Absolute dating a quantitative measurement allowing determination of the length of time, based on natural radioactivity. In radioactive decay an atom spontaneously changes to another atom in a measurable amount of time
Age date how long something has existed, through absolute or relative methods of dating
Aggregates Uncemented gravel, pebbles, and sand. Sometimes large stones are classified in this group
Amber A yellowish translucent fossil tree resin that has achieved a stable state through loss of volatile constituents; fossil insects are commonly found in this substance
Ammonites one of the coiled chambered fossil shells of extinct (cephalopod) mollusks
Ancestry the descendants of one individual
Anthracite A black, or brownish black, solid, combustible substance, dug from beds or veins in the earth to be used for fuel; the hardest type of coal
Atomic bomb A device of mass destruction


Biostratigraphy Matching of sedimentary rocks using fossils
Bituminous Soft coal, containing about 80 percent carbon and 10 percent oxygen.
Bivalves A mollusk having a shell consisting of two lateral plates or valves joined together by an elastic ligament at the hinge, which is usually strengthened by prominences called teeth. The shell is closed by the contraction of two transverse muscles attached to the inner surface, as in the clam, -- or by one, as in the oyster.
Brachiopod marine animal with two unequal shells having a pair of arms, bearing tentacles for capturing food; found worldwide
Burrows and borings To excavate a hole; to lodge in a hole excavated in the earth; the act of drilling


Carbon Those compounds commonly produced by animals and plants, and hence called organic compounds, though their synthesis may be effected in many cases in the laboratory; inorganic carbon can also exist
Carboniferous period The Carboniferous Period occurred from about 360 to 286 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Era. The term "Carboniferous" comes from England, in reference to the rich deposits of coal that occur there. These deposits of coal occur throughout northern Europe, Asia, and midwestern and eastern North America.
Carbonization A chemical reaction where water transforms the organic material of plant or animal to a thin film of carbon.
Cenozoic The current geologic era, which began 66.4 million years ago and continues to the present.
Chains a series of linked atoms (generally in an organic molecule)
Coal carbonized vegetable matter
Commodity That which affords convenience, advantage, or profit, especially in commerce, including everything movable that is bought and sold (except animals), -- goods, wares, merchandise, produce of land and manufactures, etc.
Concretion A concretion is a compact rock mass usually spherical or disk-shaped and embedded in a host rock of a different composition. Concretions form by precipitation of mineral matter (commonly a carbonate mineral such as calcite, but sometimes an iron oxide or hydroxide such as goethite or sometimes an amorphous or microcrystalline form of silica) about a nucleus such as a piece of shell or bone.
Coprolite A piece of petrified dung; fossil excrement.
Coral reef a reef consisting of coral consolidated into limestone
Core a cylindrical sample of soil or rock obtained with a hollow drill.
Corporation A legal business entity owned by shareholders with the ability to own property, incur debts, and sue or be sued.
Correlation a matching between two or more things
Corrosion to wear away gradually usually by chemical action
Crinois any marine invertebrate of the class Crinoidea (phylum Echinodermata) usually possessing a somewhat cup-shaped body and five or more feathery arms. The arms are edged with feathery projections (pinnules) that contain the reproductive organs and carry numerous tube feet with sensory functions. The tentacles also have open grooves, along which cilia (minute, hairlike projections) sweep food particles toward the mouth.
Crude oil unrefined petroleum in its natural form when taken from the ground. Crude oil is the basis for gasoline, engine oil, diesel oil, kerosene and other petroleum-based products.
Curing The process of changing the physical properties of a resin or adhesive by chemical reaction, which may be in the form of condensation, polymerization, or vulcanization, and which is usually accomplished by the action of heat and catalytic action, alone or in combination, with or without pressure.
Cycad any of the palm-like, woody plants that constitute the order Cycadales. The order consists of four families: Cycadaceae, Zamiaceae, Stangeriaceae, and Boweniaceae. Some authorities use the term cycad to refer to all members of the division Cycadophyta. Plants of this division are known to have existed in the Mesozoic Era, about 245 to 66.4 million years ago. Only the order Cycadales contains living species.


Daughter material The radioactive isotope is called the parent and the isotopes resulting from the decay of the parent are called daughter.
Density The ratio of mass, or quantity of matter, to bulk or volume, as compared with the mass and volume of a portion of some substance used as a standard.
Diatoms microscopic unicellular marine or freshwater alga having cell walls of silica
Direct evidence Are preserved parts of organisms
Domestic of, relating to, or originating within a country and especially one's own country
Ductility The property of metals that enables them to be mechanically deformed when cold, without fracture. In steel, ductility is usually measured by elongation and reduction of area as determined in a tensile test.


