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EarlGOL 106 Exam I Study Guide

This exam covers textbook chapters 1 - 7.

Directions: There are two parts. Part I consists of multiple-choice questions and Part II has short
answer questions. The directions to complete each section are as follow.

● Section I: Answer all 40 multiple choice questions (Questions 1- 40). (1 point each, total 40

● Section II: Select and answer six (6) questions from the 12 questions provided. Be sure to
answer in complete sentences. (10 points each, 60 points total)

Exam I is worth a total of 100 points.

Some questions to consider for Section I and Section II:

● Discuss four ways that fossils can be preserved. What implication does this have for tracking the
history of life? Can soft tissue ever get preserved? How? There are 4 ways that a fossil can be
preserved. It can either be preserved as a mold, cast, trace or true form fossil. A mold is a negative
image of the organism. A cast is when the mold is filled in. Trace fossils are footprints and nests etc.
True form fossils are the actual remains of an animal. Most fossils are found in formerly marine and
transitional environments like shorelines. By analyzing the area where the fossil was found, we can
begin to extrapolate what life was like for these animals, at least from a geological perspective. Trace
Fossils can provide behavioral information about the animal in question. Soft tissue can and does get
preserved, it is rarer though. This is most often seen in desiccated and frozen remains such as
mummies and mammoths respectively.
● Explain the difference between ionic and covalent bonding. Give an example of each. Chemical
bonding is the attraction of atoms ions or molecules that leads to the formation of chemical compounds.
Ionic bonding occurs when the electrostatic force of two oppositely charged ions attract or one atom
loses an electron to another atom. Covalent bonding occurs when two atoms share electrons. Covalent
bonding: Water is formed by sharing electrons of hydrogen and oxygen. Ionic Bond Sodium chloride.
● What is the definition of a mineral? How does the definition relate to the physical properties? Provide
two examples of this relationship. A naturally occurring inorganic substance. The definition relates to
the physical properties because the physical properties refer to its natural appearance and
characteristics. These naturally occurring characteristics include things like the color of a rock, it’s
streak, or it’s hardness. It also relates to it in the fact that it is inorganic or non-living
● Describe two of the unifying concepts in geology. These would include Plate Tectonics The theory
describing the structure of the earth’s crust and phenomena surrounding it such as the interaction
between the slow-moving lithospheric plates just over the mantle., Evolution: Evolution is a theory that
was put forward by English naturalist, geologist and biologist Charles Darwin in his book on the subject.
This theory extrapolates on the transmutation of species throughout our planet’s history with the data
that is available to us., and Geologic Time: Geologic time is a chronological system of dating the strata
in the earth by relating it to time periods. It is used by paleontologists and geologists to identify and
differentiate different events in earth’s history.
● Discuss Charles Darwin's evidence for the proposing the concept of natural selection as an explanation
of how evolution works. Charles Darwin was a British naturalist and pioneered the theory of biological
evolution through natural selection. He came to this theory through many observations he made on a
voyage on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. He saw that many animals were perfectly suited to their
environments and were distinct from one another, but all closely related. This must have occurred
through the process now known as natural selection. All the animals that weren’t situated to the
environment perished while the others thrived. This is a prime example of how evolution works. He later
published his book “On the Origin of Species” in the 1850s and this laid the groundwork for the future of
evolutionary science.
● Discuss Darwin's theory of organic evolution and its relationship to uniformitarianism. Organic
evolution refers to how the genetic makeup of organisms can and do change in direct relation to their
environment. Uniformitarianism or uniformity doctrine is the theory pioneered by James Hutton that
indicates that the earth’s crust has been changing in a continuous and uniform way. When organic
evolution to uniformitarianism it means that all life has been continuously changing since its beginning.
This change has been uniform. These two concepts can be connected and realized when factoring in
the fossil record.
● Color is not a good physical property to identify minerals. For example, feldspars can be a variety of
colors. Explain why this is so. What can the color tell you about the mineral? Color can have any
number of causes when it comes to certain minerals. This is why identifying minerals solely on color is
inadvisable. Feldspar is only one example when it comes to this. A good example of this would be
Pyrite. Pyrite or fool’s gold is colored like gold but isn’t. Color can however tell you certain chemical
influences a mineral has had. Weathering can also change the color and can be an indication of that as
● What is Walther's Law? Why is it important? Explain this in relation to transgressive and regressive
sedimentary sequences. Walther’s law refers to the development of the vertical sedimentary sequences
of facies. This theory implies that these vertical sequences of facies are due to the depositional
environments that are laterally adjacent. When applying this to transgressive and regressive sequences
it becomes clearer. With regressions layers of sediment get pushed out and layered over sediment
farther from shore while with regressions sediment gets layered on top of sediment closer to the shore.
