distance from line 430 to line total relief is the maximum difference in elevation between
440, for example, its elevation is approximately 436.5 feet. any two points on the map. Local relief helps control stream
The elevation can only be approximated because this method gradient and the frequency of large-scale earth movements
assumes that the ground slopes evenly between the two con- such as landslides, and it may also reflect relativell' recent
tour lines. In reality, the surface might slope gently from movement along breaks (faults) in the earth's crust.
430 to 433 feet, then more steeply from 433 to 440 feet. In

such a case, the method would yield a slightly erroneous,
higher elevation for the spring. The accuracy of the esti-
TopocnnPHrc PRoFTLES
A topographic map provides a view from above the ground
mate, therefore, depends on both the contour interval and surface, using symbols and contour lines to show physical ?
Figure 4.6 e
Topographic profile across the Pseudomountain area along line A-A'. Vertical exaggeration = 32x. Source (Top): U.S. Geological Survey.

0 lMi
Contour interval l0 Scale
O 1Km

ril tl
ill ll
1 200 iillll

1 190
ll|| |
1 180 iill|i
1170 tiiltl
1 160 ilIIl


ilil tl
|lil tl
lllI l
o 1 130 |lil




1 090
1 080
1 070

Vertcal exaggeration = 32x.

36 Topographic Maps
features and relief. This depiction permits us to visualize 4. If the profile line does not run exactly east-west,
the shape of the ground surface and the location of build- place the upper edge of a clean strip of paper along
ings, rivers, and other features. A topographic profile is a the line. Where each contour line intersects the
cross-section that shows the changing elevation of the land profile line, make a short tick mark on the paper and
surface along a line. We select the position of the line either write the elevation by it. Then place the paper along
to provide a representative sample of the surface irregulari- the bottom edge of the profile grid and project from
ties shown on the map or to show the configuration of the each tick mark up to the correct grid elevation.
ground surface in an area of particular interest. Figure 4.6
Just as a map is always smaller than the area it represents,
illustrates the construction of a topographic profile (or cross-
on any cross-section the vertical distance between two ele-
section). The procedure is as follows:
vations on the paper is less than the true vertical distance
l. Draw the line along which you wish to construct (difference in elevation) on the ground. The vertical scale
the profile. Note the maximum topographic relief nearly always differs from the horizontal scale. The ratio
alon-e the line. between the fractional vertical scale and the fractional hor-
2. Choose a vertical scale. Scales are arbitrary, but izontal scale is called the vertical exaggeration (Figure 4.7).
most have about l0 to 15 divisions between the For example, if the horizontal scale is 1:62,500 and the ver-
lowest and highest elevations on the cross-section. tical scale is 1:1,200, the vertical exaggeration is approxi-
Usin-e fewer than 10 divisions risks losing desired mately 52x (62,500/1,200). This means that the slopes on
details of the ground surface, using more than 15 the topographic cross-section are 52 times steeper than the
adds more detail than is needed for most purposes. corresponding slopes on the ground.
Choose a number of divisions that suits the
intended purpose of the profile. Label the ConsrnucnNc e TopocRAPHrc MAP
horizontal lines of the profile grid. Many times an environmental geologist must create a con-
3. If the profile line runs exactly east-west, simply tour map from scattered known elevations. For example, a
drop a dashed line from each point at which the few bench marks may be present together with a few points
profile intersects a contour line to the appropriate whose elevations are known from earlier surveys made when
elevation on the profile grid, as shown in the the town was established. In drawing contour lines from
illustration. Connect the dots with a smooth curve. such scattered data, there are a few general guidelines.

l. Note the difference in elevation between the lowest

Fiorrre 4 7 and highest points in the area of interest to decide
Distortion in a profile of a human face caused by different vertical on an appropriate contour interval. The greater the
exaggeratons. range in elevations, the wider the contour interval
Exaggerated 5 times
is likely to be. However, the appropriate contour
interval also depends on how many data points
exist and how much detail they provide. For
example, if all the elevation points you start with
differ from each other by more than 100 feet, you
cannot make a reliable map with a 1O-foot contour
interval. You would be guessing at the position of
most contour lines.
2. Note the location of low and high points. The
starting data points will help, as will the flow
directions of any streams in the area if you know
them. Water always flows downhill. Also note where
Exaggerated 2llztimes
slopes seem to be steep, places where your data
points are close together and differ greatly in value.
3. Start contouring from the lowestelevations on the
map. Remember that contours always V toward


<_ 2- :-r _> <-27 cm -__->l


*-27 cm ___)-1

higher elevations when crossing low areas such as Map for problem 3.
valleys. Label all contour lines as you draw them
so you can keep track of where you are headed
and will draw lines that are consistent with the
data points you started with. -t-
4. Avoid constructing imaginary slopes by forcing
contour lines to run down the side of the map. It
will probably be more accurate to run the line off
the map at one place and have it enter again from
another place. Sometimes the contour lines are
properly drawn parallel to the border of the map,
but be sure that your lines are consistent with the
elevation points you started with.
l. Examine Figure 4.6. ?
a. What are the highest and lowest elevations on the
map? ?
b. Is Mothers Table higher than Fathers Workbench?
What is the difference in feet between them? 7
c. If Pseudomountain Peak is in section 18, what are

the numbers of the other sections on the map?
Which way do the streams flow? How do you know?
What is the gradient of Longneck Creek?
What is the scale of the map?
g. An acre is 43,560 square feet. How many acres are
on one section of land?
2. Make a topographic map by contouring the following
points, using a 5O-foot contour interval. Use a pencil,
and sketch lightly so you can erase errors easily.
Numbers indicate elevation in feet above sea level for
d. What is the total relief on the map? V
e. In which direction does Huntley Brook flow?
each adjacent dot. Use the contour provided on the
map as a starting guide.
f. What is the relationship between the direction in V
which streams intersect on the map and the
3. Shown is a portion of the Waite, Maine, T ll2'
Topographic Quadrangle. Based on this map, answer g.
direction in which they flow?
Construct a topographic cross-section from BM
the following questions.
a. How many square miles are shown on the map?
2'76 to BM 333. What is the vertical exaggeration
of your cross-section?
b. What is the straight-line distance from Waite to
c. Why do you think the highway between the two
Further Reading/References
towns was not built along the straight line? Bart, H. A., 1991. 'A hands-on approach to understanding topo- V
Map for problem 2.
graphic maps and their construction." Journal of
Geological Education, v. 39, pp. 303-305. e
Miller, V., and Westerback, M. E., 1988. Interpretation of
Topographic Maps. Columbus, Ohio, Merrill, 416 pp.
Muehrcke, P., and Muehrcke, J.O., 1992. Map Use: Reading
Analysis and Interpretation, 3rd ed. Madison,
Wisconsin, JP Publications.
Thompson, M. M., 1981. Maps for America,2nd ed. Reston,
Virgina, U.S. Geological Survey, 265 pp.

Upton, W. B., Jr., 1970. Landforms and Topographic Maps. New
York, John Wiley & Sons, 134 pp.

Gnolocrc MAPS

Topographic maps show the shape of the ground surf-ace. What features related to rock distributions do geologic
Geologic ntcqts, in contrast, show the areal distribution and maps show (Figures 5.1,5.2)?
orientation of the three-dimensional bodies of rock that ap-
pear on the surface. These surface appearances are termed
l. Forntations. Geologists define a formation as a
mappable rock unit defined by rock type (e.g.,
outcrops. The entire Earth is, of course, underlain by rocks,
sandstone, shale), geologic age, fossil content, or
but they are not always evident. Many humid tropical or
some other characteristic that is both easy to see
subtropical areas, such as central Afiica, the Amazon legion
and diagnostic. Formations are given names, such
of South America, and the southeastern United States, have
as the Wellington Formation or Redwall
few outcrops because their soils are so thick-sometimes
Limestone, and assigned colors and symbols to
tens of feet. In the northeastern and north-central United
identify them on a map. The Wellington
States and Canada, outcrops are scarce because they are
Formation, which is of Permian age, might be
covered by Pleistocene glacial debris. In contrast, outcrops
assigned the symbol "Pw" (Permian, Wellington).
are ofien both extensive and continuous in arid or semiarid
Redwall Limestone might be "Mr" (Mississippian,
regions such as those of the Middle East and western Texas.
Redwall). Different formations are shown on a
Where outcrops are scarce, geologists making a map infer
map by colors or line patterns.
probable rock distributions from surrounding areas with
better outcrops. Thus, geologic maps are not maps of actual
2. Folds. A fold is a bend in a layered rock. An
"upfold" is called an anticline; a "downfold" is a
outcrops; rather, they incorporate both actual outcrops and
geologic inference. A location shown as sandstone on a geo- st'ncline (Figure 5.3). In an eroded anticline the
ltruic m.t might in fact be a wheat field; we would find the oldest layers are in the center of the fold, while in
.lndstone only by digging through the soil. an eroded syncline the youngest layers are in the
Geologic maps show numerous features relating to the
:':rin and geologic history of an area, many of them rele- 3. Faults. A fault is a break in the earth's crust along
-::-.r to environmental concerns. Environmental geologists, which movement has occurred (Figure 5.4). The
:i3rrrr'. rust know how to read and interpret geologic rocks on one side of a fault might move up, down,
r- Geologic maps might suggest the best sites for plac- or sideways with respect to the other side, but the
- - ::' rri.r'\ landfills, drilling water wells, finding springs. movement is always parallel to the fault surface.
' ' , ._: ionstruction-grade sand and gravel, as well as re- Paved areas might crack, but only in movies does
:- -.r-:. nrr)st vulnerable to landslides or earthquakes, or the earth pull apart, perpendicular to the fault, and
: ;: things of environmental importance. Special- swallow whole towns.
l- : .. :' .::r. derived from geologic maps emphasize spe- 4. Contacts. A contact is the boundary between two
-: r- ,.-:-

Figure 5.1 l. The lthology of a formation helps determine its
Geologic symbols for rock types. Source: U.S. Geological Survey ability to transmit such fluids as water,
petroleum, and natural gas. A sand deposit, for
Geologc Symbols for Rock TyPes
example, has spaces between the grains that can
lqneous Sedmentary Metamorphc
fill with fluids, while a chemical precipitate such
as gypsum does not. 14
2. Shale and clay deposits are rich in clay minerals.
Granite Sandstone Quartzite The platy shape of these minerals causes them to
serve as slip surfaces on which landslides begin.
3. Faults often permit the movement of fluid through ?
rocks that might otherwise be impermeable. The
same is true ofjorrs, parallel rock fractures along ?
which no movement has occurred. Unconformity
surfaces can also serve as fluid conduits. ?
4. The angle of dip of a fluid-containing layer helps
Rhyolite Siltstone
determine the rate at which the fluid flows ?
through the layer. Water flowing quickly through a
rock can mean a more readily available supply for ?
a nearby city.

Geologic maps are an essential tool for the environmental

geologist. When combined with topographic maps and an
understanding of rocks and minerals, they form the basis for
making important decisions on environmental issues. ?
Gnolocrc Cnoss-Sncnons ?
Dolostone A geologic map shows the locations of all the major rock
units present on the ground surface, or that would be pres'
ent if soil cover, glacial debris, and human constructions
5. Strike. The strike of a tabular rock layer is the
compass direction of the line formed by the
were removed. But what happens below the ground sur-
face? Does a water-bearing sandstone gradually become
intersection of the layer with an imaginary finer-grained, grade into shale, and lose its water-bearing e
horizontal plane (Figure 5.5). properties? What is the source of water leaking from a
6. Dip. The dip of a rock layer is the vertical angle fault surface as a spring? Do limestones exposed at the V
formed by the intersection of the layer with an surface become cavernous underground, posing a danger
imaginary horizontal plane (Figure 5.5). The dip to buildings constructed directly above? These are some V
angle must be measured perpendicular to the strike of the reasons why environmental geologists must be able
direction; when measuring in any other direction to visualize the materials buried beneath the ground sur- V
the angle determined will be less than the true dip. face. The result of this visualization is a geologic cross-
l. lJnconformitis. An unconformity is an ancient section. ?
erosional surface covered by later sediment. The Some of the data used in constructing a cross-section,
present ground surface is an unconformity in the such as strike and dip, come from observations made at ?
making. Unconformities are normally identified in ground level. Others are obtained from wells drilled to find
the map legend and may not be evident on the wate petroleum, and natural gas; from mines excavated for ?
map itself. mineral resources; or from tunnels excavated to enlarge
transportation networks. Wells drilled for the petroleum in- *
8. Otherfeatures. A geologic map may also include
some of the features shown on topographic maps, dustry are useful because they bring rock chips to the sur-
such as topographic or bathymetric contours' face, and because they are "logged" in some form. Wireline *
streams, or cities. logs are zigzag lines on a strip of paper that indicate how
subsurface rocks respond to electrical or nuclear impulses.
The character of the response allows geologists to interpret
EnunonMENTAL Geolocv
lithology, water content, and other useful properties of the
rock. Another technique for analyzing subsurface rocks is to
Geologists use the location and geologic age of map fea- use explosives to send energy impulses into the ground.
tures to unravel the geologic history of the map area' Contacts between rock layers reflect some of the energy up-
Similarly, numerous features on geologic maps are impor- ward, permitting determination of the type of rock and its
tant in environmental geologY.
Figure 5.2
Symbols on geological maps published by the United States Geological Survey. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Strike and dio of strata Shafts: o Quaternary

/o, Z Vertical fl Inclined
/ Vertical strata Tertiary
Adt, tunnel, or slope:
Strike and dip of
) Accessible )+Inaccessible
overturned strata
X Prospect
rass tc
: Horizontal slrata

Quarry: F,
li' Active 1t Triassic
. Strike and dip of
rock cleavage Permian
Gravel pit:
,! Active . Abandoned
- \/ortial loavaa
r'" IP Pen nsylvanan
Oil well:
\ Axis of an anticlne (concave-downward i,r Drilling Q shut-in r-i Dry hole
folded rock) ,,'snow abandoned
Y'uas oT gas

Axis of a syncline (concave-upward

e Oil * Show of oil Devonian

,X folded rock)
Silu rian

Axis of a plunging anticline (plunging means

/ the crest of the fold s not horizontal) C Ordovician

.{ Axis of a plunging syncline Cambrian

Trend and angle of plunge of a line P Precambrian

Lateral (strike-slip) fault; arrows indicate

// relative movement

High-angle fault; U for Up and D for

-/o Down, to indicate relative movement

Reverse fault; Teeth are in the side of

the hangng wall (upper block)
Contact or other line sold where known,
dashed where approximaled, and dotted
where only inferred

dip. The dip of the layer at the surface is not necessarily the 4. Where dips are known, extend formational
same as its dip below the surface. contacts and fault planes down into the profile,
Constructing a geologic cross-section is very much like using a protractor to measure angles.
constructing a topographic profile: 5. Connect at depth all outcrops of the same
sedimentary rock unit, using a reasonable
L Orient the cross-section line approximately normal
extension of the surface dips. Most units maintain
to the major geologic trends in the area, that is,
a fairly constant thickness. If the cross-section
normal to the strike of beds, folds, and faults.
includes a fault, be aware that rock units will not
l. Construct a topographic profile along the
match up exactly across the fault. If one side of
cross-section line.
the fault has moved up or down, the formation
-: Use tick marks to transfer the geologic contacts contacts will be displaced across the fault surface.
rlong the line to the topographic profile, as was
6. Label the cross-section, using the appropriate letter
r,rn. for elevations in the topographic profile.
symbols from the map. Also place arrows
alongside any faults to show relative displacement.
Figure 5.3 e
Antclines fold upward; synclines fold downward.
Conglomerate e
Conglomerate e
Figure 5.4 e
Four types of faults are illustrated in these block diagrams. lf the fault plane is inclined, the side above the fault is the hanging wall and the
side below is the footwall. Disolaced marker beds show movement. e

b'7 z ,"f, l

A. Normal fault B. Reverse faull V

C. Thrust fault D. Righflateral strike-slip fault

a I
Figure 5.5 Ar ExnmPLE oF Gnolocrc
Strike and dip of a limestone layer resting on granite. Strike is
east-west and dip is to the south at about 30'.
Figure 5.6 is a block diagram showing in three dimensions
the relationships among some igneous and sedimentary rocks.
Using the four principles listed above, we can determine the
sequence of events that resulted in the picture we see.

1. The oldest rock we can see is dolostone at the

base of the series of sedimentary rocks.
2. After deposition of the dolostone, the sandstone
was deposited.
3. The dolostone and sandstone were then tilted
toward the east, and the parts of these rocks that
protruded above the surrounding countryside
were eroded to form a flat surface.
Pnrxcrpr-Es oF Grolocrc Mnp 4. Limestone was deposited on top of the dolostone
IxrnnpnnrATloN and sandstone. The contact between the limestone
Afier a geologic cross-section is constructed, it must be in- and these underlying rocks is an unconformity
terpreted to answer questions such as the relative ages of the (labeled l).
rock layers and faults or the ages of unconformities. The geo- 5. Shale was deposited above the limestone.
logic principles on which these interpretations are made are
6. Granite intruded through the dolostone, would
the following:
have gone through the sandstone if it were
1. Original horizontality. Layers of sedimentary rock present at the site of the intrusion, and entered
were originally deposited as horizontal layers of the limestone. It is possible that the intrusion
sediment. If these rocks are now dipping, they came after deposition of the shale, but there is no
must have been tilted after deposition. way to tell from the rocks as we see them. The
2. Superposition. In an undisturbed sequence of granite contains inclusions only of the dolostone
sedimentary rocks, the oldest rock is at the bottom. it penetrated.
Each succeeding layer is younger than the layer 7. A tabular body of rhyolite intruded through the
below it. dolostone, sandstone, limestone, shale, and whatever
3. Cross-cutting relationshlps. A feature that cuts lay above the shale, if anything. If there were
across a layer of sedimentary rock must be nothing above the shale, the magma would have
younger than the layer being cut. Thus, a fault is spilled onto the shale ground sutface as a lava flow.
younger than the beds it displaces, and an igneous 8. The rhyolite, and probably some shale, were
intrusion is younger than the rocks it intrudes. An eroded to form a flat surface.
unconformity must be younger than the rocks it
cuts. A layer must be present before it can be cut, Figure 5.6
intruded, or eroded. Block diagram revealing geologic history.
4. Inclusions. An inclusion is a fragment of a
pre-existing body of rock, present within a younger
rock. For example, a magmatic intrusion might -:1 "'.il;F
ot9 .. o
;-nio'"'"t" 3 .\o
:9...o o. ..o
contain a piece of sedimentary rock broken off "
during the ascent of the magma. The intrusion must * . ,].",J oo
be younger than the piece of sedimentary rock. Sffi ooo, ou"S . "r:2
Commonly, the sedimentary rock layer directly
above an unconformity surface contains fragments
from rock layers below the unconformity. An
unconformity is an ancient erosional 5ufss-
ancient ground surface-and rock fragments were
lf ing on the surface when the sedimentary layer
bove the unconformity was deposited. Inclusions,
rlthough often visible in outcrops, are not normally
:r.licated on geologic maps.

; *
lll u
ilt u
lll d 1

lll g" H

'y,i lllcll-fl]
iltHtll lil -
\\ il|l|il
\ ilt ellt ill -
ilt ilil|
{ll ll lll r
lit sL] ilt H; {
s "lll q
lil :
rssN x
lll lll lll
i-ltlEl]].ll] fft

..,- ll
-ll i'l ;
(-) lll ll l'{ =
a r>
!lelil hl E e4
| ilt r|3
lTl lll-hl
!]E|| fl
ll ll lTl *
-^hl I I rl
ll 'li n -ur
lrl 4
IE e4



7 400
Column e

^6 7000
E Sand

=c OUU

lLI! Thermopo is
=6 Cretaceous -l
I A4nn *
Lrl " --
I F"I Cloverly
I lJ'l
T------ Morrison

-l lJt


t- |
l Formation

Gypsum Spring

Triassic E Chugwater
Formation {
permian/ ffip;l
Tens eep
E Sandstone

l.'igure 5.7
Pennsylvanian l;; Amsden
Mississippran l''"'"1 Formation
Topography and geology of a part of Leavitt Reservoir Madison
Mississipp an
Quadrangle, north central Wyoming. Scale = 1:24,OO0. Contour
interval 40 feet. T55N R91W & 92W.
@ Lmeslone s
9. Conglomerate was deposited on this surface, 2. In studying an unconformity, how might you try to
creating a second unconformity (labeled 2). determine how long it took the surface to develop, that
is, the amount of time the surface represents?
10. A fault cut through the entire sedimentary rock
sequence, pushin-e the rocks on the north side up 3. Locate an unconformity surface on the map in
Figure 5.7.
relative to the rocks on the south side.
I l. All of the conglomerate unit and part of the shale 4. Construct a geologic cross-section and describe the
geologic development along line A-A'.
unit were eroded to form the present flat surface.
Note the mismatch of units on opposite sides of
5. Construct a geologic cross-section along line B-B'.
Why does the cross-section along line A-Ar look so
the fhult.
different from the cross-section along line B-B'?
Decipherin-e the -ueologic development of an area is impor-
tant when searching for deposits of petroleum and natural Further Reading/References
gas. It also helps geologists understand why some sedi-
Bernknopf, R. L. and others, 1993. "Societal value of geologic
mentarv deposits of valuable metals, ores of uranium, lead, maps." U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1111,53 pp.
zinc. and copper, are located where we find them. Maltman, 4., 1990. Geological Maps: An Introduction. New
York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 184 pp.
Problems McCall, J., and Marker, B. (eds.), 1989. Earth Science Mapping

l. for Plannhg, Development and ConservatiorT. Boston,

Construct a topographic and geologic cross-section
Graham & Trotman, 268 pp.
along line A-A' on the Leavitt Reservoir Quadrangle
(Figure 5.7).
tont AND SorL

Igneous and metamorphic rocks fbrm at depths between Figure 6.1

five miles and thirty rniles below -rround level at very high Grass rooted in organic-rich dark-colored topsoil (A-horizon) on
temperatures and pressures. In addition. the chemical envi-
ronment at these depths is very difTerent from the environ-
toD of white limestone.
ment at the surface. At depth. there is less oxygen and less
water. Hence, when igneous and nrelar.rrorphic rocks arc
pushed up to the surfhce. they react chemically with oxygen
and water in our atmosphere to fbrm new rninerals that are
adjusted to surf'ace conditions. The result of these reactions >4-
is so/. Soils are cornposed of debris fxrr crurnbling rocks.
decayed plants. and decayed animals (Fi-gure 6. l).
Some soils are residual. renraining whele they fbrn-red
from underlying rocks. Other soils have developed on olcl
streanl or landslide deposits. But whether resiclual or not. all
soils go through the sarne developmental stages and ref-lect
the same variables: parent lnatel'ials. clinrate. and
Depending on pal'ent materials and clirnate. one fbot of soil
mi-eht require between 100 and 100.000 years to fbrm. Soil
fbrmation is faster in hot. humid clirnates than in cold. dly a t-ew percent of a soil. its presence is critical fbr agricul-
climates because chemical reactions are faster at higher turiil productivity and environrnental considerrtions.
temperatures and when wrter is abundant and continually
renewed. Cmy Mrxrnnls {
Soils are mixtures of sand. silt. and clay particles and Clay minerals are very small. usually less than one nlcrorn-
are named based on the proportions of eiich size -erade eter in length and width (l/25.000 inch) and have thicknesses
(Figure 6.2).The most agriculturally productive soils con- that are perhaps a hundred times srnallcr. A clay flake is (
tain subequal nrixtures of the three sizes. Although each shaped like a piece of paper. Because thev are so srnall. they
size fiaction has a function in soil productivity. soil stabil- are very reactive chernically. They collect on their sheetlike
ity, and soil pollution, the most irnpurtant size fraction is the surlhces an iissortment o1- a storehouse of
ions and sc'rr,e rs
clay size, composed almost entirely of cliiy minerals and or- nutrients ftrr plants. ions such as potassiunr. calcium. phos-
(rs =
Figure 6.2 TABLE 6.1
Classification of soils according to grain size
Range of Concentration in Soils and Plants
of Some Elements that Sometimes Occur
as Environmental Contaminants

Common Range in
Concentration (ppm)
Element Soils Plants

Arsenic 0.1-40 0.1-5

Boron 2-100 30-75
Cadmium 0.1-7 0.2-0.8
Copper 2-r00 4-15
Lead 2-200 0.1-10
Manganese 100-4,000 15-100
Nickel l0-1,000 I
Zinc l0-300 t5-200
Source: Data from N. C. Brady, The Nature and Properties of Soils, 8fh
commercial fertilizer you scatter on your garden or lawn is edition, 1974, Macmillan Publshing Company, New York, NY.
composed largely of these elements and is formulated to sup-
plement the inadequate supply of them in your soil. arsenic, cadmium, and lead (Table 6.1), all of which are
Some ofthese nutrients are scavenged by the clay from harmful to humans and many other living organisms. Soil
the rainwater as it drips through the soil. The rainwater re- can become seriously contaminated because of its ability to
moves elements such as potassium and calcium from de- trap and hold many chemicals dissolved in the water that
caying feldspars and deposits them on clay surfaces. Other passes through them. On the other hand, contaminants held
elements in soil water are obtained from decaying plant and in the soil do not enter the water supply.
animal tissues in the soil. All organic tissues are rich sources Some contaminants are held to clay and humus particles
of phosphorus, and plants of the pea family (legumes) con- more tightly than others. Those held more tightly will dis-
tain abundant nitrogen (as nitrate ion) captured from the air. place those held less tightly in the competition for space on
the host particle (clay or humus). The factors that determine
Oncaxrc Mrrnn the strength of attraction of dissolved substances for clay or
In addition to a mixture of organic compounds dissolved in humus are the size of the dissolved contaminant and its
soil water, soils generally contain l-67o organic matter, charge. Contaminants of larger size and higher charge will
complex materials called humus. Humus is brown to black displace those that are smaller and have lower charge. For
in color and is composed of organic compounds that are rel- example, lead has an ionic radius of 1.26 angstroms (an
atively resistant to decay. Dark-colored soils are rich in or- angstrom is a very small unit used for ion sizes) and a charge
ganic matter. Humus can hold a much larger amount of nu- of +2 (Table 6.2). Sodium ions have a radius of 0.98
trient ions than the same amount of clay minerals. Plants angstroms and a charge of +1. Suppose a clay mineral is
rooted in soil that is deficient in organic matter will be holding sodium ions on its surface and soil water containing
poorly nourished. lead ions passes by. The lead will replace the sodium on the
In addition to its ability to trap nutrient ions for plants, clay and push it into the water to be carried away. This is a
organic matter holds abundant water and is sticky. The stick- good result because the lead is removed from the water.
iness causes the soil to develop a "crumb structure," which Lead in drinking water can cause brain damage in humans.
greatly increases the ability ofthe air and water to penetrate But there is a limit to the amount of contaminant a soil
the soil. Humus is essential to the development of a good can hold. If contamination continues for too long, the soil
aericultural soil. materials can become saturated and the contaminants will
pass freely into our underground water supply (Table 6.3).
The point at which a soil becomes saturated depends on the
SoIM AND POLLUTANTE amounts and types of clay and humus it contains, and on the
lre surfaces of clay minerals and humus attract not only
type of contaminant.
-:rient ions for plant nutrition but pollutants as well. Clays
:elatively charged particles and therefore attract posi-
---=:.'. .-harged materials. Complex and harmful synthetic or- CmssrrcArroN or Sou-s
As they form from underlying rocks or sediments, soils
- -.i .-trrlpounds such as PCBs and dioxins that fall on soil develop a sequence of parallel layers called horizons
-: ::irrrbed. So are contaminant heavy elements such as
TABLE 6.2 The A-horizor is also called the topsoil and is the 2
zone in which the plants are rooted. As rainwater perco-
Size and Charge of Some Important and/or lates through the decomposing mineral grains, it dissolves e
Dangerous Inorganic Contaminants them, produces clays, and carries both the dissolved ions
and the solid clays downward to be deposited lower in the -s:
Element Radius Charge soil profile. The A-horizon is referred to as the zone of
leaching (removal). The zone below it in which the mate-
Selenium 0.35 +6
rial from the topsoil may be deposited defines the B-
Arsenic 0.47 +5
ltoriz.on or subsoil. It is also called the zone of accumu- =
Chromium 0.64 +3 lation. Below the B-horizon, lies the C-hori:,ott, a zone
Selenium 0.69 +4 composed of broken and partially decomposed bedrock or =
Uranium parent sediment.
+l Soils in humid climates accumulate red iron oxide ?
(hematite) in the B-horizon and are called pedalfer.s. Soilrs
Cadmium 0.99 +2
in dry climates accumulate white calcium carbonate (cal- ?
'kCalcium +2
cite) in the B-horizon and are called pedocals. The
Mercury l.t2 +2 changeover from pedalfers in the humid eastern United e
Lead 1.26 +2 States to pedocals in the dryer western United States oc-
tPotassium r.33 +l curs at an annual precipitation of about 30 inches. Both ?
pedocals and pedalfers can be agriculturally productive
Note: SoDrc ons oqtu'n nnre tllut one
Isteri.\k ere nol donpetns.
s:.a uu! t'lnr{e. Tluse tturkctl tritlt ott
soils, although pedocals usually need to be irrigated to
supplement their deficient water supply. The isohyet of 30
(Figure 6.3). They are labeled O, A, B, and C. The O- inches runs north-south through mid-America, and most ?
horizon is the layer of litter and decaying organic matter crop farms in this area need to be irrigated. The same is
on the surface. It contains only very small amounts of true of central California's San Joaquin Valley, where a ?
mineral fragments but is a rich source of some kinds of Iarge proportion of the nation's fruits and vegetables are
dissolved nutrients. Below it lies the mineral-rich part of grown. 4
the soil, composed of more fhan 90Vo inorganic materials.
Typical Ranges of Heavy Metal Concentrations in Sewage Sludges,
Fertilizers, Farmyard Manure, Lime, and Composts (ppm) e
Sewage Phosphate Nitrate Farmyard Composted l=
Sludge Fertilizers Fertilizers Manure Lime Refuse

Silver <960
Arsenic 3-30 2-1,200 2.2-t20 3-2s o.l-25 2-52 4
Boron r5-l.000 5-r l5 0.3-0.6 l0
Cadmium < l-3.410 0.1-170 0.05-8.5 0. l-0.8 0.04-0.l 0.0r-100 V
Cobalt t-260 t-t2 5.4-t2 0.3-24 0.4-3
Chromium 8-40,600 66-245 3.2-t9 r.l-55 l0-r5 1.8-4 I 0 V
0. I -55

0.0r-1.2 0.3-2.9
Manganese 60-3,900
30-969 40-1,200 e
Nickel 6-5,300

I -60
l 0-20 0.9-2'79 e
Lead 29-3,600 7-225 't 11 |.t-27 tn_r )qn 1.3-2.2,10
Antimony -1-44 < t00

l-10 0.5-25
2.4 0.08-0.1
Vanadiurn 20400 2- | ,600 20 e
Zinc 9 r-49,000 50- I,450 t42
l 5-566
pa',-;-., t L..
I 0-450 82-s.894
Figure 6.3
A generalized soil profile. Individual horizons can vary in thickness. Some may be locally absent, or additional horizons or subhorizons may
be identifiable.

