Enviro Science

Carrying Capacity
The ability of a system (or the whole earth) to sustain its population in reasonably healthy and comfortable conditions
Lithosphere
The solid, outermost zone of the earth, including the crust and a portion of the upper mantle; approximately 50 kilometers thick under the oceans and commonly more than 100 kilometers thick beneath the continents
Doubling Time
The length of time required for a population to double in size
Exponential growth
Growth characterized by a constant percentage increase per unit time
Lithification
Conversion of unconsolidated sediment into cohesive rock
Mineral
A naturally occurring, inorganic, solid element or compound with a definite composition or range in composition, usually having a regular internal crystal structure
Igneous
A rock formed or crystallized from a magma
Plutonic
Describes an igneous rock crystallized well below the earth’s surface; typically coarse-grained
continental drift
The concept that the continents have moved about over the earth’s surface
Convection cell
Circulating masses of material driven by temperature differences (hot material rises, then moves laterally, cools, sinks, and is reheated to rise again)

convergent plate boundary

 

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Plate boundary at which lithospheric plates are moving toward each other; for example, a subduction zone or continental collision zone

 

divergent plate boundary
A boundary along which lithospheric plates are moving apart; for example, seafloor spreading ridges and continental rift zones
elastic deformation
Deformation proportional to applied stress, from which the affected material will return to its original size and shape when the stress is removed
hot spot
An isolated center of volcanic activity; often not associated with a plate boundary
reverse fault
A dip-slip fault in which the block above the fault is pushed up and over the lower block; indicates compressional stress
tsunami
A seismic sea wave, generated by a major earthquake in or near an ocean basin; sometimes incorrectly called a “tidal wave.”
s waves
Shear seismic body waves; do not propagate through liquids
limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral calcite. It most commonly forms in clear, warm, shallow marine waters. It is usually an organic sedimentary rock that forms from the accumulation of shell, coral, algal and fecal debris. It can also be a chemical sedimentary rock formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from lake or ocean water
plastic deformation
Permanent strain in material stressed beyond the elastic limit; the material will not return to its original dimensions when the stress is removed
normal fault
A dip-slip fault where the block above the fault moves down relative to the block below it; indicates tensional stress
uniformitarianism
The concept that the same basic physical laws have operated throughout the earth’s history, and therefore, by studying present geologic processes and their products, we can infer much about geologic processes operative in the past
biodegradable
capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (as microorganisms)
flux
the rate of transfer of fluid, particles, or energy across a given surface
Love Canal

In 1978, Love Canal, located near Niagara Falls in upstate New York, was a nice working-class enclave with hundreds of houses and a school. It just happened to sit atop 21,000 tons of toxic industrial waste that had been buried underground. First Superfund site.


point source
A single, concentrated, identifiable source of pollutants, such as a sewer outfall or factory smokestack
radon
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and result in a high indoor radon level.
leachate
Water containing dissolved chemicals; applied particularly to fluids escaping from waste disposal sites
Yucca Mountain
Mountain in nevada where nuclear waste was going to be kept. Can withstand meteor strikes. shut down/cancelled
mitigation
the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. This is achieved through risk analysis

Total Max Daily Load

measure of the total load of material a stream can move