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Geology

STRUCTURE AND COMPOSITION OF THE EARTH

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ORIGIN, STRUCTURE AND COMPOSITION OF THE EARTH
1.1 INTRODUCTION.
Welcome to Lecture 1 of this unit. To start with, stop and look around you wherever you
are. Take a look at all the things that you see around you every day. For example, the
pencil in your hand, where does the lead in the pencil come from? The room you are
probably in is made up of bricks, metal and glass; all of these things come from the Earth.
Just about everything around you that you use and see has some connection to the Earth.
The Earth beneath your feet as you stand is made up of soil, rocks and minerals. Without
the soil we would have no plants, no animals and hence no food! Many types of useful
rocks and minerals are mined from the Earth to make products that we use all the time.
Clearly, without the earth and its soils, rocks and minerals there would be no life. Do you
find what I am saying hard to believe? Well, in this lecture topic we shall introduce the
science of geology and discuss the important theories advanced for the origin of our
planet earth. You will be able to illustrate and contrast the different structural components
and composition of the earth right from its inner core to the outer surface.
At the end of this lecture, you should be able to:
a). Define what is Geology
b). State the theories advanced for the origin of the Solar system.
c). Describe the merits and demerits of the theories advanced for the origin of the
solar system.
d). Explain how the earth’s atmosphere and oceans were formed.
d). Illustrate with well labeled diagrams the structure and composition of the Earth.
e). Distinguish between Lithosphere and Asthenosphere.
f). Tabulate the distribution of chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.
1.2 WHAT IS GEOLOGY?
1
OBJECTIVES

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Geology is the study of the formation of the Earth. It is the study of rocks and minerals in
the context of the Earth we live on and the different processes taking place on the earth.
Geology is an applied science with many branches of study, for example:
Historical Geology establishes the orderly arrangement of the many physical and
biological processes occurring on Earth; Mineralogy - the study of the science of
minerals; Petrology the study of rocks in terms of their mineral composition,
occurrences, etc. Paleontology - the study of past lives of fossils.
1.3 THE ORIGIN OF THE EARTH
The Earth, together with the other eight planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and their moons form the planetary system. Together with
the Sun, they form the solar system. Therefore, in order to understand the origin of the
Earth, we must first understand the origin of the solar system.
Our solar system is a group of objects in space. These objects are kept in place by the
sun’s gravitation and is basically made up of the sun, the nine planets with their moons,
and smaller bodies such as asteroids and comets.
1.4 THEORIES ADVANCED FOR THE ORIGIN OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
There are two main theories advanced for the origin of the solar system. These are:
The Evolutionary / Uniformitarian Nebular Theory, and
The Catastrophic-Event Theory.
1.4.1 The Evolutionary / Uniformitarian Nebular Theory
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What do you understand about the solar system?

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