Electromagnetic wave Light, microwaves, x-rays, and TV and radio transmissions are all kinds of electromagnetic waves. They are all the same kind of wavy disturbance that repeats itself over a distance called the wavelength
Eolian Relating to, caused by, or carried by the wind.
Eon The largest division of geologic time, embracing several Eras, for example, the Phanerozoic, 600 m.y. ago to present); also any span of one billion years.
Eras A time period including several periods, but smaller than an eon. Commonly recognized eras are Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic.
Erosion Removal of material by water, wind, or ice
Evolution A general name for the history of the steps by which any living organism has acquired the morphological and physiological characters which distinguish it; a gradual unfolding of successive phases of growth or development.
Excavate To expose or uncover by or as if by digging
Exploitation Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes
Extinct no longer in existence; lost or especially having died out leaving no living representatives
Extraction to withdraw by physical or chemical process


Fermentation chemical changes in organic substances produced by the action of enzymes.
Fertilizer a substance that improves the plant-producing quality of the soil, such as manure or a mixture of chemicals.
Forage To wander or rove in search of food; to collect food.
Foraminifera Foraminifera are single-celled protists with shells. Depending on the species, the shell may be made of organic compounds, sand grains and other particles cemented together, or crystalline calcite. The dark brown structure is the test, or shell, inside which the foram lives. Radiating from the opening are fine hairlike reticulopodia, which the foraminifera uses to find and capture food.
Fossil The remains or indications of an organism that lived in the geologic past.
Fractures Cracks in rock


Gastropods a class of mollusks typically having a one-piece coiled shell and flattened muscular foot with a head bearing stalked eyes
Geologic time Time which represents the Earth's natural history. Radioactive dating, fossil placement within rock layers, and even tree rings are used to place natural objects within this time scale
Gusher oil that shoots from the top of the oil rig.


Half-life measure of the average lifetime of a radioactive substance or an unstable subatomic particle. One half-life is the time required for one half of any given quantity of the substance to decay.
Hydration A chemical process that creates new mineral that requires water to chemical bond
Hydrocarbon A substance consisting only of carbon and hydrogen atoms.


Impermeable layer A layer that does not permit water to flow through it.
Indirect evidence Fossilized evidence of an animals activity such as footprints or tail marks.
Industrial revolution A period in human history that showed the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation
Infrared the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum; electromagnetic wave frequencies below the visible range
Invertebrates lacking a backbone or spinal column



Kerosene Produced chiefly by the distillation and purification of crude oil


Lagoon a body of water cut off from a larger body by a reef of sand or coral
Lignite Mineral coal retaining the texture of the wood from which it was formed, it is of more recent origin than the anthracite and bituminous coal of the proper coal series. Called also brown coal, wood coal.


Malleable A term applied to a metal capable of being beaten or rolled in all directions without breaking or cracking. Since the molecules of the metal must remain locked to each other during the beating or rolling, a malleable metal must exhibit a high degree of structural plasticity. The most malleable of all metals is gold, which can be beaten into a sheet (leaf) only 1/300,000 inch thick.
Mammoth An extinct, hairy, elephant, of enormous size, remains of which are found in the northern parts of both continents. The last of the race, in Europe, were coeval with prehistoric man.
Mastodon An extinct genus of mammal closely allied to the elephant, but having less complex molar teeth, and often a pair of lower, as well as upper, tusks, which are incisor teeth. The species were mostly larger than elephants, and their remains occur in nearly all parts of the world in deposits ranging from Miocene to late Quaternary time.
Mechanical Pertaining to, governed by, or in accordance with, mechanics, or the laws of motion; pertaining to the quantitative relations of force and matter, as distinguished from mental, vital, chemical, etc.; as, mechanical principles; a mechanical theory; mechanical deposits.
Mesozoic A major division of geologic time, beginning approximately 245 million years ago and ending 66 million years ago. The Mesozoic Era was the 2nd era in the Phanerozoic Eon. This era can be subdivided into the following periods: Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic.
Metals any of several chemical elements that are usually shiny solids that conduct heat or electricity and can be formed into sheets etc.
Meteorite stony or metallic object that is the remains of a meteoroid that has reached the earth's surface
Methane gas composed of carbon and hydrogen with formula CH4, the first member of the paraffin or alkane series of hydrocarbons. It is lighter than air, colorless, odorless, and flammable. It occurs in natural gas, as firedamp in coal mines, as a by-product of petroleum refining, and as a product of decomposition of matter in swamps.
Microns A measure of length; the thousandth part of one millimeter; the millionth part of a meter.
Mineral ore A native metal or its compound with the rock in which it occurs
Molting To shed or cast the hair, feathers, skin, horns, or the like, as an animal or a bird.
Monopoly a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller
Monsoon a seasonal wind in southern Asia; blows from the southwest (bringing rain) in summer and from the northeast in winter
Morphology the branch of geology that studies the characteristics and configuration and evolution of rocks and land forms
Multi conglomerate a group of companies run as a single organization
Multinational involving or operating in several countries


