The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet / Edition 1

The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet / Edition 1

by Edmond A. Mathez
Pub. Date:
Columbia University Press
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The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet / Edition 1

From the scorching center of Earth's core to the outer limits of its atmosphere, from the gradual process of erosion that carved the Grand Canyon to the earth-shaking fury of volcanoes and earthquakes, this fascinating book—inspired by the award-winning Hall of Planet Earth at New York City's American Museum of Natural History—tells the story of the evolution of our planet and of the science that makes it work. With the same exuberance and expertise they brought to the creation of the Hall of Planet Earth, co-curators Edmond A. Mathez and James D. Webster offer a guided tour of Earth's dynamic, 4.6-billion-year history.

Including numerous full-color photographs of the innovative exhibit and helpful, easy-to-understand illustrations, the authors explore the major factors in our planet's evolution: how Earth emerged from the swirling dusts of a nascent solar system; how an oxygen-rich, life-sustaining atmosphere developed; how continents, mountain ranges, and oceans formed; and how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions alter Earth's surface. Traversing geologic time and delving into the depths of the planet-—beginning with meteorites containing minuscule particles that are the solar system's oldest known objects, and concluding with the unusual microbial life that lives on the chemical and thermal energy produced by sulfide vents in the ocean floor—The Earth Machine provides an up-to-date overview of the central theories and discoveries in earth science today. By incorporating stories of real-life fieldwork, Mathez and Webster explain how Earth is capable of supporting life, how even the smallest rocks can hold the key to explaining the formation of mountains, and how scientists have learned to read nature's subtle clues and interpret Earth's ever-evolving narrative.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231125789
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 06/16/2004
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 378
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 10.26(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Table of Contents

Part I. How Has Earth Evolved?
1. The Birth of Planet Earth
From Meteorites to Earth
The Formation of the Moon
Early Earth Organizes Itself
The Emergence of an Atmosphere and an Ocean
2. Learning the Age of Earth
The Seeds of Doubt
The Emergence of the Revolutionary Concept of an Old Earth
Radioactivity and the Age of Earth
3. The Evolution of the Continents
Earth: The Only Planet with a Continental Crust
The Continents and Continental Crust
The First Continental Crust
The Assembly of the Continents
4. Life and Conditions on Early Earth
Ancient Microbes
Banded Iron Formations and Oxygenation of the Atmosphere and Ocean
A Warm Early Earth?
The Appearance of Animals and Explosion of Life in the Cambrian
5. Reading Rocks: The Story of the Grand Canyon
How Sedimentary Rocks Describe Ancient Environments
Evidence of Missing Rock
How Old Is the Grand Canyon?
Part II. Why Are There Ocean Basins, Continents, and Mountains?
6. Internal Earth
The Core
The Magnetic Field
Convection in the Core and Origin of the Geomagnetic Field
Earth's Internal Heat
The Mantle
Convection in the Mantle
7. Plate Tectonics
Continental Drift: An Idea Proposed Before Its Time
Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift
From Continental Drift to Plate Tectonics
Plate Boundaries: Where the Action Is
Plate Motions and Continental Reconstruction
8. Lavas from the Depths of Earth
Kilauea Volcano
Volcanoes of the Mid-Ocean Ridges
Great Lava Floods and the Columbia River Basalts
9. Great Explosive Volcanoes
The Nature of Explosive Volcanism
How Gases Drive Explosive Eruptions
Vesuvius: The Anatomy of an Explosive Eruption
Tambora: Volcanoes and Climate Change
Krakatau: An Explosion that Reverberated Around the World
Great Prehistoric Eruptions
10. Earthquakes
Why Do Earthquakes Occur?
How Earthquakes Are Measured
How Earthquakes Destroy
Fault Behavior and Calculating the Odds
Short-term Predictions
The San Andreas Fault Zone, California
The Great Alaska Earthquake
11. Mountains
The Shape of Earth and Why Mountains Are High
The Importance of Erosion
The Folding of Rocks
The Metamorphism of Rocks
12. The Alps
The Beginnings of Alpine Research
The Formation and Structure of the Alps
Part III. What Causes Earth's Climate and Climate Change?
13. The Atmosphere
The Structure of the Atmosphere
Global Atmospheric Circulation
Greenhouse Earth: The Troposphere Story
Ozone: The Stratosphere Story
The Importance of Clouds
14. The World Ocean
The Important Properties of Water
Why Is the Ocean Salty?
The Global Ocean Conveyor System
Ocean Surface Currents
Upwelling and Downwelling
El Nio and La Nia
15. The Geological Record of Climate Change
Climate Forcing Factors
The Climate Record in Greenland Ice
Some Other Indicators of Past Climate
The Ice Age
Part IV. Why Is Earth Habitable?
16. Conditions for Life
Water: The Essential Ingredient
The Carbon Cycle
Earth, Venus, and Mars
Earth's Intangible Shields
17. Black Smokers from the Deep
How Hydrothermal Vent Fields Form
Life at Hydrothermal Vents
Did Life Originate in Deep-Sea Vents?
Heat and Water: What Goes In, and What Goes Out
18. Some Natural Resources and How They Form
What Salt, Gold, and Coal Have in Common
Ore Deposits from Hot Water
An Ancient Analogue of the Black Smokers
Ore Deposits from Magmas

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