Introductory Geology


Final Exam Study Guide


The final exam will be on Wednesday, 11 December 2019, from 3:00 to 4:45 PM in Founders Hall room 2168.  Everything in lecture and assigned readings from the 1906 San Francisco, California earthquake to the end of the course will be fair game for test questions.  The test will be a mix of multiple choice, true-or-false, short answer, and fill-in-the-blank questions.  The test will be about double the size of a normal test, with many repeat questions from test # 1 and # 2 (use your answer sheets to learn from any mistakes you made) - I may rephrase old questions (or not) & I may rearrange multiple choice answers (or not).  But no new questions about old topics.  Any geologic time scale question (new or old) is fair game for final exam questions.






Test questions will cover (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:


Be familiar with some of the major historical earthquakes (San Francisco, 1906; Alaska, 1964; Loma Prieta, California, 1989).



What is structural geology?  What is the original geometry of layered rocks?  Where are structures most common?

What is stress?  What types of stress are there?  What is strain?  How do rocks respond to stress?

What are folds?  What kind of stress produces folds?

What are anticlines?  What are synclines?  What are monoclines?  Be familiar with their geometries.

What are plunging folds?

What are overturned folds?  What are recumbent folds?

What are faults?  What are joints?

What kinds of fault movement occur?

What is a fault scarp?

Know how to identify hanging wall & footwall.

What are normal faults?  What kind of stress produces them?  Know how to identify them.

What are reverse faults?  What kind of stress produces them?  Know how to identify them.

What are thrust faults?  How do they differ from ordinary reverse faults?

What are transform faults?

What are horsts & grabens?  How do they form?  Where is the largest example of horsts & grabens in the world?

What is a dome?  What is a basin?



What is relative age dating?  What is absolute age dating?

What is stratigraphy?  What is a formation?  What is a member?  What is a group?

Understand & be able to explain the principles of: superposition, original horizontality, original lateral continuity, cross-cutting relationships, included fragments, biotic succession.

Who first proposed superposition, original horizontality, and original lateral continuity?  Who first proposed cross-cutting relationships and included fragments?  Who first proposed biotic succession?

What are unconformities?  What do they represent?  Know about & be able to recognize the following three types of unconformities: disconformities, nonconformities, angular unconformities.

What is correlation?  How is it done?

What are guide fossils?  What characteristics do ideal guide fossils have?

What is an isotope?  What is a parent isotope?  What is a daughter isotope?

What is a half-life?  What is radiometric dating/isotopic dating?  How is it done?

What rules have to be followed to get accurate absolute dates?

What does absolute dating of igneous rocks mean?

What does absolute dating of metamorphic rocks mean?

Does absolute dating work on sedimentary rocks, in general?  Why not?

How does one ensure accuracy of isotopic dates?

Why is K-Ar dating sometimes deceiving?

Why is carbon-14 dating sometimes deceiving?



What are fossils?  How old does a fossil have to be?

What are body fossils?  Examples?

What are trace fossils?  Examples?

What are biogenic products?  Examples?

What four factors increase the chances of fossilization?

Be familiar with the common fossil preservation styles.

Which is more common - original parts or altered parts?

Which is more common - original hard parts or original soft parts?

What is recrystallization?  What is replacement?  What are the common replacement minerals?  What is permineralization?  What is the most common permineralization mineral?  What is carbonization?  What are molds, imprints, and impressions?

What system is used to name & classify fossils?

Be familiar with the standard classification ranks (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species).

How many kingdoms are there?  What are the 6 living kingdoms?

What is a species?  How are modern species defined?  How are fossil species defined?

What is evolution?  What is extinction?

What are the natural causes of extinction?

What are mass extinctions?  When in Earth history did mass extinctions occur?



How old is the solar system?  How did the solar system form?

How old is the Earth?  How did the Earth form?  Did the earliest Earth have a core-mantle-crust?  How did the core-mantle-crust form?  How did the Moon form?

What is the origin of Earth's atmosphere?  What is the origin of Earth's oceans?

Did Earth's earliest air have free oxygen gas?

How did Earth's continents start out?  How did the earliest continents get larger?

What is Rodinia?  What is Pannotia?

What are banded iron formations?  What do they tell us about oxygen levels in ancient air?

Are Precambrian fossils common?  Most Precambrian fossils are what size?

What are the oldest fossils on Earth (what kingdom)?

What is the stratigraphic order of major Precambrian fossil groups? (bacteria appear first, followed by protists, followed by macroscopic algae, etc.)



What are the continents doing during the Paleozoic?

When did Pangaea form?

What is an orogeny?  What is the Taconic Orogeny?  When did it occur?

What is the Acadian Orogeny?  When did it occur?

What is the Allegheny Orogeny?  When did it occur?

Where did the Taconic, Acadian, and Allegheny Orogenies occur?

What types of sedimentary rocks are common in the Paleozoic of America?

What is the Cambrian Explosion?

When do hard parts first appear in the rock record?

What is the most common fossil in Cambrian rocks?

Are soft-bodied fossils relatively common in Cambrian rocks?  Example deposits?

When in the Paleozoic were reefs well developed on Earth?

What organisms made these reefs at that time?

What organisms lived between the reefs during the Paleozoic?

Did the first fish have jaws?  When do jawed fishes become common?

When did land plants first appear?  When did the first forests appear?

What were the first land animals?  Did the first insects have wings?

When did the first amphibians appear?  When did the first reptiles appear?

When do winged insects first appear in the fossil record?

What was sea level doing during the Paleozoic?

When was sea level the highest ever?

When did ice ages (glaciations) occur during the Paleozoic?

What caused the end-Ordovician mass extinction?

Did a mass extinction occur near the end of the Devonian?

When was the # 1 most devastating mass extinction of all time?



When did Pangaea break apart?  When did most of the mountains in western America form?

What was climate like during the Mesozoic?  Was the Cretaceous a time of global cooling or global warming?

What was sea level like during the Mesozoic?  When did Earth experience the 2nd biggest sea level rise of all time?

What organisms dominated the Earth during the Mesozoic?

When were dinosaurs alive on Earth?

What other land & marine reptile groups first appeared on Earth during the Mesozoic? (crocodilians, turtles, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, etc.)

When did mammals first appear?  When did birds first appear?  What is the oldest definite fossil bird?

When did flowering plants first appear on Earth?  What is the technical name for the flowering plants?

Did Mesozoic oceans have many molluscs?  Examples?

Did Mesozoic oceans have reefs?  Who made these reefs?

Did a mass extinction occur at the end of the Triassic?

When did the dinosaurs die out?  What happened at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary?  What caused the K-T mass extinction?  When did the K-T mass extinction occur?  Be familiar with the K-T asteroid impact theory.



What were the continents doing during the Cenozoic?

When did the Alps form?  How did they form?  When did the Himalayas form?  How did they form?  When did most of the mountains in western America form?

What was Earth's climate like during the Pleistocene?

How many ice advances were there during the Pleistocene?

What was global sea level like during the Pleistocene Ice Ages?

What is sea level doing right now?

Are Cenozoic marine fossils similar to organisms living in today's oceans?  What organisms are they?

What two groups of land vertebrates evolved quickly after the K-T extinction to dominate the land?  Did reptiles evolve quickly after the K-T extinction?

Did flowering plants & insects evolve rapidly after the K-T extinction?

How old are the oldest human (hominid) fossils?

The oldest hominid fossils are found in what continent?

During most of the hominid fossil record, were two or more different species of humans alive at the same time?

What caused the end-Pleistocene mass extinction?

What is responsible for the mass extinction going on right now?





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