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What is geomorphology?
• geo = earth

• morph = form

• -ology = study of

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What is geomorphology?
What is geomorphology? Definitions
Study of landforms and landscapes
• Surface features
– Types of landforms
• Surface processes • Hills, valleys, floodplains, sinkholes, moraines, etc.

– Types of landscapes
• Surface materials
• Karst, Fluvial, Glacial
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What is geomorphology?
Definitions 6 What past processes created this relict landscape?

• Study of surface processes responsible for

landforms / landscapes

What modern processes are modifying it?


Were the processes that created the relict landforms

destructional or constructional? What is geomorphology?

• Study of landforms and landscapes (the


• Study of surface processes responsible for

landforms / landscapes (the “why”).

Are the modern processes modifying this landscape

destructional or constructional?

9 10 Topography

 Topography refers to the elevation and relief of  Topography is a term used to describe the Earth’s
surface. Topography includes a variety of different
the Earth’s surface. features, collectively referred to as landforms.
 Topography is measured by the differences in
elevation across the earth’s surface.
 Landforms are the topographic features on the  Differences between high and low elevation are
Earth’s surface. referred to as changes in relief.
 Scientist examine topography using a variety of
different sources ranging from paper topographic
 Geomorphology is the study of earth surface maps to digital elevation models developed using
specialized geographic information systems
processes and landforms. commonly referred to as a GIS.

11 12 Landforms

 Landforms are the individual topographic features

exposed on the Earth’s surface.

 Landforms vary in size and shape and include features

such as small creeks or sand dunes, or large features
such as the Mississippi River or Blue Ridge Mountains.

 Landforms develop over a range of different time-

scales. Some landforms develop rather quickly (over a
few seconds, minutes, or hours), such as a landslide,
while others may involve many millions of years to
form, such as a mountain range.


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I. First Order or Relief: II. Second Order of Relief:
Continental Landmasses and Ocean Basins Major Continental and Ocean Landforms

 Landform development can be relatively simple and

involve only a few processes, or very complex and
involve a combination of multiple processes and

 Landforms are dynamic features that are continually

affected by a variety of earth-surface processes
including weathering, erosion, and deposition. III. Third Order of Relief:
Genetic Landform Features
 Earth scientists who study landforms provide decision Beaches Rivers and Flood Plains Mountains
makers with information to make natural resource,
cultural management, and infrastructure decisions,
that affect humans and the environment.

15 ROCKS AND THE ROCK 16 Igneous Rocks

CYCLE  An igneous rock forms when magma solidifies. About
95 percent of the Earth’s crust consists of igneous rock
and metamorphosed igneous rock.
 Geologists group rocks into three categories on the
basis of how they form:
Igneous Rocks
Sedimentary Rocks
Metamorphic Rocks

17 Sedimentary Rocks 18 Metamorphic Rocks

 A sedimentary rock forms when sediment becomes  A metamorphic rock forms when any preexisting rock
cemented or compacted into solid rock. is altered by heating, increased pressure, or tectonic


 An extrusive igneous rock forms when magma erupts

and solidifies on the Earth’s surface. Because extrusive
19 Rock Cycle 20 rocks are so commonly associated with volcanoes,
they are also called volcanic rocks
 All rocks change slowly from one of the three rock  An intrusive igneous rock forms when magma solidifies
types to another. This continuous process is called the within the crust.
Rock Cycle.

Granite Rhyolite

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Three factors contribute to melting of

the asthenosphere and production of
magma at a subduction zone:
Pressure-release (1) Friction heats rocks in the
melting occurs subduction zone
in a rising mantle (2) water rises from oceanic crust on
vplume, and top of the subducting plate
magma rises to (3) circulation in the asthenosphere
form a volcanic decreases pressure on hot rock.
hot spot.

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A pluton is a mass of intrusive igneous rock.


A batholith is a pluton with

more than 100 square
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kilometers exposed at the A dike cuts across the
Earth’s surface. grain of country rock.

A stock is similar to a A sill is parallel to the

batholith but has a grain, or layering, of
smaller surface area. country rock.

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A large dike in central Colorado has been left standing after

softer sandstone country rock eroded away. (Ward’s Natural
Science Establishment, Inc.)
A basalt dike crosscutting sedimentary rock in Grand Canyon.

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A basaltic sill has intruded between sedimentary rock

layers on Mt. Gould in Glacier National Park, Montana. The A car buried in lava, Hawaii
white rock above and below the sill was metamorphosed
by heat from the magma. (Breck P. Kent)


(a) When granitic magma rises to within a few kilometers

of the Earth’s surface, it stretches and fractures
overlying rock. Gas separates from the magma and
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(b) The gas-rich magma explodes
(b) through fractures, rising as a
vertical column of hot ash, rock
fragments, and gas.


(c) When the gas is used up, the

column collapses and spreads
Two vents in the crater of Marum volcano, Vanuatu. outward as a high-speed ash flow.
(d) Because so much material has erupted
from the top of the magma chamber, the
roof collapses to form a caldera.

33 Sedimentary Rock 34 TYPES OF SEDIMENTARY

 Clastic sedimentary
 Sandstone, Conglomerate and Breccia etc

 Organic sedimentary rocks

 Coal , Chert

 Chemical sedimentary rocks

 Limestone

 Bioclastic sedimentary rocks

 Coquina

35 36 Sizes and names of sedimentary particles

and clastic rocks.


37 38 Sedimentary Structures

 Bedding, or Stratification
 Cross-bedding
 Ripple marks
 Graded bedding,
 Mud cracks
 Fossils

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Current produces asymmetrical ripples Oscillating waves form symmetric ripples

Sediment Sediment

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43 Metamorphic Changes 44

 Textural changes
 Mineralogical Changes
 Deformation and Foliation

45 Metamorphic Grade 46 Types of Metamorphism and

 Metamorphic grade expresses the intensity of
Metamorphic Rocks
metamorphism that affected a rock.
 Contact Metamorphism
 Burial Metamorphism
 Regional Metamorphism

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 (a) Shale is the most common sedimentary

rock. Regional metamorphism progressively
converts shale to slate (b), phyllite (c), schist
(d), and gneiss (e). Migmatite (f) forms
when gneiss begins to melt.