Environmental Geology Questionnaire

1. Surface currents redistribute ________________.

Group of answer choices

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all of the above

2. Which of the following is a factor that has an influence on climate?

Group of answer choices

wind circulation

the intensity of the sun

ocean circulation

all of the above

the distribution of water and land masses

3. Surface currents circulate in ____________ gyres in the northern hemisphere, and ___________ gyres in the southern hemisphere, due to the Coriolis Effect.

Group of answer choices

clockwise, clockwise


clockwise, counterclockwise

counterclockwise, clockwise

clockwise, counterclockwise

4. Aerosols such as dust:

Group of answer choices

warm climate for short periods of time (e.g. months to years)

cool climate for short periods of time (e.g. months to years)

warm climate for long periods of time (e.g. decades to centuries)

cool climates for long periods of time (e.g. decades to centuries)

5. The Keeling Curve is a graph which plots the ongoing change in the concentration of ____________ in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958.

Group of answer choices

water vapor


carbon dioxide


Composition of Earth’s
Greenhouse gases:
• Water vapor (H2O), methane (CH4), and
carbon dioxide (CO2)
• These allow the earth to have a hospitable
climate that isn’t horribly cold
Structure and properties of the atmosphere:
Ozone Layer:
• Screens out harmful UV radiation
• Located in stratosphere
• Molecules are O3
The suns
heat and light
Albedo 
Earth’s avg. is ~30%
Coriolis Effect:
Earth’s rotation causes
moving air and water
masses to be deflected
to the right in the
northern hemisphere
Movement of air
Warm air rises at the
equator and sinks
toward the poles
Thermal response
of ocean and land:
• The upper ocean
heats/cools slowly
• Large land
masses heat/cool
Map of surface currents; These redistribute
Tropics 28°C
Subtropics 18°C
Deep sea
Climate: average weather for >30 years
• Long term
Weather: the state of the atmosphere at a
place and time
• Short period of time (minutes to hours)
Aerosols: fine solid particles or
liquid droplets in gas
ex: air pollution, dust, volcanic
eruption materials
Aerosols can cool climate/weather
Global Climate Change
Jill Pelto
CO2 Levels:
1850: 280
411 is real,
1. 2020:
Global warming
surface temperatures
warmed from 1880-2014
by ~1.0°C, of which
0.4°C is natural
2. Anthropogenic CO2
release is a primary
driver of the warming,
especially since 1975
3. Warming (& sea level
rise) are not part of a
natural cycle
4. Humans will double CO2
in this century and
temperatures will rise
Effects of climate
change:increase: loss of unique ecosystems,
disease transmission up, heat waves
Sea level rise (melting of mountain glaciers and massive
ice sheets): flooding
Arctic sea ice loss: habitats & effects on storm tracks
Crops: longer growing seasons, more floods and
Regional Warming/Floods/Droughts
Extreme Heat
Arctic sea ice loss
By the mid part of this century, late-summer Arctic
sea ice may disappear entirely
IPCC 5th assessment report
Coasts and Hurricanes, Sea Level Rise NJ
Winslow Homer
Beach: accumulation of sand and gravel located at
transition zone between land and sea. Effected by waves,
tides, currents.
• Beach can “move” through time, depends on sea level
rise, tectonics, and sediment budget
• Sedimentation > Erosion = Positive Budget  Beach
• Erosion > Sedimentation = Negative Budget  Beach
Barrier Island: long, narrow beach separated from
mainland by lagoon
Erosion can be caused by:
• Waves
• Wave translation: deep water
wave energy translating into wave
breakers, pounding the shore
•  changes and erodes the coast
• Currents
• Coastal currents: where tides
flow through restricted channels,
they erode seafloor and transport
• Sea level rise
• As water rises, the beach/dunes/
barrier island systems will “roll
back” toward the mainland
• If sediment can’t keep up with
water rise, then sediment is lost
Breaking waves + Loose sediment = Beach Erosion
Erosion can be mitigated by using
“hard” and “soft” stabilization
Beach nourishment
Dune restoration
Beach nourishment: sand brought in from offshore
creates new beach. Renourished periodically to keep
pace with rate of erosion or storm damage
Dune restoration: Restore damaged dunes, build new
dunes to protect property, install sand fencing or plant
beach grass
Breakwater: barriers built parallel to coast in water
that rise above water surface and provide a calm area
behind them for an artificial harbor or port
Bulkheads: smaller vertical walls of timber, concrete,
or steel
Groins: barriers built perpendicular to the shore to
capture sand from longshore drift
Jetties: built perpendicular to shore to stabilize inlets
Seawall: massive structures built to withstand full
