Portal:Earth sciences

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The Earth Sciences Portal

Introduction

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Earth sciences (also known as geoscience, the geosciences or Earth Science) is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. They are a special type of planetary sciences which deal with the structure and composition of the Earth, its origins, physical features, changing aspects, and all of its natural phenomena. Earth is the only planet known to have life, and hence the only planet with biological processes and a biosphere.

The major disciplines of Earth sciences use physics, mathematics, and chemistry to build a quantitative understanding of the principal areas or spheres of the Earth system. As in many sciences, the Earth can be studied both experimentally and theoretically. Also, there are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth Science.

Although mining and precious stones have been in human interests throughout the history of civilization, their development into the sciences of economic geology and mineralogy did not occur until the 18th century. The study of the earth, particularly palaeontology, blossomed in the 19th century and the growth of other disciplines like geophysics in the 20th century led to the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s, which has had a similar impact on the Earth sciences as the theory of evolution had on biology. Earth sciences today are closely linked to climate research and the petroleum and mineral exploration industries.

Applications of Earth sciences include the exploration and exploitation of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, cartography, weather forecasting patterns, and warning of volcanic eruptions. Earth sciences are related to the environmental sciences as well as the other subfields of planetary astronomy.

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Hurricane Lili (1984)
Hurricane Lili was one of only four Atlantic tropical cyclones on record to reach hurricane status in the month of December. The final of thirteen tropical storms in the 1984 Atlantic hurricane season, Lili developed as a subtropical cyclone which originated from a frontal trough to the south of Bermuda on December 12. It tracked southeastward, then northward, slowly attaining tropical characteristics and becoming a hurricane on December 20. Lili turned to the south and southwest, briefly threatening the northern Caribbean islands before weakening and dissipating near the coast of the Dominican Republic. Lili was the longest lasting tropical cyclone outside of the Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the strongest hurricane to form during the month of December. It briefly threatened to pass through the Lesser Antilles as a minimal hurricane, though upon passing through the area as a dissipating tropical depression Lili produced light rainfall and no reported damage.

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Ant preserved in amber - About 7 mm long.
Credit: Anders L. Damgaard (see www.amber-inclusions.dk).

Amber, a fossilized resin secreted from trees, sometimes catches animals or plant matter as it hardens, and can preserve tissues that are not normally preserved in fossils.

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alt1=Photograph of damage from tornado


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For a more comprehensive treatment of topics, see Outline of earth science and Index of earth science articles

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