Natural gas a component of petroleum
Nonmetallic not containing or resembling or characteristic of a metal
Non-renewable resource Limited amount


Open pit an excavation or cut made at the surface of the ground for the purpose of extracting ore and which is open to the surface for the duration of the mine's life
Ore A native metal or its compound with the rock in which it occurs, after it has been picked over to throw out what is worthless.
Organic of or relating to or derived from living organisms
Organic matter Once living
Outcrops A mass of rock that appears at the Earth surface.
Overburden the surface soil that must be moved away to get at coal seams and mineral deposits.


Paleoecology is the study of ancient environments and the interactions that most likely took place within them.
Paleontologist a specialist in paleontology.
Paleontology Paleontology is the study of life of the past, the study of fossils.
Paleozoic Includes the time from about 570-245 million years ago.
Peat A substance of vegetable origin, consisting of roots and fibers, moss, etc., in various stages of decomposition, and found, as a kind of turf or bog, usually in low situations, where it is always more or less saturated with water. It is often dried and used for fuel.
Permeability Substances can pass through it
Permineralization Or petrifaction takes place in porous materials such as bones, plants and shells. The material is buried and groundwater percolates through its pore spaces and precipitates minerals in the spaces. The original wood or shell like material preserved.
Petroleum Rock oil, mineral oil, or natural oil, a dark brown or greenish inflammable liquid, which, at certain points, exists in the upper strata of the Earth, from whence it is pumped, or forced by pressure of the gas attending it. It consists of a complex mixture of various hydrocarbons, largely of the methane series, but may vary much in appearance, composition, and properties. It is refined by distillation, and the products include kerosene, benzene, gasoline, paraffin, etc.
Phanerozoic "abundant life" That part of geologic time represented by rocks containing abundant fossil evidence. The eon extending from the end of the Proterozoic eon (570 million years ago) to the present.
Photosynthesis The process of constructive metabolism by which carbohydrates are formed from water vapor and the carbon dioxide of the air in the chlorophyll-containing tissues of plants exposed to the action of light.
Placer A deposit found in sand, or gravel, containing valuable mineral in particles, especially by the side of a river, or in the bed of a mountain torrent.
Pleistocene beginning about 1.6 million years ago and ending 10,000 years ago. Commonly known as the 'Ice Age', a time with episodes of widespread continental glaciation.
Pollen a fine powder produced by the anthers of seed-bearing plants; fine grains contain male gametes
Polyester fabrics A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid,
Polymer A large molecule consisting of chains or rings of linked monomer units, usually characterized by high melting and boiling points.
Polyp A single organisms in the Cnidaria Phylum, and is sessile (attached to a surface). The upper, or free, end of the body, which is hollow and cylindrical, typically has a mouth surrounded by extensible tentacles that bear stinging structures called nematocysts.
Portland cement A cement made by heating a limestone and clay mixture in a kiln and pulverizing the resulting material.
Precambrian the era that includes all geologic time from the formation of the earth to the beginning of the Paleozoic era (from about 4.6 billion to 570 million years ago).
Precious metals Any of several metals, including gold and platinum, that have high economic value
Principle of Faunal Succession fossil organisms preserved in rock layers changes through time
Principle of Original Horizontality layers of sedimentary rock are initially deposited as horizontal layers of sediment
Principle of Superposition principle follows, in part, from the Principle of Original Horizontality. It states that in any succession of sedimentary rock layers, the layers near the bottom are the oldest and the layers near the top are the youngest.
Probability a measure of how likely it is that some event will occur.
Productivity the quality of being productive or having the power to produce
Prospecting To look over; to explore or examine for something; as, to prospect a district for gold.



