Multiple Choice


  1. What are the basic differences between the disciplines of physical and historical geology?

            a. physical geology is the study of fossils and sequences of rock strata; historical geology is the study of how rocks and minerals were used in the past

            b. historical geology involves the study of rock strata, fossils, and geologic events, utilizing the geologic time scale as a reference; physical geology includes the study of how rocks form and of how erosion shapes the land surface

            c. physical geology involves the study of rock strata, fossils, and deposition in relation to plate movements in the geologic past; historical geology charts how and where the plates were moving in the past

            d. none of the above – physical geology and historical geology are essentially the same

level: 1        answer: b


  2. The study of Earth’s atmosphere is known as __________.

            a. astronomy                 b. oceanography            c. meteorology              d. cosmology

level: 1        answer: c


  3. A __________ is a well-tested and widely accepted view that best explains certain scientific observations.

            a. hypothesis                 b. generalization            c. law                           d. theory

level: 1        answer: d


  4. All of the following are possible steps of scientific investigation except for __________.

a. the collection of scientific facts through observation and measurement 

b. assumption of conclusions without prior experimentation or observation

            c. the development of one or more working hypotheses or models to explain facts

            d. development of observations and experiments to test the hypotheses

level: 1        answer: b


  5. The ____________ explains how our solar system probably formed from a giant cloud of gases and dispersed solid particles.

            a. protogalactic theory                                       b. nebular hypothesis

            c. extrastellar solar hypothesis                            d. planetary compression theory

level: 1                    answer: b


  6. The __________ refers to the sum total of all life on Earth.

            a. hydrosphere

            b. atmosphere

            c. biosphere

            d. asthenosphere

level: 1        answer: c


  7. In correct order from the center outward, Earth includes which units?

            a. core, inner mantle, outer mantle, crust             b. inner core, outer core, mantle, crust

            c. inner core, crust, mantle, hydrosphere             d. core, crust, mantle, hydrosphere

level: 1        answer: b


  8. The composition of the core of Earth is thought to be __________.

            a. basalt                        b. granite                      c. peridotite                   d. solid iron-nickel alloy

level: 1        answer: d


  9. The asthenosphere is actually a part of the ____________ of the Earth.

            a. outer core                 b. crust                         c. inner core                  d. mantle

level: 1        answer: d


10.  The ____________ is thought to be a liquid, metallic region in the Earth’s interior.

            a. inner core                  b. lithosphere                 c. mantle                       d. outer core

level: 1        answer: d


11.  The ____________ is the thinnest layer of the Earth.

            a. crust                         b. outer core                 c. mantle                       d. inner core

level 1        answer: a


12.  The ____________ forms the relatively cool, brittle plates of plate tectonics.

            a. asthenosphere           b. lithosphere                 c. astrosphere               d. eosphere

level: 1        answer: b


13.  Which of the following energy sources is thought to drive the lateral motions of Earth’s lithospheric plates?

            a. gravitational attractive forces of the Sun and Moon

            b. electrical and magnetic fields localized in the inner core

            c. export of heat from deep in the mantle to the top of the asthenosphere

            d. swirling movements of the molten iron particles in the outer core

level: 1        answer: c


14.  The relatively stable interior portion of a continent is known as a __________.

            a. craton                       b. shield                        c. platform                    d. belt

level: 1        answer: a


15.  Active mountain belts are most likely to be found __________.

            a. along the margins of continents                       b. in the interior regions of continents

            c. scattered throughout continents                       d. along only the eastern margins of continents

level: 1        answer: a


16.  The continental shelf is located __________.

            a. between the continental slope and continental rise

            b. between the continental rise and the abyssal plains

            c. seaward of the continental slope                    

            d. landward of the continental slope

level: 1        answer: d


17.  The most prominent feature on the ocean floor are the __________.

            a. deep-ocean trenches

            b. oceanic ridges

            c. seamounts

            d. lava plateaus

level: 1        answer: b


18.  A __________ system is one in which energy moves freely in and out, but no matter enters or leaves the system.

            a. closed                       b. open                         c. feedback                   d. equilibrated

level: 1        answer: a


19.  Mechanisms that enhance or drive change are known as __________.

a. negative feedback mechanisms

b. positive feedback mechanisms

c. closed feedback mechanisms

d. open feedback mechanisms

level: 1        answer: b


20.  What is the source of the energy that powers the Earth system?

a. the Sun

b. heat from Earth’s interior

c. both a and b

d. none of the above

level: 1        answer: c



1. level: 1        answer: b

2. level: 1        answer: c

3. level: 1        answer: d

4. level: 1        answer: b

5. level: 1        answer: b

6. level: 1        answer: c
















Word Analysis. Examine the words and/or phrases for each question below and determine the relationship among the majority of words/phrases. Choose the option which does not fit the pattern.