In each case the adjacent sediment covers the other. Over time this creates a snaking pattern in the
bedding that geologists can see.
● Explain how Steno’s Three Principles (Laws) help decipher Earth’s history. Steno’s Laws enable
geologists to better understand how rock layers are deposited. Sometimes things are not so cut and
dried, so these principles help to make sense of things when things get confusing. The law of
superposition is fairly straight forward. Sediments deposit on top of each other in vertically sequential
order. The oldest being at the bottom and the newest being on top. The law of original horizontality.
Often times bedding is folded. It is nice to have the constant knowledge that they were at one time
horizontal. Law of cross cutting relationships. Sedimentary structures are older than anything that
disturbs them. Finally law of original lateral continuity. That rock layers are consistently lateral until they
hit another solid structure or have other forces acting upon them after deposition.
● Distinguish between a stable isotope and an unstable isotope. Firstly, an isotope is an atom whose
nuclei possesses the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons. Stable isotopes are
non-radioactive. Unstable isotopes are radioactive. Stable isotopes have long half-life and unstable
isotopes have a short half-life.
● How do oxygen isotopes in the skeletons of marine organisms provide a record of past ocean
temperatures? Cooler waters contain more of the heavy oxygen isotope Oxygen 18. Oxygen 16 is
lighter and evaporates more readily on the surface of the ocean. The moisture of the atmosphere is
made mostly of oxygen 16 as well. Because of this, oxygen 16 often gets locked up in glaciers. So
when the climate cools and the glaciers expand there is a higher concentration of oxygen 18 in the
water. By studying the ratios of these different oxygen isotopes in skeletons we can successfully
estimate climatic conditions.
● How can carbon isotopes in limestone provide evidence about the history of atmospheric oxygen? High
values of carbon 13 in limestones indicate that large volumes of carbon accumulated rapidly. By
measuring the relative percentage of carbon 13 in limestones of various ages, we can tell when these
rapid accumulations occurred. Because an increase in the rate of carbon burial causes oxygen to build
up in the atmosphere, we can correlate the rate of carbon burial with the amount of oxygen in the
● What are sedimentary structures? Discuss one sedimentary structure that you have learned about and
how that structure can be used to interpret the geologic history of the rock in which it is found.
Sedimentary structures are the features present in sedimentary rock that formed at the time of
deposition. Because of this there is bedding or layers in the sedimentary rock that contain biological
and physical indicators of life at different times in earth’s history. One type of sedimentary structure we
went over is cross bedding. Like all types of sedimentary structures, cross bedding can tell geologists
what life was like in ancient times. Specifically it can indicate the paleocurrent or the current that water
was flowing long ago.
● Explain how clastic sediments are produced by weathering and erosion. Discuss the differences
between clastic and chemical sedimentary rock types. Clastic sediments are what most refer to as
sediment. They are made up of clasts of already existing rock. They are produced by being broken off
of the existing rock (weathering) and then transported elsewhere (erosion) where they are then pressed
together. While Clastic sediments are made up of pieces of different rocks, chemical rocks are as the
name implies made through the concatenations of different chemical processes such as limestone.
● What are “oozes”? Why are carbonate oozes not found in deep marine deposits? Oozes are soft
deposits of mud on the ocean floor containing 30% skeletal remains of microscopic floating organisms.
Ooze falls into two main categories. There is calcareous and siliceous ooze. Calcareous ooze is not
found in depths greater than 4000 meters because calcium carbonate begins to dissolve when it
reaches such depths
● Distinguish between the various types of metamorphism. There are two types of metamorphism. These
are Regional and Contact metamorphism. Regional is the most common type. It indicates metamorphic
change over a great area due to intense pressure and heat. Contact metamorphism occurs and, as the
name implies, is due to the close proximity of the rock to an igneous intrusion.
● Why is it important to identify unconformities when correlating different stratigraphic columns?
Identifying unconformities when correlating different stratigraphic columns is quite important. They
represent large gaps of time that are missing from the geologic time record. Not identifying these would
leave geologists confused as to the history of stratigraphic columns in certain places. If they can be
correctly identified, then it is easier to correlate them and other strata to other columns. Doing this,
geologists can begin to put more pieces of the puzzle together in reconstructing geologic events of the
past. Unconformities might imply erosion among other things depending on the type.
● Compare prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Some differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes are:
Eukaryotes have linear DNA found in the nucleus. Eukaryotes have a nucleus and organelles bound in
membrane. They are larger and can be either unicellular of multicellular. Prokaryotes however have
DNA that freely floats in cytoplasm. It also has no nucleus or membrane bound organelles. It is smaller
and is always unicellular
● Compare mammals to reptiles. Similarities? Differences? There are many differences between
mammals and reptiles. A prominent one is in the way that they regulate body heat. Mammals can
produce body heat while reptiles need an external source of heat. The most common source for reptiles
being the sun. Mammals give birth to live offspring while reptiles often lay eggs. Mammals also have