Zone of leaching
(most leached in humid climates)

Zone ol accumulation
(contains soluble minerals
like calcite in drier climates)

Coarsely broken-up bedrock


Son AND AcRIcuLrRE of city dwellers, and the continuing loss of topsoil to ero-
The location of the world's "breadbaskets," the places where sion and harmful salt accumulation (saliniz.ation). Untll
most of the world's food is grown, is determined mostly by 1950 all growth in world food output resulted from in-
climate. Farming without irrigation is most productive when creases in the number of acres being farmed. By 1980 only
the annual rainfall is 30-40 inches; with irrigation the range 207o of the growth in food output resulted from farming
can be extended down to 15 inches. At lower annual rain- more acres; 807o came from making the acreage more pro-
fall there is insufficient soil development. The optimum av- ductive using new farming methods and chemicals. Since
erage yearly temperature is 50-65' Fahrenheit. When the 1980 all increases in productivity have come from making
temperature is too low, chemical reactions are so slow that the land work harder. The decreasing area devoted to farm-
photosynthesis is retarded. If the temperature is too high, ing, loss of topsoil to erosion, and pollution of the soil are
respiration is too fast and the plant grows more slowly. At slowly destroying America's agricultural base.
temperatures above I l0', plant enzyme systems are de-
stroyed. Son Sanvnvs nxn
Edible crops are those that not difficult to cultivate, Lnxo-Usn Pmnnrnc
have been found over thousands of years to be nourishing, What is the best use for soil in a particular area? How much
and that we have grown accustomed to eating. In the Western can be farmed? Does the soil contain enough organic mat-
u'orld wheat is the favorite; in east Asia rice is the staple. ter for efficient farming? Where should homes be built?
Other grains grown extensively in the United States and Does the soil contain the type of clay that expands to sev-
elsewhere include corn, oats, barley, and rye. From an eco- eral times its volume, resulting in cracked foundations? Is
logical viewpoint, it clearly is not desirable to deliberately the drainage of water through the soil too poor to permit
ir()\\' one type of plant year after year over thousands of road construction? Such questions can be answered by the
--.uare miles, as is common in the United States. construction of soil maps. Some maps show soil types, other
l.l.nocultures such as this are more vulnerable to insect soil thicknesses, and others may show the percentage of
:-ir rlrd also deplete the soil of essential nutrients to a swelling clays. The U.S. Geological Survey and many state
--i-::r ertent than would otherwise occur. and local governments have published soil maps. The num-
-grain production appears to
have stopped in- ber of such maps is increasing as the public becomes more
. ---"\',,rld
_: rfter many decades of growth. There are several aware of soil, one of our most important but deteriorating
. 'r. the change, including the growth of cities at the natural resources.
- :- -r : tarms. reroutins of irrieation water to the needs

Problems 10. Where in the westem United States *'ould vou erpecr
l. Do you think a soil will develop faster on new granitic
pedalfers to form? Are there areas in the easrern half of rhe
country where you would expect to find pedocals.-
bedrock or on an ancient stream sand that has the same
mineral composition? What are the differences between the
11. Shown below are three graphs illustrating the eft-eci rhar an
increasing thickness of topsoil, increasing amount of
two that led to your answer? organic carbon, and increasing amount of erosion have on
The best soil is a loam. Why does the suitability of the soil crop yield in America's agricultural areas. Explain these C=
for agriculture decrease if the percentage of sand increases?
Or if the percentage of clay increases? t2.
In a famous experiment, J. B. von Helmont (157'l-l64J) e
3. What is humus? Why is it important from an agricultural
point of view?
investigated the source of the materials that plants are
composed of. e
4. Construction workers have added large amounts of slag
(glass from an ore processing plant) containing 2,000 ppm That all vegetable [matter] immediately and materially
arises from the element of water alone I learned from this
of lead to a residential area to level the uneven ground
surface. What factors should be considered to evaluate the
experiment. I took an earthenware pot, placed in it 200 lb
ofearth dried in an oven, soaked this with water, and
likelihood that the potentially harmful lead atoms will be
freed from the slag and absorbed onto soil material?
Suppose the slag contained uranium rather than lead. In
planted in it a willow shoot weighing ve lb. After five
years had passed, the tree grown therefrom weighed 169 e
what ways would this change your approach to answering
lb and about 3 oz. But the earthenware pot was constantly
wet only with rain or (when necessary) distilled water; ?
the previous question?
and it was ample [in size] and imbedded in the ground;
Why are only positively charged ions absorbed in and, to prevent dust flying around from mixing with the
significant amounts by soils? earth, the rim of the pot was kept covered with an iron
From Table 6.1 it is clear that plants generally contain plate coated with tin and pierced with many holes. I did
lesser amounts of the eight elements listed than does the

not compute the weight of the deciduous leaves of the
soil in which the plants grow. Based on this observation, four autumns. Finally, I again dried the earth ofthe pot,
what might you infer about the chemistry of plant growth? and it was found to be the same 200 lb minus about 2 oz.
8. Arsenic, cadmium, and lead are listed in both Table 6.1 and
6.2. How might you explain the differences in abundance
Therefore. 164 lb of wood. bark. and root had arisen from
the water alone. e
of these three elements in soils.
America's major mountainous areas are the Appalachians
This was an excellent experiment for the 17th century-
well-planned, carefully done, and accurately described. Do
in the east and the Rockies, Basin and Range area, and
Sierra Nevada in the west. Find the map in your textbook
you agree with von Helmont's conclusion? Why or why not?
What factors was he unaware of in the early lTth century that
that shows the isohyets in the United States. Based on
these data, where would you predict America's major
agricultural areas would be located. Why? Where might
might have led him to design the experiment differently?
irrieation be needed? e
The effect of A-horizon thickness, amount of organic carbon in a so|, and amounl of erosion on crop yield.
14 e
(u o e

(t 1o

-2 ?
f c
8 o-8 Ol
d p ;
o .co
'= .v '=
;i\ o
='d4 o4
o '=
-r= (E
?2 x -rv


10 20 30 012345
Thickness of A-horizon Percent organic carbon in topsoil Increasing erosion
Further Reading/Referenees Pierzynski, Gary M., Sims, J. Thomas, and Vance, George F.,
1994. Soils and Environtnental Quality. Boca Raton,
Brady, N. C., and Weil, R. R., 1996. The Nature and Properties Florida, Iwis Publishers, 313 pp.
of Soils, llth ed. New York, Macmillan, 621 pp. Troeh, Frederick R., and Thompson, Louis M., 1993. Soils and
Glanz, James, 1995. Saving Our Soil. Boulder, Colorado, Soil Fenility,5th ed. New York, Oxford University
Johnson Books, 182 pp. Press, 462 pp.
Hillel, Daniel, 1991. Out of the Eatth. Berkele California,
University of California Press, 321 pp.
SruNG Sort.g

When minerals in igneous and metamorphic rocks alter to 7.3). These hazardous soils are called vertisols by soil sci-
other substances at the earth's surface, most of the materi- entists and expansive or swelling solls by engineers. Pure
als produced are harmless to humans and their civilization. montmorillonite can expand up to 2000Vo, and the pressure
Many of them are not only harmless but are beneficial. generated by the expansion can be 10 tons per square foot.
Examples include plant nutrients such as potassium, phos- However, few soils are pure montmorillonite and many soils
phorus, and iron. There are, however, a few substances pro- do not contain the mineral at all. In most montmorillonitic
duced by weathering that cause construction or pollution soils the amount of expansion is only 20-507o. But an ex-
problems. One of these is montmorillonite clay. pansion of only 3% is considered by construction engineers
to be hazardous to buildings. A pressure of only one ton per
Sweluxc Cmv square foot is greater than the load exerted by small build-
Montmorillonite is one of three common types of clay min- ings, which can be uplifted and rotated by the expanding
erals. It is composed mostly of silicon and aluminum, as are soil. Foundations and walls crack and separate.
all clays, but is distinctive because it contains sodium and Damage caused by expansive soils is widespread wher-
calcium as essential elements. It forms from the chemical ever the soil contains a significant amount of basaltic vol-
alteration ofrocks rich in these elements, such as basalt and canic materials. The distribution of swelling soils in the
its fragmental volcanic equivalent, dark-colored volcanic United States is shown in Figure 7.4. Most severely affected
tuff. Montmorillonite differs from other clays because it has are the northern midcontinent and the Gulf Coastal area of
an exceptionally strong attraction for water molecules. Clays
east Texas and southwestern Louisiana, but about one-third
have a sheetlike crystal structure, and the water molecules of the conterminous United States contains soils rich in
force their way between the sheets and cause an enormous montmorillonite clay. Several hundred thousand new homes
expansion of the clay flakes. The tiny clay particles can ex- are built each year on expansive soils. Damage caused by
pand to 20 times their dry volume. The water that causes the swelling soils now totals about $8 billion annually.
expansion can come from rain and snow, watering the lawn
and shrubbery, leaking water pipes, or crop irrigation. Problems
If montmorillonite is abundant in a soil, the soil swells l. Using Figure 7.4, examine a geologic map of the United
or shrinks, depending on the availability of water, with dev- States and locate the geologic formations where swelling
astating results to buildings (Figures 7.1,7.2). A dry mont- clays are a serious problem. Are they predominantly
morillonitic soil reveals that it has shrunk by the presence sandstones. shales. or limestones? Is this what you would
of a soil surface described as popcorn topography (Figure expect? Why?

Figure 7.1 Figure 7.2
Examples of soil problems. (a) Slab poured in dry season, soil Bulding wall damaged by stair-step corner fracturing. Lakewood,
expansion at periphery during wet season; (b) slab poured in wel Colorado, October 1976. The center secton of the wall at righl
season, soil shrinkage at periphery in dry season; (c) building has been uplifted relative to the corner at left. Damage of this sort
supported by cut and fill subject to differential expanson and is frequently caused by expansive clay.
contraction. From Gary B. Griggs and John A. Gilchrist, Geologic
Hazards, Resources, and Environmental Planning, 2d ed.
Copyright @ 19BS Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, CA.
Reprinted by permission.

Why do you think basaltic parent rocks are more likely to
give rise to swelling soils than are other rock types? Name
another type of igneous rock that is likely to yield swelling
soils. What metamorphic rocks will weather to produce
montmorillonite? (Hint: use Table 2.1 and Figure 3.12.)
Could a sandstone weather to produce a montmorillonitic soil?
If you believe it could, explain the requirements fbr it to occur.
5. Would you expect to find swelling soils more common
among pedalfers or pedocals? Why?
o. A rock composed almost entirely of montmorillonite clay is
called bentonite. It is used in oil well dlilling as a lubricant
to cool and preserve the drill pipe and drill bit during
exploration for petroleum. Why do you think clay is used
at all rather than simply circulating only water? Why do
you think montmorillonite clay is used rather than one of
the other two types of clny?
//o"nru"ror. \I
Figure 7.3
"Popcorn-like" texture of soils at the ground surface characterized
by bulges and cracks is a characteristic of soils with swelling
clays. This Wyoming soil is full of bentonite, a deposit of swelling
clays mined commercially for many uses-from cosmetics to ol
well drilling fluids.

the behavior of montmorillonite clay in water,

rr rou int-er about the bonding between adjacent
. in this rnineral'l

Swellins Soils 53
Figure 7.4
Distribution of swelling soils within the conterminous United States. Areas in red are most abundant in swelling soils, followed by areas in
blue. Uncolored areas are not devoid of swelling soils. There are many small local occurrences that are not shown. From E. B. Nuhfer., The Cilizen's Guide to Geologic Hazards. Copyrght @ 1993 American Geological Institute, Alexandria VA. Reprnted by permssion

7. Examine the state or local geologic map provided by your Further Reading/References
instructor. Where do you think there could be a problem
with swelling soils? Suppose you were considering building Holtz, W. G., and Hart, S. S., 1975. "Home construction on
your dream house in a suspect area. Explain how you shrinking and swelling soils." Colorado Geological
might determine whether a problem does in fact exist. How Sun,ev Special Publiccttion /1, l8 pp.
would you locate someone to do a site investigation? How Jochim, C. L., 1981. "Home landscaping and home maintenance
much would it cost? Phone a suitable company and ask. on swelling soil." Colorado Geological Sunet' Special
How would you ask this company to sample the soils? Publication 14, 3l pp.
How might you decide the percentage of swelling clay you Jones, D. E., and Holtz, W. G., 1973. "Expansive soils, the hid-
would be willing to tolerate in the soil under your house? den disaster." Cit'il Engineerhg, v.8, p. 49-5 1.
Tourtelot, H. A., l974. "Geologic origin and distribution of
swefling clays." Bulletin of the Association of
Engneering Geologists, v. I I, p. 259-75.

Sr-oPE SreBrLrrY

Landslides or mass wasting always occurs on slopes and All that is needed for a mass movement to occur is a
consists of downslope movement of soil and bedrock. triggering mechanism strong enough to overcome the rock-
Damage resulting from these movements totals $1.5 bil- rock or rock-soil friction that maintains the existing slope.
lion annually, and loss of life can be catastrophic. Naturally occurring triggers include earthquakes, volcanic
Thousands of people have been killed by individual land- eruptions, rainfall, snowmelt, and undercutting by stream
slides in many countries. Fortunately, mass movements of erosion or sea waves. Landslides can be grouped into three
rock. loose sediment. and soil are one of the more con- types based on the amount of water involved and the cohe-
trollable natural disasters, given modern technical knowl- siveness of the movement (Figure 8.1). The fastest moving
edge and public awareness. and most dangerous to life are noncohesive types of move-
Mass movements are distinguished from streamflow by ments: rockfalls or avalanches. These are downslope move-
the relative amounts of water and solid material. In a stream ments of dry rock at speeds of up to several hundred miles
the amount of solid material in motion is usually only one per hour. Boulders and large blocks of rock toppling from a
percent or so of the sediment-water volume. In a mass move- cliff face and falling freely through the air are rockfalls.
ment or landslide, the percentage of rock and sediment is Only slightly less dangerous are debris slides, rapid down-
-sreater than 507o and in avalanches and rockslides is 1007o. slope movements of rock and sediment along the ground
surface. When loose debris on a slope is destabilized by rain-
Cnusns oF MAss MovilExrs fall or an earthquake, slides result. Cohesive movements
The strength or resistance to movement of a mass of rock is called slumps, creeps, or earthflows consist of a downslope
controlled by the extent and spacing of discontinuities within movement of cohesive soil and sediment.
the rock mass. Examples of naturally occurring discontinu- Resistance to slope failure results from two factors. The
ities in rocks include (l) depositional features such as bed- first is internal friction caused by grain-to-grain contacts be-
Jins and fissility; (2) erosional features such as unconfor- tween irregularly shaped, coarse granular particles. Any
:::ities and scours; (3) metamorphic features such as slaty granular material has the ability to stand at some angle or
-.;-r\ and schistosity; (4) tectonic features such as joints maintain some slope because of grain-to-grain friction. The
, : :ults: and (5) mineralogic features such as the presence second factor is cohesion caused by materials that hold par-
-..r minerals. All these features are structural weak- ticles together in a solid, impermeable mass, such as occurs
' : .-: - ;Dd lead to mechanical or chemical loss of cohesion in clay. Common binding forces are electrostatic attraction
-: :::. rock surfaces. Because such discontinuities exist or chemical bonds. Shales exemplify this type of cohesion.
: :i' .i:.:re. unstable slopes and mass movements can oc- Studies of potential slope failure in coarse granular
Figure 8.1
Examples of landslides by type of movement. Source: W W. Hays (editor), 1gB1 , Facng Geologic and Hydrologic Hazards: Earth Science
Considerations. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Papet 1240-8, p. 6l .

Noncohesive Movements

i\\\\{ -

Fall - Mass travels mosl of the distance in f ree fall Translational Slide - Movement is predominantly along
planar or gently undulatory surfaces, frequenily controlled by surfaces
of weakness, such as faults, joints, or bedding planes.
Slide - Movement of material by shear displacement along
one or more surfaces or within a relatively narrow zone.
Cohesive Movements t1
Flow (earth flow)

Slide (rock slump)

Rotational Slide - Movement involves turnng about
point (surface of rupture is concave upward).
a Flow - Movement of mass such that
the form taken by moving material Y
resembles that of viscous f luids.
the two rock halves make contact only at surface irregu- and resistance to downslope movement usually focus on
larities. These contacts are not like those of an interlock- clay content. The three types of clay, kaolinite, illite, and Y
ing picture pvzzle, so the only force maintaining rock sta- montmorillonite, absorb different amounts water.of
bility and cohesion is grain-against-grain friction. This Montmorillonite is by far the greatest water-absorber so that
frictional resistance to slab movement can be decreased clay aggregates or shales that contain even small percent-
by shaking (earthquakes), by water percolation through ages of montmorillonite swell, lose cohesion, and slide eas- t=
discontinuities, or by the 9Vo expansion of water as it ily even on the gentlest of slopes.
freezes. Percolatirrg water decreases grain-to-grain fric- Montmorillonite has a high liquid limit, meaning that V
tion not only by increasing pore pressure but also by caus- plastic behavior begins at low clay contents. It also has a
ing chemical alteration (weathering) of these surfaces, high plasticity limit, meaning that the clay-warer mixrure *
softening them through the formation of clay minerals. maintains plasticity at very high claylwater ratios, a result
Clay minerals decrease cohesion because they are soft of large amounts of bound water in montmorillonite com-
and easily gouged, are sheetlike in character, and absorb pared to the other clay types, illite and kaolinite.
water. As the proportion of clay minerals in an aggregate Ground failure can also result from processes unrelated {'
of grains increases, the type of slope failure changes from to discontinuities in solid rock or to the amount of montmo-
noncohesive to cohesive. rillonite in clay-rich materials. Two of these processes are
Most soil failures (earthflows, slumps) are cohesive be- liquefaction and spreading failures. Liquefaction occurs
cause most soils contain high percentages of clay. In gen- when granular materials change in behavior from solid to
eral, the greater the quantity of clay minerals in a soil, the liquid in response to increased pore pressure. This occurs
greater its potential for shrinkage and swelling, the higher when ground-shaking reorients the unconsolidated sediment {
its plasticity, and the greater the likelihood that slope fail- grains into a more compact arrangement. When the ground-
ure will be cohesive. Consequently, studies of soil strength water table is near the surface during this reorientation, the {
shaking reduces the grain-to-grain contacts, and the load is 2. Bedrock. Rocks that are relatively incoherent, such
temporarily transferred to the pore water. These changes in- as poorly cemented sandstones, are dangerous.
crease pore pressure and decrease grain-to-grain friction, Rocks that have planes of weakness are dangerous.
and the deposit then behaves as a liquid. These planes include faults, bedding, foliation,
Liquefaction beneath a layer of hard rock can cause the fissility, and jointing. Slopes that are parallel to
overlying, firmer rock or soil to break into units and spread planes of layering or jointing are particularly
apart. Spectacular _sround collapses occur when a fine- unstable.
grained sediment chan_ees from a fairly hard, strong, brittle 3. Areas that lack vegetation. Plant roots bind soil
solid to a liquid of ne_eligible strength. Materials exhibiting and stabilize it. The more trees, the better. Bare
this unusual propert) are termed quick clay or quicksand, areas are much more likely to slide downhill
althou-eh some of these sensitive sediments contain little or catastrophically than vegetated areas.
no cla'. The clar t-lakes are arranged in a fluid-filled, house-
4. Areas of very heavy rainfall. Precipitation
of--cards structure: when the aggregate is disturbed the struc-
increases the pore pressure and separates the
ture collapses. and the material behaves like a fluid. grains. It also makes soil soggy so that it will flow
RncocrrzrNc AND Pnnvnxrrxc 5. Slope undercutting. Landslides are particularly
Slopn Fnnunns common along stream banks, highway road cuts,
\arious studies have shown that the most damaging slope and seacoasts during storms, all places where the
failures are closely related to human activities; regulating natural support for a slope has been removed.
land use before these activities take place can substantially 6. Areas that have had earthquakes relatively recently.
educe loss. The old adage "an ounce ofprevention is worth Shaking will destabilize slopes by decreasing the
a pound of cure" applies well to slope failures. friction provided by grain-to-grain contacts. The
result can be wholesale slope failure when a steep
Recognizing Areas Susceptible to Slope Failure gradient is present, or liquefaction when the
No area is immune to slope failure, but some areas are more ground is flat and the substrate is unconsolidated
likely to experience catastrophic failures than others. What sediment.
should you look for?
Because scientists and engineers understand the factors
l. Steep slopes. Gravity is the force that causes that make slopes unstable (Figure 8.2), prevention is an at-
downslope movement, so avoid steep slopes. The tainable goal in many regions. Dangerous areas can be (l)
gentler the better. avoided if possible; (2) stabilized by structures that in-

Figure 8.2
Cross-section showing homeowners with no hope. Their house is built on a combination of unstable fill and shale whose layering is parallel
to the ground slope. In addition, the shale and sandstone behind the house are unstable, and the sandstone feeds water into the planes of
fissility in the overlying shale; sinkholes are developing in the limeslone below the house and will soon undermine the house; and the toe of
the fill supporting the house is being undermined by water leaking from the sandstone.

Oversteepening by undercutting
Cut has exposed the bedding planes
they are no longer supported from

'.r/ / Fitl

J-- Fll has added
Z weight to the

Slope Stability and Landslides 57

Figure 8.3

Chain-link mesh keeps loose rocks from rolling into the highway. 4


clude retaining walls, drainage ditches. subsurface pipes. (Figure 8.5). Based on this map. you are asked to answer
and wire mesh coverings (Figure 8.3); or (3) stabilized by the fbllowing questions:
grading slopes or planting trees. whose roots improve soil a. What is the ran_se in qeolo-gic age of the rocks exposed
cohesion. in the map area'l
Approximately 25 years ago the U.S. Geological b. What type of geologic contact is present between Qal
and Dha?
Survey began engineering-geology mapping projects in
c. What type of sedinrentary rock-sandstone. shale, or
the San Francisco Bay area. This re-sion was chosen be-
limestone-is most abundant in the area? Least
cause it is prone to both earthquakes and landslides and abundant'l What do your answers suggest about the
is heavily populated. The results (fbr exarnple. Figure 8.4) fiecluency of mass mo\ements in the map area? r4
are helpful to both engineering geologists concerned with d. Identify the fbrmation that should be the most resistant
construction and land-planners concerned with a wider to mass movement. What are the characteristics that -
range of possible land uses. Since 1970 many state gov- caused you to choose itl
ernments have commissioned maps for various environ- e. In what way will the relative proportions of the three
mental purposes such as landslide control, groundwater rock types affect the useful lif-e of the reservoir located =
1.5 rniles SSE of the center of Hollidaysburg'/
safety, and soil erosion and pollution. The number and va-
f. What is the ground-slope angle of the hill irnmediately V
riety of such maps is increasing rapidly as public concern
south of the reservoir'l What is the dominant type of
about environmental problems increases.
rock exposed on the hilll
g. The southwestern par-t of the city is built on Qal. What -
Problems environmental problems do you think this might lead to?
1. Hollidaysburg is a town of 6,000 people in southwestern h. At the nolthwest edge of the town of Newry is a steep
Pennsylvania near the confluence of two rivers and hill underlain by the formation labeled Db. Do you
sunounded by mountains with up to 4-50 feet of local think the town faces anv danser from this hilll)
relief. Because of this location, considerable potential fbr
Most of Hollidaysburg is built on Sc and Srnk. \4ight

mass move[ients of surficial materials exists within flve
this be a possible problem for the inhabitants located
miles of the town. The town government has established a
closest to Beaverdam Branch? Explain.

committee to determine the extent of dan-ger fiom natural
disasters. As a member of this committee and an educated
j. Is there any danger to the railroad track fronr the hill
person with some training in environmental geology. you
just east of Kladder Station, located 0.8 inches north of
have obtained a geologic and topographic map of the area the southern end of the map? Explain.

Figure 8.4
(a) Slope-failure map of the Congress Springs area, Santa Clara County, California. (b) A derivative map showing potential ground
movement and recommended land-use policies. The original maps are on a topographic map base at a scale of 1 inch to 250 feet
(1:3,000). Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 1982, pp. 24, 32.

1 22,03' 122"03'4
37' 15'29

E Active landslide

E Inactive landslide.
geologcally young

E Inact ve andslide,
geo ogically old

122"02'58" 122"02'01"

Relatve Map Geologic Recommended Land Use

Stability Area Conditions Houses Roads
Publc Private
E Flat or gentle slopes; subject to local shallow
sliding, soil creep and settlement
Gentle to moderately steep slopes in older stabilized
Yes YeS Yes

W landslide debris; subject to settlement, soil creep, and

shallow and deep landsliding
Yes" Yes- Yes.

E Steep to very steep slopes; subject to mass-wasting by soil

creep, slumpng and rock fa
Yes' Yes- Yes'

E Gentle to very steep slopes in unstable material subject

to sliding, slumping, and soil creep
No- No- No-

UovinO, shallow (<10 ft) landslide No- No- No.

Stable UovinO, deep landslide, subject to rapid failure No No No
Yes. - The land use would normally be permitted, provided the geologic data and/or engineering
solutions are favorable. However, in some instances the use would be napproprate.
No' - The land use would normally not be permitted. However, under some
circumstances geologic data and/or engineering solutions would permit the use.

k. Can you suggest one or two reasons why the stream movements. List reasons why the presence of a volcano or
valley is widest about one mile ESE of Newry? group of volcanoes increases the risk of such occurrences.
l. What is the general relationship between the dip of the 1. The state highway department is considering constructing a
sedimentary rocks, the types of rock, and the new highway along the base of a hill composed of
propensity fbr mass wasting? limestone. What kinds of environmental problems might
Describe the various ways in which water is involved in the construction generate? How should they be investigated
slope failures. and remedied?
Discuss the relative effects of rock characteristics and
clirr-rate on the occurence of slope lhilures. Further Reading/References
List the factors that affect whether an earth movement will
be slow, such as an earthflow, or fast, such as an avalanche. Brabb, E. E., 1991. "The world landslide problem." Episodes, v.
14, p. 52-61.
Horv might you distinguish between mass-movement
Costa, J. E., and Wieczorek, G. F. (eds.), 1987. Debris
-:eposits and stream or glacial deposits?
'' Flows/Avalancltes: Prccess, Recogrtifion, and
lcanoes are commonly sites of massive earth Mitigatiotr. Reviews in Engineering Geologr, v. Yil,
Figure 8.5
Geologic map of the area surrounding Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.



ql rn r_ ;
Sca-le 6?600
z r a\files
;I I
oEcLrAiroN r940
I .5 0 a 5 Kiloreters

Contorrr irrlerr'al 20 feet
-Damn u nzem sa leye.I
Edtion of December 1945
Figure 8.S-Continued


-f Ler-
Alluvium lr
t> [,firi#ItrElirl
H] (silt, sand, and gravel consttutng the flood- >i Tonoloway limestone

#l plans of present streams)
(th i n-bedded fi nely lam inated, dark
| mestone; spari ng ly foss i liferou s, chief ly

lphal l--- -.; ---:--

Hampshire formaton [s*cl
(predomnantly red, lumpy shale or mud Wills Creek shale
rock and red sandstone; some gray and (chiefly gray, calcareous shale and some
green shale and sandstone) g ree n ish I i mestone : foss ls scarce )

lfficn a
\ f"-87-l

Chemung formation (
(chiefly green, gray, and chocolate-colored
Bloomsburo redbeds
shale and thin beds of argillaceous (tumpy red shale and ihick-bedded rdge-
f i n e-gra n ed sandstone; foss I iferous
making red sandstone)
throughout; includes Saxton conglomerate
member. Dsx: upper part largely chocolate-
colored) Ismkl
R lpbl McKenzie formalior,
- Brallier shale (bl u e th n -bedded o ss | ferou s I i me sto ne
(micaceous, silceous slaty green shale wth and soft gray and green shale; thin red
some thin beds of fine-graned sandstone; shale east of Tussey Mountan and a lttle
red shale west of Lock Mountain) !
sparsely fosslferous throughout, manly
o) pelecypods of Gardeau type) o
I mk\l -::b;$J
Harrell shale Clinton formation
(soft gray shale n upper part; Burket black (mainly green and blue shale, weathering
shale member, Dbk, in lower part; highly purplish, and thin fine-graned green
fossi life ro us, smal I pelecypods and sandstone in mddle; Keefer sandstone
cephalopods of the Naples fauna) s member, Sk, near top; shale wth thn
$ lmestone layers above Keefer sandstone
member represent Rochester shale;
lqhl $
Marklesbury ron-ore bed just beneath
Keefer sandstone member; Frankstown
Hamilton formation
e with
(pri ncpal ly olve-g reen shal iron-ore bed in lower half; hard quartzitic
evenlayered, blocky-jonted sandstone and sandstone, red sandstone, and Levant
thn limestone at top: rdge-making Black ron ore, Scs at base; generally
sandstone at two horzons; sparngly
(! fossiliferous; locally a foot or two of

limestone at top wth Tully fauna)
It! lsrl
g a- pry-/.|
Tuscarora quartzite
(hard whte quartzite and sandstone,
* Marcellus shale
(black fissile clay shale, grading upward
largely thick-bedded; quartzte extensively
quarried for ganister; contans scolthus
nto olive-green shale) worm tubes and Arthrophycus at top)

Onondaga formation

loi I

(gray shale, probably calcareous, and thin Juniata formation

$ (chefly red and some green fne-graned
argllaceous lmestone) 's cross-bedded sandstone and red lumpy
s mud rock; nonfo ssi I ife ro us)
Ridgeley sandstone
(thick-bedded calca re ous sandstone
lOol r
3 weatherng to coarse friable sandstone:
locallv a fne conglomerate at top wth Osweqo sandstone
d, qu a rz pe bbl es : i ghly fossil iferu s ) (g ray f i n e - g ra i n e d1 h i c k- b ed d e d
cross-lamnated sandstone: contains a few
<!so small quartz pebbles in lower part;
o Shriver limestone
(th n-bedded si liceou s I i me stone,

() weatherng to fne-grained sandstone;

black calcareous shale at bottom;
sp ari n g ly fos s i I if e ro u s )

Helderberg limestone
(lower part s thick-bedded gray
limestone with thin gray chert at top.
chieflv Kevser limestone member;
overlying Coeymans and New Scotland
limestone members thin and locally
absent; contans valuable quarry rock,
cal led " cal i co rock" ; fossil iferous

Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America, Califurnia. U.S. Geological Survey Professional
239 pp.
Matti, J. C., and Carson, S. E., 1991. Liquefaction Susceptibility
Paper 944,96 pp.
Schuster, R. L., Varnes, D. J., and Fleming. R. W.. 1981. ?
n the San Bernardino Valley and Vicinity, Southern "Hazards from ground failures; Landslides." In Facing
Califumia: A Regional Evaluation. U,S. Geological
Survey Bulletin 1898,53 pp.
Geologic and Hydrolo gic Hazards, Earth- Sc i ence -E-
Considerations, pp. 54-65. U.S. Geological Suner'
Mears. A. 1.. 1979. Colorado Snow-Avalanche Area Studies and Professional Paper 1240-8. t=
G uide l ne s fo r Av alanc he - H aza rd P I annin g. Colorado Wold, R. L., Jr., and Jochim, C. L., 1989. Landslide Loss
Geological Survey Special Publication 7,124 pp.
Nilsen, T. H., et al., 1979. Relative Slope Stability and
Reduction: A Guide for State and Local Government
Planning. Colorado Geological Survey Special
Land-use Planning in the San Francisco Bay Region, Publication 33, 50 pp.