21.        a. hypothesis                 b. theory                       c. fact                           d. observation

level: 1        answer: c


22.        a. hydrosphere              b. biosphere                  c. atmosphere               d. solid Earth

level: 1        answer: b


23.        a. protosun                    b. Oort cloud                 c. protoplanets               d. meteorites

level: 2         answer: b


24.        a. crust                         b. mantle                       c. lithosphere                 d. core

level: 1        answer: c


25.        a. mountain belt             b. shield                        c. craton                       d. stable platform

level: 1        answer: a


26.        a. abyssal plain              b. seamount                  c. oceanic ridge             d. continental slope

level: 1        answer: d


True – False


27.  Internally, the Earth consists of spherical shells with different compositions and densities.

level: 1        answer: True


28.  The asthenosphere is a relatively cool and rigid shell that overlies the lithosphere.

level: 1        answer: False


29.  The formation of the solar system from a huge cloud of gases and dispersed particles is known as the solar galactic hypothesis.

level: 1        answer: False


30.  A scientific theory is a tentative or untested explanation that is proposed to explain scientific observations.

level: 1        answer: False


31.  Oceans cover slightly less than half of the Earth's surface.

level: 1        answer: False


32.  In an open system both energy and matter flow into and out of the system.

level: 1        answer: True


33.  According to the nebular hypothesis, all of the bodies in the universe evolved from a rotating cloud of gases and dust about 5 billion years ago.

level: 1        answer: False


34.  The lithosphere, asthenosphere, and mesosphere are all layers of Earth defined by their composition.

level: 1        answer: False


35.  Continental shields and stable platforms are part of the interior region known as a craton.

level: 1        answer: True


36.  The currently accepted age of Earth is approximately 4.5 million years.

level: 1        answer: False



Short Answer


37.  List the two, broad, traditional subject areas of geologic study.

level: 1        answer: physical and historical geology


38.  The word __________ refers to everything that surrounds and influences an organism.

level: 1        answer: environment


39.  A __________ resource is one which can be replenished over a relatively short time span.

level: 1        answer: renewable


40.  In natural systems, mechanisms that drive or enhance change are called ____________.

level: 1        answer: positive feedback mechanisms


41.  The thin, outer layer of Earth, from 7 to 40 km in thickness, is called the ____________.

level: 1        answer: crust


42.  The ____________ is the relatively rigid zone above the asthenosphere that includes the crust and upper mantle.

level: 1        answer: lithosphere


43.  The ____________ is the solid, rocky shell between the crust and outer core.

level: 1        answer: mantle


44.  The convective flow of liquid, metallic iron in the ____________ is thought to generate Earth’s magnetic field.

level: 1        answer: outer core


45.  Moving from the shoreline towards the deep-ocean basin, the continental margin includes the ____________ and the ____________.

level: 1        answer: continental shelf, continental slope, continental rise


46.  The __________ is the most prominent feature on the ocean floor.

level: 1        answer: oceanic or mid-ocean ridge


47.  Theories that are extensively documented and comprehensive in their scope are called __________.

level: 1        answer: paradigms



Critical Thinking and Discussion Questions. Use complete sentences, correct spelling, and the information presented in Chapter 1 to answer the questions below.


48.  A good scientific theory is one which has survived extensive scrutiny by the scientific community and also best explains observable facts. What are some observations regarding our solar system that are explained by the nebular hypothesis? Are there any observations which are not easily explained by the nebular hypothesis?

level: 2





49.  Earth’s physical environment is traditionally divided in the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and the solid Earth. Remembering the scientific method, why do you think that scientists tend to categorize and classify various features, phenomena, and characteristics of the natural world into groups or subdivisions? Also, are there potential pitfalls or problems if we only consider the natural world as individual groups or categories rather than as a whole?

level: 3



Visualization Questions


50.  What is the relationship of the dense oceanic crust that is produced at a divergent plate boundary to the convergence or collision of an oceanic plate and a continental plate, such as the western margin of South America in the diagram below?




level: 1        answer: The dense oceanic crust sinks underneath the more buoyant continental crust at this type of convergent plate boundary.

















51.  How specifically do the hydrologic and rock cycles interact with one another at the interface illustrated on the diagram below?




level: 1        answer: Water at and just below the Earth’s surface from the hydrologic cycle is involved in chemical weathering and erosion of earth materials in the rock cycle.