hair while reptiles mostly have scales
● What is evolutionary convergence? Give an example. Evolutionary convergence refers to the evolution
of distinct species in similar ways due to similar environments or mutation. An example of this would be
the similarities of wings between birds and insects. They are both quite different, but they evolved in a
similar fashion. Quadrupedal animals are another example of this.
● Explain why scientists believe that a mass extinction may be occurring today. Many believe that we are
in the middle of another mass extinction. Many think this marks the end of the Holocene epoch. Human
factors such as nuclear activity, mass hunting, environmental pollution have left geologists and
environmentalists arguing as to whether or not we are currently in a new geological epoch. Humans
have left a considerable geological footprint due to these factors. They refer to this ostensible epoch as
the Anthropocene
● Explain how the concept of punctuated equilibrium accounts for the origin of new species. Compare
this with phyletic gradualism These two theories are almost the opposite of one another. While both
theories propose that all life on earth evolved, these theories indicate that they did so in very different
ways. Punctuated equilibrium puts forth the idea that evolution happened between long periods of no
change at all. Evolution occurred in short windows of time at an accelerated rate. Phyletic gradualism
states that evolution is constantly happening. Species steadily transform into another. The only problem
with this theory is the fact that the differences are so infinitesimal that they would not provide a
significant survival advantage.
● How would you distinguish a wind-produced-sand dune from one developed by waves? Wind and
Wave dunes are quite similar. They both have ripple marks on the upper surface among other things.
They are both preserved in the rock record. A good way of telling them apart is to remember that wind
dunes tend to be much larger than those made by waves.
● Explain how the chemical composition and cooling rate of the magma that produced an igneous rock relate
to the type of rock produced, its grain size, and its density. There are two different types of igneous rock.
Extrusive and Intrusive. Extrusive occurs when magma is exposed to the air or water and cools quickly. This
results in a very fine grain size. Intrusive on the other hand occurs under the earth’s crust. This type of rock
cools very slowly and results in larger grain size. Chemically these rocks can be categorized by what they
contain. Lighter colored rocks or felsic rocks contain more silica. Mafic or darker rocks contain less silica
and often contain more magnesium and iron.
● What is the difference between Actualism vs. Catastrophism? Both theories acknowledge that the Earths
landscape was formed and shaped by natural events over geological time. Catastrophism supports the idea
that the formation was violent and large scale. Actualism supports the idea that it was long and gradual over
time, small scale. Actualism is currently the soundest scientific explanation.
● What is Uniformitarianism? Uniformitarianism or the Uniformity doctrine as it relates to Geology, refers to
the theory that the earth’s crust, during its lifetime, has changed in a uniform and continuous manner all
throughout its geological history. James Hutton pioneered this way of thinking. James Hutton is considered
the father of modern geology because of this. Charles Lyell wrote books on this concept.
● Who was James Hutton and why is he an important person in Historical Geology? James Hutton was a
Scottish farmer who lived in the 18th century. He is considered the father of modern geology. He is credited
with forwarding the idea of uniformitarianism. This theory proposes that all the changes to the earth’s crust
are the result of continuous and uniform processes over time.
● Who was Charles Lyell and why is he an important person in Historical Geology? Charles Lyell was a 19th
century geologist who popularized the works of James Hutton. He was a close friend of Charles Darwin and
helped to publicize his work as well as provide insights into the theory itself. He is the author of the book
Principles of Geology. This book staunchly advocates the tenets of uniformitarianism.
● Describe the two different types of weathering; provide specific examples of each. Weathering is the
breakdown of rocks on the earth by external forces. There are three different types of weathering. Two of
them are physical and chemical weathering. Physical weathering occurs when there are physical factors
breaking down the rock. Things like pressure and a hot climate that break the rock apart. Chemical
weathering changes the chemical composition by mixing it with other rock types. An example of this would
be hydrolysis.
● What is “the fossil record”? The fossil record refers to the fossils that are interspersed in different layers of
the earth. The older they are the deeper. The higher they are the younger. This record is used by scientists
and acts as a guide as to how life evolved on earth.
● Life on Earth dates back to??? How do we know? Life on earth is approximately 3-4 billion years old. These
life forms consist of fossilized microorganisms. The first land animals consisted of microbial mats. We know
this because we have found evidence in the form of fossils proving their existence
● What are the three Milankovitch Cycles? How are they important to Earth’s climate? The Milankovitch
Cycles refer to the movement of the earth in a cyclical fashion in relation to its orbit around the sun. The
three cycles are Eccentricity, Axial Tilt and Precession. Eccentricity refers to the elliptical path of the earth’s
orbit. As the name implies, Axial Tilt refers to the askew nature of the earth’s axis this being 22-24 degrees.
Precession refers to the wobble of the earth axis. These cycles affect the earth’s distance to the sun. The
sun is a main factor that dictates the earth’s climate.