Rvnn hocEssEr

Water is the most essential substance on earth. Without wa- year, a community can draw from this source continuously.
ter to drink. all animals die in a few days. Plants wilt and If water requirements exceed minimum streamflow, the
decay. The amount of water on earth is immense. but nearly community can store water until needed, although ponding
all of it is in the ocean and too salty to be used by those of increases the surface area of the water and therefore the
us who live on land (Figure 9.1). If the earth's water supply amount of evaporation, reducing the ultimate yield. If its
totaled 50 gallons, the amount of immediately usable water surface water supplies are inadequate, the community must
would be about a teaspoonful. tap underground sources. Water supply places the ultimate
Nevertheless, this metaphorical teaspoonful of water is limitation on the number of people who can live in an area.
able to carve the land surface into a bewildering variety of The catchment area of a stream is called its watershed or
shapes and cause floods that ravage the landscape it has drainage basin and includes the entire area the stream selves
carved. Both normal streamflow and its excess-flooding- (Figure 9.2). The famous Continental Divide in the western
are of great importance to human societies. In this exercise United States is an imaginary line that separates water chan-
we consider normal streamflow. In the next exercise we will nels that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those that drain
examine flooding. into the Atlantic. Successively smaller drainage basins on the
Streams are one of the most important features on the Atlantic Ocean side include the Gulf of Mexico basin, the
earth's surface. Stream courses that are dry throughout most Mississippi River basin, the Arkansas River basin, the Ohio
of the yea bearing water only during and immediately after River basin, and so on, down to the small drainage basin of
a rain, are caltled ephemeral. Stream channels that carry wa- the creek that flows by your house. Both the size and the
ter during one part of the year, are dry during the other, and shape of a drainage basin are important in determining runoff.
re fed by underground water are called intermitent. Streams Basin size, of course, has a strong effect on total runoff; the
that carry water continuously and are fed both by overland larger the catchment area, the greater the runoff. Basin shape
:l,ru on from below are called terennial. The more humid is also important, however, because it influences the tempo-
:l:.' climate, the higher the proportion of perennial streams. ral distribution of runoff. In an elongate basin, flow in tribu-
Total runoff on the ground surface depends on rainfall, tary channels reaches the main stream at different times, dis-
,: ':':rtion. transpiration by plants, and infiltration into the tributing the runoff over a long time span. In a more equant
.- Seneral, the higher the amount of rainfall, the higher drainage basin, tributaries feed into the main stream at about
. -... ,ti. For many communities, the runoff that supplies the same time, resulting in a sudden high peak flow.
:. :'j ri\ers controls both the quantity and the quality Topography also affects runoff, which decreases on gen-
: -,, $ ater supply. If local rivers or lakes have a high tler slopes. Gentle slopes allow more time for infiltration and
: - --- -*:.:-it\ to supply the needed volume of water all for at least temporary water storage. They also tend to be
Figure 9.1 4
are constant, the water molecules are continually cycled between the ocean,
atmospnere, and land surface.

gases //l
'4tl ,,K'/lo a,/,,

Transpiration =
from plants
t e
I ----< Evaporation
.005% Infittratron

Lakes, streams SurJace

lt -

Figure 9.2
Adjacent drainage basins and the divide that separates them -

more densely vegetated than extremely steep slopes, and HyonocnApHS

vegetation decreases runoff because plant roots hold water. A hydrograplz shows how streamflow varies with time and,
Soil and surface-sediment character can be an important fac- therefore, reflects rainfall duration and intensitv as well as
tor as well; loose, permeable sediment permits easy infiltra_ the characteristics ofthe drainage basin that influence runoff.
tion of water and thus decreases runoff. Hydrographs are plots of water discharge versus time
li'igure 9.3 the amount of water, its velocity and gradient, and other fac-
Long-period hydrograph for one point on Horse Creek near Sugar tors. The moving sediment causes downcutting of the stream
City, Colorado, showing the stream discharge over a period of one channel by abrasion, as well as headward erosion of the stream.
year. Source: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 79-681. The channel is thus deepened and lengthened, enlarging its
0.75 drainage basin and increasing topographic relief. Downcutting
also widens the channel by undermining its sides, causing
lnput from late
them to collapse into the rnoving water (mass movement) and
summer and fall rains
be transported downstream. The erosion process at frrst in-
creases local reliei and then decreases it as the stream valley
E widens. Neighboring streams can be at very different stages
Meltwater from
o of this process, depending on factors such as local variation in
o spring thaw
c types of bedrock or loose sediment, rainfall intensity, or hu-
.@ man intervention in the form of dam construction, plowing, or
o 0.25
spreading of concrete for highways and buildings.
Streams transport material in three ways: by traction
Base flow
(bed load), by suspension, and by solution. In traction
transport sediment either rolls along the stream bottom or
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. moves in a hopping fashion, called saltation. Moving wa-
ter creates stress on the stream bottom because of friction
(Figure 9.3) that perrrit environmentrl to deter- between the water and the individual grains. This fiiction
mine the total flow. the base flow (upward flow from the generates upward eddies of water strong enough to lift the
groundwater into the stream), and periods of high (f'lood) grains off the bottom so they can be moved downstream.
and low flows. Long-period hydrogriiphs (with graph axes The higher the degree of stress, the larger the grain size and
calibrated in months or years) are used in designing irriga- the greater the number of grains the stream can move. The
tion projects and darn construction and fbr forecasting size of the largest particle the stream can move is termed
floods. Short-period hydro-qraphs (with axes calibrated in lhe compeer?c of the stream. Competence varies as the
hours or days) are used to show peak discharges during sixth power of stream velocity. A stream's velocity is de-
floods (Figure 9.4). termined mostly by its gradienl, expressed as the number
of feet (or meters) the stream descends for each rnile (or
Ernncrs oF WATEn Movrmrxr kilometer) along its flow path. Gradients are steepest in
headwater tributaries; in mountainous areas they can ex-
The movement of channelized water has three consequences
ceed 250 ft/mi. The lower reaches of the Mississippi River,
important to environmental geologists: erosion, sediment
in contrast, have gradients of only 0.1 in./mi.
transport, and sediment deposition. Moving water has the abil-
Capuc'itt'is the total amount of sediment a stream can
ity to transport sediment: the amount tr-ansported depends on
carry. Most streams with high capacities also have high sus-
pension loads. Usually, the capacity of a stream varies as
l.'igure 9.;l the third power of the velocity.
Short-period flood hydrographs for two different points along Muddy sediment erodes less easily than sandy sedi-
Calaveras Creek near Elmendorf, Texas. The flood has been ment because it is more cohesive. Clay flakes are shaped
caused by heavy rainfall in the drainage basin. In the upstream
like pieces of paper and adhere to each other alnlost imme-
part of the basin, flooding quickly follows the rain. The larger
slream lower in the drainage basin responds more sluggishly to diately when they make contact at the stream bottorn. The
the input. Source: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources adhesion makes them more difflcult fbr the moving water to
Division. erode, or pick up. Once they are picked up, however, they
are transported easily because oftheir small size, so a stream
can transport large volumes of mud very rapidly. The amount
Small, upstream
basin: 18.2 km2 of suspencled loctd in a stream depends mostly on water dis-
.g charge rather than on bottom shear stress.
\ 6 Solutitt't load is important in water-quality investiga-
tions. In unpolluted areas the ions in the water have dissolved
from the rocks in the drainage basin. Waters affected by hu-
+l man activities, in contrast, can contain almost anything.
J As a stream progresses through its lifetime of sculpting
the land surface, it creates features that are very important
in environmental geology. Most of these features develop
during the middle part of the stream's life cycle, as the
a :l A f,l Noon 6:00 Pr\ lV idnight stream changes its major work from downcutting (vertical
Time of day (January 18,1968) erosion) to lateral cutting (horizontal erosion). As lateral

River Processes 65

Figure 9.5 Slower, less turbulent water along the inside of the bend re- =
The evolution of stream meanders results from both erosion on sults in sediment deposition. Meanders thus become in-
the outside of a curve n the stream channel, where velocity is creasingly exaggerated, and the width of the rleander belt -
greatest, and deposition on the inside of the curve, where velocity increases. As the width increases. meanders are more easilv
s lowest. (a) Streamflow is deflected by an irregularity and moves s--
to the opposite bank, where erosion begins. (b) Once lhe bend
cut off from the stream. -
When a stream overflows its channel, or f'loods. ir cre-
begins to form, the flow of water continues to impinge on the
ates raised ridges called levees atthe channel mar-gins. Ler ee.
outside curve, so a meander loop develops. At the same time,
deposition occurs on the inside of the bend as a result of the develop because water velocity decreases sharply as it leare.
lower stream velocities in that area. (c) The meander is enlarged
and migrates laterally, with the contemporaneous growth of a point
the channel, causing suspended sediment to be deposited al- =
bar. A general downslope migration of meanders occurs as they
most immediately, building a ridge at the channel marsin. -
grow larger and ultimately cut themselves off to form oxbow lakes. With each succeeding flood, the height of the levee increase..
lntroduction to Physical Geology, 2/e by Hamblin, @1994. The area into which the stream spills over during floods
Adapted by permission of Prentice-Hall, lnc., Upper Saddle River, is called its floodplain' this is the surface on which the me- -
NJ. anders are located. The width of the meander belt can be no
greater than the width of the floodplain and is often much =
smaller. Some wide-floored valleys have elevated, nearly
level benches called terraces along their margins (Figure =
9.6). Typically, these benches occur at the same elevation on
both sides of the channel. Terraces are remnants of former -
valley floors, valley-wide floodplains that once existed at
higher levels than that of the present floodplain. The re-

newed downcutting that left the terrace might have been
caused by either climatic change or tectonic uplift in the -
stream's headwaters area.
Problems F
1 Why is the volume of water in surface runoff always less
than the volume of precipitation? F
2. How do both the presence and the type of rock or sediment
of runoff?
at the earth's surface affect the amount V
Compare, for example, the effects of granite versus gravel
or sandstone versus shale. F
3. In Figure 9.7, assume that at point A in the river the
elevation of the bottom is 70 feet, and at point B it is 65
feet. How much did the formation of the Caulk cutoff in
1937 change the gradient of the river? P
What was the rate of movement of the meander bend from

west to east between 1827 and 1846?
Why do the topographic contour lines in the Caulk
Neck-Caulk Point region roughly parallel the meander? ?
F'igure 9.
Sketch of a valley filled with alluvium that has been eroded into
terraces. Each terrace is coded by a pattern.
erosion proceeds, the stream channel begins to meander 0 1,000 2,000 ft
(Figure 9.5). With time, the meanders enlarge and move
downstream; their rate of movement depends on water dis-
charge and local geology. Meanders can move laterally at
speeds of tens or even hundreds of meters per year, although
rates below l0 m/yr are more common on smaller streams.

Meanders develop best in muddy streams-streams
with a high ratio of suspension load to bed load. The me-
anders migrate because the deepest, swiftest, and most tur-
bulent section of the stream channel, where erosion is most
active, lies along the outer margin of each meander bend.

) "

-- qa-a
"jti.t"}tt /. ' \';;
;.ri:;:'; ['*''t

,,, .- Ft' ,'lL f ;l {

l f\i,{;*";:,,+



"fr.*l' i - ;
"\$[.,r1..'.;;' ,];'-:'fl':-: ,"+r1,:
- b- '' ;. o

f'! 'ffi,f-i ;:-* L-)j-:...- """

rf ',, u.:,.!i':rt:: ';;


; j
*o, -
-t,, ,' ill,i I\,.,.; ^
.=, : 'ii*,;-

.i I
2: ...;"/,'

**F1-.* l
*____.,_-----i-.------_* tr
=tl -.. "-"-l:--ij'"-j-

i- ilif$;7 ffiu- ,1.- .1\;o_,."/


trt I


4...r'*l -j ,;{

i. I Z,ii :'"-:
.l ;:'
- I -i;,il /l
- 1.. ,

',^/ "-,,
i.q --
tl!: $,i _".,., irf; 1,.:
''* {;/ti#

i _;i:iH ,'it, $'i'.,,:,I:r'Y:ffi -
ti _-f _

l" //. li . t4X|,,

t.9. l r&* ;
i i;,,1i.,'3,, .

urd ih
I *.1 f:*; 1i",i'.#
_i1." lfli "!,,
-*ti _.#,,
_.tF*^""* ## r, .:

'i"'r*V ,,

../ ..* drr==tr . 'r i-'




.1",:,r.= ...",;.- r" i r:

. "".'
"'r{ ,/
,l', i---tNK
.i is

=. *i\--= l*'-::fl
l- ,,,
t l't

i'o = ,'/,,."-[i3u
ruz 'o
t ,..
cl 5ft 0

6. What is the maximum local relief of the natural levees in b. the condition of the stream channel as land use

this area?
The topographic map shows that the state boundary
between Arkansas and Mississippi was drawn in the Further Readin/References s-
mid 1800s. By examining the map you can determine the
approximate date when the state boundary was established Leopold, Luna 8., 1968. Hydrologt for Urban Land Platutn::: .\
between Arkansas and Mississippi. Estimate this date. Guidebook on the Effects of Urban lnnd L'.se. V.5.
What are the pros and cons of defining state boundaries Geological Survey Circular 559, 18 pp.
that follow the course of a river? Leopold, Luna B., 1994. A View o.f the Rivr Cambrid,se.
8. Interference in natural processes by humans can greatly
Massachusetts. Harvard University Press, 298 pp. =
Watson, Ian, and Burnett, Alister D., 1993. Hydrologt,: An
alter erosion rates and the size and shape of stream
channels. Figure 9.8 shows the general relationship
Environmental Approach. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. =
between the use to which land is put, the condition of
stream channels on the land, and the amount of sediment
Buchanan Books. 702 pp.
Wolman, M. Gordon, and Riggs, H. C. eds., 1990. Surface Water
carried by the stream. Note how these variables have
changed between 1780 and 1980. Explain
Hydrologt. The Geologt' of North America, v. O-1,
Boulder, Colorado. The Geological Society of ?
America. 374 pp
a. the changes in sediment yield (erosion) as land use
changed. -
Figure 9.8 -
Variation in sediment yield through time in the Appalachian foothills of eastern United States. From M. G. Wolman, "A cycle of
sedmentaton and erosion n urban river channels,"rn Geografiska Annaler, [494, pp. 385-396, 1967]. Copyright @ 1967 Scandinavian
University Press, Oslo, Norway. Reprinted by permission.
condition Stable Aggrading Bank
eroslon ?
Wood s

Land use Forest Cropping and Urban
Grazing vo
(J= e
; ?

o 600
o 400
'= -
.E 2oo
U) e
1 780 1 820 1 900 1 940
Variation in sediment yield through time in the Appalachian foothills of eastern United States





Floods are the most common of the many geologic ca- formed by a landslide across a stream, or from human dis-
- tastrophes that plague humankind; they affect more people ruption of the natural environment, as in the case of a dam

than all other natural hazards combined. As much as 9OVo failure. Flood control is a major environmental problem in
l- of the damage related to natural disasters (excluding
droughts) is caused by floods, at an estimated annual cost
many areas. In the United States an important area of con-
cern is the lower Mississippi River. Overseas, the most con-
of $2.4 billion. About lvo of the land area of the 48 conter- tinually endangered region might be the nation of

minous United States is subject to flooding, and these floods Bangladesh, whose 130 million people live on 55,000 square
- can cover hundreds of thousands of square miles (Figure miles of low-lying, perennially flood-prone land along the

10. l). More than 20,000 communities, with over 6 million Ganges River.
single-family homes and representing perhaps l07o of the The key controls over an area's tendency to flood are

total U.S. population, are located on flood-prone land. Of (l) the amount and distribution of precipitation and (2) the
- the recent major disasters declared by U.S. presidents, 857o topographic and geologic characteristics of the rainfall
were associated with floods. catchment area. Average annual rainfall ranges from virtu-
Floods can result from several unusual events. The hur- ally zero in the driest deserts to 451 inches at one location
4 ricanes that occur each year along the Atlantic and Gulf
coasts produce enormous surges of ocean water that can
in Hawaii. Perhaps more important than such averages,
however, is the seasonal distribution of the precipitation.
4 drown nearshore areas. In fact, most of the damage from
hurricanes results from these surges and associated rainfall.
Clearly, if all the rain falls within a one-month period, flood-
ing is more likely than if it falls fairly evenly throughout the
4 The greatest of these hurricane floods occur along the fringe
of the Gulf of Mexico, but many smaller but damaging ex-
year. Meteorologists understand the general controls that
govern the temporal distribution of precipitation, but most
4 rmples occur along the Atlantic coast.
Many floods have a common cause: too much rainfall
flooding problems are caused by unusually heavy rainstorms
that occur at irregular intervals.

? .,.:ihin a short time. When rain falls slowly, enough water is

:::trrbd by soil and bedrock or channelled into stream
Topography has a direct influence on flooding. The most
areally extensive floods (though not necessarily the most
t) - -:i:i to prevent inundation of the surrounding area. If
-- -::.. is ercessive, however, flooding occurs (Figure 10.2),
- .- .,.:lh loss of life and extensive property damage.
damaging) occur in lowJying, downstream areas. The down-
stream areas have larger catchments for collecting precipita-
tion, but shallower stream channels for containing it. Aflood-

= . .- - J ,-n also occur if heavy snowfall melts quickly in way consists of the area of channel and immediately
- - '--.:-.r riarm spring weather. Other floods are sec- surrounding flat ground that provide the avenue for flood wa-
- -
-.:' .:.-lting perhaps from breaching of a natural dam
< ters (Figure 10.3). In inhabited areas humans have important



Map showing distribution of great floods in the conterminous United States since 1889. Source: U.S. Geological Survey,

Pacific Ocean Atlantic Ocean

Explan aton

I Dambreak flood -
ffi Hurricane flood
E Flash flood

Gulf of tl Area affected by
riverine flood

0 300 mi
Gulf of
500 mi fl Flood wave
generated n
Lake Okeechobee
Fr 0 500 km
by hurricane
0 300 km 0 100 km Scale
Figure 10.ltr
Curves showing the approximate limits of the largesl floods
Figure 10.2
Flood frequency curve for Eel River in Scotia, California, based on
exoerienced in the United States at successive times. The data collected from 1932 to 1959.The graph shows how often on
flattening of the curves at larger drainage areas indicates that the average a given discharge will occur. From Gary B. Griggs and
peak discharges per unit of drainage area are smaller as the size John A. Glchrst, Geologic Hazards, Resources, and
of the drainage basin increases. With the passage of time, the Environmental Planning, 2d ed. Copyright @ 19BS Wadsworth
Publishing Company, Belmont, CA. Reprinted by permission.
curves have moved up as larger floods have occurred. The longer
the period for which records are available, the more likely it is that >4
Probability of occurrence in any year (%)
a flood will occur with an unusually large discharge. Source: U.S.
Geolooical Survev.
Data to 1965
Q r,ooo ooo - -

\ aa2,'.-t
to 1948
\ ar
a. '
' E
o 100,000
c .\t
.' 6
.a a
u t
,,a varar to l89o 50,000
o 10 OnO
1.01 1.1 1.5 2 3 4 56 810 20304050 100 200
100 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000
Recurrence nterval (yr)
Drainage area (mi2)

effects on the amount of runoff. By devegetating, bulldozing, decreasing the natural surface available to soak up precipita-
building on, or otherwise changing the land surface, humans tion, and thereby increase the frequency of flooding. ln 1974
greatly affect the amount of water that infiltrates into the the United States Geological Survey evaluated the extent and
ground or runs off the surface. For example, clearing a forest development of urban floodplains. Amon-s the 26 moderate c4
increases the intensity with which rain hits the soil, reduces to large cities studied, an average of 52.8Va of their total
infiltration. and increases surface runoff into streams. floodplain areas had been urbanized. Values such as 9'77o for 5-4
Structures such as houses and pavement increase runoff by Great Falls, Montana; 89.2Vo for Phoenix, Arizona; 83.97o for

Figure 10.3
Flooo-FREoENcy Axnrysrs
Perspective sketch showing relationships of the river channel to The objective of a flood-frequency analysis is to determine
bottomland. The cross-section shows flood stages and flood
freouencies. From Moss and others. 1978.
how often, on the average, a particular region can expect a
flood of a certain magnitude. The steps in the analysis are
as follows:

(rg 1. Obtain the streamflow records of a particular

yeao gauging station for all the years during which

records have been kept. Choose the station with
\ Point bar '' 't. the longest, most complete record.

t$ (dePosition) iL' High I

2. Identify and list the highest discharge rate for each
3. Rank the water discharges in decreasing order.
4. To determine the recurrence interval fbr each
discharge, use the formula
Average Recurrence Interval = *
1 -year level
Floodplain where :
rz number of years of record
m: rank or position of any individual
discharge in the series
Tallahassee, Florida; and 83.57o for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
indicate why so many urban areas are susceptible to yearly
5. Using these values, construct a graph on semilog
graph paper of recurrence interval versus discharge
flooding and its associated damage.
(or stage). Connect the data points with a line of
Whether a stream will overflow its banks, spread over
best fit.
its floodplain (which becomes the floodway), and perhaps
spread farther into a neighboring town, depends on the It is best to view flood hazard statistics in terms of proba-
stream's discharge. During extremely high floods, city bility rather than recurrence interval (Table 10. | ). One value
streets may become part of the floodway. A stream's dis- is actually the reciprocal of the other. A 50-year flood, for
charge is the amount of water carried by the stream. It de- example, has a 1/50 or 2Vo chance of occurring in any given
pends on the size of the stream channel (and floodway dur- year; a 25-year flood has a 4c/c chance. Always keep in
ing floods) and the velocity of the stream. Discharge is mind that flood predictions are only probabilities. Two 50-
calculated from the equation year floods can occur in successive years, followed by two
centuries during which no 50-year floods occur at all. The
Q: AV,
predictive graph gives no guarantees for any particular year;
where Q : discharge (ftls) rather, it offers only averages based on past occurrences.
A : cross-sectional area of the stream channel at Few streams have records spanning 100 years, so we
the location where discharge is determined must often extend plots beyond the data to estimate the
(stream width x stream depth; ft) magnitude of 1O0-year events and locate the 1O0-year flood-
V: average velocity at the site (fls) way. The longer the extrapolation, the more uncertain the
estimate. Another factor that leads to uncertainty in flood-
The amount and character of the debris carried in a flood
frequency curves and recurrence-interval computations is
is affected not only by the intensity of the precipitation
the occurrence ofa very large flood (say the 1O0-yearevent),
but also by the nature of the bedrock. For example, a
\\atershed underlain by poorly consolidated, fine-grained within a short period of record (for instance, 20 years); it
diverges from all the other data points.
:edimentary rocks produces debris consisting of mud,
* hile a watershed composed largely of harder rock yields
,\\urser debris. Overland flows move these materials and Flooo PnevnxrroN AND Pnorecnon
:,rn\port them to stream channels. On steep slopes with Many communities in flood-prone areas near rivers try to
'.e. broken rock or poorly consolidated soils, down- prevent floods from inundating their town. There are several
-,.:. can trigger avalanches, slides, or mudflows. ways to do this. Each method has its benefits and limitaticlns,
' -..-:ures located in the path of such a moving mass are and all methods are expensive. The more protection desired,
- - Jrnra-qed by the impact. Solid materials derived the greater the expense. The most common level of protec-
;:ershed slopes lodge in channels, later to be swept
,. tion used is protection against the ravages ofa 100-year flood.
- - . .'urrents, usually during floods. One method is floodplain zoning, restricting construc-
tion in the area alongside the river that would be submerged
Figure 10.1a -
Map showing distrbution of great floods in the conterminous United States since 1889. Sourcei U.S. Geological Survey.



Atlanttc Ocean
Pacfc Ocean
Explan aton

I Dambreak flood -
ffi Hurricane flood

E Flash flood

Tc) E Area affected by
riverine flood


0 500 fl Flood wave
generated in
Lake Okeechobee ?
0 300 km
0 100 km
0 500 km
by hurrcane

F'igure Figure 10.2
Curves showing the approximate limits of the largest floods Flood frequency curve for Eel River in Scotia, California, based on

experienced in the United States at successive times. The
flattening of the curves at larger drainage areas indicates that the
data collected from to 1959.The graph shows how often on
average a given discharge will occur. From Gary B. Griggs and e
peak discharges per unit of drainage area are smaller as the size John A. Gilchrist, Geologic Hazards. Resources, and
of the drainage basin increases. With the passage of time, the
curves have moved up as larger floods have occurred. The longer
Environmental Planning, 2d ed. Copyright @ 19BS Wadsworth
Publishing Company, Belmont, CA. Reprinted by permission.
the period for which records are available, the more likely it is that
a flood will occur with an unusually large dscharge. Source: U.S. Probability of occurrence in any year (%) e
Geological Survey.
Data to 1965
' -
1 50,000 ?-
6 100,000
Data to 1948
o 100,000
E .\t .' c
aa a
E --r::"
.trt ,4Data to 1890
! 50,000
o 10,000 ,,'<Datato18so
I 5
1.01 1.1 1.3 1.5 2 3 4 56 810 20304050 100 200
1 100 1,000
10,000 100,000 1,000,000
Recurrence jnterval (yr) {

effects on the amount of runoff. By devegetating, bulldozing, decreasing the natural surface available to soak up precipita-
building on, or otherwise changing the land surface, humans tion, and thereby increase the frequency of flooding. ln 1974 (
greatly affect the amount of water that infiltrates into the the United States Geological Survey evaluated the extent and
ground or runs off, the surface. For example, clearing a forest development of urban floodplains. Among the 26 moderate
increases the intensity with which rain hits the soil, reduces to large cities studied, an average of 52.8Vc of their total
infiltration. and increases surface runoff into streams. floodplain areas had been urbanized. Values such as 97Vo for 5
Structures such as houses and pavement increase runoff by Great Falls, Montana; 89.2Vo for Phoenix, Arizona; 83.9Vo for

70 Floods -
Figure 10.3
Flooo-FREoENcv Annrvsrs
Perspective sketch showing relationships of the river channel to The objective of a flood-frequency analysis is to determine
bottomland. The cross-section shows flood stages and flood
frequencies. From Moss and others, 1978.
how often, on the average, a particular region can expect a
flood of a certain magnitude. The steps in the analysis are
as follows:

l. Obtain the streamflow records of a particular

gauging station for all the years during which

\\\ \\ # \ Point bar

(deposition) Hgh
records have been kept. Choose the station with
the longest, most complete record.
2. Identify and list the highest discharge

rate for each
3. Rank the water discharges in decreasing order.
4. To determine the recurrence interval for each
discharse. use the fbrmula
Averase Recurrence Interval =
1 -year level
Froooprarn where n : number of years of record
m: rank or position of any individual
discharge in the series
for Harri sburg, Pennsy lvani a,
Tallahas see, Florida ; and 83.5Vo
indicate why so many urban areas are susceptible to yearly
5. Using these values, construct a graph on semilog
graph paper of recumence interval versus discharge
flooding and its associated damage.
(or stage). Connect the data points with a line of
Whether a stream will overflow-l its banks, spread over
best fit.
its floodplain (which becomes the floodway), and perhaps
spread farther into a neighboring town, depends on the It is best to view flood hazard statistics in terms of proba-
stream's discharge. During extremely high floods, city bility rather than recunence interval (Table 10. I ). One value
streets may become part of the floodway. A stream's dis- is actually the reciprocal of the other. A 50-year flood, for
charge is the amount of water carried by the stream. It de- example, has a 1/50 or27o chance ofoccurring in any given
pends on the size of the stream channel (and floodway dur- yearl a 25-year flood has a 47o chance. Always keep in
ing floods) and the velocity of the stream. Discharge is mind that flood predictions are only probabilities. Two 50-
calculated from the equation year floods can occur in successive years, followed by two
centuries during which no 5O-year floods occur at all. The
Q: AV,
predictive graph gives no guarantees for any particular year;
where Q : discharge (ftls) rather, it offers only averages based on past occurrences.
A: cross-sectional area of the stream channel at Few streams have records spanning 100 years, so we
the location where discharge is determined must often extend plots beyond the data to estimate the
(stream width X stream depth; ft) magnitude of 10O-year events and locate the 10O-year flood-
V : average velocity at the site (ftls) way. The longer the extrapolation, the more uncertain the
estimate. Another factor that leads to uncertainty in flood-
The amount and character of the debris carried in a flood
frequency curves and recurrence-interval computations is
is affected not only by the intensity of the precipitation
the occurrence of a very large flood (say the I OO-year event),
but also by the nature of the bedrock. For example, a
within a short period of record (for instance, 20 years); it
u atershed underlain by poorly consolidated, fine-grained
diverges from all the other data points.
sedimentary rocks produces debris consisting of mud,
rrhile a watershed composed largely of harder rock yields
,-Lrarser debris. Overland flows move these materials and Floon PnvnxroN AND Pnorncnox
::rnsport them to stream channels. On steep slopes with Many communities in flood-prone areas near rivers try to
,,:e. broken rock or poorly consolidated soils, down- prevent floods from inundating their town. There are several
- -:r> can trigger avalanches, slides, or mudflows. ways to do this. Each method has its benets and limitations,
i :-.-tures located in the path of such a moving mass are and all methods are expensive. The more protection desired,
' :: Jamaged by the impact. Solid materials derived the greater the expense. The most common level of protec-
-rtershed slopes lodge in channels, later to be swept tion used is protection against the ravages of a 100-year flood.
- . --urrents, usually during floods. One method is floodplain zoning, restricting construc-
tion in the area alongside the river that would be submerged

Floods 71
TABLE IO.1 All methods of channelization have serious side-
effects. They increase flooding dou'nstream so that what
Likelihood of Floods of Different Magnitudes. A used to be a 100-year flood for the folks dori nstream is nori' =
100-year flood has a I7o chance of occurring in a 50-year occurrence, or perhaps a 25-ear occurrence.
any specific year, a9.6Vo chance during a 10- Channelization also increases erosion dounstream and af- ---l
year period, a22Vo chance during a25-year fects the ecology both upstream and downstream.
period, etc. A third way to protect against floods is b1 building
dams across the river to contain floodwaters. Hou,ever. the :
lake or reservoir that forms behind a dam tends to fill u irh
Chance (Vo) of at Least One Flood sediment carried by the inflowing stream. This water-filled. l

of at Least This Size in a Certain o

topographically low area behind the dam traps sand and
Number of Years mud that was once carried downstream-sediment that can

now be removed only by draining and dredging the lake, a

r very expensive process.