force of storm waves
surge: water
inland by
winds and
low pressure
Longshore drift: sediment carried along beach moving
parallel to shoreline in direction of longshore current
Rip currents: return flow of water from incoming waves
Hurricanes: storm system with low pressure
center and thunderstorms producing strong
winds, heavy rain
Saffir-Simpson Scale: 1- 5 rating of hurricane
intensity & wind speed determining factor,
provides estimate of property damage and
coastal flooding
Global sea-level rise: 3 mm/yr
New Jersey sea-level rise: 4 mm/yr
IPCC predicts 40 cm (1.25 ft) sea level rise by 2100
Effects of sea-level rise in New Jersey: 25 cm (0.8 ft) rise means marshes move back 250
m (800 ft) due to human effects plus 100 m (320 ft) due to natural subsidence (marshes
response to a gradient of 1:1000)
Energy Resources
Daniel Beltra
Fossil Fuels: Produced from large accumulations of organic
debris deposited millions of years ago. Ex: Coal, Oil and
Natural Gas
Nonrenewable Resources: finite and exhaustible over
human time scale
Renewable Resources: natural resource which will
replenish to replace the portion depleted. Ex: solar, wind,
Coal formation: Partly decayed vegetation forms
thick peat accumulations saturated with water.
Burial by sediments heats and compresses the
peat, gradually changing it to coal. A lot of coal
formed during Carboniferous Period (270s to 340s
million years ago)
Mining methods for coal:
• Underground
• Hazards: Acid mine drainage, Subsidence,
Mine collapse, Coal fires, Deadly work
• Surface or strip mining
• Hazards: Destruction of environment, Soil
Erosion, Waste Rock, Acid mine drainage
(bad in humid areas), Toxic metals,
Surface -water Pollution
Centralia, Pennsylvania Mine Fire 1962
• Old coal mining town and firefighters were
told to burn a trash pile in a landfill
• Fire continued underground in old mines
• Town is now abandoned and some fires still
burning (fun fact: inspiration for town in Silent Hill
• Power plants emit 40% of United States CO2
• US has 4% of world’s population yet emits
25% of greenhouse gases
Carbon capture and sequestration: The process of
removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in
a reservoir
• Storage options: Deep saline formations (onshore,
offshore), Oil and gas reservoirs, Unminable coal seams
Petroleum: Carbon-rich organic accumulation that occurs
as liquid and natural gas in porous rocks.
Environmental Impacts of hydrocarbon (oil and gas)
• Always subject to potential serious pollution problems
such as spills
• Drilling wells on land and underwater
• Building roads and supply networks
• Disposing of wastewater
• Transport – pipelines and tankers
• Converting crude product into useable byproducts –
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010
• An explosion turns the Deepwater Horizon oil
rig into a massive inferno
• 11 workers killed, 17 injured
• Within two days, the oil rig sinks while Coast
Guard search and rescue missions continue
for missing workers
• The leak was largely stopped by capping the
gushing oil wellhead. Estimated oil leakage @
35,000 (1.5 million gallons) to 60,000 gallons
per day of crude oil
Exxon Valdez
• Most litigated spill case in history; > $2
billion clean-up cost
• Exxon Valdez ran aground March 24,
1989 in nearshore waters of Prince
William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska
• Released ~260,000 barrels of crude oil
into sea
• 46th largest tanker spill in world history
Shale gas: natural gas, primarily methane,
found in shale formations
• Hydrofracking: hydraulic fracturing, a
technique in which large amounts of
water, combined with smaller amounts
of chemicals and sand, are pumped
under high pressure into a drilled gas
• Environmental Issues: water usage,
adverse health effects, habitat
destruction, threats to biodiversity,
groundwater contamination
Oil sands: Deposits of bitumen,
molasses-like viscous oil, that don’t flow
unless heated.
• Environmental Hazards:
• Enormous freshwater use, Huge
toxic tailings ponds, Tremendous
energy consumption producing
high greenhouse gas emissions,
emits 3x more GHG compared to
conventional oil extraction.
Marcellus Shale
Three Mile Island 1979:

March 28, 1979
Unit 2 – Malfunction of valve and
human error resulted in partial
meltdown releasing small amount
of radioisotopes into environment
Containment structure functioned
as designed and prevented
massive radiation leak
No immediate deaths or injuries to
plant workers or members of
nearby community attributed to
Lack of preparedness in community
Lack of initial information hurt
Negligible effects on individual
Chernobyl 1986:

Worst historical nuclear disaster
Explosion from flawed reactor
design resulted in nuclear
Severe release of radioactivity
Resettlement of over 300,000
Nuclear Energy


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