Sample Multiple Choice for Section I

1. Geologists and other scientists assume that the results of an experiment conducted on a given day will be
applicable to events that take place a day, a year, a century, or a million years later. Which concept best fits
this example?

a. Uniformitarianism

b. Actualism

c. Catastrophism

d. Principle of original lateral continuity

2. The mineral property cleavage refers to ______b.____.

a. the development of crystal faces during mineral growth

b. the splitting of a mineral along planar surfaces where the atomic bonds are weakest

c. the development of irregular fractures in a mineral where atomic bonds are strongest

d. the density of a mineral

3. The correct order of clastic grain sizes, from smallest to largest, is_______c.________.

a. gravel, sand, silt, clay

b. silt, clay, gravel, sand

c. clay, silt, sand, gravel

d. clay, silt, gravel, sand

4.______c._______ would not enhance the preservation of fossil remains.

a. Rapid burial by sediments or extrusive materials

b. Hard parts such as bones, teeth, and shells

c. Presence of oxygen-tolerant bacteria

d. Burial in a low-oxygen environment

5. ______c.____ are the gases, in order of abundance from most to least, that make up Earth's atmosphere.
a. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen

b. Nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen

c. Nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide

d. Oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide

6. Deserts and arid basins contain all of the characteristics below except_____a._____.

a. varves

b. alluvial fans

c. dunes

d. caliche

7. A(n) ____b.___ is the set of characteristics of strata that formed in a particular environment.

a. unconformity

b. facies

c. sequence

d. type section

8. The use of ash falls, glacial tills, and evaporite beds are examples of units used in ____b.__.

a. seismic stratigraphy

b. event stratigraphy

c. isotope stratigraphy

d. biostratigraphy

9. An index fossil has some or all of the following desirable characteristics except ______d._____.

a. it is abundant enough in the stratigraphic record to be found easily.

b. it is easily distinguished from other taxa.

c. it is geographically widespread and thus can be used to correlate rocks over a large area.

d. it has a wide stratigraphic range that represents a lot of time

10. Why is convergence convincing evidence that evolutionary changes are adaptive? A.

a. Two unrelated species that resemble one another in form so that they also live in the same way is unlikely to
be an accident.

b. Two related species do not resemble one another in form but they also live in the same way.

c. The primary agents of convergence are the ecological factors that normally govern the sizes of populations
in nature.

d. Genetic mutation and the generation of new gene combinations by sexual reproduction work different in
different animals that live in the same way.

11. _b.______________ are the most abundant minerals on Earth.

a. Carbonates

b. Silicates

c. Sulfates

d. Oxides

12. Trace fossils are_____c____.

a. fossilized imprints of soft-bodied animals or plants

b. segmented worms that existed during the late Precambrian

c. fossilized tracks, trails, burrows, and nests made by ancient animals

d. small bits or remnants of the hard body parts of ancient marine animals

13. A cluster of species that share a common ancestry is called a

a. phylogeny.

b. family.

c. genus.

d. clade

14. The secret of fossilization of soft tissue is

a. protection from oxygen.
b. presence of oily plant debris.

c. permeable sediment.

d. absence of sunlight.

15. A mineral is
a. either extrusive or intrusive.

b. interlocking or bonded grains of matter.

c. a naturally occurring inorganic solid element or compound.

d. formed mainly of sand grains that are cemented together.

16 . The northern and southern trade winds converge in the

a. easterlies.

b. westerlies.

c. world's deserts.

d. intertropical zone.

17. A graded bed formed by the flow of dense sediment-charged water moving down a
slope into deeper water is known as a
a. turbidite.

b. turbidity current.

c. calcareous ooze.

d. pelagic sediment.

18. Select the characteristic below that is NOT consistent with an index or guide fossil.
a. The fossil is very rare in the stratigraphic record.

b. The fossil is easily distinguished from other taxa.

c. The fossil is geographically widespread.

d. The fossil occurs in many kinds of sedimentary rock and in many places.

19. If after three half-lives, a mineral crystal that originally contained 80 atoms of a
common, radioactive isotope of uranium would contain how many atoms of the original
a. 40
b. 20

c. 10

d. 5

20. When a barrier island-lagoon complex progrades, ___________ deposits are

formed on top of sediments of the lagoon.
a. barrier beach

b. tidal-flat and marsh

c. tidal delta

d. tempestite