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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Cyclone Gafilo
Credit: Terra satellite, NASA

Satellite image of Cyclone Gafilo, a powerful Category 5 tropical cyclone which struck Madagascar in March 2004, causing devastating damage. This was taken just before landfall, when the system was at its peak intensity about 333 km (207 mi) east of Madagascar, with sustained windspeed of 260 km/h (160 mph). At least 250 people were listed dead, with more missing, and 300,000 people were left homeless due to Gafilo.

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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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