Radioactive elements Elements that can change because of lost of protons through a set amount of time
Radiolarian Protists which go back to the early Cambrian Period. They are abundance in many rocks, their long geologic history, make them important sources of information on the geologic age and structure of many deposits. Radiolaria can range anywhere from 30 microns to 2 mm in diameter.
Recrystallization Changes the internal physical structure of a fossil, because it changes the microstructure of the original minerals. The composition of the mineral does not change, only the crystal structure.
Reducing environment An environment without oxygen available for organisms
Relative time Dating of events by place in chronologic order of occurrence rather than in years. Compare with absolute time.
Renewable energy Relating to or being a commodity or resource, such as solar energy or firewood, that is inexhaustible or replaceable by new growth.
Replacement Involves the complete removal of original hard parts by solution and deposition of a new mineral in its place.
Reservoir rocks Oil fields are formed when oil is trapped in rocks underground (gas-fields are formed in the same way). The oil can only be trapped if the rocks have enough gaps between the grains to hold it and if the gaps are large enough to let it flow through. Porous and permeable rocks are called 'reservoir rocks' because they can hold reserves of oil or gas.
Rip rap A loose assemblage of broken stones erected in water or on soft ground to support the slope


Sea urchins They have long spines to deter predators. Sea urchin gets its name from an Old English word for the spiny hedgehog. Some have poisonous sharp spines that can penetrate human skin and break off.
Seams a stratum of ore or coal thick enough to be mined for profit
Sedimentation Process by which broken rocks (sediment) and organic matters are laid down.
Seismic profile The data collected from an instrument that simulates earthquake type waves
Seismic stratigraphy The interpretation of seismic profiles to determine how the inside of the Earth are layered
Seismic waves Seismic waves are generated by energy related because of displacement of the Earth or any movement of the Earth's crust.
Sequence succession; order of following; arrangement.
Shelf Refers to the outer shores of where land meets water
Sherman antitrust act Source of all American anti monopoly laws. The law forbids every contract, scheme, deal, conspiracy to restrain trade. It also forbids conspiracies to secure monopoly of a given industry.
Silica Silicon dioxide (SiO2). One of the most common compounds in the Earth's crust. Common window glass is made of silica. The building block of the mineral quartz and other silicate minerals.
Silicoflagellates Silicoflagellates are planktonic marine chromists that are both photosynthetic and heterotrophic. Their internal silica skeletons are composed of a network of bars, and resemble those of radiolarians but are generally much less complex.
Source rocks rocks reflecting high productivity; most common source rocks: shales and mudstones; basalts; and quartz sandstones and limestones.
Spiral Winding or circling round a center or pole and gradually receding from it; as, the spiral curve of a watch spring.
Strata A bed or layer of sedimentary rock having approximately the same composition throughout.
Stratigrapher A scientist that studies stratigraphy or the layers of rock
Stratigraphy The study of rock strata, especially the distribution, deposition, and age of sedimentary rocks.
Strip mine To pare off the surface of, as land, in strips.
Subsidence Sinking of ground
Subsurface mining The extracting ore or minerals from under the Earth's surface.


Taphonomy examination of the physical evidence around a fossil to determine the cause of its death, the nature of the interval between death and the fossilization of the remaining record of a life form and the environment which produced its fossilization.
Tentacles A more or less elongated process or organ, simple or branched, proceeding from the head or cephalic region of invertebrate animals, being either an organ of sense or motion.
Tidal A horizontal displacement of ocean water under the gravitational influence of Sun and Moon, causing the water to pile up against the coast at high tide and move outward at low tide.
Trace fossils Evidence of the organism's behavior. Three types are Tracks and trails, foraging, and burrows and borings.
Tracks and trails A mark left by something that has passed along.
Transform To change the form of; to change in shape or appearance
Trilobites Any one of numerous species of extinct arthropods belonging to the order Trilobita. Trilobites were very common in the Silurian and Devonian periods, but became extinct at the close of the Paleozoic. So named from the three lobes usually seen on each segment.
Turbines Any of various machines in which the kinetic energy of a moving fluid is converted to mechanical power by the impulse or reaction of the fluid with a series of buckets, paddles, or blades arrayed about the circumference of a wheel or cylinder.


Unicorn an imaginary creature represented as a white horse with a long horn growing from its forehead
Uniformitarism The concept that the processes that have shaped the Earth through geologic time are the same as those observable today.



Weathering The process by which Earth materials change when exposed to conditions at or near the Earth's surface and different from the ones under which they formed.
Whale oil a white to brown oil obtained from whale blubber; formerly used as an illuminant
Whorl a round shape formed by a series of concentric circles, planispiral,
Wildcatters an oilman who drills exploratory wells in territory not known to be an oil field