Floon-Loss RnoucrroN l

Several steps can be taken to decrease the effects of flood- I

ing on human populations. The most important is to educate

the public about the frequency and dangers of local flood- I

50 ing. Without an effective educational program, people will

40 not take the steps necessary to ensure safety and minimum I

loss of life and property.

Many governments have passed regulations concerning I
floodplain use and occupancy. Foremost among these are
20 zoning laws that limit or regulate the types of construction I

99 80 l5 permitted in specific areas adjacent to stream courses. Such

99.9 94 65 l0 legislation generally requires agreement between real estate

90.5 7l 40 5
developers who own the land and want to maximize their
profits from it, and the city or state government, whose I

63 40 18 2

39 22 9.6 I
main concerns might be different. Zoning laws often ae ac-
companied by building codes, or construction standards that
22 t2 5 0.5 include floodproofing requirements such as placing shields
9.5 5 2 0.2 around buildings, or erecting buildings on stilts that raise
4.8 2.5 I 0.1 the bottom floor to several feet above ground level. 4
.J 1.2 0.5 .05
Many insurance companies sell flood insurance, and a
1.0 0.5 0.2 .02
community can opt to require its purchase by those who in- a4
sist on owning structures in flood-prone areas. Some com-
0.5 .25 0.1 .01 10,000
From B. M. Reicl, Water Resources Bulletin, 9:187, 1973. Coprright @ 1973
munities offer tax incentives for investing in ways to reduce
flood loss. However, many Americans dislike programs that
American Water Resourcs Assocation, Bethesda, MD. Reprinted by permission.
force individuals to protect themselves against flooding.
Instead, they believe the government's responsibility lies in
during a 100-year flood. Knowing the frequency of differ-
ent discharges and the topography of the area around the
providing relief programs or subsidies, such as low-interest
loans, if a catastrophe occurs. Numerous disaster-relief pro-
rive the extent of flooding during a 1OO-year flood can be
determined. Zoning ordinances of any kind are contentious,
grams now exist at both state and federal levels.
and zoning for an event expected, on average, to occur only
once in a hundred years is even more so.
Another method of flood prevention is channelization, l. ln 1979 Houston, Texas, had three 100-year floods. What
improving the stream's channel so it can hold larger dis- does this do to your confidence about building your house
charges without overflowing. This can be accomplished by near a river?

dredging the channel so larger discharges can be accom- 2. Based on the changes of the bounding curve (Figure
modated. The channel may also be lined with concrete to in the graph of the largest U.S. flood discharges versus
keep the river from meandering through the town. drainage basin area, do you think the position of the most
recent curve is likely to change significantly if more recent
Channelization may also be accomplished by building
higher levees than the stream has created naturally.
data (post-1965) are considered? Explain.
3. The accompanying table (Table 10.2) shows mean annual
discharges for the Chikaskia River near Blackwell,


Mean Annual Discharges for the Chikaskia River near Blackwell, Oklahoma, for 1937-1974

Mean Recurrence
Discharge Interval
Rank Year (ft3ls) (years)

1937 266
1938 419
1939 159

1940 76.6
t94l r99
1942 690
t943 282
t944 694
t945 884
t946 228
1947 687
1948 728
t949 I 170

1950 375
195 I 1450
1952 254
t953 109

1954 7l
1955 307
1956 r68
1957 979
1958 420
1959 468
1960 908
196l 656
1962 535
1963 184

1964 189

1965 966
1966 97.6
1967 158

1968 337
1969 66r
1970 439
t97l t6l
1972 151

1973 I 130

1974 962
o ---------
@ - ----
h ---
0 ---------
@ --- e

N e


i i i i i i i i i i looN @ o < o N

iooN e 6 ( o N

Oklahoma, over a -j[3-year period. Rank the discharges and Figure 10.5
calculate the recurrence interval for each year. thcn plot the Recurrence interval versus stream discharge for Black Bear Creek
data on the log-log graph paper providecl. Eyeball a best-flt in the center of section 20,f22N R3W Garfield County, Garber
line through the 3ll data points. Quadrangle, Oklahoma. Source: Data from Oklahoma Geological
a. Compare the dischar-ee indicated by your line with that Survev.
determined by your two nearest neighbors in class.
with respect to tlie 2- antl 100-yeLrr recurrencc
intervals. Does rour agrcerrent difl'er fbr the 2-year
versus the 100-r,ear estimates'l Woulcl you expect r 4

diff'erencelr \\ihr or why not'l 5

b. Supposc rou hrd plotted the hi-thest l-month nrean o
discharges firr each year rather than the nrean discharge c
fbr each ll-nronth peliocl. Do you think the line fbr E

the l-nronth clata would be above or below the meu.r E 2

fbr erch rear'l Explain. Suppose yor.r plotted the
highc'st l-da1' discharges'? One-hour discharges'/ What
conclusit-rns do you draw from thinking about these
diflrent approaches? ou
-1 2 345678910 2 3456789100 2 34567891,000
4. Black Bear Creek llows west to east through the center of
Recurrence interval (years)
the Garber Quadrangle in central Oklahoma (see fbld-out
nrap at back of book). Afier nronths of searching 1'ou fincl
a site on which to bLrild your clream house, and the current
ouner is willin-s to sell the propertv at a price you can How r.nany square rliles of'the drainage basin of
aflbrd. The area is the SE l/-1 of section 20. T22N R3W. Black Bear Creek are present upstreanr ll'orn the
However, as an enviror.nentally knowleclgeablc person property'l
you are concerned about tlre possibility of floocling. You b. How frequcntly can yor-l expcct the creek level to reach
contact the State Water Resources Boarcl and obtain the fiont cloor. which rvill be at an elevation of 1.050
rrtin-q cufve (the relationship between stream dischar-se let'l
and river stage). as well as discharge recurrence data tirr c. Are you willing to build yoLrr house there in light of
the creek rt a gaging station alongside the property your answer'l What frequency of flooding is acceptable
(Figures 10.4. 10.-5). to you?
a. Outline on the firld-out rlap (Figure 10.6 at the back d. WoLrld (or should) yor.rr decision about house
of this book) the draina-ue basin ol Black Bear Creek. construction be aftected by whether or not a f'lood has
actually attained the 1.050-ft level recently'l
e. Should the rr.rinor strear.r-r tributary on the property be
Figure 10.4 of concenr to you') Why or why not?
f. Another potcntial honrcsite is the N l/2 of section 22,
Discharge versus river height for Black Bear Creek in section 20, T22N R'lW. Give two leasons why this might be a
T22N R3W, Garfield County, Garber Quadrangle, Oklahoma.
bctter choice fiorl a hydrologic viewpoint.
Source: Data from Oklahoma Geolooical Survev.
Slrppose yoLl arc the environmental -ueologist called to
choose the best site fbr constructirrg a flood-control dam on
a large river. List the factors you think important in
selectin-t the location. brietly explaining the significance of
each fhctor. Consider the lithology and cohelence of the
rocks around the potential site. the position of the site in
Stream soreads
the drainage basin. and any other firctors you consider
outside of channel
potentially signilicant.
Your snrall local reservoil is filling with nrud and
consideration is bein-e given to dred-uing it to increase its
capacity. The stream entering the reservoir drains an
area of 100 scluare miles and can'ies a yearly seditnent
Stream confined load of 1.000.(X)0 pounds of mud per square nrile. The
rnucl weighs 150 pounds per cubic tbot. The reservoir is
50 years old. Dredging costs l0 cents per cubic foot.
How nruch wor.rld it cost to dreclge the reservoir of its
2345 mudl How nlr.rch shorld the town set aside each year for
Stream dscharge (thousands of ftl/s) dreclg in-l ?
Further Reading/References Iropold, L. B., 1968. Hy&olagy for Urban Land Planning. U.S.
Geological Survey Circular 554, 18 pp.
Cudworth, A. G., Jr., 1989. Flood Hyd.rology Manual. Denver, Walrlstrom, E. E., 1974. Dans, Darn Foundntions, and Resentoir
Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Sr. New York, Elsevier, 278 pp.
243 pp. Williams, G. P., andWolnan, M. G., l9&l Downstrean Efects
Gross, E. M., 1991. 'The hurricane dilemma in the United of Danu on Alluvial Rivers. U.S. Geological Survey
Staes." Episodes, v. L4, pp. 3G45. Professional Paper 1286, 83 pp.
Gnnfest, E., and Huber, C. J., 1991. "Toward a comprehensive
national assessment of flash flooding in the United
States." Episodes, v. 14, pp. 26-35.




Groundwater is one of our most important natural resources, narrow zone between these two regions is called the water
currently supplying 20-257o of the water used in the United table.\Nells drilled for water production must penetrate to
States. Subsurface water can occur in any porous sediment beneath the water table.
or rock, but amounts large enough for intensive exploitation Environmental geologists are interested in (l) depth to
are found mostly in sedimentary materials. These materials the water table; (2) direction and velocity of flow and dis-
underlie about 65Vo of the world's land surface, making charge of the aquifer; (3) replenishment rate and storage ca-
groundwater a widely distributed natural resource. In most pacity of the aquifer; and (4) the sources, types, and move-
areas of sedimentary rocks, it is easier to drill a well and ment of possible pollutants.
find water than to drill and not find it. This fact explains Water enters the ground from precipitation, lakes, and
most of the successes attributed to water wtchers. Drilling streams, filtering downward through permeable materials
in areas of igneous and metamorphic rocks, however, pro- until it reaches the water table. The water table can occur at
duces groundwater only in some cases in which the rocks any level between the basal aquiclude and the ground sur-
are fractured or weathered. Lava flows commonly crack and face. If a subsurface water table intersects a permeable frac-
fragment at their upper surfaces because of rapid cooling; ture that extends upward to the ground surface, a spring
when they are buried beneath younger materials, they retain forms (Figure lI.2). Springs also form where the water
these pores and can become important water sources, as table intersects a hillside, making them common in moun-
they are in several northwestern states and Hawaii. tainous areas. Contrary to advertising claims, this spring
Sediments and rocks that yield water in amounts large water is no more or less healthful than unpolluted water
enough to be significant to humans are called aquifers from other sources. The level of the water table is deter-
,Figure l1.l). Some aquifers are unconfined, meaning that mined by the balance between inflow rate to the aquifer and
ihe unit extends up to the ground surface; the rate of withdrawal or discharge. Generally, an uncon-
rhers are capped by an impermeable confining layer, called fined water table has an irregular surface shaped like a sub-
.." ,ttluiclude, that does not transmit fluid. Confined aquifers dued replica of the overlying topography. The high areas of
- - .lr at depth, unconfined aquifers near the ground surface. the water table are groundwater divides, the equivalent of
- ,. whether confined or unconfined. have a level be- aboveground topographic divides. Both above and below
:-.ich the pores are full of water and above which they ground, water flows away from the divides. Drier climates
'. ' :nostly air mixed with small amounts of water held have deeper groundwater tables and less pronounced simi-
..- .,Jjacent grains by capillary forces. The surface or larity between surface topography and the water table.
Iiigure I l.l =
Cross-section showing confined and unconfined aquifers. The potentiometric surface is the level to which the groundwater r ses ,.,,,thoul
beng pumped. The cone of depression reflects a rate of pumping greater than the water's rate of replenishment. -
Recharge area
for confined aquifer -
lmpermeable shale t-
Recharge area for
unconfined aquifer
Water *

Cone of
sudace (l --1



Confining 1

Porous and
// Unconfined
aquif er
(wate r-satu rated
permeable sandstone
GnouxnwnrER MovEMENT

AvarlnsrlrrY oF GnoaxowATnn
Typically. watel wells drilled into confined aquifers are Not all precipitation is dischalged at the surface as runoff;
drilled where the rock is deeper than the recharge site, which sorne percolates into soil. loose sedirent, or rock, and can
is usually the ground surface. The groundwater at depth is
under pressule fl'om the water updip in the aquif-er. As a re-
sult. when the drill pierces the aquifer. the water rises above
descend rnany hundreds of f'eet into the ground. This ground-
water is a conrmon source of u ater fbr human consumption.
The controls on the amount of inflltrition are partly clir.r.ratic
the base of the confining bed. A well in which this rise oc- (How much rain'l How intense l For how lon-e?), partly topo-
curs is an urc.siun rr'l/. Sometimes the pressure is great glaphic (Are slopes steep or -eentle? Is the rain ponded or
enough to nake the u'ater rise above ground level. but in
nrost wells the water rises onll' partway to the surlce and
must be pumped the rest of the way. Free-flowing water
wells were rnore corlmon in the past (Figure I1.3), befbre
fl'ee to flow downslope'?). and partly lithologic. The litho-
logic controls involve the t1'pe of surface material. its polos-
ity. and its pelrneabilitl. f=1
intensive subsurfhce-water use lowered regional water lev-
els and reduced the pressure head in confined aquifers. Ptro.sih'ref-ers to the amount of void space between grains:
Water yields frorn aquif'ers ringe fror.n a f'ew -eallons per
hour to perhaps 20 gallons per seconcl in very permeable
70 porosity : oore volume
rmk volume X 100 a
locks with high hydraulic gradients.
Several different types of maps are used to sl.row vari-
The main controls of porosity in sedimentary materials are a
ations in -groundwater movement over rn area. Contour
r.nrps can show valiables such as hydraulic gradient. water-
table height. potentiometric surfhce. flow velocity. or
changes in water-table height as water is withdrawn fhrm an
the distribution of -srain sizes and the amount of chenrically
precipitated cement amons the particles. When there is a
wide range in particle sizes, the smaller grains lodge be-
tween the larger ones. reducing the amount of pore space.
acluifer. Such rnaps can be compared to maps of aquif'er
thickness (isopach maps). lithologic characteristics, ()f per-
Rocks that consist mostly of clay minerals. such as shales,
have no porosity. The sheet-like clay flakes are flexible and a
rneability. Each type of rrap supplies a difl'erent kind of in-
sight into the variables that control the availability of sub-
surthce $'rter.
compact tightly so that the pore space originally present is
eliminated. a
Figure ll.2
Geological factors in the location of springs. From S. N. Davis and R. J. M. DeWiest, Hydrogeology. Copyright @ 1966 by John Wiley &
Sons, lnc., New York, NY. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

of rainwater
kr surface

I Landslde
tng debris

Spring :-
lmpermeable _

(a) (b)

* g enters cracks
\ )
\z Ha)


..} of rainwater
Water table Sprinos


Chemically precipitated cements that form after burial (0.01 in.) in size and the pore sizes are even smaller. But
of the sediment and bind the grains together into a rock do despite their small size, pores are numerous enough to hold
so by filling pore spaces. Sometimes all the pores are filled a very large amount of fluid. The number of pores can be
and porosity is reduced to zero. Sometimes the pores are as great as the nurnber of grains, and the number of grains
only partly filled so that some pore space remains. A frag- in even a small pile of sand is very large. Consider, fbr ex-
mental rock can contain water or oil only if cementation ample, a sandstone layer l0 feet thick that extends over an
,.r ls incomplete. When deposited, accumulations of gravel area of I square mile. The volume of rock is 278,784,000
r'r :and have porosities of 30-407o. Sandstones from which fi3 (5,280 x -5,280 x 10). If ir contains l07o pore space, the
,r Set well water or petroleum usually have porosities of volume of pore space is 27,878.400 ftr. One gallon of wa-
i lia: ter occupies 0. I 34 ft3, so the pores in this layer of sandstone
Pr)re spaces in sedimentary rocks are located among can hold more than 200 million gallons of water. The aver-
': ::'.iins. As a result the pore spaces are small, normally age American uses about 500 gallons per day for household
:'r' than the diameters of the grains in the rock. The purposes, so 200 million gallons of water would supply the
- ::irrl srains in an average sandstone are about 0.3 mm household needs of a city of 400,000 for one day.

Groundwater 79
Figure 11.3 tion" (actually electrostatic attraction) herneelt the f'luid and
Photograph of one of the highest artesian well flows on record, the grain surfaces reduces the f-lot velocitl of the fluid. A
drilled in 1909 into the Dakota Formation (Cretaceous) at a depth f-ew percent of clay in a sandstone is ent,uqlt to virtually
of about 775 feel in Woonsocket, South Dakota. The well was 6 eliminate the flow of water or petroleunt thror-rgh n (rther-
inches in diameter and had a flow of 1,150 gallons per minute,
wise productive layer.
and the water spout rose more than .100 feet above the ground
surface. Mudrocks cannot transmit fluids unless ifacrureJ The
average mudrock contains about 607o clay ntinerrl.. ',,. hih
bend to conform to each other's shape when c.(rlllr,r,.l-i.
Shales are a common aquiclude.
Limestones are composed entirely of calcium carb(rn.,:-.
which is fairly easily dissolved (soluble) in undergrourrLl u.,-
ter (Figure I 1.4). Sometimes the dissolution extends throLrsh
a very large volume, producing a cavern of considerable size.

Figure ll.4a
Partially interconnected (in the third dimension) solution cavities in

a drill core of microcrystalline limestone. Wdth of core is 2.5 inches.

Pernteability refers to the ease with which a fluid flows
through a rock. It depends on the size of the pores and the e-
viscosity of the fluid. Larger pores and less viscous fluids
make for easier (faster) flow. Hence, sandstones with a wide
range in grain size have lower permeabilities than sand-
stones with a narrower range in grain size. When the smaller
grains lodge between coarser ones, the pore diameters are
reduced. Most destructive to permeability are clay minerals.
Because of its sheetlike shape. a clay flake has a very large
surface area for the small volume it occupies, and therefore
greatly increases the amount of surface over which a fluid
must flow as it moves throush a rock. This increase in "fric-
Figure I l.4b is 140 feet, which defines the slope of the water table. The
Extremely large "pores" in limestone, Carlsbad Cavern, New permeability of the aquifer is 4.5 feet per day. How much
Mexico. The pore in which the man is standing bifurcates into two water will flow through the aquifer each day?
smaller ones in the direction he is facing. Limestone caverns are
simply very large pore networks formed by dissolution of soluble
calcium carbonate. Q : K Lh
N A (which is aquifer width X aquifer thickness)
Plugging in the numbers,

150 ft - 140 ft
e: (4.5 ftiday)
5,280 ft
(60 ftx26,400 fr)

: 13,600 ftr per day

This is 104,743 gallons. The average American uses about
500 gallons per day for bathing, drinking, and cooking, so
100,000 gallons is enough for about 50 families.

THr Errrcr oF OvEnpnoDcloN

If water is continually withdrawn from an aquifer faster
than it can be replaced at the recharge area, two things may

1. The level of the water in the well will decline and

eventually the well will have to be abandoned
(Figure I 1.5).
2. Salt water will infiltrate the aquifer and eventually
Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico and Mammoth Cave in
make the well water unfit to drink (Fieures 11.6.
Kentucky are examples of huge dissolution cavities in lime-

How Muctr Wnrnn Cnn nn SnLTwATER ENcRoAcHMENT

Most of the sedimentary rocks in the geologic column were
Aourrnn Pnooucn? deposited in the oceans, so their original pore water was
The permeability of a rock is essential information for an sea water. Subsequent flushing by surface water often has
environmental geologist interested in the amount of water caused freshening at shallow depths, so that the salinity of
or oil that can be produced by a sedimentary rock. pore waters generally increases with depth. Potable waters
Permeability to water is defined mathematically by an al- (those safe and palatable for human use) can occur to depths
gebraic relationship first recognized in 1856 by the French
of perhaps 2,000 feet, but most water wells are limited to
hydrologist Henri Darcy. depths of about 500 feet because of drilling costs.
cross-sec-llona" The principles by which water occurs in and moves
Water : Dermeabllltv x
slone of
x area ol tne through porous media apply to saline as well as fresh wa-
Discharge water table
aauil'er ter. Encroachment of salt water into a freshwater aquifer can
be induced in many ways, such as by pumping too much
The slope of the water table is obtained by dividing ft, the fresh water from wells; by puncturing the aquicludes that
difference in height of the water table at two points along protect freshwater aquifers (by wells, tunnels, dredging, or
the direction of flow, by /, the horizontal distance between other construction); by ponding or otherwise enabling saline
the two points. Written symbolically, Darcy's law is water to move downward into freshwater aquifers; or by
Lh discharging saline wastes directly into aquifers. Salty water,
Q: K NA including sea water, is denser than fresh water and thus
tends to move inland under it, creating a freshwater-
Darcy's formula allows the environmental geologist to cal- saltwater interface (Figure 1 1.6).
culate the amount of water that will flow through the aquifer An example of saltwater encroachment is found in the
'be available in a water well) each day. For example, sup- water wells in Union Beach, New Jersey (Figure 11.7).
:r)se a confined aquifer is 60 feet thick and 5 miles wide. Until the early 1960s the chloride-ion concentration, a
'.\:lls have been drilled I mile apart in the direction of flow.
commonly used measure of the presence of sea water, was
-::e level of water in one well is 150 feet and in the other static at about 2 mg/l despite lowering of the water table by
Figure 11.5
Hydrograph showing changes of water level in a water well in a rural community that was founded in 1880. The well is nearing the end of
its useful life.

500 1000 1500 2000 2500 5000 5000 4000 6000 7000 7000 8000 9000

World War ll

a Years of
c high rainfall

E roo c)
0) o
( c
* 1) $
sc) Deplh of penetration of the well
: 140
Bottom of the aquifer


1 BBO 1 960

Figure 11.6 Figure 11.7 e

Encroachment of salt water inio the lens of fresh water as a result Chloride concentrations in water samples from the Union Beach
Borough well field, 1950-1977. Source: F. L. Schaefer and R. L.
of pumping and removal of fresh water near a shoreline. Source:
Walker, 1981 , U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2184.
H. C. Heath, 1983, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper
Two aspects of saltwater encroachment
Pumping well
EPA Iimit for drinking water

C) g=
l5 feet caused by withdrawals from wells. But as water use Problems
continued to increase and the water table continued to drop
1. Suppose the water table is at the ground surface in a
below sea level, the hydraulic head of the fresh water be-
topographically flat area. What would be the result, that is,
came inadequate to keep the sea water from infiltrating the
how would you recognize such an occurrence?
aquifer. By 1977 the chloride concentration reached 660
Suppose a stream is located above an unconfined aquifer
mg/l (sea water contains 19,000 mg/l chloride ion).
100 ft below it. What will be the effect on streamflow?
3. Farmer Smith is having a water-well drilled. His
GnounownrER AND Cnvnnns instructions to the drillers are to save money by stopping as
Although groundwater can move through sandy sediments soon as they encounter water. Is this a smart decision?
at rates of several feet per day, most moves through the pore Explain.
spaces of rocks very slowly. A typical velocity might be a 4. Nassau and Suffolk counties are densely populated areas
few inches per year. Such a slow-moving fluid cannot cause on Long Island, New York. Shown are a generalized
mechanical erosion on the pore walls, but it can cause chem- geologic cross-section of the Long Island aquifer system in
ical erosion by dissolving the pore walls (the grains of the Nassau County (Figure 1 l.9a) and the elevation of the
rock) if it is undersaturated with respect to the mineral water table on Long Island (Figure 11.9b).
forming the walls. Such is the case with shallow ground- a. How many diffeent aquifers are present on Long
Island? Name them.
waters and calcite. Fresh water percolating downward
b. Which aquifers are conf,rned? Unconfined?
through soils becomes enriched in CO2 from the decompo-
c. Is the freshwater supply in any of the aquifers
sition of soil organic matter, and as the water enters under- interconnected?
lying limestone, this high CO2 level makes it undersaturated d. In which of the aquifers do you think saltwater
with calcite. Over thousands of years, the acidity (pH -5) intrusion might be a serious problem? Explain.
can dissolve large holes. When the holes are large enough e. Which aquifer would be most vulnerable to pollution
for humans to tour, they are called caverns, for example from human activities?
Carlsbad Cavern and Mammoth Cave. The largest room at f. Draw a line to locate the groundwater divide on Long
Carlsbad is more than 4,000 feet long, 600 feet wide, and Island (Figure 11.9b). Locate the divide on cross-
350 feet high-a volume of nearly one billion cubic feet, section 11.9a. In which aouifer is the divide most
testifying to the chemical aggressiveness of shallow ground-
water in limestone. The resultant water is very "hard" (>75
g. The thickness of the saturated zone in the aquifers
shows a consistent increase from north to south on
ppm Ca*2 + Mg*2) and is not of the best quality for wash-
Long Island, to a maximum of about 1,000 ft at the
ing clothing or people. south shore. Why does this increase occur? (Hint:
The creation of large holes within a few hundred feet examine Figure 11.9a).
of the ground surface typically causes overlying rock layers h. Which aquifer should suffer most from saltwater
to collapse, particularly when the rock contains vertical intrusion along the south shore of Long Island?
fractures (oints), as most limestones do. Such a roof- i. The flow velocity of water in the Magothy aquifer
collapse is disastrous for people who live nearby (Figure I 1.8). varies irregularly on Long Island. What can you infer
about the lithologic character of this aquifer?
Fieure ll.8 5. In the map on page 84, olive lines show topography, while
dashed lines signify elevation above sea level of the
Aerial view of a large sinkhole that formed in Winter Park, Florida,
in May, 1981. Several buildings have partially collapsed into the potentiometric surface of a confined aquifer.
hole, which may enlarge further in the future. a. Outline the areas where wells will flow at the land
surface without being pumped.
b. Locate the best spot for drilling a water well, based on
the relationship between topography and potentiometric
c. How far above the ground surface will the water spout
at your well site?
d. Locate the spot where a well would require the most
pumping. How high would the water need to be
e. In which direction is the recharge area for this aquifer?
f. The potentiometric contours decrease uniformly from
NE to SW Why do you think these elevations
decrease? What does this pattern tell you about the
uniformity of the rock orientation of the aquifer layer
in the area?

Groundwater 83

re 11.9a-b
(a) Generalized geologic section of the Long lsland aquifer system in Nassau County. (b) Water-table altitude in
Nassau and Suffolk
Counties. Source: U.S. Geological Suruey Water-Resources lnvestgatons Report 86-4141 and Professional paper 627-E, g0O

North CONN i NY
LONG ISLAND Long lsland .E * Sourh =
SOUND e- ocEAN l=

f SanOV clay, clayey sand, and sitt

F,?3 s"no and gravel

fll Consolicated rock e
Not to scale
IUK -.
--'- Connecticut
'6).-., Suffolk
-40- V
Lin of equal water-tablo altitude
Contour interval 20 feet
0 5 10
.) 2,. r{ ^.+=p<::==' Attantic ocean I ,' '," 15
'," 20mi
Map for problem 5.

Figure ll.lOa
Land subsidence n the San Joaquin Valley, California, 1926-1970. Most of the subsidence resulted from groundwater withdrawal, but some
is due to petroleum removal as well. Source: B. L. lreland, 1984, p.4, U.S. Geological Survey.
120" 119" 18"




Outline of
f_1 valley
4 Line of equal
subsidence, in feel

_g Suppose you were going to purchase one-quarter of d. The San Joaquin Valley produces a large percentage of
this rrap area on the basis of -urourrdwater supply. the tiuits and vegetables firr the American people, a
Which would you choose: NW NE. SE. or SW'l Why'l circumstance rr-rade possible by extensive irligation.
o. What volurre of water woultl l'low through a valley filled Restricting firrmers' use of subsurf'ace water would
with porclus. pelmeable qurr1z sand 100 ft thick and I mi drive many of them into bankruptcy, with associated
wide. where the permeability is 500 ftlday and the harmful efl'ects to agriculture-based industries. What
potentiometric gradient is -5 ttlmi'l should the state of Califbrnia do to balance the
competing needs of the agricr"rltural comrrunity, city
7. In Figure I 1.5. clescribe the size. shape. and clepth of the
dwellers, and factory owners whose buildings ale being
cone of depressiorr since 1 8U0.
destroyed by the ground subsidence?
With ref'erence to Fi-uure ll.l0n. land subsidcnce in the
San Joaquin Valley.
a. What has been the minirlunr average rate of
Further Reading/Ref'erences
subsidence per year in the valley? Heath. R. C.. 1983. Busit Gn.ruul-vutar Ht'tlntlt,9.1 U.S.
b. Why do you think the areas of maxirlul subsidencc Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2220. 84 pp.
are located neu the coastline'l Heath. R. C.. 1989. Gtrnuul-vater Ra,giort.s o.f tlrc Uttited Sxrtes.
- Describe the likely effbct of land sr.rbsidence in the San U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply P';tper 2242.78 pp.
Jorquin Valley on the reginre of rivers clraining west-to- Higgins. C. G., and Coates. D. R. (eds.). 1990. Gnundv'uter
.'rst fl'or1r the Coast Ranges. How nright erosion and Geornortltologr'. Geological Society of America
'.'.linrent transport be afl'ected? Special Paper 252. 368 pp.

