Introduction to Environmental Geology / Edition 4

Introduction to Environmental Geology / Edition 4

by Edward A. Keller
Pub. Date:
Prentice Hall


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Introduction to Environmental Geology / Edition 4

This text presents geologic processes in context with their impact on humans, our lives and societies. The author's goal is to both create informed citizens and nurture an understanding of geologic science. Part I introduces philosophy and fundamental concepts, the structure of the Earth and plate tectonics, and the origin and significance of rocks and minerals. Part II addresses the major natural hazards including earthquakes, volcanic activity, rivers and flooding, landslides, and coastal processes. Part III discusses the major natural resources associated with the geological environment and the subject of pollution. Part IV presents the important topic of global change, environmental management, and relationships between the environment. For individuals looking for an environmental perspective on physical geology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780132251501
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 04/30/2007
Series: Geos: the Pearson Custom Library for Geography and Geology Series
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 752
Product dimensions: 8.17(w) x 10.95(h) x 1.03(d)

About the Author

Edward A. Keller is a professor, researcher, writer, and most importantly, mentor and teacher to undergraduate and graduate students. Currently, Dr. Keller's students are working on earthquake hazards, how waves of sediment move through a river system following disturbance, and geologic controld on habitat to endangered southern steelhead trout. He was born and raised in California (Bachelor’s degree in Geology and Mathematics from California State University at Fresno, Master’s degree in Geology from University of California at Davis), it was while pursuing his Ph.D. in Geology from Purdue University in 1973 that Ed wrote the first edition of Environmental Geology, the text that became the foundation of the environmental geology curriculum. Ed joined the faculty of the University of California Santa Barbara in 1976 and has been there since, serving multiple times as the chair of both the Environmental Studies and Hydrologic Science programs. In that time he has been the author on over 100 articles, including seminal works on fluvial processes and tectonic geomorphology. Ed’s academic honors include the Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award, Geological Society of America (2004), Quatercentenary Fellowship from Cambridge University, England (2000), two Outstanding Alumnus Awards from Purdue University (1994, 1996), A Distinguished Alumnus Award from California State University at Fresno (1998), the Outstanding Outreach Award from Southern California Earthquake Center (1999).

Table of Contents


1. Philosophy and Fundamental Concepts.
2. Internal Structure of the Earth and Plate Tectonics.
3. Minerals and Rocks.


4. Introduction to Natural Hazards.
5. Earthquakes and Related Phenomena.
6. Volcanic Activity.
7. Rivers and Flooding.
8. Slope Processes, Landslides and Subsidence.
9. Coastal Processes.


10. Water Resource.
11. Water Pollution.
12. Mineral Resources.
13. Energy Resources.
14. Soils and Environment.
15. Air Pollution.


16. Global Climate Change.
17. Geology, Society, and the Future: Selected Examples.


Appendix A: Minerals.
Appendix B: Rocks.
Appendix C: Maps and Related Topics.


The main objective of Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition, is to help equip students—particularly those who intend to take only a single science course—with an understanding of the interactions between geologic processes and society. During the first half of the twenty-first century, as the human population increases and the use of resources grows, many decisions concerning our use of those resources, such as water, soil air, minerals energy, and space to live will determine our standard of living and the quality of our environment. Scientific knowledge combined with our values will dictate those decisions. Your charge, whether as a future leader or simply an informed citizen, is to choose paths of development that are good for people and the environment, that larger community that includes plants, animals, water, and air—in other words, the environment consisting of ecosystems that we and all living things depend upon for our well-being.

Earth's dynamic and changing environment constitutes one of the most compelling and exciting areas of study. Environmental geology is the application of geologic information to the entire spectrum of interactions between people and the physical environment. During a course in environmental geology, you will develop an understanding of how geology interacts with major environmental problems facing people and society. This is the essence of Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition. Our strategy with this text is to:

  • Introduce you to the basic concepts and principles of physical and environmental geology, focusing on earth materials and processes.
  • Provide you with sufficientinformation concerning natural hazards and the geologic environment so that you will be a more informed citizen. You will be better prepared to make decisions concerning where you live and how society responds to natural hazards and catastrophes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding.
  • Help you develop an understanding of relationships between natural resources and pollution. We seek, find, and use resources and, as a result, may pollute our environment. Thus, it is important to know how we might minimize pollution problems.
  • Help you understand the basic concepts of environmental management as they relate to the geologic environment in areas such as waste management, environmental health, global change, and environmental assessment.

