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Geological Terms Beginning With "E"



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Earthflow

Earthflow

A downslope movement of soil and rock debris that is confined to a well-defined "chute" and spreads out over the run-out area in the form of a lobe. The material is mostly fine-grained and moves as a "flow" instead of as a rotating mass. Most earthflows are have a very high moisture content but dry flows are also possible.

Earthquake

Earthquake

A trembling of the earth caused by a sudden release of energy stored in subsurface rock units. This release of energy usually occurs when the subsurface rock units break to form a fault or when movement on an existing fault occurs.

Ebb Tide

Earth Science

Earth Science is the study of the Earth and its neighbors in space. It includes the study of solar system astronomy, geology, oceanography and meteorology. Some people assume that "geology" and "earth science" are identical, but that is not true. "Geology" is a much more limited science and just one part of "earth science".

Ebb Tide

Ebb Tide

A tidal current that generally moves seaward and occurs during the part of the tide cycle when sea level is falling. (see also: flood tide)

Effluent Stream

Effluent Stream

A stream that gains water from ground water flow. These streams are typical of humid climates where water tables are high. The discharge of an effluent stream can be sustained by ground water flow for long periods of time between runoff-producing rainfall or snowmelt. Effluent streams generally increase in discharge downstream and contain water throughout the year. The opposite is an influent stream.

effusive eruption

Effusive Eruption

An eruption that is dominated by an outpouring of lava rather than an explosive ejection of material thorugh the air. These eruptions tend to be basaltic. The photo shows lava flows streaming from the eruption of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii during 1984.

Elastic Limit

Elastic Limit

The maximum stress that can be applied to a body without resulting in permanent deformation - the rock reverts to its original shape after the stress is removed. In the case of a fault or a fold the elastic limit is exceeded and the deformation becomes a permanent structure of the rock.

Elastic Rebound Theory

Elastic Rebound Theory

A theory that explains the earthquake process. In this theory, slowly accumulating elastic strain builds within a rock mass over an extended length of time. This strain is suddenly released through fault movement, producing an earthquake.

Electron

Electron

A subatomic particle with a negative charge and of negligible mass that orbits the nucleus of an atom.

Elevation

Elevation

The vertical distance between mean sea level and a point or object on, above or below Earth's surface. The image of the topographic map has brown lines that represent elevations above sea level.

Emerald

Emerald

Emerald is the gemstone name of the mineral beryl when it has a rich green color. It is the most popular stone from the beryl mineral group. Most emeralds have abundant inclusions and fractures.

Eolian

Eolian

A term used in reference to the wind. Eolian materials and structures are created, moved and deposited by the wind.

Eon

Eon

The major divisions of the geologic time scale. Eons are divided into intervals know as "eras". Two eons of the geologic time scale are the Phanerozoic (570 million years ago to present) and the Cryptozoic (4,600 million years ago until 570 million years ago).

Ephemeral Stream

Ephemeral Stream

A stream that flows for a short interval of time after precipitation or snow melt in the immediate area. Ephemeral streams carry runoff water. Their channels are above the water table and they normally receive no contribution from ground water.

Epicenter

Epicenter

The point on the Earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake. It is often - but not always - the location where the strength of the earthquake's shaking is most intensely felt.

Epoch

Epoch

A subdivision of geologic time that is longer than an age but shorter than a period. The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs, the Pleistocene and the Holocene.

Era

Era

A subdivision of geologic time that is longer than a period but shorter than an eon. Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic are the eras of the time scale from oldest to youngest.

Erosion

Erosion

A general term applied to the wearing away and movement of earth materials by gravity, wind, water and ice.

eruption cloud

Eruption Cloud

A cloud of tephra and volcanic gas that have been erupted by a volcano.

eruption column

Eruption Column

A towering, rapdily-rising cloud of tephra and volcanic gas escaping the vent of a volcano immediately after an explosive eruption. Differs from an eruption cloud because the material is being propelled upwards by the force of the blast and not being held aloft by rising heat. The image shows the eruption cloud from the Crater Peak vent of Mount Spurr Volcano in Alaska on August 18, 1992.

Esker

Esker

A long winding ridge of sorted sands and gravel. Thought to be formed from sediment deposited by a stream flowing within or beneath a glacier.

Eudialyte

Eudialyte

Eudialyte is a rare mineral found in igneous rocks. It serves as a minor ore of zirconium and as a minor gem mineral. It occurs in yellow, brown and bluish crystals - but bright red specimens are favored as a collector's gem.

Eustatic Sea Level Change

Eustatic Sea Level Change

A rise or fall in sea level that affects the entire earth. Thought to be caused by an increase/decrease in the amount of available water or a change in the capacity of ocean basins.

Evaporation

Evaporation

The process of liquid water becoming water vapor. Includes vaporization from water surfaces, land surfaces and snow/ice surfaces.

Evaporite

Evaporite

A chemical sediment or sedimentary rock that has formed by precipitation from evaporating waters. Gypsum, salt, nitrates and borates are examples of evaporite minerals.

Evapotranspiration

Evapotranspiration

All methods of water moving from a liquid to water vapor in nature. Includes both evaporation and transpiration.

Exfoliation

Exfoliation

A physical weathering process in which concentric layers of rock are removed from an outcrop.

expansive soil

Expansive Clay (Expansive Soil)

A clay or a clay soil that expands when water is added and contracts when it dries out. This volume change when in contact with buildings, roadways, or underground utilities can cause severe damage.

Exploration

Exploration

The work of identifying areas that may contain viable mineral resources. This work can include surface mapping, remote sensing, exploratory drilling, geophysical testing, geochemical testing and other activities.

Exploratory Drilling

Exploratory Drilling

Drilling done to locate mineral deposits in an area where little subsurface data about those minerals is available. Exploratory wells may not have the ability to produce the minerals if they are discovered.

Extractive Industries

Extractive Industries

Industries involved in mineral resource exploration, acquisition, assessment, development or production.

Extrusive

Extrusive

Igneous rocks that crystallize at Earth's surface.

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