Groundwater 85

Figure ll.l0b Ireland. R. L., Poland, J. F., and Rilel'. F. S.. lt)84. ld
Subsidence in the Satt Joutttitt \hllet. Caii.frtrrtitt, tts o.f >4
Magnitude of subsidence at a ste.10 miles southwest of Mendota,
/980. U.S. Geological Survel' Prot-essional Paper -l-17-l
San Joaquin Valley, California. Power pole shows position of land
sudace in 1 925, 1 955, and 1977. Land surface was lowered about 93 pp.
30 feet during that period. Newton. J. G.. 1987. Develtpment o.f Sinkholes Re.sttltit't lntn
Mtttt's Activities in the Eastern Unied Sttt.. L'.5.
Geological Survey Circular 968, 54 pp.
Palmer, A. N., 1991. "Origin and morphology of limesttrne
caves." Geological Socet1' of Atnerica Bulletitt. t. lttl. F
pp. l-21.
Postel. Sandra, 1992. Last Oasis: Fttcittg l4lar Scart'irr: Nen
York. W. W. Norton. 239 pp. =




WnrER PoLLqrroN

The volume of water on the earth is limited; existing sup-

plies must be carefully managed in terms of both conserva-
Wnrnn-QuAurY Erenoenos
Requirements for water purity depend on the use to which
tion and cleanliness. Both considerations are necessary if
the water is to be put. Drinking requires the highest purity;
the world is to avoid a catastrophe of unimaginable propor-
irrigation has lower standards, at least for many substances.
tions. Conservation can be achieved through public educa-
The federal government has developed criteria for all cate-
tion, but keeping our water supplies clean is a much more
gories of water quality, including bacterial content, physical
difficult problem. Unless more effort is expended on keep-
characteristics, and chemical constituents (Table 12.1).
ing our water pure, we might someday need to boil, filter,
Normally, problems involving bacterial content or physical
and decontaminate the water in our homes before we use it.
characteristics can be alleviated. Removing or neutralizing
Such a prospect sounds like science fiction, but it will be-
undesirable chemical contaminants, in contrast, is often
come all too real if the present trend toward increasing wa-
both difficult and expensive. The presence of chemical im-
ter pollution continues.
purities often imposes major limitations to water utilization.
Pollutants or contaminants can consist of any of the
Removal of many organic pollutants poses problems that
following, each of which creates different problems for
are as yet unsolved.
In addition to difficulties involving measurable con-
l. Microorganisms, including pathogenic viruses and taminants, we face the rarely mentioned problem of sub-
bacteria stances present in amounts too small to detect with current
2. Organic matter, primarily from domestic urban equipment. For example, for some pollutants the detection
sewage and from rural septic tanks limit may be in parts per million but the substance may be
3. Chemical wastes from chemical plants and
harmful in amounts as low as parts per billion. A related,
industrial operations such as mining and petroleum rarely discussed problem is that we know so little about
exploration; from leaks in pipelines and storage the effects of many substances on humans that we have set
tanks; from agricultural operations, such as runoff
no drinking-water standards for those substances. Without
tiom animal feedlots and fields treated with a perfect knowledge of human biochemistry, which can
pesticides and fertilizers; and from leaching of never be achieved, we can never be certain which sub-
:rr)t- so-sanitary landfi lls
stances in which amounts endanger human health. Unless
we completely dismantle our industrial civilization and re-
- \uclear wastes generated by power plants,
turn to living in caves, however, we will always be poi-
'.i 3.lpons manufacturing plants, laboratories, and
soning ourselves to a greater or lesser extent. We cannot
- :iical research facilities.


TABLE 12.1 by-product from an industrial or militarr project?
Each of these materials poses difl-erent rrearntent
Maximum Allowable Concentrations problems.
of Dissolved Inorganic Substances in 3. What are the migration pattern and erpected !f]-
Drinking Water According to the lifetime of the pollutant? Pollutants can be strlid:. -
Environmental Protection Asencv liquids, or gases. Many are destroyed quickh in \-
the natural environment, perhaps by interactrtrtr
Maximum with bacteria. Radioactive materials can e=
Allowable self-destruct to an acceptably low level within a
Contaminant Level (ppm) few days or can linger for millions of years. Bur
the lifetimes of many industrial and chemical

pollutants are unknown and, for safety reasons,
must be assumed to be very long.
Barium r.00
When we evaluate a polluted aquifer, we often express
Boron* 1.00
the duration of the pollutant as its residence time, defined as
Cadmium 0.01
Chloride'k 250.00 tr- F
Chromium 0.0s
where R is the residence time. C the capacity of the reser-
voir, and F is the rate of inflow and outflow of the com-
Fluoride 1.4-2.4
Hydrogen sulfide*
pound. Because inflow and outflow rates can change, the
residence time is strictly accurate only at the time the mea- e
surements are made. Note that this definition of residence
Lead 0.05 time does not consider that the pollutant might decompose
or break down into other chemicals before it outflows. Note
also that this concept of residence time does not include the e
Nitrate (as N)
fact that the pollutants are likely to be absorbed on clays
and organic matter in the water. As the water becomes less e
Silver 0.05
contarninated, the contaminants will be gradually released
from these host materials. -ereatly increasing their residence e
Sulfate+ 250.00 time in the water.
Zinc* 5.00
Total Dissolved Solids* 500.00 Gnouxownrnn e
*Values for substances with asterisks are the EPA-reasonable goals for drinking The widespread use of chemical products, coupled with the
water but are not federally enforceable. Many of the elements listed ae essential
for human nutrition in small amounts. Standards also exist for bacteria and for
disposal of large volumes of waste materials, creates the po-
tential for extensive groundwater contamination. Some of
many industrial organic compounds.
the most prominant areas of contamination, such as Love
Canal in upper New York state, have attracted public notice.
solve the pollution problem completely; instead, we must do
the best we can with our current tools and understandine.
But for every one of these there are a large number of
smaller contamination problems that have until very re-
Rnsnrxcn Tmr
cently gone unnoticed. All students of groundwater pollu-
tion problems agree that episodes such as Love Canal are
When we find that an area or aquifer is polluted, we must
answer three questions:
only the tip of the iceberg. New instances of groundwater
contamination are being identified continuously in urban,
industrial, and agricultural settings. Many of these pollution
1. What is the source of the pollutant? Sources can
problems have existed for some time but are only now be-

be of two types: point sources such as a septic
tank, an oil spill, or an industrial waste outlet; or ing identified, thanks to our developing analytical capabili-
nonpoint sources such as farmland runoff or ties and increasing concern about the effects of impure wa-
ter on human health and the environment.
strip-mine drainage. Point sources are much easier
Mining activities in the western United States. for exam-

to find and remedy.
ple, started during the middle 1800s, when Americans worried
2. What is the nature of the pollutant? Is it a single
little about the environment and knew almost nothing about
element such as arsenic. cadmium. or lead? A
the effects of chemical pollutants on human health. As a re-
complex organic compound such as PCBs
sult, mining debris was not dealt with properly. Now, however,

(polychlorinated biphenyls) or vinyl chloride? A
that same debris is considered hazardous to humans and to
West, hazardous levels of heavy elements such as lead, zinc. leaks and spills. mining debris. ruptures in underground
mercury or chromium occur in surface or groundwater sup- storage tanks such as those beneath gasoline stations. de-
plies. Currently applicable laws state that the cunent owner of composing bodies in graveyards. disposable diapers. cheesy
the mining property is legally and financially responsible for pizza sludge, and underground injection of hazardous waste.
damage to the water supply and related human health, regard- Given their wide variety of sources, it is not surprising
less of whether the mine is still active or whether the pres- that the types of contaminants are extremely varied. Some
ent owner had even been born when the pollution occurred. are sirnple inorganic ions such as nitrate from fertilizer and
The pollution problems lefi over from the last century, feedlot wastes, chloride fiom deicing salt and saltwater in-
however, pale in comparison with those being created by trusion, and heavy metal ions frorn plating works and many
the immense volumes of toxic inorganic and synthetic or- other industrial processes. Other contaminants are more
ganic materials produced by modern industries, both in the complex synthetic or_eanic compounds that result fiom in-
United States and overseas. Some areas of eastern Europe dustrial and manufacturing processes and the use of pesti-
have already been made uninhabitable by pollution of the cides and household cleaners. In many instances we know
past 50 years. Many industrially produced chemicals are nothing about the chemical stabilities and lifetimes of these
quite stable in -eroundwater and pose a serious threat to hu- compounds, or their efl'ects on human biochemistry.
man health. Current estimates suggest that 0.5-27c of the The magnitude of any pollution problem depends on
groundwater in the conterminous United States is contami- the size of the area aff'ected; the amount of pollutant in-
nated from point sources. This estimate based on localized volved; the solubility, toxicity, and density of the pollutant
sources does not include contamination from nonpoint and its persistence in the environment; the mineral compo-
sources such as agricultural runoff. Certain areas, especially sition and permeability of the soils and rocks through which
those with a high population density, may have much higher the pollutant moves; and the potential effect of the pollutant
percentages of contaminated groundwater. The EPA has a on groundwater use. For example. if groundwater contami-
growing list of more than 400 contaminated water sites. nants exceed the federal standards fbr drinking water, then
the water is considered hazardous to drink. However. these
GnoannwnrER CoNTAMTNANTS standards include only a limited number of chemicals and
The toxic materials that enter groundwater come from many do not protect humans and the environment against all pos-
sources (Figure l2.l), including septic systems, runoff from sible contaminants. The long-term eff'ects of even small
agricultural fields and animal feedlots, landfills, accidental amounls ol- many contaminants are unknown.

Figure 12.1
Schematic representation of contaminant plumes possibly associated with various types of waste disposal. National Besearch Council,
1984, page Z Groundwater Contamination.

l\ pono

' :-l
) -a
::. -a
a e
' 2 o -1,
:'':.. -"l l:::- -
-: i:]
\ -lll- - - -
--.c e a
a 2o S q _,llf_r. s s
llt\" -
_", - 2 : O ll '':at
.--,=ba a a,
) ( .:=-c-
-J :
:s I-- = t ,
- ^ 2
. \ oo --

';\ Fracturs


Given these complexities, we can prevent significant li'igurc 12.3

groundwater pollution only by selecting waste-disposal sites (a) Relationship between the true flow path of a flu c ' a . ast c ?1
in such a way that rock and the mean flow path. (b) Dispersion of the f 3,.', ' :^3
rock, illustrating the way an initially narrow band of po ,:a-:
1. An adequate thickness of unpolluted sediment spreads throughout the rock layer. R. Allen Freeze.,Jah. ; :'=" I

containing clay and/or organic material is present Groundwater, @ 1979, pp.70,384. Reprinted by permiss.' :'
both above and below the waste. Both clay and Prentce Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. b--
organic matter absorb trace metals and many
complex organic contaminants. preventing these
Acl-a ' - ,.
substances frorn entering the groundwater.
2. The disposal areas are as close as possible to
places of natural groundwater discharge so that
any contaminant entering the groundwater will be
washed out quickly. Of course, this contaminated
surface discharge must not be permitted to flow fbr
long distances overland or infiltrate downward into
the subsurface.
|| near
flow path
ConrnruNANT Movnmrnr
Most aquifers are not homogeneous, making times fbr con-
taminant migration through subsurface materials diffrcult to
calculate accurately. Complications arise from variable geo- (
logic conditions (Figure 12.2) ztnd fiom the many types of
contaminants. Layered beds and lenses of less-permeable t
rock within an aquif'er can cause fingering and separation of
a contaminant plume, and the grains that form the aquifer
cause the contaminant to disperse and be diluted within the
aquifer (Figure 12.3). Contaminant-absorbing materials such
as clay minerals may be irregularly distributed within the
host rock. Contaminants from difTerent sources may react
chemically within an aquifer to create new substances, or
microbes may interact with and reduce the amounts of some Y
Fisure 12.2 Y
Possible consequences of subsudace injection at a site not having
the necessary hydrogeologic characteristics. Source: U.S.
Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2281, 1986.
U nderground
sources of
drinking water
pollutants. Some liquid contaminants, such as sea water, and >--
some synthetic organic compounds are heavier than fresh
water so that they sink and concentrate along the base of the
aquifer. Others that are li-ehter, such as gasoline, float and
concentrate toward the top. Unfortunately, variations in both
geologic conditions and the contaminants occur below the
surf'ace where we cannot observe them directly. Groundwater
==g=_=_:-_ becomes very difficult or even impossible to purify once it
has been contaminated. And even if we have the technology
to decontaminate an aquif'er, the financial cost ma)i well be
___v.rdy___ so high that we must write off the aquifer as permanently un- Pz
- usable. This has already occuned in some localities.

Raclon is a naturally occurring colorless. odorless, and taste- {
less rctclioactlve gas that forms during the natural disinte-
sration of uranium atoms. Minor amounts of uranium are f
Figure 12.4 Figure 12.5
Major radon entry routes into houses. Source: Environmental Map of an area two miles to the east of Milleville showing surface
Protection Agency. drainage, elevation of the water table at 24 locations, and several
man-made features.



o well
n a-:
.430 House

a--42R 430.
pen r:il
a 421
-' 424 lL_ll
Barn fl !
House o
A. Cracks n concrete slabs
B. Cold joint between two concrele pours
C. Pores and cracks in concrete blocks
D. Floor-to-wall crack or French drain a-- N

E. Exposed soil, as in a sump

.418 0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 fl

F. Weeping (dran) tile, if drained to open sump Scale 1

G. Mortar jonts
H. Loose-fittingpipepenetrations
geologic map of the area, and scattered data fiom prevrous
l. Open tops of block walls
geologic investigations, the elevation of the water table is
J. Water (from some wells)
known at 24 locations in the map area. It ranges from.ll8
K. Untrapped floor drain to a dry well
or septic system fi in the southwest corner of the map to a maximum of 'X4l
ft in the northwest corner. At most of these 2l sites. the
water table is l0-12 ft below the ground surface. Based on
these data.
a. Draw a contour map of the elevation of the water table
present in all rocks and soils and, therefore, in many ground- in the rnap area using a contour interval of two f'eet.
waters. In addition, radon leaking upward into houses and b. What is the hydraulic gradient between the landflll and
being trapped there may be a health hazard (Figure 12.4). Mr. Meene's house?
The amount of radon that most people are exposed to is c. In which direction does Beddont Creek flow? How do
very small and the degree of danger from exposure to these you know?
low levels is uncertain. The federal government believes the Also located on the map are four built f'eatLrres:
danger is significant fbr a large number of Americans. Many . A cattle ranch owned by Mr. Feelz. a retired geologist,
:cientists doubt this assessment. that has a pen, barn, house. and water well.
. A small homestead owned by Mr. Meene. who draws
water from both his water well and Beddont Creek.
depending on the amount of seasonal rainfall.
\\'hat would be the advantages and disadvantages of . An abandoned strip mine fiom which coal was
l()crting a sanitary landfill on a river floodplain? excavated until 1980.
. A leaking landfill that serves Milleville. a small town
- F:rure 12.5 is a map of an area underlain by a rnoderately
- ,:ted fine-grained sandstone that contains occasional just west of the map area. The landflll is operated by a
,: .c'r of clay. Based on the static water levels in wells not locally owned company and is excavated to a depth of
.'. n (rn the rnap, the locations of natural springs, the about eight f-eet below the ground surfhce.
Irigure 12.6a
Location of study areas and sampling sites. Symbols indicate levels of radon-222 concentralions. Source: U.S. Geoloqicai Soctety.

120' R,19 E 11 9-45', R.21 E I Y J!

r Washoe Co.
i Carson City llCarson
lc I

395 \ N.i

Carson City // cstewart I

Douglas Qo. t'-.1

- z4l Hot
-.t 26 Springs Tl

2s^ i,
--l I
. -,
rl .- I N.,
| ."ro* r-l
t- \I
I rb') | o29 .30
I I .13 I
I t 10.,,\ | a t+ I
39 t"-
I ..'^'
I ,/ 'u \ I t.
I 13
\ 6 I I
{) I N,
\ I
10 t
\ ) \\, I
, \Mlq, ler ={-'.t
l\ 20 I
Nevada hari fn\ rrville\\ I
\\ :r
Reno I
\-o Gt T.
_ Stuov
l]/ p'"^' '. l1 I\t 12
I 2 o-f N,
Y eflngron
. r e2b E.
\ \l li
,i .t z4
5 I T.

10 11
10 km
Explanation 39'45

Valley-fill sediments Sampling sites and ranges of

E radon-222 activity (Site numbers
Consolidated rocks are indicated.)
n 3o <5OO picocuries per liter
Boundary of Carson Valley 6 500-1,000 picocuries per liter
hydrographic area 1 l .1 ,001 5.000 pcocuries per
+ General direction of ilIe r
groundwater flow
_ __-
>5,uuu prcocunes per lrte. {
As a local cnvironnrental specialist in -rood stanrlin-s. vou recornnrend'l Must the landfill be abandoned'l Shoulcl {
lrn'e been asked b1, the Milleville tovnn council to answer rnew one be locatecl in the nrap alcal) lf so. where
the firllowin-q questions.
cl. Is there any dan-rel that rclirse in the leaking landlill
q,oulcl vou recon.lnlcnd it be locatcd and
Is Mr. Meene's water supply in dangel of
"vhy'l z"
rlill contaminrte Mr'. Mecne's or Mr. Feelz' contaminrtion fl'onl Mr. Feelz'cattle pen'.) Explain.
-elounduater supply'l Whv or wh1' not l Mi-rlht the abandonccl coal rrine contaminate either
c. If you believe that either persolr's q'cll might becorne person's r'"'ater suprlv? If so. w'hich person is more
contarrinated ll onr the lanclfill. rvhat u oulcl yor-r likely to be harrned'l 3-
F'igure 12.6b
Cross-section of hydrogeologic relations in Carson Valley. Upper part of basin-fill section is Quaternary age and lower part is Tertiary age.
View looking north. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Pne Nut

Carson River


Fluviatile and lacustrine deposits E@e Alluvial-fan deposits (poorly sorted

(groundwater can be conf ned or unconfined) groundwater generally conf ined)

ffi oor,nuted by cobbres and gravel E Bedrock

[--l oornin"ted by sand and silt '--- lvlajor f ault (arrows show relative
direction of movement)
Groundwater f low path
Dominated by clay (thick units
overlying bedrock are of Tertiary age) Water table

3 The nrajor source of domestrc drinkin-11 water near Carson Further Reading/References
City. thc capital ol Nevada. is shallow grounclu'ater fionr
Eisinger. Joseph. 1996. "Sweet poison." Nutural Hl.irn; r'. 106.
nei-thborin-u Carson Valley. The U.S. Gcological Sulvel'
surveyecl ladon contents in the grounclwater at the request
no. 7. p. -ltt -53.
Hamilton. P A.. ancl Shedlock. R. J.. 1992.'Are t'crtilizers and
of the stnte _sovenrnent. The aleal geo-qraphy. santplinr:
pcstjcides in the groundwater'l" U.S. Ceoloqical
sites. ancl sunev results are sl.urw'n in Figure ll.6r. A
Survev Circulrr 1080. I5 pp.
cross-scction ol'the local topor:raphy and valley fill are
Moore. J. W.. and Ranramoorthy. S.. 198-1. Hcat'y Metul.s in
shown in Figure 12.6b. and the cenelalized geology of thc
Ntrrrel lVf,r',r. New Vrrk. Springer-Verlag. 268 pp.
area in Fi-gure 12.(c. Use thcse maps to answer the
firllowi n,s questions.
Patlick. R.. Ford. E.. and Quarles. J.. l9tt7. Grounltruer
Cttttutnittutittt itt tlta IJnitetl .S,.r, 2ncl ctl..
a. The clrainage basin tbl the water l"hydrographic area")
Philadelphia. University of Penns'lvania Pless. -5 l3 pp.
is larger east ol'the Carson River than to the west.
Would ,or-r have expcctcd this to bc true basecl on the Snrith..f. A.. Witkowski. P J.. anci FLrsillo. T V.. 1988 Mttntttutlc
lppeanlnce o1' Figure 12.6a? Erplain.
Orgurtit' Cttrtttotutd.s iu lta StrtJutt' llhtar.s rtl tlte
(Jnif ed StuIas-A Reviarr of' Ctrt reut I|ttder.stuutliug.
b. How manv potcntial acuifrs does the cross-section
U.S. Geological Survcy Circulal 1007. t)l pp.
shou l
U.S. Environnrental Protection Agencr. lt)t)l. Rtc Slteet.
c. Which of thesc potential acuit-els clo you think is thc
Drirtkirtg Wtter Regultttitns LJntlcr tlta Su.fc Drirtkirrg
nnior water source for privrte honres'? Why'l
W(ttar A(t, June. Washington. D.C,
cl. What part o1'Carson Vrllev has the highest radon
Yanggen. D. A.. and Webendorter. 8.. lt)t)1. "Groundwater
levels'l Explain this result in terms ol'the geology of
protection through local lancl-use controls." Wisconsin
the area.
Geological and Natural Histoly Survey Special Report
l. Jlt pp.
Figure 12.6c
Generalized geology of the study area and adjacent areas. Source: U.S. Geological Survel

1 20"
ir,.,l! I
|:. I
,:r I
::' I
'l:, l

fr I e

CD rf

39" r I

( II

'./ l.a
c I
I ?
JI e

I vouno"r alluvium Grantc rocks of lhe v

Sierra Nevada batholith

I oro", alluvium ! frletaseoimentary rocks v

I Basaltic rocks

Andesitic rocks
Metavolcanic rocks

Faull (ball on
f downthrown side)
! s"oir"ntary rocks
Boundary of Carson Valley
- - hydrographic area
I Rhvolitic rocks



rrD WarTE

People produce garbage, a staggering array of waste that in- around large urban areas. A city of one million people pro-
cludes paper, wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and a host of duces four and a half million pounds of waste each day.
other manufactured products (Figure l3.l). The more "up to Many cities send their waste to relatively uninhabited areas
date" a society is, the more waste it produces. Even worse, in other parts of the country, at great expense (Figure 13.3).
as a society becomes more "advanced," less of the waste is A growing part of city taxes goes toward garbage disposal.
composed of things that decompose rapidly (Figure 13.2). It commonly costs large cities $100 per ton to get rid of
Most of our refuse is not biodegradable within a reasonable their waste.
length of time when left on the ground. It hardly decom- Surveys indicate that American households deposit
poses at all if buried and removed from contact with air and about 350,000 gallons of legally haz.ardous liquids each
water. Rubber tires and plastics last indefinitely, unlike year in landfills. In addition, most municipal garbage con-
chicken bones and cloth sandals. Americans generate a mon- tains some hazardous solid materials such as paint solvents,
strous total of 550,000 tons of solid waste every day, an av- batteries, and insecticides. These materials can release heavy
erage of 4.5 pounds per person. Nearly all of it will last elements and poisonous synthetic organic compounds. For
hundreds to thousands of years. these reasons, modern municipal landfills have a heavy
plastic or rubbery liner at their base. The liners are designed
WHnr Do Wn Do wrrH Ir? to prevent rainwater and liquids that descend through the
There are three ways to dispose of this stuff: (l) burying it pile from dripping into underlying soil and groundwater.
in sanitary landfills; (2) burning it in huge incinerators; and Unfortunately, a large percentage of operating landfills are
t-l ) recycling it to slow the need for new production. At pres- not leakproof, either because they were poorly designed or
nt. about 60Vo of our waste is buried, 20Vo is burned, and because they have developed leaks over time.
l-<n is recycled. The other 57o is simply tossed somewhere As organic materials decompose in a landfill, they pro-
^. uncaring individuals. duce carbon dioxide and methane. Often the amount of
There are now 75,000 industrial landfills, 5,800 oper- methane is large enough to be captured by pipes inserted
,' '.: nrunicipal landfills, and about 40,000 closed or aban- into the landfill and used as a fuel. The relative amounts of
: j municipal landfills. Needless to say, landfills, which carbon dioxide and methane depend on the amount of air
., .--:ntially giant holes in the ground, fill up rapidly (oxygen) that penetrates the landfill. The more oxygen, the
more carbon dioxide and the less methane.
Figure l3.l Figure 13.2
Waste from a civilzed societv, Percentage by weight of materials in municipal so I , ?
Source: Environmental Protection Aoencv.

Other 3.7"/.



Textiles e


leaks into local water supplies. Many cases of this pollution
have been documented. Medical studies have shown that e
living near a hazardous waste site increases your risk of
Incineration reduces the amount of nrunicipal waste by
90Vc and has the added beneflt that the heat produced can cancer and of having children with birth def'ects. About e
be used to gencrate electricity. However, if the emissions l6Va of Americans live within fbur miles of a toric v'aste
fiom the smokestacks are not controlled, acids, dangerous .li. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a4
Arnerica has more than 400.000 problem waste sites with
chemicals, and toxic heavy metals can be released into the
atmosphere. In addition, incinerators in the United States chernical storage tanks that leak organic chemicals and pes- e
now produce 5 million tons of ash every year. This ash has
a higher percentage of toxic elements than the material that
ticides into soil and water.
Because of this environmental disaster. Congress passed e
a law popularly known as Suterfincl, to clean up the 1,300
entered the incinerator.
Recycling is growing in popularity in the United States. worst of these blights. About 100 new superfund sites are e
About 35-407o of our steel and aluminurn is recycled, as is
25o/o of used paper. Unfortunately, recycling is ofien not
added each year, far fister than cleanup is removing old
sites from the list. The 1996 budget fbr Superfund was $6. I e
cost-efl'ective. Many cities that established recycling pro- billion. Money devoted to Superfirnd is certain to increase
grams have abandoned them fbr this reason. But as landflll significantly over the corning years.
space grows more expensive and the cost of environrnen-
tally acceptable incinerators climbs, the cost of recycling RnoroncrrvE WASTE DrsPosAL
will become more competitive nationwide. Radioactive waste is dangerous to living creatures for peri-
ods ranging from hundreds to millions of years. About one

Toxc Wesrn Srrns third of the radioactive waste volume is classed as low-level
There are thousands of waste dumps and landfllls that store radwaste, meaning that it will be dangerous for 300--500
years. It comes not from nuclear reactors but fiom hospitals.
hazardous wastes. Many of them store wastes in an unsaf'e
university and industrial research laboratories. and militarv

manner, in open lots. Steel drums rust in the rain and waste
Figure 13.3
lnterstate traffic in garbage, excluding New York and New Jersey. New York's waste is shipped as far away as New Mexico. Source:
National Solid Waste Manaaement Association.



facilities. The materials include f'abric, glass, metal, plastic, of years from now. In addition, the natural advantages of
paper, wood. and animal remains. these disposal sites could be further improved by barriers
High-level radioactive waste will be dangerous fbr thou- engineered to prevent water infiltration.
sands to millions of years. far longer than any human civi- High-level radwaste poses more difficult problems be-
lization has existed. It fbrms two thirds of the radwaste vol- cause of the very long periods during which it is radio-
ume but contains 94c/c of the radioactivity. It is produced active. The waste is too dangerous to be stored above
entirely by nuclear reactol's, mostly by the military but also ground for extended periods and disposal methods such as
by industrial power plants. rocketing it into space, dropping it into cracks in glaciers,
or depositing it on the ocean floor are either too danger-
Drsposnl Srrns ous or too expensive. At present, the favored disposal
For both low-level and high-level radwaste, the main con- method for high-level radwaste is under_eround storage.
cern is to keep the radioisotopes from entering the water Current plans call for filling numerous cannisters with hot,
supply, as has occurred at some disposal sites (Figure 13.4). highly radioactive material, putting them deep under-
For this reason , current scientific opinion favors disposal of ground, and keeping them there in isolation for at least
irrn -ler,'el waste in excavations above the groundwater table 10,000 years.
.:r.u'id or semiarid areas. such as those in the western and But how will such prolonged exposure to heat and ra-
. .rrhsestern United States. These disposal sites offer sev- diation affect the rocks enclosing the repository? Can the
::,:. advantages: the water table is hundreds of feet below cannisters be kept from water indefinitely? Will they cor-
' .':'-sent ground surface and is very unlikely to rise sig- rode? How fast will the radioisotopes dissolve and possibly
" -.::rrh over the next 300-500 years; little water perco- move out of the containment area? Currently, we have no
-- .- 'i,.nriard in such dry regions; cavities tens of feet reliable answers to such questions. lt is, perhaps, sobering
-..: be excavated easilyl monitoring of excavated stor- to recall that no human civilization has ever lasted for any-
::' rs sirnple; and backfill from the cavities can be thing close to 10,000 years, most disappearing within a few
. - - ,,,.ilv should problems develop tens or hundreds hundred years.
re 13.4
Cross-section showing the vertcal distribution of tritium concentrations in groundwater near burial site Plot [,,'] near C^:a::
and 1983. The low-level radwaste was buried from 1943 to 1949. Background tritium concentration is 0.2 nCi/L. Vertica -.: =
which data were obtained.