After finishing your course in environmental geology, you will be better prepared to make decisions concerning where you build or buy a home, what resources you choose to utilize, and appropriate environmental actions relevant to society and Earth's ecosystems from a local to a global scale.

Five Fundamental Concepts

To this end, this book introduces a device we call the "Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Geology." These five concepts are designed to provide a memorable, transportable framework of understanding that you can carry away from the class and use throughout life to make informed choices about your interaction with and effect upon geologic processes:

  • Human population growth: Population growth is the number one environmental problem. As population increases, so do our effects and demands on the environment.
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is the long-term environmental objective of providing for the future of humans and other living things who share the planet.
  • Earth as a System: The activities of human beings can have important effects on any or all of Earth's systems, often affecting the global environment.
  • Hazardous Earth processes, risk assessment and perception: Earth's hazardous processes have always occurred and will always occur. Human beings need to recognize the threat of hazards, assess the risk to life and property, and either avoid them or plan accordingly.
  • Scientific knowledge and values: Scientific inquiries often provide a variety of potential solutions to environmental problems. The solution we choose is a direct reflection of our value system.

These concepts are introduced in the first chapter and then highlighted throughout the text (look for the icon in the margin). By tying the content to these five principles, the text provides a framework for understanding that will extend far beyond the confines of this course and into your everyday life.


Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition, is well suited to your study of environmental geology, whether you are a geology major or are taking this class as a science elective. I have organized Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition, to naturally flow from the introduction of fundamental principles of environmental science and geology, to more specific information concerning how Earth works, to natural processes and hazards, to understanding natural resources and their management, with the objective of minimizing environmental degradation. We end with a detailed discussion of global change, focusing on climate and some important interactions between society and the geologic environment.

Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition, consists of 17 chapters arranged in four parts:

  • Part 1 introduces philosophy and fundamental concepts, the structure of Earth and plate tectonics, and the origin and significance of minerals and rocks. Thus, Part 1 presents fundamentals of physical geology with important environmental information necessary to understand the remainder of the text. Chapter 1 introduces five fundamental concepts of environmental science, with an emphasis on the geologic environment. Chapter 2 discusses the structure of Earth and the important subject of plate tectonics and how our planet works from a geologic perspective. Chapter.3 presents geologic information concerning rocks and minerals necessary for understanding environmental geology problems and solutions to those problems. In Chapter 3, we also introduce some of the fundamental principles of geology, including the law of original horizontality, the law of cross-cutting relationships, the concept of the depositional environment, the concept of the rock cycle, and the principle of magmatic differentiation.
  • Part 2 addresses natural hazards, including an introduction to natural hazards, (Chapter 4) earthquakes (Chapter 5), volcanic activity (Chapter 6), rivers and flooding (Chapter 7), landslides (Chapter 8), and coastal processes (Chapter 9). The intent is not to provide copious amounts of detailed information concerning these processes but to focus on the basics involved and the environmental concerns of earth processes and natural hazards.
  • Part 3 presents the major resources associated with the geologic environment and the subject of pollution. Important topics include water resources (Chapter 10), water pollution (Chapter 11), mineral resources (Chapter 12), energy resources (Chapter 13), soils (Chapter 14), and air pollution (Chapter 15). The focus is to present the basic principles concerning natural resources and to identify potential environmental problems and solutions.
  • Part 4 is concerned with the important topics of global change, environmental management, and relationships between environment and society. Chapter 16 discusses global change with a focus on global warming and stratospheric, ozone depletion. Finally, in Chapter 17, which is a "capstone," we discuss relationships between environment and society with topics such as environmental health, waste-management site selection, land-use planning, environmental law, environmental impact analysis, and how we may achieve the goal of obtaining environmental sustainability.

Major New Material in the 2nd Edition

The second edition of Introduction to Environmental Geology has three new chapters: Chapter 4, Introduction to Natural Hazards, discusses relations between hazardous events, land use, and human population; how we predict hazardous events; basic components of risk assessment; and how we perceive and adjust to natural hazards. Chapter 11, Water Pollution, focuses on the major water pollutants, processes that result in water pollution and how pollution may be minimized; water quality issues, and principles of water treatment. Chapter 15, Air Pollution, discusses the major air pollutants and their environmental effects.

The second edition directly addresses personal actions people may take to minimize their exposure to and damage from natural hazards. As, for example, what to do to prepare for earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.

Finally, the second edition has new sections for Chapters 4 through 17 that revisit the five Fundamental Concepts introduced in Chapter 1. These concepts are also highlighted in the margin of the text where appropriate. Understanding of the five concepts is a primary learning objective of Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition.