(a) Octobe|1981

o otu
= qqn

0 10m 530 V
Scale (b) April 1983 Vertical exaggeration x3
I Sampling point
u 60 (Number is trtium
concentration, n
nanocuries per liter)
..... sandlayer
Burial sites for high-level radwaste have clear geologic Americans f-ear radioactivity so strongly that no assurances
requirements. The rock at the appropriate depth must be by scientific or governmental offices seem adequate. AImost
strong enough to maintain an opening. should have low per- everyone agrees that radwaste disposal is necessary but f'erv
meability and f-ew fl'actures through which groundwater people want a disposal site nearby. Part of the f-ear stems
might move, and should not be in an area prone to earth-
quakes, volcanic activity, or severe erosion. Rocl<s best
fiom the invisibility of radiation and the natural f-ear of un-
seen things, and part from distrust of governmental pro-
suited to radwaste storage should also have high heat con- nouncements. The f'ederal government has often underesti-
ductivity to help keep temperatures low in the containment rnated pollution dangers to the public (as well as
area. The rock types that best satisfy all these criteria are exa-qgerating some others), and people have become under-
bedded salt or salt domes, granite, basalt, argillaceous rocks, standably wary. But radioactive waste must be placed some-
and tuffaceous rocks. where: allowing it to remain above -eround is even more
The scientific problems concerning radwaste disposal G4
dangerous than storing it below ground. The Environmental
are serious, but even more difficult are the political prob- Protection Agency has an important but difflcult education ,jJ-

lems. Most people are unwilling to live near a disposal site. job to do on this issue. 5
Problems What is the approxin.rate thickness of the glacial drifi'?
b What do you think controls the thickness of the
As an avera-9e American. you generate '1.5 pounds of wrste "variably saturated zone"?
per day. The average Japanese. German. or Swede generates c. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, H3.
less than half this amount. Why do you believe Amerrcans Contour the tritium values at a logarithrric contour
are so wasteful'l List the beneflts to American society of interval of powers of ten ( 10. 100. 1000. etc.).
decreasing the amount of solid waste we produce. The contours of tritium values do not fbrm a
2 What are the beneflts and drawbacks of incineration as a concentric hemispherical pattern below the disposal
method of disposin-u of solid wastel) site. as nri-uht be anticipated. They fbrm elongated
The flve states that lcad the nation in the production of fingers. What does this pattern indicate about the
hazardous waste are Nerr Jerse'. Pennsylvania. Calitbrnil. internal structure of the elacial drifi'l
New York. and Michigan. What tirctors mi-uht these states The contours appear cornpressed at the boundary
have in comrlon that has resulted in their infamoirs between the dritt and the underlying dolostone. What
leadership role'.) might explain this pattern)
The dolostone contains both horizontal and vertical
1. How can both landlllls and incinerators serve as sources of
joints. What eff-ect might thcse har,e on tritiLrnr
5. Examine a _gcolosic nrap of the area where you live. Locate
Presumably the people who lire near Plot M are not
the place uhere rour city's landtill is located. How did the
ove{oyed about the high tritiunr levels in their
city choose this sitel Do you believe this location was a
groundwater supply. As count) super\ i\(rr. )rlu receive
choice.' Erplain rrhy. Are tlrere other places within a
-eood many conrplaints about the real or inragined clangers of
f'evn nriles of the cin that wor"rld also be satisfactory'l Whyl
imbibing tritium in lmounts thousands of times higher
Figure l3.J shous the result of poor disposal practices rn than the background amount. How do you deal with
the l9-10s at a site near Chicago. Illinois. these conrplaints'l

Figure 13.5
Surface sediments near Fort Lupton, Colorado. From John E. Costa and Victor R. Baker, Surficial Geology. Copyright @ 1981 John Wiley
and Sons, lnc., New York, NY Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, lnc.


1 inch = 2000 feel

h. As a resident of the area, should you consider Suppose your investigation reveals that pre-snant \\'omen

relocating? In which direction and how far should you in certain parts of your state are twice as likel to gire
move? (You work in Chicago about 20 miles northeast birth to children with birth defects as qomen in other =
of your home.) parts of the state. What do you think the _soremmenr
7. Figure 13.5 is a topographic map of Ft. Lupton, Colorado, should do with this information? Do your results hare
any financial implications for the state's population l
on which is overlain some geologic information.
a. Locate suitable sites for sanitarv landfills and exolain c. Suppose a nationwide study of the type you have made !=
indicates that stillbirths and birth defects are tu'ice a:
your choices.
b. The population ofFt. Lupton is 5,200 and each
resident generates seven pounds of solid waste each
frequent in Colorado as in neighboring Nebraska.
Should the federal government develop a policy to deal
day. How many pounds of waste accumulate each
with this "unfair" variation among states? If so, whattr e
c. Experience has revealed that, on average,40 pounds of
Ft. Lupton's waste can be compacted into one cubic
Further Reading/References 7
foot in the landfill. What volume accumulates in the
landfill each day? Each month? Each year?
Grove, Noel, 1994. "Recycling." National Geographic, J:uly,
pp.92-115. ?
Hasan, Syed 8., 1996. Geology and Hazardous Waste
d. The company that has the contract to dispose of the
city's waste covers each day's deposit with dirt. The
Management. New York, Prentice-Hall, 387 pp. 7
Krauskopf, Konrad B., 1988. Radioactive Waste Disposal and
daily volume is four parts solid waste and one part fill.
What is the amount of dirt used each day? How much Geology. New York, Chapman and Hall, 145 pp.
La Sala, A. M., Jr., et al., 1985. Radioactive Waste. Issues and
each year? Locate a suitable source of dirt for the
Answers. Arvada. Colorado. American Institute of
Professional Geologists. 27 pp.
e. If the city excavates a pit 300 feet by 300 feet and 15
feet deep, in how many years will the landfill become
a landfull, assuming no population growth?
O'Leary Phillip R., Walsh, Patrick W., and Ham, Robert K.,
1988. "Managing Solid Waste." Scientific American,
8. You are interested in the possible effects of natural
radiation on the frequency of birth defects in children.
Dec., pp.3642.
Rathje, William L., l99l. "Once and Future Landfills." National ?
a. Design a program of data collection to study this
Geographic, May, pp. 116-34.
Whipple, Chris G., 1996. "Can nuclear waste be stored safely at
Yucca Mountain?" Scientific American, June, pp. 56-64.

CoatTAL EnorroN

The coastal zone is an alea of variable width that includes land The bulk of sediment movement along coastlines re-
and sea areas close enough to the shoreline to be aft'ected by sults from waves and the longshore currents they spawn.
nearshore processes (Fi-eure l4. l). In some areas of the United Wavelength depends on wind strength and duration, the dis-
States. the coastal zone is tens of miles wide. Processes that tance over which the wind blows (the f'etch). and the con-
a1'ect this zone include waves. currents. huricanes (Fi_eure figuration of the shore bottom. The water molecules within
14.2), tides, tsunamis, and floods at the mouths of large rivers a wave move in a circular pattern, with a net fbrward mo-
such as the Mississippi. More than 25% of the Arnerican pop- tion toward the shore. When the water depth becomes less
ulation lives in rreas close enough to the shoreline to be af'- than about one-halfthe wavelength. the circles start to scrape
f-ected by at least one of these processes. and the percentage on the sea bottom (Figure 14.3). This contact slows the
is increasing yearly. This high percentage ofnearshore dwellers lower part of the water mass, while the upper part rushes
stems in part fionr the locations of the seaports where most of forward with an accomparrying increase in wave height.
the nation's immigrants landed between 1860 and 1920, and Because the energy of the onrushing wave increases as the
in part frorn the aesthetic value of many coastal areas. Coastal square of wave height. high waves have very large erosive
communities account fbr more than half the residential con- capabilities. During storms and winter months wive action
struction at present. By 2010 the coastal population of the moves much more sediment oft'shore than is renlaced dur-
U.S. is expected to reach 127 million. ing nonstorm and summer months.
If the seaf'loor surf'ace in the nearshore area lemained
Snno Movnmenr perfectly smooth as water depth increased and if the wind
Human activities continually interf'ere with natural coastal blew exactly perpendicular to a strai,cht shoreline. then all the
:rr()cesses. causing pollution and ecologic changes; con- energy of the wind-generated waves would be expended nor-
ir.elr'. the same natural processes interf-ere with people's mal to the beach. In the real world. however. such a situation
: "rr\ nrellt of the seashore. Foremost among the natural never occurs; instead, some wave energy is fbcused parallel
-' -.\\es is sand movement and the resultant destruction of to the beach and generates cllrrents. called lottgshore cur-
-...,::r': and barrier sand bars that have both commercial rcnts, fhat move sediment parallel to the shore (Figure 14.4).
, ..:-thetic value. Beach sand is lost permanently through Measurements on the east and west coasts of the United
- . . :-t:rtior.r into deeper water, beyond the reach of shore- States give a range of transport volumes fr<m l0r to l0
-:' j rrd clrrrent action. through transportation by on- m3/yr. Most sand movement occurs in the breaker zone be-
' -:. to inland dunes. and through pulverization into cause of the high kinetic energies there. In Califbrnia, tbr ex-
- - - -. , .nrall to remrin on the beach. ample. 807c of the longshore drift occurs in water less than
2 m deep. In general, high waves transport sand in the breaker

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-J.-',-:1"? =

zone; low waves move sand mostly in a zigzag fashion along For the average ocean depth of about 4,000 m, the equation
the beach face. yields mean tsunami velocities of about 200 m/s (450 mph).
Along open.c-oa,stq the currents caused by the twice- The largest tsunami have open-ocean hei-shts of 3-5 n-r and
daily rise and fall of tides are rarely strong enough to pick wavelen-eths of up to 1,000 km. Wave refiaction (bending)
up bottom material, although they may transport wave- in shallow water can transform a 5-m tsunami wave moving
suspended particles. Tidal range and erosive power are pos- at 170 m/s in deep water to a wave 30 m ( 100 ft; high mov-
itively correlated. Along open areas of the Atlantic coast. the ing at 15 m/s (33 mph) at a coastline. The erosive eff'ect of
tidal range is only l-2 m, and current strengths are normally such a monstrous wave can be devastating to the coastline
less than I m/s. In constricted bodies of water such as bays and to inhabitants fbr a considerable distance inland. The
and estuaries, however, the tidal range can be an order of tsunami that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal. in 1755 killed
magnitude greater, with a correspondingly greater sand- 60,000 people; the Krakatau tsunami in 1883 killed 36,000.
eroding ability. The world's greatest tidal range occurs in the Landward movement of the shoreline is also caused by
Ba1' of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, sea-level rise. now occurring at a rate ofabout 30 cm/I00 yr
Crrnada, where it reaches an astonishing 16.3 m. Cun'ent along the U.S. Atlantic coast. This rise results mostly from
.trengths of more than 5 m/s have been measured there. the melting of Antarctic glacial ice. Even greater encroach-
Tsttttumi or seismic sea waves are generated by earth- rnent by the sea occurs in parts of the tectonically sinking
. ..,Lkes beneath the ocean floor, by submarine landslides, or Mississippi delta, where the rate of rise can exceed 1.2 m/100
-.. ...lcanic action. Seaflclor shaking generates water waves yr' (Figure 14.5). Neither the melting of glaciers nor the sink-
:. i er) long wavelengths (sometimes ovel'500 km), wave ing of the delta sediment is caused by human activitiest how-
- -.r. trl a few meters, and periods of 10 to 60 minutes. ever, the hypothesized increase in the greenhouse eff'ect
: :.',cii)' of a tsunami wave is given by caused by our dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmo-
sphere might accelerate the rate of sea-level rise by increas-
V : wave velocity (m/s)
ing the rnelting rate of Antarctic ice. Human activity clearly
g : gravitational acceleration (9.8 nr/sl)
has accelerated shoreline retreat in areas such as Galveston.
r/ : water depth (m)
Figure 14.2 F-igure 14.3
Probability that a hurricane will strike a particular 8o-km segment Terminology and behavior of ocean waves in deep water and as the
of the south Atlantic coast in a given year. Source: B. H. Simpson waves approach the shore (beach). (a) Surface wnds cause water
and M. B. Lawrence, 1971, Atlantic hurricane frequencies along molecules to move in circular orbits whose diameters decrease with
the U.S. coastlne: NOAA Technical Memorandum No. NWS-SR- increasing depth. Wave motion is negligible at a depth of 1/2 lhe
58, Washington, D.C. wavelenglh. (b) As the waves move into shallow water-water
shallower fhan 112 the wavelength-the orbils of the water
molecules become compressed. The moving water scrapes the
seafloor, causing erosion and sand movement. Waves increase ro a
height at which they cannot sustain themselves and collapse to form
su composed of very turbulent water with great erosive power.

Direction of wave travel

l..- wavelength ''

Crest Crest
Depth =
t/2 wave.
I -
l- waves. have wave touches nottom. . I Surf *l
I consrant .
decreases) | (breaker
I -l ||
| zone)

Still water level

Texas, and Long Beach, California, where removal of petro-

leum and water from the subsurface has caused the land to (b)
subside and the sea to overrun low-lying land. In some areas
river-damming has accelerated inland migration of beaches beaches that have retreated to positions near seawalls or
by trapping sand that would otherwise have been carried to buildings. Sand is usually pumped to the beach from inlets,
the coast to replenish the beach. tidal delta shoals, or the continental shelf; in some cases, it
is trucked from inland quarries. Beach replenishment has be-
Consrru Excrxeenlxc come more common in recent years because it does not dis-
In a continuing effort, engineers have developed two ap- rupt natural processes, is a buffer against coastal erosion, and
proaches to diminishing or halting the inland movement of supplies sand to adjacent beaches. Unfortunately, it is also
a shoreline. One approach includes the construction of sa- very costly and seldom lasts very long. The shortest-lived re-
walls, jetties, groins, and breakwaters. Usually, these struc- plenishment project of recent years occurred at Ocean City, l-
tures are built of cement and concrete, anchored to the land New Jersey, where in 1982 storms destroyed a $5.2-million
and/or shallow sea floor, and designed to decrease or deflect beach in only 2.5 months. As Pilkey (1989) has pointed out, t.
the wave energy as it approaches the beach. Unfortunately, "predictions of beach durability are always wrong, and no-
these structures typically create as many problems as they body in the engineering community looks back to evaluate
solve (Figure 14.6). Sand moving along the shoreface stops the success or failure ofpast projects. so no progress has been
and accumulates on the upcurrent side of the groin or jetty, made in understanding beach replenishment."
starving the beach on the downcurrent side. The beach
downcurrent erodes as a result. Seawalls built at the inner
edge of a beach to protect expensive buildings such as
Consrru Enosror AND PBLrc Polrcy e
During the past 25 years, state governments have become in-
beachfront homes and resort hotels cause erosion of the creasingly involved with property owners in such areas of
very beach sand that makes the area desirable; eventually, public interest as coastal wetlands and shorelines. Many
the seawalls are undermined and disintegrate.
The second approach engineers use to maintain beaches
states have passed laws restricting development of such prop- e
erties, and often these laws are so restrictive that the owners
is sand replenishment-adding "new" sand to rebuild suffer great financial loss. Should the owners he finqniall" e
l,'igurc l{.J F'igure | {.fr
Wave refraction changes the wave direction, bending the wave so Major types of engineering structures for reducing beach eroslon
it becomes more parallel to shore. The angled approach of waves and retreat. In all cases, accumulation of sand in one locality is
to shore sets up a longshore current parallel to the shoreline. balanced by sand removal (erosion) in an adjacent locality. Moving
From Charles C. Plummer and David McGeary, Physical Geology' water has both an erosive capability and a sedment-transportng
Sth ed. Copyright @ 1991 Wm. C. Brown Communications, Inc', capacity that cannot be canceled by artificial structures. From
Dubuque, Iowa. All Rights Beserved. Reprinted by permsson William H. Dennen and Bruce R. Moore, Geology and
Engineering. Copyright @ 1986 Wm. C. Brown Communications,
lnc., Dubuque, lowa. All Rights Reserved. Repilnted by
Beach permssion of the authors.

Longshore current
This end of the wave
reaches shallow water f irsl ri
and slows down.



This end of the wave

stays in deep water ancl
does not slow down.

Possible sand-pumping
l,'igure 14.5 bypass location
Effect of 125 years of sea-level rise in the Mississippi delta. Rapid
erosion of the protecting barrier islands has exposed Louisiana's
valuable wetlands and estuares to increased storm waves and
currents. Source: S. J. Williams, et al., 1990, p. 23, U.S.
Geological Survey.

Prevailing wind
and longshore

lsle Dernere Mexico compensated? Some states claim that because property rights
are not absolute rights, the state can use its police power to
1 853
restrict property use to protect pubhc health, safety, and wel-
fare. Under this doctrine, the state is not required to pay com-
pensation to the property owner. Property owners. on the
other hand, say that the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Constitution fbrbids the governrnent from confiscating pri-
vate property, and that declaring property unfit for commer-
^C4 1)
*{n Pelto cial exploitation is equivalent to confiscation. Under this doc-
\Jr(/ C\--4)
trine, often called the doctrine of "takings"' the owners must
\sgz @t:-
- 'gt*<:F'
be compensated for any financial loss the new laws cause.
^ ^,,1t The govemment says it cannot afford to pay for the prop-
Mexico efiy, but that its police power to regulate use of the property
is needed to protect the environment and public safety. Property
owners argue that they cannot bear the entire financial burden

*'frv -T
-z w

("' sp
<f a


--. - -EEirt ---e-.GU--E- -V,ts'wo;--"'

.- F. T
.,.'.--'- ?u" ---t-

{ 9.'
\X ,Yl
\A \tr,S
i ru'r't'$


#;,-u' tr< W;
i ?,-
\.> a
'1, -

/ ,.Fx
3t *o.s* x +' I*-----
I z god
ll H x'f, f

l' ,4- l

Figure 14.7
PortTownsend, Washington Quadrangle at a scale of 1:100,000 (map on opposite page).



: but small landslides common
Elil m
- erosion or deposion

o -l'l ill
oiil - U:
by large sporadic landslides (little or no direct wave erosion)
g -ll" ==
3= + Unimpeded
r< ll;
t'r cTP Sediment volume and (or) rate of movement impeded by natural or
,t i
--------> manmade conditions
5 =ll3 = l zi,
<:---> NULL (NODAL) ZONE-Zone where sediment being transported along
lt 5
Itl 9
8ll"l ^ilt
Fll =
3= ----;> +<-
shore diverges into two adjacent littoral cells on a net long-term basis
CONVERGENT ZONE-Zone where sediment from two drift cells meets

EROSION RATES--first or upper number shows rate of bluff retreat, in
-il cenmeters per year. Second or lower number shows volume of bluff
-fltl material lost, in cubic meters per meter of shoreline per year
_11 10i5 Average eosion rate based on an accurately known retreat distance and
at least 20 years of record
10115 Minimum erosion rate; true rate is likely to be greater. Rate is averaged
=il over at least 20 vears of record
+" Average erosion e based on less than 20 years of record. Rate shown
-H may be representative of a long-term average but has an equal
chance of being less or greater than the long-term average
F:T ROCKY COAST-No beaches or appreciable longshore sediment

\l -
hansport unless specifically indicated with map symbols

WASHTNGTON m MODIFIED SHORELINE-Consisting of dredge spoils, artificial fill, jetties,

\l| l- --
docks, seawalls, or dikes. No appreciable longshore transport unless
otherwise indicated on map
muddy sand. The seaward margin shown on the map is the minus 1-
- meter depth contour (generalized), which is also the edge of the
exposed tidal flat during very low tides. Net hansport is shown only
where beaches border the muddy flats along the landward edge;
more commonly, fringing marshes rather than beaches are present

of taking the property out of circulation. The courts 3. Figure 14.7 is a map of the Port Townsend, Washington,
cunently considering this issue. Quadrangle at a scale of l:100,000. showing the coastline
about 30 miles north of Seattle. Read the legend carefully
Problems so you understand what the various symbols and colors
i. Draw a sketch of a coastline, with headlands a. Explain why the ratio between the linear-retreat rate
tprotrusions of land toward the sea), and show the and the volume of sediment eroded is so variable along
change in shape of the wave front as it passes from the coastlines on the map. Should a site where the land
.ieep water into shallow water near the headlands. is retreating more rapidly always yield a greater
Erplain the reason for the change. volume of sediment?
I F:.-m a physics viewpoint, why do you think wave b. Why is there an extensive beach at Admiralty Bay?
:.::sht is so important in determining wave energy? c. Why is there a zone of intense wave erosion around the ,i-res this relate to surfins along the California Lake Hancock Target Range but not at Admiralty Bay?
d. What has caused the extension of land at Point because global warming caused the Antarctic ice cap
Wilson? Do you think this extension will eventually to melt. Describe the consequences to the shoreline
seal offAdmiralty Inlet? Explain. and to the communities around Morro Bar,. Use a
e. Explain why wave erosion tends to be heavy for colored pencil to show the area that would be
many miles on either side of McCudy Point. How drowned.
does this tendency relate to the existence of Beckett 6. You are considering buying some beachfront propertl' but
Point? are concerned about erosion. What coastline features
f. Why is erosion much more intense along the coast just (rocks, sediments, and ocean) would be important to ueigh
south of Irondale than immediately across the bay at in evaluating the durability of your property?
Jorgenson Hill? '7. You own a stretch of seafront property, and some of your
g. A large amount of sediment transport seems to be
neighbors upcurrent are considering constructing a groin to
occurring in this map area. What can you infer about
widen the beach in front of their houses. How misht this
the character of the coastal sediments that form the
affect your property?
source materials?
h. Based on the varying directions of sediment transport
shown, the current patterns appear complex. What Further Reading/References
factors might explain this complexity?
Dolan, R., Anders, F., and Kimball, S., 1988. Coastal Eroson
i. Based on the topographic variations and the pattems of
and Accretion-Natonal Atlas of the United States.
erosion and deposition, select the safest places to build Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey, 1 sheet.
a house. Now choose the least-safe places.
Fletcher, C. H., III, 1992. "Sea-level trends and physical conse-
j. Global warming is causing sea level to rise. How quences: Applications to the U.S. shore." Earth-Science
would a rise in sea level of 50 ft affect the area Reviews, v. 33, pp. 73-109.
where you chose to build your house? Suppose sea
Living with the Shore series. Durham, North Carolina, Duke
level rose 100 ft? University Press. (A continuing series of books for lay
^ When examining a topographic and bathymetric map of a people, each book dealing with a different location
sandy coastline, how many ways can you think of to along the U.S. coastline.)
determine the direction of longshore current movement? In Pilkey, O. H., 1989. "The engineering of sand." Journal of
other words, what features on the ground or on the shallow Geological Educaton, v. 37, pp. 308-1 1.
sea floor might indicate cunent patterns? Platt, R. H., Bently, T., and Miller, H. C., 1992. "The failings of
5. Figure 14.8 shows the coastline around Morro Bay, U.S. coastal policy." Environment, v. 35, July, p. 7-10.
California. Thieler, E. R., and Bush, D. M., 1991. "Hurricanes Gilbert and
a. Which way is the longshore current flowing? How do Hugo send powerful messages for coastal develop-
you know? ment." Journal of Geological Education, v. 39, pp.
b. What is the future of the bay southwest of the town? 291-98.
How do you know? Williams, S. J., Dodd, K., and Gohn, K. K., 1990. Coasts in
c. Suppose sea level rose 50 ft over the next 100 years Crisis. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1015,32 pp.

Figure 14.8
Coastal features of part of the Cayucos, California, quadrangle. The
map shows Morro Bay partly blocked by a sand bar, the delta of
Chono Creek. the communitv of Morro Bav. ancl srrrrrrn.lnrl
,4 _1
i' *"







io Bay
BM 150


rj Fairbank Pt
:.) i
r, i A) '. - r--\-\r'-.-:.

.,1 White Pt 'f

.._.','' r'1..

,'' ,tj
. .j eoz
' .ic
' .1 4
j" s.
:lj,! I
i; I
I i 'i.7

' .",*) i

Snltmrc RrsK e
For most of us, the word earthquake triggers visions of vi-
olently trembling ground, landslides, collapsing buildings,
evitable. This situation exists all along the San Andreas
fault (actually a fault zone with many large and small sub-
fires, and great loss of life. These images come from the
popular press and commercial films, which give the im-
parallel faults), which runs just east of Los Angeles and
slightly west of San Francisco. The slice of the earth's crust
pression that earthquakes are infrequent, but catastrophic west of the San Andreas 1-ault has been moving northward
when they do occur. In actuality, about 350,000 earthquakes for about 40-50 million years at an average rate of roughly
occur each year, and fewer than 1,000 (<0.37o) cause no-
ticeable damage or loss of life. Furthermore, 72Vo of the
0.4 in./yr. The human problem is that this movement does
not occur by continuous sliding at that imperceptible rate;
damaging quakes are concentrated in a nanow band around instead, strain energy is stored continuously, and then re-
the periphery of the Pacific Ocean. Most of the rest occur lieved sporadically-and unpredictably-by rapid move-
in the mountain belt that extends from the Alps in southern ments of an inch or more.
France eastward through the Middle East to the Himalayan
range in northern India and southern China. In the United MncxrruDE AND lxrnnsrrv V
States the area of most concern is the California coast, The magnitude of an earthquake refers to the amount of en-
which has a high population density, two of the nation's
largest cities (Los Angeles and San Francisco), and consid-
ergy released, based on a scale devised by Charles F. Richter. V
This energy release is measured by the amount of ground
erable topographic relief on unstable slopes. These three
factors are a prescription for disaster in an earthquake-prone
displacement, or shaking, the earthquake produces. The
Richter scale is logarithmic, which means that an earth-
region. quake of magnitude 5 causes 10 times as much ground
Most earthquakes result from shock waves created by movement as one of magnitude 4-and 100 times as much
the sudden release of slowly accumulated stress in rigid movement as one of magnitude 3. At increased magnitudes
bedrock. This release of stress causes blocks of rock to the amount of energy released rises even faster, by a factor
move along fractures called faults. The rock then becomes of 28 for each unit of magnitude (Table 15.1a). The largest
offset on either side of the fault. The sliding motion relieves recorded earthquakes had magnitudes of about 8.9.
the stress for a while, but as stress continues to accumulate, An alternate way to describe the size of an earthquake
another sudden movement oarallel to the fault surface is in- is by its intensity, a measure of the effect of the quake on
Frequency of Earthquakes of Various Magnitudes on the Richter Scale and the Amount
of Energy Released

Approximate Energy
Description Magnitude Number per Year Released (ergs)

Great earthquake over 8 Ito2 X

over 5.8 1023

Major earthquake 7-7.9 l8 242 x 1022

Destructive earthquake 6-6.9 120 8-150 x 1020

Damaging earthquake 5-5.9 800 3-55 x l0re
Minor earthquake 44.9 6,200 l-20 x l0r8
Smallest usually felt 3-3.9 49,000 4-'72 x 1016
Detected but not f-elt 2-2.9 300,000 1-26 x l0rs
Source: Data frcnt B. Gurenbtrg in Earth,2d ed by Fronk Prcss arrl Rul Sieve4 1978, W H. Freentcut tuttl Computt;

Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (Abridged)

Intensity Description

I Not felt.
il Felt by persons at rest on upper floors.
III Felt indoors-hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of light trucks.
IV Vibration like passing of heavy trucks. Standing automobiles rock. Windows, dishes, and doors rattle; wooden walls
or fiames may creak.
Felt outdoors. Sleepers wakened. Liquids disturbed, some spilled; small objects may be moved or upset; doors
swing; shutters and pictures move.
VI Felt by all; many frightened. People walk unsteadily: windows and dishes broken; objects knocked off shelves,
pictures off walls. Furniture moved or overturned; weak plaster cracked. Small bells ring. Trees and bushes shaken.
VII Diftlcult to stand. Fumiture broken. Damage to weak materials, such as adobe; some cracking of ordinary masonry.
Fall of plaste loose bricks, and tile. Waves on ponds; water muddy; small slides along sand or gravel banks. Large
bells ring.
VIII Steering of automobiles affected. Damage to and partial collapse of ordinary masonry. Fall of chimneys, towers.
Frame houses moved on foundations if not bolted down. Changes in flow of springs and wells.
IX General panic. Frame structures shifted off foundations if not bolted down; frames cracked. Serious damage even to
partially reinforced masonry. Underground pipes broken; reservoirs damaged. Conspicuous cracks in ground.
X Most masonry and frame structures destroyed with their foundations. Serious damage to dams and dikes; large
landslides. Rails bent slightly.
XI Rails bent greatly. Underground pipelines out of service.
XII Damage nearly total. Large rock masses shifted; objects thrown into the air.

people and structures. Intensity varies considerably be- The amount of property damage from an earthquake of
.'ause of factors such as local geologic conditions, quality a particular magnitude at a given distance from the epicen-
.i construction, and distance from the epicenter of the ter depends mostly on the character of the underlying sed-
::nhquake. The epicenter is the place on the ground sur- iment or bedrock, as was clearly illustrated in the Loma
:,,'e directly above the spot where the rock ruptures. The Prieta earthquake of October I 7, I 989 (Figure I 5. I ). Shortly
:-.iinitude of any particular earthquake is a constant; its in- before the start of a World Series baseball game in
:::..::r is a variable. Many intensity scales are in use, but Candlestick Park in San Francisco, fans were shaken by a
::.: L nited States the most widely used is the Modified magnitude 7.1 quake that struck Loma Prieta 60 miles to
'.1. -.-: j Srie (Table the southeast. The main quake lasted l5 seconds but caused

Figure 15.1
Damage to structures caused by the October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake. Damage in the Marina district of San Francisco. Note rne
apparent lack of damage to the buildings on the next corner. Why? @ David J. Cross/Peter Arnold, Inc. 7 l

vl l

t l

'!F ?, l

fi -

$ f e


$6 billion in damage in the San Francisco Bay area. sula is underlain by unconsolidated sediment. The differ-
Aftershocks with magnitudes of 5 or less continued for ence in damage between Loma Prieta and the Marina District V
weeks. Most of the damage was not in Loma Prieta but in demonstrates the need to consider geologic conditions
the Marina District at the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, when establishing building codes and zoning ordinances in V
adjacent to the bay (Figure 15.2). earthquake-prone areas. Zoning also should consider
Why did most of the damage occur so far from the epi- whether the terrain is steep or flat and evaluate the struc- V
center of the earthquake? The explanation lies in the char- tural characteristics of existing structures such as buildings,
acter of the rocks and sediments of Loma Prieta and in the dams, and bridges. V
Marina District. At Loma Prieta the soil is underlain by hard During the 6.7 magnitude earthquake at Northridge,
rock. But in the Marina District the thin soil is underlain by California, in 1994, damage totalled $30 billion, despite the V
soft mud covered by artificial fill, a mixture of JOTo sand
and 307o mud. Vibrations from the earthquake at Loma
fact that Northridge rests on rock rather than unstable sedi-
ment. Northridge is a suburb of Los Angeles, and there was e
Prieta caused liquefaction of the muddy sediment 60 miles much more expensive construction than in the Marina
away near the bay in San Francisco. The ground collapsed, District of San Francisco. A large part of the cost of repair-
breaking foundations, streets, and underground utilities. ing the damage at both San Francisco and Northridge was
The city's water system stopped functioning, so that fires paid for by federal disaster loans, much of the money from
fueled by ruptured gas lines spread unchecked through the taxpayers who don't live in California.
district. The reason for the extensive damage was the same The disastrous 6.9 magnitude earthquake at Kobe,
as it was during the famous 1906 earthquake that hit the Japan, caused $100 billion in damage and incinerated the
Bay area. No doubt the same thing will happen again some- equivalent of 70 city blocks. As in San Francisco's Marina
day (tomorrow?) because 807o of the San Francisco penin- District, the cause was liquefaction of bay mud in a port

Figure 15.2
Generalized geologic map of the upper part of the San Francisco Peninsula, California. Source: Borcherdt, 1975, p.4, U.S. Geological

122.30' 122"22'



\rl \a


n mud (in places covered by artifical fill as of 19OO)

ettuvium (>30 m [100 ft] thick)
eltuvium (<30 m [100 ft] thick)
I 0 1 2 3km
aeoroct Scale

city. The damage in Kobe would have been even worse, EnnrnouAKEs Cnaseo ev
were it not for "earthquake-resistant" buildings required by Humnx Aclvrnrs
the city's building code since 1971. Building damage was Earthquakes can be caused by human activities as well as
reduced 857o by the code. by natural causes, as exemplified by an earthquake swarm
Although most quakes occur along the Pacific rim, that occurred near Denver. Colorado. between 1962 and
some of the largest earthquakes in the United States dur- 1965 (Evans, 1966). Since 1942, chemical-warfare products
ing historic times occurred near New Madrid, Missouri, in had been manufactured on a large scale at the Rocky
1811-1812. Damage was slight, as few people lived in the Mountain Arsenal, about 10 miles northeast of Denver. One
ilrea at that time, but a similar tremor today would cause by-product of this operation was contaminated wastewater
-, rlajor disaster. The major population centers of that, until I 961 , was disposed of by evaporating it from dirt
\.,.hrille, St. Louis, and Memphis are not far from the reservoirs. After the wastewater was found to be contami-
' - 1812 epicenters. Memphis and St. Louis are built on nating the local groundwater supply and endangering crops.
-:. .ediment, as are several other large cities in the Ohio an injection well was drilled so the water could be disposed
- :- .,rllev. of below the reach of surface processes. The well was drilled
F-igure 15.3
Number of earthquakes per month recorded in the Denver area and the Monthly volume of contaminated wastewater injected into the Arsenal
well. Source: Data from Evans, Mountain Geologist, Volume 27, page 27, 1966, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, Denver. CO.

Earthquake frequency
Contaminated waste injected
90 I
80 d

70 7=
No fluid injected ah
ov 59
L g
o4n 4o
ct o
(! o
uJ 5

10 1

0 0

! s I = 3o i 5 s I = 3o t s I = 3o 9! s I -q
-a z
1 962 1 963 1 964

through 1 1,895 feet of sedimentary rocks into the gneissic ior. For example, suppose seismologists (scientists who
basement, to a total depth of 12,045 feet, and fluid was study earthquakes) announce that a major earthquake is
pumped down it at rates as high as 9 million gallons per "likely" to occur in May or June "in the vicinity of"
month, to a total of 150 million gallons (Figure 15.3). The Oakland. about l0 miles east of downtown San Francisco.
result of this disposal method was that between April 1962 How useful is this information? Is everyone within a l0- to
and September 1965, 710 earthquakes with magnitudes of 2O-mile radius of Oakland likely to leave their houses for
0.1 to 4.3 occurred with epicenters in the Denver area- two months or more? Will offices and industries shut their
although only one earthquake had been recorded there before, doors during this period? lf the "likely" quake fails to oc-
in 1892. Clearly, a strong correlation existed between the cur, will lawsuits be filed by people who have suff'ered fi-
fluid injection and earthquake frequency; the injected fluid nancially because of the evacuation? Conversely, can seis-
decreased the friction between fracture surfaces. triggerin,e mologists be held responsible for failing to predict an
fault movement. Despite the federal government's repeated earthquake that cloes occur? Such questions will
denials of culpability, the disposal well was eventually shut more significant in the future, as predictions of the loca-
down. The earthquakes attributable to this disposal well are tions and timing of earthquakes become increasingly more
simply another example of a harmful interaction between accurate.
humans and their natural environment.
EanrHouAKE PREDIcToN Strong disturbances on or within the earth create vibrations
The problem of earthquake prediction is currently receiv- that travel as waves outward from the source, similar to the
ing considerable attention in Japan, the former Soviet effect of dropping a pebble in a lake. Earthquake waves are
Union, China, and the United States, all of which have suf- of four kinds: P-waves, or compressional waves, S-waves.
fered significant property damage and loss of life from or shear waves, L-waves, or Love waves, and Rayleigh
large earthquakes in recent years. Although a few success- waves. P-waves and S-waves travel through the earth. L-
ful predictions have been made, no reliable method of waves and Rayleigh waves travel along the concentric sur-
short-range prediction yet exists. The development of such faces that mark discontinuities within the "shells" that fbrm
a method seems many decades in the future and, even then, the planet.
it is questionable whether any method will be accurate P-waves move the fastest, S-waves are slower. and the
enoush in view of economic incentives and human behav- surface waves are the slowest of all (Figure 15.4). L-wares
Figure 15.4 distant point and the farther the epicenter is from the record-
Travel-time curves for P-waves. S-waves. and L-waves. ing station. The difference in time of arrival of the first P-
wave and the first S-wave (Figure 15.5) is used to determine
the distance to the epicenter.
A single recording station is insufficient to locate the
epicenter because the distance to the epicenter can be in any
compass direction from the recording station. The seismo-
co),' gram at the recording station can only determine the distance,
_a ooo/' not the direction. Circles from two recording stations narrow
s;, the possible epicenter to two points (Figure 15.6). It takes
12 (o three recording stations to pin down the epicenter to one spot.
11 The epicenter is the spot where the three circles intersect.
Figure 15.6 shows the epicenter of the quake shown in Figure
E10 15.5 as determined using stations in Austin, Texas (University

of Texas), Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan),
c and Berkeley, California (University of California).

,' 4 minutes EnnrHouAKE PLANNING

! Predicting eafihquakes with the needed accuracy is unlikely to
happen in the near future. However, we can obtain some de-
gree of protection by building only earthquake-resistant struc-
' .'
tl/ ,/^!*r" tures in relatively safe locations. Such areas are identified by
/!/ t t /(r' seismic risk studies. Important considerations include:

tlf t l.Does the area have a history of earthquakes during
.E 'r',/ ' 1,400 mires
historic times? How strong? How near?
T1 t 2. How thick is the soil and what is the nature of the

500 1000 1500 2000 3000 rock or sediment that lies beneath it?
Distance in miles J. At what depth is the water table in relation to
potentially unstable sediment?
and Rayleigh waves travel at similar velocities. Analysis of A
Is the topography flat or hilly? Have landslides
the different times of arrival of earthquake waves permits happened in the past? Where?
seismologists to determine the epicenter of the quake. Will there be access to the area
5. What about roads?
All waves generated from an earthquake must start at if landslides occur and the main hiehwav is
the same point. However, the different types of waves travel
at different speeds. The farther they have travelled, the
greater the difference between their time of arrival at any

I'-ieure 15.5
Arrival times at Austin, Texas for P-, S-, and L-waves from an earthquake far from Austin. S-waves normally have a larger amplitude (wave
height) than P-waves.The amplitude of L-waves is much larger than either P or S.

= -s: D-lvave
- -a Jl Sudace (L) wave
Figure 15.6
Locating the epicenter of the earthquake shown in the seismogram from Austin, Texas. The epicenter s along the continental divide near
Helena, Montana.




6. Where are the buried gas, wate and sewer lines? Table 15. l, only a trivial number of earthquakes have V
What will happen if they are ruptured? magnitudes of 8 or more. Explain these obsevations.
7. How far away is help, such as the fire department 2. Figure 15.3 shows a one-year period during which no fluid l-
or a hospital? was injected into the disposal well, but earthquakes

8. Are there toxic hazards nearby, such as chemical

occurred without interruption. How might you explain this? V
What might explain the less-than-perfect correlation
plants, refineries, or storage tanks for petroleum
products, either above ground or buried?
between the amount of water iniected each month and the V
number of earthquakes?
9. Is there a nuclear power plant nearby and in which
direction does the wind usually blow? (Yes,
J. Figure 15.7 shows the numerical data for earthquake V
intensities during the San Fernando, California, shock
nuclear plants are sometimes built near historically
active faults.)
(magnitude 6.4) of February 9, 1911.
a. Construct an isointensity contour map at a unit interval
A seismic risk study should be considered for every con-
for the data and give plausible reasons for the
regularities and irregularities in the shapes of the
struction project in areas with a history of earthquakes dur- contours.
ing the past few hundred years. b. Construct an X-Y graph of earthquake intensity versus
distance between San Fernando, where the maximum
Problems intensity recorded was I 1, to Las Vegas. Interpret the
shape of the curve.
1. The Richter scale of magnitude is open-ended, with no
4. Figure 15.8 shows the seismograms recorded at Seattle,
upper limit. However, no earthquake has been recorded
Houston, and Los Angeles for an earthquake that occured
with a magnitude greater than 8.9 and, as is evident in
one spring morning.

Figure 15.7
lntensity distrbution map of the San Fernando, California, earthquake of February 9, 1971 . Source: Blar et al, 1971 , p. 17, U.S. Geological

,r BridoeDort \
qe' 122" . 121" 121" - =119'. 118" 't 17" 1 15" 113"
Stockton 2
'.3 2'Tonapah
Yosemite Nevada ,, Beryl
Natl. Park
Limits of felt area Utah
37' (tr 2\ Bishop
- Los Banos '.4
\'\,.2 , o
t :1, r,,ir.""no California
\,1 5, '.4.Wells
\ Kino 5. .3 ',4
\ L,IIV 3"
36. \ 2
4,2 4.4'4 Olancha

2 Parkfield 4' 5
4'5 5"4



February 9, 1 971,
06:00:41.6 PST
Dot without number =
Not felt


a. Which city felt the shock first? Why? 5. The San Andreas fault trends N-S up the San Francisco
b. Which station was farthest from the epicenter? How peninsula (perhaps along 19th Street on Figure 15.2), and
can you tell without using a calculator? the Hayward Fault runs parallel to it and 20 miles to the
c. All three seismograms show P-, S-, and surface waves. east, near Oakland. Seismologists have projected a 67Vo
However, in seismograms from some earthquakes, probability that an earthquake of magnitude 7 or more will
L-waves are diffrcult to separate from S-waves. What is occur along one of these faults within the next 30 years.
the circumstance that might cause this to occur? What, if anything, should the city councils of potentially
d. Locate the epicenter of the earthquake recorded by the affected areas do with this information? What can
three stations and plot it on Figure 15.6. insurance companies do with it? What should residents of
e. You now know the distance from each recording these areas do?
station to the epicenter. You also know the arrival time 6. Figure 15.9 is a generalized lithologic, isopach, and
of the P-waves at each station. Using these data and topographic map of southern Sonoma County, California,
Figure 15.4, determine when the P-wave left the just north of San Francisco. Movement along the San
epicenter, that is, the time at which the earthquake Andreas fault in 1906 created offsets of as much as 12 feet
occurred. in Sonoma County. Seven other potentially active faults



Fisure 15.8 have been identified in the area, all trending NW-SE,
parallel to the bedrock outcrop on Figure 15.9. Describe
Seismographic traces of an earthquake as recorded at three
how you would approach the problem of creating a
seismic-risk analysis report for the residents of the area.
What types of information would you like to have that are
J not given on the map?
Further Reading/References
California Seismic Safety Commission, 1992. The Homeowner's
10:21 10:25 10:30 10:35 10:40 Guide to Earthquake Sclerv. Seismic Safety
Seattle Commission # 92-02,28 pp.
Reiter, L., 1991 . Earthquake Hazard Analysls. New York,
Columbia University Press, 254 pp.
Steinbrugge, K. V., and Algermissen, S. T., 1990. Earthquake
Losses to Single-famly Dwellings: Califurnta
4; Experience. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1939-A,
.4.-,_+ :: +?. :14
65 pp.
Weigand, Peter W., 1994. "The January l'7, 1994 Northridge
(California) earthquake: a personal experience."
10:21 10:30 10:35 10:40 Journal of Geological Educatiott, v. 42, p. 5Ol-6.
Los Angeles


10:21 10:25 1 0:30 10:35 10:40

(Greenwich Mean Time)
Figure 15.9
Rock and sediment distributions and thicknesses in southern Sonoma County, California. From B.W. Greensfelder, 1980, Calforna Division
of Mines and Geology Special Report 12O, plate 18. Used with permssion
b -
Petaluma 4km
Reservor Scale N

38" 1 5'
Bedrock | - J:
t {
,. ..i

1 I

Younger bay muds, flat terrain
3f=*1\ \ \ Bedrock'.E
Unconsolidated alluvium and river
deposits, generally flat terrain '= -l =
- -\4-&\\F \
.'\ *=
. +- -\ \
Ranges of alluvium thickness \-- \ "{,-
0-200' \ + ---.*- \
*--*- i--*>'--Seqrs
*. 40' ..-. Thickness of younger bay muds * - *- *\- -""E{.12

500' Topographic contours Pacfic \* ^ _- San Pablo
Bay -1
n Semiconsolidated and bedrock,
c^ma ciaa clnac

Midshipman Point


Volcanic eruptions occur infrequently and cause low annual Despite these uncertainties, volcanoes are commonly
damage compared to other hazards, such as earthquakes, classified as active, dormant, or extinct. An active volcano
floods, and ground failures (subsidence, sinkholes, land- is one that has erupted within recent history. If the volcano
slides). In the United States, for example, the annual eco- has not erupted within historic times-perhaps 5,000
nomic loss from volcanic eruptions is at least an order of years-but is fresh-looking and not significantly eroded, it
magnitude less than the loss (0.6 x lOe 1980 dollars) caused is considered dormant, with the potential to become active
by earthquakes, which in turn is nearly an order of magni- again. A volcano is considered extinct if it shows signifi-
tude less than the loss associated with floods and ground cant erosion of its crest and flanks and has no recent eruD-
failures. Nevertheless. for those who live in volcanic re- tive history.
gions, the severity of the hazards caused by potential erup-
tions makes them an important consideration in land-use Tvpes oF ERPTroNs
decisions. Eruptions can be either explosive or nonexplosive. Explosive
Because of this fact, scientists have attempted to com- eruptions occur if the magma moving up the neck of the
pile lists of high-risk volcanoes. The rating criteria for such volcano is very viscous, so that most of the gases present in
lists include some or all of the following factors: (l) fre- the magma remain dissolved. As the magma nears the sur-
quencies, sites, and nature of recorded historical eruptions face the pressure decreases: increasing amounts of gas come
(Figure 16.l); (2) information on recent prehistoric erup- out of solution, and the gas bubbles increase in size.
tions as inferred from mapping and dating studies (Figure Eventually, the pressure becomes great enough to make the
l6.l); (3) known ground deformation and/or seismic events gases burst out of the viscous liquid, creating the explosion
i "earthquake swarms"); (4) the nature of eruptive products,
that hurls great masses of magma and semiconsolidated vol-
ptrssible indicators of explosive potential; and (5) various
canic debris from the throat of the volcano. Groundwater
.:enio-eraphic determinants, such as population density, heated by the rising magma is also ejected in the explosion;
::,rperty at risk, and fatalities and/or evacuations resulting in fact, the bulk of the fluids emitted from volcanoes is HzO
-. :ri recorded historical volcanic disasters or crises. liquid and vapor.
'- .:
'nunately, all such lists are incomplete because geolog- A great deal of solid material may be ejected from a
- -. -,nd geophysical data for many volcanoes are inade- volcano and accumulate around the eruption site. The height
---: \lan1'eruptions have occurred from volcanoes not and lateral distance that fragments attain depend on ejection
--; ,..1r considered high-risk.

Figure l6.l
Map of Mauna Loa showing the surface distribution of lava flows in five different age categories. The notation "ka" stands for thousands of
years before the year 1950. Thus, 0.75 ka - 750 years; 1.5 ka : 1,500 years; and 4.0 ka - 4,000 years. Source: J. P Lockwood and P W.
Lpman, 1987, Holocene Eruption History of Mauna Loa Volcano, Chapter 18 in R. W. Decker et al., editors, Volcansm in Hawaii. Ll.S.
Geological Survey Pro'l. Paper 1350.



Hislorical lava flows

(1843 and younger)
l-l btorp lv f.zs u - n.o. les
E Grorp lll (1.s - 0.75 ka)
fl croup ll (4.0 - 1.5 ka) e
I Group | (>4.0 ka) including
ash deoosts
tf R'i
u/m Unmapped areas
force, the size of the fragments, and wind velocity. fiagments in the moving mass are separated from each other t=
Fragments larger than 60 mm in diameter are called bombs and from the ground belor.i' by a cushion of hot, expanding
(round and elon-qate because they solidify durin-e flight) or
blocks (angular fragments); those between 60 mm and 2
gas, which largely eliminates tl'iction as the mass moves.
These flows can afl'ect areas l5 miles or more from a vol-
mm are lapilli; those smaller than 2 mm are ash or dust. cano. Most losses fiom a p1'roclastic flow are caused by the l-
Fragments can endanger life and property at considerable swiftly moving basal flori of hot rock debris. which can
distances from the volcano by forming a blanket over the bury and incinerate everything in its path, and by the ac- V
ground surface and contaminating the air with abrasive par- companying cloud of hot dust and gases, which can cause
ticles and corrosive acids (Figure 16.2). Close to a volcano, asphyxiation and burn lungs and skin. V
people can be injured or killed by breathing ash-laden air; Another common result of explosive eruptions is mud-
damage to property is caused by the weight of the frag- flows (lahttrs), masses of water-saturated rock debris that V
ments and its smothering and abrasive effects. move downslope like flou'ing wet concrete. The debris
Glowing avalanches (nuees urulentes, pyroclastic flows, comes from fragments of rock on the volcano flanks. and
glowing clouds) are masses of incandescent, dry rock debris the water can come from rain. melting glacial ice and snow.
that move downslope like a fluid. They owe their mobility a crater lake, or a reservoir adjacent to the volcano.
to hot air and other gases mixed with the debris and can Mudflows can be either hot or cold, depending on u,hether
travel many miles at speeds up to 100 miles per hour down they contain hot rock debris. The speed of mudflows de-
valley floors on the flanks of a volcano. The path of an pends on their fluidity and the slope of the terrain: they
avalanche is guided largely by topography, but its great sometimes move 50 miles or more down valley floors at
speed can cause it to climb vertically as much as several speeds exceeding 20 miles per hour. Volcanic mudflows can
hundred meters, until it encounters opposing hill slopes or reach even greater distances-about 60 miles from the
bends of the valley wall. This great mobility results when source-than do pyroclastic flows (Figure 16.3). The chief
I,'igurc 16.2
Map showing distribution of ash from the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Some communities were covered by as much as 3
inches of ash. Source: U.S. Geoloqical Survev.
Fast moving winds between 18,000 and 40,000
May 1B ASHFALL feet carried the ash cloud east across the
About 1.2-2,8 inches continent in about 3 days. Ash between 30,000
May 25 ASHFALL and 40,000 feet circled the globe in 17 days.
About 0.1-2.8 inches
Blowing ash was observed across Montana and
North Dakota as the cloud below 10.000 feet

.\/\ New
I { /'^)','

, Oreoon Rhode lsland

t-'-.'.=-----.--- Massachusetts
New Jersey
( Nevada
)( Maryland
California' West Virginia

'r Anoeles

,,Ftonoa Atlantic Ocean

100 200 300 400 500 mi The ash cloud above 53,000 feet moved ' .,.
slowly southeast over Texas and the Gulf coast

Ii'igure 16.3 threat to humans is burial. Structures can be buried or swept

Sketch map showing the extent of two mudflows on opposite sides away by the vast carrying power of the mudf1ow.
of Mount Rainier, Washington. The flows are confined to existing Lavas are generally erupted quietly. but can be pre-
river valleys untl the valleys become shallow enough for the ceded by explosive volcanic activity. The fronts of lava
mudflows to overflow the banks, about 25 miles from the volcano. flows usually advance at less than human walking speed
Source: Hays, 1981, p.95, U.S. Geological SurveyProf. Paper 1350
and. hence. cause no direct danger to human lit'e (Table
a Kenl 16. l). Genelally. however. they totally destroy the areas
they cover. Lava flows that extend into areas of snow can
Osceola mudflow
-5,000 years old melt it and cause floods and mudf-lows: lava flows that ex-
tend into vegetated areas can start fires. The diameter of the
aTacoma hazard zone from lava flows is normally only a few miles
because the lava solidifies as it moves. Destruction is total
but the affected area is relatively small.

MacnruDE oF Volcnxtc Enuproxs

The magnitude of volcanic eruptions is classifled by the to-
Electron mudflow tal amount of ejected material. both lava and pyroclastic de-
bris (Figure 16.4). One fact evident in Table 16.2 is that na-
ture's scales are vastly different fiom the human scale. The
disastrous explosive activity of Mount St. Helens in 1980,
for example, is of the highest magnitude on the human
scale. but only a minor feature on nature's scale.
. Seattle
TABLE 16.1
Human Fatalities From Volcanic Activitv. 1600-1986

Primary Cause of Fatalities 1600-1899 1900-1986

Pyroclastic flows and debris avalanches 18,200 (9.8%) 36.800 t18.4%c)

Mudflows (lahars) and floods 8,300 (4.5Vo) 28,400 \37.IVc\
Tephra falls and ballistic projectiles 8,000 (4.37o) 3.000 (-1.0clr )

Tsunami 43,600 (23.4%) 400 (0.-5-t )

Disease, starvation, etc. 92,100 (49.4E 3,200 (1.2c( )

Lava flows 900 (0.57c) | 00 (0.1c/( )

Gases and acid rain 1,900 (2.5Vc)

Other or unknown I 5, | 00 (") 2,200 (2.5Vo)

Total 186,200 (lOO7o) 76,000 (t00E I

Fatalities per year (average) 620 880
r Reviervs ol Geophysics. 27:2,17-69. l9ll9, utprright bt tlte Antercatt GeopltsiL'al Uttion.

Figurc 16.;l
Magnitude of volcanic eruptions.


Magnitude I Magnitude 2 Magnitude 3 Magnitude 4

Volume of Volume of >1
Ejected Material Ejected Material
Magnitude (m3) Magnitude (m3)
10e (1 billion) 5 1 06-1 05

1 0e-1 08 6 1 0s-1 04
3 1 08-1 07 7 1 04-1 03

1 07-1 06 I Less than 1.000

Hnzano InnnnncATroN. Assrssmnnl, TABLE 16.2 V
AND ZoNnrOx Some Famous Eruptrons
Hazard assessments exemplify a familiar geologic adage:
the present is the key to the past. To make such assessments. Volume New Material
we must assume that a volcano will probably experience the Volcano (billions of m3)

same kinds oferuptive events, in the same general areas and
at about the same average frequency, in the future as it has Crater Lake (Mt. Mazama) 42
in the past (Tables 16.2, 16.3). The danger inherent in these Tambora (1915) 25
assumptions has surfaced frequently, sometimes with disas- Krakatau (1883) l8
trous results, but we have no practical alternative. Figure
Mt. St. Helens (3,000 years ago) 8.0
16.5 shows hazard zonation maps prepared for an area in
Mt. St. Helens (450 years ago) l.o
Colombia and for the Big Island in Hawaii. Unfortunately,
such maps are not yet available for many potentially dan- Vesuvius (n.o. 79) 2.6
gerous volcanoes. Mt. St. Helens (1980) t.6-2.0
The incompleteness of available data poses a serious Mt. Lassen (1914) t.0
problem for public awareness of imminent danger from
TABLE 16.3

Prooosed Criteria for Identification of Hish-Risk Volcanoes

Hazard Rating Score

l. High silica content of eruptive products (andesite/dacite/rhyolite)

2. Major explosive activitv within last 500 yr
3. Major explosive actiiity within Iast 5,000 yr
4. Pyroclastic flows within last 500 yr
5. Mudflows within last 500 yr
6. Destructive tsunami uithin last 500 yr
1. Area of destruction *ithin last 5,000 yr is >10 km2
8. Area of destruction within last 5,000 yr is >100 km2
9. Occurrence of fiequent volcano-seismic swarms
10. Occunence of sienitlcant ground deformation within last 50 yr

Risk Rating
l. Population at risk >100
2. Population at risk >1.000
3. Population at risk >10.000
4. Population at risk >100.000
5. Population at risk >l rnillion
6. Historicalfatalities
1. Evacuation as a result of historic eruption(s)
Total Score

volcanic activity. The best that scientists can do, even with VolcnnoEs AND CLmATn
good data, is to estimate the likelihood of an eruption. In addition to its immediate danger to nearby residents. an
Many times scientists' estimates prove incorrect. causing erupting volcano poses a more far-reaching and long-lasting
public skepticism regarding future pronouncements. danger. Major eruptions hurl both fine-grained volcanic
Lawsuits might be lodged by those who either disrupted dust and sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere (Fi,eure
their lives for an eruption that failed to occur or lost rela- 16.6), where water and oxygen rapidly convert the sulfur
tives and/or property because a prediction was too impre- dioxide into sulfuric acid. In addition to forming acid rain.
cise, Scientists must continue their efforts to inform the the sulfuric acid blocks solar radiation, resulting in lon er
public about the uncertainties inherent in predicting the fu- temperatures at the earth's surface. The April, 1815. erup-
ture. The public tends to perceive scientists as Einstein-like tion of Tambora volcano in Indonesia, for example, cut sun-
tl-gures who do not make errors. After all, if we can send light by 257o, caused the coldest summer in New Haven.
sorneone to the moon, we should be able to do something Connecticut, in 200 years, and caused many crop failures in
ris nrinor as recognizing an oncoming volcanic eruption- the Northern Hemisphere. In central England the sumtnet't'ri
:articularly from a volcano that has erupted before! 1816 was about 1.5oC cooler than the previous suntnter.
Land use around a suspect but currently dormant vol- This dismal weather is credited with inspiring Mary Sheller
-.rno poses a related problem. Should the government do to write Frankenstein, and Lord Byron his poem "Darkness.
,:-,,re than simply inform the public about possible dangers? A very large eruption in the near future might drasticallr af-
i ,iilJ it prohibit someone from building a house on the fect crop yields and create and exacerbate food shortages in
'-. ' :. ,ri a certain volcano? Who is to decide what consti- many areas, especially in the marginally productive region-
', - -::r ilcceptable level of risk? Obviously, these questions where some of the world's poorest people live. Eruption.
'- :' .:ral rather than scientific and must be decided by such as that of Tambora constitute a very real volcanic h.rz-
. --- r3:rt\ of individual communities or states. ard in terms of the number of people affected. There is nr.
Figure 16.5a
The hazards zonation map for Nevada del Ruiz Volcano, Colombia. Although this map accurately anticipated the nature and areal extent of
potental volcanic hazards and was available more than a month before the catastrophic eruption on November'13. 1985. its usefulness =
was negaled by ineffective emergency management during the disaster. Source: Data from Herd and the Comite de Estudios Vulcanotoqics,
1986, figure 4.

75"45' 75'30' 75'1 s', 75'00'

'Marquita Honda -t

q^ ?
<* Manizales

/' ',' L
Palestina.\ )
l- '\.
Chinchina ? L4G-.-

a Santa Rosa
de Cabal ,.t'1
Dos \1
a Ouebradas
Pereira J
0 15 Ambalema
15 km
Explanaton November 1 3,1 985, eruption

Lava flow Pyroclastic Mudflow Ashf all Low-angle
nazaro flow hazard hazard hazard blast hazard e--,
l High
E High High
E] H igh tql High
E Mudf lows

E Moderate
E Moderate Moderate
E Moderate
l- Moderate
E Ashf all
question that such large eruptions will recur; the only un- 3. Compare Figures 16. I and 16.5b, which show the Big
certainty lies in where and when. Island (Hilo), Hawaii. Does the temporal sequence of lava
flows in Figure l6. l match the hazard zonation map of 24
Problems Figure 16.-5b? What tactors other than the temporal
sequence of lava flows might contribute to prepaation of |-
l. Table 16. I shows that the average number of fatalities per the hazard zonation map?
year from volcanic activity was higher in the S7-year 4. How might you explain a dif-ference in the size and areal V
period between 1900 and 1986 than in the previous 300 distribution of fragments ejected from a volcano in
years. Explain why. different eruptions?
2. Examine a geologic map of the United States to answer the In humid climates soils form very rapidly on basaltic
following questions: tephra and flow rocks after they cool. These soils are also
a. Where has volcanic activity occurred during the past 2 unusually fertile. Explain these observations.
million years (Quaternary Period)?
b. Where has volcanic activity occurred during the past
6. Basaltic lavas tend to flow quietly, whereas rhyolitic lavas
tend to come to the earth's surface explosivelr,. What rnight
65 million years (Cenozoic Era)? Is this area larger or
smaller than the area of Quaternary activity? Explain
explain these tendencies? How might this diff-erence in
eruptive style be reflected in the shape of the volcanrc
accumulations formed from basaltic and rhvolitic lavas?
c. How does the area covered by pre-Cenozoic volcanic
material compare in size with the area covered by The 1982 eruption of the Mexican volcano El Chichn
Cenozoic activity? Explain the reason for the caused the emission of very large amounts of sulfur-rich
gas into the atmosphere. The gas produced clouds of

sulfuric acid droplets that spread around the earth. What
Ii'igure 16.5b Figurt'
Map of the Big lsland showing the volcanic hazards from lava Dispersal of SO2 gas with time from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo
flows. Severity of the hazard increases from zone lo zone 1. in the Philiooines in 1991.
Shaded areas show land covered by historic flows from three of
Hawaii's five volcanoes (Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea).
Source: Tilng, et al., 1987, p. 49, U.S. Geological Survey.