Features of the Text

This book is sensitive to the study needs of students. Each chapter is clearly structured to help you understand the material and effectively review the major concepts. To help you use the material from the book, each chapter is organised with the following study aids:

  • Learning objectives that state clearly what you should be able to do upon completing the chapter.
  • Selected features, called Case History or A Closer Look, are added where appropriate to help you relate topics in the text to the world around you. Examples of A Closer Look features include: (1) the Gaia Hypothesis (Chapter 1), which introduces the idea of evaluating Earth as a system; (2) the importance of understanding the history of a river system with respect to flooding (Chapter 7); (3) principles and processes related to wetlands and acid mine drainage (Chapter 10); (4) relationships between plate tectonics and mineral resources (Chapter 12); (5) the process of radioactivity (Chapter 13); and (6) radon gas (Chapter 17).
  • A chapter summary reinforces the major points of the chapter to help you refocus on the important subjects.
  • The foundations of environmental geology are presented in Chapters 1 through 3, and Chapters 4 through 17 contain a discussion that revisits the five fundamental principles in terms of the material presented in the chapter.
  • Detailed references are supplied at the end of each chapter to provide additional readings and to give credit to the scholars who did the research reported in the chapter.
  • Key terms are presented at the end of the chapters. These will help you identify the important concepts and terminology necessary to better understand the chapter.
  • Review questions help with your review of important subject matter and provide a page number where the answer may be found.
  • Critical thinking questions stimulate you to think about some of the important issues in the chapters and try to relate these to your life and society.

The appendixes in Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd edition, are intended to add additional information useful in helping. you understand some of the more applied aspects of environmental geology This information may be most useful in supplementing laboratory exercises and field exercises in which you may participate. Specific topics include:

  • Identification of rocks and minerals with accompanying tables and suggestions.
  • Strength of rocks.
  • Introduction to topographic and geologic maps with specific information concerning how to read topographic maps, construct topographic profiles, and understand geologic maps.
  • Introduction to Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and Global Positioning System instrumentation (GPS).
  • Discussion of how geologists determine and interpret geologic time.
  • A glossary of terms used in the field of environ mental geology.

The New Instructional Package

Prentice Hall has assembled a greatly improved resource package for Introduction to Environmental Geology, 2nd ed.

For the Instructor:

  • Transparencies (ISBN 0-13-033825-7): Over 300 full-color transparencies containing all figures, tables and graphs taken from the text, manually adjusted for color, brightness, and contrast for optimal projection
  • Digital Image Gallery for Interactive Teaching CD-ROM (ISBN 0-13-033827-3): High-quality electronic versions of photos and illustrations from the text on CD-ROM, organized by chapter, fir easy import into lecture presentation software such as PowerPoint™. Includes all illustrations and a selection of photos for the text in 16-bit low-compression JPEG files. All images are manually adjusted for color, brightness, and contrast
  • Slide Set (ISBN 0-13-033826-5): A collection of over 150 full-color slides, containing a selection of photos taken from the text as well as many photos from NOAA.
  • Instructor's Manual (ISBN 0-13-033823-0): Provides instructors with a chapter outline and objectives, classroom discussion topics and answers to the end-of-chapter questions in the text
  • Test Item File (ISBN 0-13-033824-9): Includes nearly 100 multiple choice, true/false and matching test questions for each chapter
  • Test Manager CD-ROM (ISBN 0-13-033828-1): CDROM-based computerized version of the Test Item File for use on both Windows and Mac computers. The Test Manager Program allows you to easily create and tailor exams to your own needs. The software comes with a comprehensive reference guide, which includes the toll-free technical support line
  • On-Line Course Management Options: Course Compass, Blackboard, WebCT. Professors can utilize Prentice Hall's content, including test questions, Web links, and practice problems, with any of the above course management systems to design their own online course components. Instructors with little or no technical experience can use a point-and-click navigation system to set up course calendars, quizzes, lectures, and self-paced study help.

For the Student:

  • On Line Study Guide: Organized by chapter for easy integration into the course, the Companion Web Site offers numerous review exercises (from which students can get detailed, automatic feedback which they can then transmit to the instructor via e-mail) and continuously updated, annotated Internet links for further exploration. In addition, the Regional Updates section links students to USGS Fact Sheets applicable to their local area.
  • The New York Times Themes of the Times—The Changing Earth. A unique newspaper-format supplement featuring recent articles about geology culled from the pages of the New York Times. This supplement, available for wrapping with the text at no extra charge, encourages students to make connections between the classroom and the world around them.

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