Figure 16.6a
Geologist sampling gases and measuring temperatures at
Deformes fumarole (gaseous volcanic vent) on the rim of the inner
crater of Galeras Volcano, Colombia. The temperature is about Week 12
500'F, and the gases contain up to 5,000 tons/day of SO2, which
is transformed to sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. The yellow
material around the rim of the crater is sulfur. insurance lapse because the annual premium increasecl so
much. You estinrate it will take about two days befbre you
are ruined financially-Lrnless you can think of possible
ways to stop or divert the lava befbre it enters your fi'oltt
door. Can you think of any schemes that might save your
family home'?
9. Dift'erent scientists typically have difl-erent views about the
likelihood that an event of sorre kind will occur. Such
disagreement confuses the pLrblic. How can screntists avoid
confusing the public when the issue is the likelihood of a
volcanic eruption'l

l'u rther Readin g/Iteferetrces

Chester, David, 1994. Vlcuttoes untl Stcie^. New York,
Chaprlan & Hall. 288 pp.
Peterson, D. W., 1988. "Volcanic hazards and public response."
Jounuil of Geophrsical Re.seurth, v. 93. no. 85. p.
efTects do you think this sulfuric acid might have had on 4l6t-10.
the earth's surface as the droplets fell to the ground? Ranpino. M. R.. Self. S.. and Sttxhers. R. B.. l988. "Volcanic
\iu have gambled and apparently lost. You built your home winters." Attttual Ret'iet of' Eurth anl Pluttetart'
.iiecent to a dormant volcano, and now the volcano is Sciences, v. | 6. p. 73-99.
-:,,ninq to erupt. spilling lava from the lava lake in its Wright. T. L.. and Pierson, T. C., 1992. Livirtg n'ith Vlconte.;.
- -: .':'. The lava is heading your way and you have let your U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1073. -57 p.
R ?
ReEoqRcEr ?

Consider your pencil. How many materials from the earth Rock is heavy, weighin-s about 2.6 times the weight of
are needed to manufacture it (Figure 17.l)? The raw mate- the same volume of water. Transporting it to construction

rials include metals such as zinc, copper, and iron, and non-
metals such as clay, graphite, and petroleum. The source of
sites requires a fleet of large heavy-duty trucks, and the
transportation cost is about l0 cents/mile/ton. Because lots
these materials is the mineral resources of the earth. As
someone has said, "If it can't be grown, its gotta be mined."
of aggregate, sand, and gravel are needed in large construc-
tion projects, quarries must be located within a few tens of
A mineral resource is any mineral that has value to miles from the place where they will be used. As a result,
people and can be extracted from the earth at a profit wing quarries are numerous. About 6,000 different companies
existing technology. The resource can be metallic (coppe
gold, lead, and many others) or nonmetallic. Although met-
own 9,300 rock quarries in the United States, an average of
186 quarries per state. Almost all of them are surface oper-
als get the most publicity, abo 94Vo of our consumption of
mined minerals is nonmetallic, mostly unglamorous materi-
ations because of the greater cost of subsurface operations.
Rock quarries are relatively benign from an environ-
als such as crushed rock, stream gravel and sand, and lime-
stone (Figure 17.2). These construction materials dominate
mental point of view. They tend to be small because of the
need to be close to a construction site, and normally these
mineral and rock mining in the United States. Each new
home uses an average of 200 tons of crushed rock, sand,
sites are scattered widely,. They produce some dust from
blasting activities, increase the noise level when blasting
and gravel. Foundations, concrete blocks, bricks, mortar,
and roofing shingles all require sand.
occurs, and increase the local traffic flow. But these are
small concerns when matched against the benefits the ag-
gregate provides to a growing community. Without the stone
Nonmnrar.uc Mrr.wc there would be no growth.
Nonmetallic materials are taken from the earth at a quary. Nevertheless, the quany provides the seeds of its own
Rocks such as limestone and dolostone are blasted loose destruction. As the community grows, it expands toward the
with explosives, crushed to the size wanted by the consumer quarry site and eventually surrounds it. And who wants a
(nearly always a construction company) and sold (Figure quarry as a next door neighbor? What normally happens is
17.3). These carbonate rocks account for 7 l%o of the crushed that the town council receives a request from concerned cit-

rock (called aggregate) produced. Igneous rocks such as izens to rezone the quarry area from industrial to commer-
granite and basalt account for another 22Vo.The remaining cial or residential, which is approved, and the quarry oper-
7% is sandstone and various metamorphic rocks. ators are given perhaps a year to shut down. The city, which
F'igure l7.l posits yield blocks that can be sawed, smoothed, turned, or
Mineral resources necessary to make a wooden penc|. carved to make buildings or monuments. Blocks are care-
fully cut by channeling machines and loosened from the
quarry floor. From there they are taken to a mill, where they
are fashioned according to specifications from an architect
or designer. Such dimension stone is used as construction
blocks, as facing on building exteriors, and as floors, pan-
els, and windowsills. Many other types of igneous, sedi-
mentary, and metamorphic rocks are also quarried for use
as dimension stone. As with limestone, ease of quarrying,
location near a large city and available transportation, and
physical attractiveness determine commercial value. The
Brass more attractive and desirable the stone, the less critical is
the location. Some types of dimension stone are transported
Copper - many thousands of miles because of their desirability; well-
known examples are Italian marble and travertine, an un-
usual variety of limestone.


High-volume, high-velocity streams are the major environ-
ments of transportation and deposition of commercial gravel
deposits. Fast-moving streams act as grinding and washing
mills, destroying soft, structurally weak, and commercially
undesirable fragments such as shale and schist and concen-
trating hard, sound ones such as quartz. Within a fluvial
complex, commercial sand and gravel deposits are most
likely either in braided streams or in the faster-moving,
channel-center waters of nonbraided streams.
Most commercial sand and gravel deposits occur in one
of two types of settings. In glaciated areas of the central and
eastern United States, suitable deposits are abundant just
south ofthe farthest advance ofPleistocene ice masses. Here,
the sand and gravel consists of debris that was carried by the
glacier, dropped as the ice melted, and then transported out-
ward by the meltwater, the transportation serving to remove
commercially undesirable silt and clay. In unglaciated areas
the best deposits are located adjacent to highlands such as
the Sierra Nevada in California or Rocky Mountains in
Colorado (Figure 17.5). Gravels are seldom transported far
from their source because ofthe sharp decrease in stream ve-
locity as streams leave the mountains. Because of both its
mountain ranges and its rapid growth, California produces
more sand and gravel than any other state.

THn NEnD FoR GEolocrc Meps

Geologic maps are an indispensable tool for locating rock
Graphite quarries or sand and gravel sites. Using these maps, the
resource geologist locates areas where the desired rock
. re.n able to grow because of the cheap local source of types are exposed at the surface (or under the soil cover).
- i-.:i.-tion materials, kills the industry that made its growth Then, rock samples are collected and analyzed in a labo-
- :-:. Such matricide is common in areas around large ratory to determine the quality of the resource. For ex-
:- '---h as New York and Los Angeles. ample, for limestone an important factor is its purity.
Limestones that contain sand are structurally weaker, and
Drmnxsron EronE certain chemical impurities can make the rock unsuitable
: r-:-,tfle deposits consist ofthick, structureless beds for some uses. For all quarried rocks the presence of nat-

Figure 17.2
The annual per capta consumption of nonmetallic and metallic mineral resources for the United States is more than iB,OOO oounds. About
94% of the materials used are nonmetallic. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Mines)

9000 1200 I

1 000
6000 3
= f
a o
I 5000 a
600 4
4000 c
3000 400
1 000 4
375 lb 383 lb 365 tb 10 tb 25 lb

tb 4
*"u\", %o* $z
4u""7,'"rz *.^ "t
%o. 'uo
Figure 17.3
Lmestone quarry in the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas





Figure 17.4 clear quartz sand grains because of their high specific grav-
Quarrying Indiana limestone. The straight culs are made by ity, 19 compared to only 2.6 for quartz. The gold drops out
channeling machines (beyond the derrick). Long blocks, freed at as stream velocity decreases, but most of the quartz keeps
the bottom, are "turned down" and split into smaller blocks for moving downstream. However, these segregations depend
removal to the finishing plant.
on the size of the grain (its volume) as well as its specific
gravity, so that a large grain of quartz will be deposited with
a small grain of gold. Hence, gold placers are not 1007o
gold and some processing is required to separate the gold
from the quartz. Also, in commercial deposits large dredges
are used to scoop out large volumes of stream sediment at
a time and fairly pure gold layers become mixed with abun-
dant quartz.

Most of the time, ore minerals occur as scattered grains in
a large body of rock such as granite, and separating them
from the worthless rock is an expensive process. In a sur-
face mine, soil and other rocks that may lie above the ore-
bearing rock are removed. Then the host rock, for example
granite, must be attacked with explosives to produce large
blocks of rock. These are taken to a mill where they are
crushed and chemically treated to separate the desired min-
eral from the host rock. Next, the separated mineral grains
are taken to a smelter where heat separates the pure metal
from the oxygen or sulfur with which it is combined. In a
subsurface mine the procedures differ only because vertical
natural regular fractures. the easier and less costly it will
passageways must be created and rooms excavated for rock
be to excavale the rock.
removal to proceed. The price of the resulting pure metal on
Assuming the limestone or sand is of suitable quality
the open market depends on its concentration in the ore-
and is widespread enough to last for some years. a permit
bearing rock or sediment, the cost of processing the bulk
to begin operations is requested from the city and the land
material, and supply and demand factors. Prices of com-
is purchased from the current owner (Figure 17.5). A new
mercially traded metallic elements change almost daily to
quarry has been born.
reflect these variables. At present, gold and platinum sell for
about $350 an ounce, silver $5, mercury $0.14, copper
Mnrnllrc Mrnrxc $0.06, and tungsten $0.03. If some of these prices seem low
Minerals from which valuable metals can be extracted are to the point of being trivial, keep in mind that these metals
called ore minerals. Some important minerals occur in pure are very heavy (high atomic weights). You don't get very
fbrm, such as gold and platinum, but in most ore minerals much of the stuff in an ounce.
the valuable metal occurs in combination with other ele-
ments. Most commonly, the accompanying elements are ExvrnonMENTAL Coxcnnxs rx
r)\) gen or sulfur. Examples include galena (lead sulfide,
PbSt. the main ore mineral of lead for your car battery; and
Mnrru Mrxrxc
Mining and processing of metallic ore deposits probably
lentatite (iron oxide, Fe2O3), the source of America's iron
creates more environmental problems than any other human
: ,: the manufacture of steel. Some ore minerals are combi-
activity. These problems include
of three or more elements, such as chalcopyrite
, :per iron sulfide, CuFeS2), the source of copper for l. Some of the largest holes in the ground ever
' ': : n iling. A more complete list of ore minerals is given created (Figure 17.6) and an enormous amount of
..,:le l.-5. waste rock. In most metal mining, 80-907o of the
excavated rock is waste. Federal law requires that
Pmcrn Dnposns the land surface be restored as closely as possible
- :.,rt Llccur in pure form need little processing. For to its original condition when mining activities are
- - :ld commonly occurs as segregations in stream completed.
- - ..::rulations called placer deposts. The gold par- 2. Another serious problem resulting from mining
', - :-.Jentrated into distinct yellow layers among the activities at the earth's surface is the production of
F igure 17.5
Sand and gravel planning map for part of the Boulder, Colorado, urban area. Source: USGS Circutar 1110, p. 33

Extraction precluded by development \

Site of previous extraction BOULDER T

Current extraction permit

Owned open space


Designated open space

Essentially first-class sand and gravel deposit


Potentially extractable lower class sand and t

gravel deposit

1,000 feet


Figure 17.6
/- The Bingham Canyon copper mine near Salt Lake City, Utah. This open-pt mine is over 2112 miles wide at the top and half a mile deep.




.'A acid waters from the mining of metallic ores and and oxygen in the atmosphere to produce sulfuric
coal (Figure 17.7). The culprit in both cases is acid. The acid drains into nearby streams. The
pyrite, FeS2. The coal mined extensively in the acidity of stream water adjacent to mines may be
central Appalachians contains an average of 2.5Vo 100,000 to 1,000,000 times more acidic than
pvrite. The igneous rocks mined in the western normal stream water. Few plants can survive such
United States for the economically valuable metals acidic waters. The acidity is also lethal for many
thev contain also contain abundant sulfur. The water-dwelling animals as well-fish, snails, and
.ulfur occurs not only in pyrite. Many of the others. The acid waters also sink through the soil
retallic ore minerals are rich in sulfur; the copper and enter the groundwater in the mining area. For
: mineral chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) and the lead ore example, the Bingham copper mine in Utah, the
) :'::eral galena (PbS) are examples. world's largest, has released a plume of sulfuric
During mining, rock is broken and crushed, acid water that now contaminates 50-70 square
) : , : r iins tiesh rock surfaces. Sulfur-bearing miles around the mine, giving well water a taste
) - .:"ls in the fragmented rocks react with water you wouldn't want to experience.


I" igu rt' l 7.7 Do you think an iron-containing lilnestone uould ntake a

Acid mine drainage near Frostburg, Maryland. The orange color

results from the presence in the water of perhaps 1% hematite
good building stone for a monumentl Erplain vor-rr
reasoning. e
(iron oxide). Harmful elements such as lead, arsenic, or cadmium 3. One type of fbliated metamorphic rock rras once u idelr

may also be present. used as roofing material on private homes. \\'hr do rou
think it was selected? Whv do vou think it is not sidelr
used today? :-!
4. Using the topography and geography of the sand and
_uravel planning rnap of Boulder, Colorado, e
a. Calculate the area of sand and gravel in each of the sir
areas labeled "tlrst class".
b. If it requires 200 tons of this material to build a house.
how many houses can be built fiom these six depositsl
Assume the deposit to be soft thick. (The specific gravity
of the grains is 2.6 and the deposits have a porosity of
307o. Water weighs 62.4 pounds per cubic foot.)
c. It costs $0. lO/mile/ton to transport the sand and gravel
by truck ftom a quarry to Boulder. Will the cost of
transporting these materials be a significant factor ln
the cost of the housel)
d. Why do you think the area around Boulder is so
3. Srnelting produces solidified molten rock called blessed with nrtural construction materials?
.s/cg. The sla-9 pours from the srnelter as the
5. Examine Table 2.5 and calculate the percentage of major
valuable metal is removed fiorn the treated rock.
ore minerals that contain sultur as an essential element.
Slag looks like frothy volcanic rock and
Examine the Periodic Table of the Elements in your
normally is enriched in potentially harmful heavy textbook and frnd the atornic iveight of each element
metals that can leach into soil and water Calculate the percentage of sulfur in chalcopyrite. the major
supplies. ore mineral of copper. Suppose an igneous rock contained
4, The operation of a smelter releases sulfur dioxide 0.57o chalcopyrite as the onl1, sulfur-bearing mineral. What
,gas and toxic heavy metals from smokestacks. As would be the percentiige ol sulfur in the rock?

with the sulfirr dissolved from minerals at the Look around your carrpus and identily the types of natural
rnine. the sulfur flom smokestacks is converted in
the air to sulfuric acid. acid rain that moves
stone you see used fbr building blocks, facing stone. or
decorative purposes. In the space below, list each type of
rock, its location on campus. and the use to which it rs
downwind fiorn the smelter.
being put.
Problerns Further Reading/Ref'erences
Suppose you are thinking of opening a quarry to serve the
cernetery headstone indr.rstry. Which types of rock would
Barnes. J. W.. 1988. Ores ottd Minerals: IntrodLrcing Econotttic ts
Geologt'. Philadelphia. Open University Press,
be most suitable and why'l 181 pp. V
Gustin, Mae S., Taylor, George E., Jr., and Leonard, Todd L., Langer, William H., and Glanzman, V. M., 1993. Natural
1994. "High levels of mercury contamination in aggregate: Bulding America's future. U.S. Geological
multiple media of the Carson River drainage basin of Survey Circular 1110, 39 pp.
Nevada: Implications for risk assessment." Poulin, R., Pakalnis, R. C., and Sinding, K., 1994.'Aggregate
Environmental Health Perspectives, v. 102, p. resources: Production and environmental constraints."
772-78. Environmental Geology, v. 23, p.221-27.
Hannibal, J. T., and Park, L. 8., 1992.'A guide to selected Prentice, J. E., 1990. Geology of Construction Materials. New
sources of information on stone used for buildings, York, Chapman & Hall, 202 pp.
monuments, and works of artl' Joumal of Geological U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1985. Connol of acid minc drainage. U.S.
Education, v. 40, p. 12-24. Bureau of Mines Information Circular 9O2:l, 6l pp.

NnrqRAL Ges

Petroleum and natural gas supply abouf 65Va of this na- materials such as clay-rich muds. Black muds rich in organic
tion's energy consumption (petroleum 40%, natural gas matter are the rocks in which petroleum and natural gas form.
25Vo), a decline from about 807o twenty years ago. The
proportion of our petroleum that is imported has risen con-
siderably during the same period, from about one third to
The fluid hydrocarbons are squeezed from the lithified muds
(shales) into porous, permeable sandstones and carbonate
rocks that overlie them in the sedimentary rock column. The
nearly one half.
Petroleum and natural gas are part of a group of sub-
stances calledfossil fuels, fuel resources that require millions
Figure 18.1 e
of years to form naturally but are used by humans at rates
high enough to exhaust the supply within the next few cen-
An oil drilling platform in a Louisiana wetland (swamp). ls the
wetland being harmed? e
turies. Our supply in the United States will be exhausted
much sooner because exploration efforts have been going on
for a longer time (Figure 18.1). We have already found our
easily discovered petroleum resources, making further dis-

coveries more difficult and more expensive compared to those
of many other countries. As a result, we import about half of
the oil we use. But in what geologic settings do petroleum
and natural gas occur? How do we go about finding deposits

located many thousands of feet below the surface?
Petroleum and natural gas are fluids formed largely from
the organic tissues of microscopic marine organisms. These
organisms live at the ocean surface and are distributed around
the world by currents. After they die they settle to the ocean
floor and are buried, and their organic matter is convefted to
liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons by processes not fully un-
derstood. Hydrocarbons are chemical compounds composed
mostly of carbon and hydrogen. Depending on the tempera-
tures reached during and after the conversion, liquid, gas, or

both may be formed. Because the original organisms are so
small, their skeletons are deposited with other fine-grained
Figure 18.2
.- Major types of subsurface traps for petroleum and natural gas. (a) anticline; (b) fault; (c) salt dome; (d) unconformity; (e) facies change or
pinch-out. Each trap has a porous and permeable reservoir rock with an impermeable barrier above it. In (c) the barrier is a finger of salt
that has risen from a salt layer below; in the olher cross-sections, the barrier is a shale unit. The petroleum is overlain by a less dense gas
accumulation. Below each petroleum zone is salt water, which is denser than the petroleum.


? i'1;-1
'zYF-\ ?

- \2--- ==,4

--t-:=- - ---:-:

? -:-t4

r)drocarbon liquid and gas then move through these rocks ard zones of lower pressure until stopped (trapped) by
-,-rnre t)'pe of change in geologic conditions.
REsouncn TrnruxolocY
Numerous terms are used in the petroleum industry and the
popular press to describe amounts of hydrocarbons and
Fire types of traps are responsible for nearly all our pe- evaluate available fuel resources.
:: .:un'r and natural gas reserves: anticlines, faults, salt
l. Amounts of petroleum are normally measured in
- r--:i:. unconformities, and facies changes (Figure 18.2). barrels (bbl), where one barrel contains 42
::-."iter rvhich type of trap causes the hydrocarbon accu-
"-'- :.i ro. \\'e can recover no more than half the accumulated gallons. The standard unit of energy used in
- -r: t ith our current technology; often we can bring only petroleum-industry literature is the British
, thermal unit (Btu); one gallon of petroleum
- -i rtr the surface. As a result it is correct to say, as generates about 138,000 Btu. Lighting a 1O0-watt
: r .::i,-ians do, that there is more oil still in the ground
lightbulb for one hour requires 341.5 Btu.
:'.:r been removed. Unfortunately, however, we are

.i : :3cover the bulk of this remaining oil because of
-: i
-r. .'trst of developing new technology and the im-
- :- : --. -:-.: r)i lo\\'-cost oil available overseas.
Amounts of natural gas are measured in cubic
feet. In terms of Btu energy equivalents, 6,000 ft3
of gas equals one barrel of oil. One thousand

cubic feet of gas heats a typical home for one California. Subsidence was first noted in 19.10. and by 1974
winter day. the ground surface had dropped nearly 30 feet in the central
2. Reserves are the part of a petroleum accumulation area (Figure 18.3). Although water was pumped into the
that could be economically extracted at the time the ground in an attempt to halt or reverse the subsidence. onlt,
estimate is made. But the prices of petroleum and minor recovery occurred.
natural gas fluctuate significantly and can change
precipitously as international political currents Spu-ls FRoM Ocnnxrc Tnxrnns
change. For example, before the Arab oil embargo Petroleum from many sources has been entering the ocean
in 1973, the price of a barrel of oil was about $4; for at least a billion years; it is not just a 2Oth-century phe-
by 1980 the price had reached a high of $41. In nomenon. The present rate of natural seepage from the sea
1987 a low of $8 was reached and. since then. the floor totals millions of tons per year (one ton equals about
price has climbed erratically up to about $20. 250 gal of petroleum). Even so, the oceans are not covered
Imagine the effect this range from $4 to $41 has on with a sheet or even a sheen of oil, nor are beaches heavily
reserve estimates! Unless the estimate is based on a covered, although many beaches have small quantities of
specific price per barrel of oil, its value can be oil. Clearly, natural processes must make the oil that seeps
grossly in error. into the oceans disappear fairly rapidly. These processes in-
J. Secondary recovery. Petroleum and natural gas are clude evaporation, oxidation, bacterial degradation, and dis-
like artesian water in that the fluid rises into the persal by winds, currents, and tides.
drill hole because of pressure release. The oil Currently, however, our civilization faces a problem:
might rise all the way to the surface, forming a the amount of oil added to the ocean is increasing steadily
gusher, or might require pumping part of the because of the increasing use of large tanker ships to trans-
way-neither of which requires pumping anything port imported oil to major consumers. particularly the
into the well. In secondary recovery, however, oil United States, Japan, and western Europe. Tankers now
is forced from the reservoir rock by pumping water reach lengths of 1,000 ft and hold up to 2 million barrels
down the hole. This process is also called of oil (84 million gal), so that even a single spill is likely
enhanced recovery-. to be a major disaster. This situation has led to consider-
4. Tertiary recovery refers to forcing oil from the able study of both the effects of oil pollution on the ma-
reservoir pores by methods more exotic than water rine environment and cleanup methods for open-sea and
injection. Examples include the injection of steam, nearshore spills. Current cleanup methods include using
carbon dioxide gas, detergents, or bacteria. As the booms to control the lateral spread of the spill and "vac-
price of petroleum increases, the use of these uum cleaners" and absorbents to remove the oil. Burning,
exotic procedures becomes economically feasible. sinking, and dispersin-e spills have also been attempted,
but with mixed results. In extreme cases of beach pollu-
tion, people have been employed to clean gravel, stone by
EnvnoxMENTAL PnoelErvrs
stone, along miles of beach. Such extreme cases highlight
All exploration, production, and purification processes in-
the need for developing new. automated methods for deal-
volving hydrocarbons have serious pollution problems. Oil
ing with the tanker spills that are inevitable in our indus-
is no exception. When a hole is being drilled, mud is circu-
trial civilization.
lated in the hole to cool the drill pipe and diamond-studded
drill bit. As the mud returns to the surface it is discarded
into a waste pond near the well site, from where it com-
monly seeps into the soil and groundwater. When the crude L Some faults are excellent structural traps for oil and/or gas
oil (petroleum) is refined, large amounts of sulfur and other while others are not. Explain why such differences can
noxious chemicals are produced. These chemicals are com- occur. How might a "leaky" fault help oil-exploration
monly dumped into an adjacent waterway or pumped into efforts?
the ground through disposal wells. Groundwater is often 2. Explain how the texture and mineral composition of a sand
contaminated by this procedure. During refining of the crude or carbonate sediment aft'ect its ability to serve as a future
reservoir for oil and gas.
oil, sulfur and potentially harmful heavy metals are released
into the air. Finally, withdrawal of petroleum from the sub- 3. Figure 18.4 shows a township in the Public Land Survey
System, with elevations above sea level given for points at
surface has resulted in some areas in large-scale sinking of
the top of a porous, permeable sandstone unit. The Student
the ground because some of the support for overlying rocks
Petroleum Exploration Club has drilled the 38 holes and
has been removed. (Removal of groundwater can also cause
discovered I 1 producers, shown as black dots. The 21 dry
subsidence.) holes are marked with the standard symbol.
One well-studied example of subsidence caused by the a. Using a 100-ft contour interval, construct a structure
withdrawal of petroleum occurred at Long Beach, contour map of the top of the producing sandstone.

4 Figure 18.3
.4 Aerial photograph of the coastal area around Long Beach, California. Withdrawal of petroleum from the Wilmington oil field resulted in
ground subsidence of 30 feet.

li5i$$i$*#i ;,-
'., .1



Figure 18.4 b. What type of structural trap is present?
c. How thick do you estimate the oil-producing zone to be?
Elevation (above sea level) of the top of a porous and permeable
sandstone. d. If the sandstone is 500 ft thick and has a porosity of
1,57c, how many banels of oil might the reservoir
e. There is some acreage for lease in the center of section
l-5. Do you think it is a good bet to lease this property
and drill? Explain your decision. How about property
in the center of section l6?

4. Most ground subsidence occurs in areas underlain by
fiagmental sediments deposited within the past f'ew tens of
millions of years (the last half of the Tertiary Period).


Explain why this is so.
Shown below are data from the Inglewood oil field in Los

? Angeles County, California. The oil-producing horizon is

of Pliocene and possibly Pleistocene age and consists of

poorly consolidated marine silts and very fine-grained
sands 1.000-2.000 fi deep. The table indicates the amount

9 of liquid produced (oil plus associated salt water) and the

volume of land subsidence fbr five tine periods since oil The data and map on page 1-ll illustrte solre aspects
production began in l9l l. of the problen.
Petroleum Reserves
Liquid Volume of (Billions of Barrels) :
Production Subsidence
(ft3) (ft3) World total 1,046 billion barrels !'=
l. l6l
Nov. l9ll-Oct.
Oct. 1943-March 1950
1943 r. r 30.000.000

Saudi Arabia
2. former USSR il9 e
3. Iraq 100
March 1950-Aug. l9-54 433.000,000 35.860.000
4. Kuwait

Aug. 1954-Oct. 1958 376.600,000 27.020,000
-5. United Arab Emirates 8l
Oct. l958-Aug. 1962 299.800.000 r9.760.000
6. Iran 76
7. Venezuela 64
8. Mexico
9. Libya 30
10. China 27

o 4n
-- American
Imports From Middle a
= tnn
Year Total Eastern Countries

'6 '""


630 a
lt I 984 4.7 t5 817
4 )R6

I 985 410
qr 200
E | 986 5 1lq 1 ,160
i 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5

| )'7)
r.837 a
Liqud production (billions of ft3)

) )47 a
I 993

a. On the graph above. plot these two variables against
each other and connect the five data points by lines.
t994 7.986 r.968 e
How do you interpret the shape of the line from 1943
to 1962?
a. There are more than J0 countries that produce e
b. Calculate the ratio between the volume of subsidence
and liquid ploduction for each of the flve periods.
significant ur.lounts of oil. What percentage of the
world's oil reserves are owned by the top l0 countries?
What percentage of the world's oil reserves are located
Are the five ratios similar? How might you interpret
this result?
in Saudi Arabial In the Middle East?
Which three countries among the top ten are politically
6. Because such a high percentage (407c) of Amelica's unfriendly toward the United States? What percentage
energy supply conres fiom oil, the worldwide distribution of the world's oil reserves do they own'l
of this resource is vitally important to the United States. d. Locate on the map of the Persian Gulf area the
We have only 2c/c of the world's oil reserves and import following: Bahrain. Kuwait, Iran. Iraq. Qatar. Saudi
about 507 of the oil we use. This single fact is a major Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Strait of Hormuz,
influence on America's fbreign policy. Without foreign oil e. Why are the indLrstrialized nations of the world, such
the nation would plunge into the worst economic as the U.S.. Japan. and those of western Europe, so
depression in its history and perhaps cease being the concerned about who controls the Strait of Hormuz?
world's major economic power. f. Plot on the graph (p. 141, bottom) the amount of oil
imported by the United States since 1982 and the
percentage of it that has come from the Middle East.

g. In i990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and had plans to take
over Saudi Arabia as well. The United States went to

war to prevent this. Do you believe this was justified? Morris, J.. House, R., and McCann-Baker, A., 1985. Practicttl

4 h.
Explain your vieu'.
The United States is deeply involved in trying to settle
Petroleunt Geologl'. Austin, Petroleum Extenston
Service, University of Texas at Austin, 234 pp.
the current political dispute between Israel and its Middle Selley. R. C., 1985. Elentents of Petrcleum Geologr. New York,
4 Eastem neighbors. How important a factor do you believe W. H. Freeman,449 pp.
Waltham, A. C.. 1989. Grountl Sub.sidence. Nerv York. Chapman
America's need fbr oetroleum is in recard to its concem?
& Hall, 202 pp.
Wardley-Smith. J.. 1983. The Contnl of Oil Pollutio. London,
Further Reading/References
4 Cole. H. A. (ed.), 1915. Petroleum atttl tlte Crntinentctl Shelf of
Craham & Trotman, 285 pp.

.1 North-west Euntte, v. 2: Environntental Ptotectittt.

New York, John Wiley & Sons. 126 pp.

4 u1
United States' lmports of Oil i i
e 8000 - -l----

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