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Geological Terms Beginning With "W"



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Wadi

Wadi

A stream bed, often in a steep-sided valley, in an arid region that is dry except during the rainy season. The photo is from Wadi Degla in Northern Egypt.

Warping

Warping

A slight bend, uplift or subsidence of Earth's crust on a regional scale.

Wasting Natural Resources

Wasting Natural Resources

Mineral resources that can be extracted by people but which can not be readily replaced by the actions of people or nature. Oil, gas, coal, iron ore, gold, stone, sand and gravel are examples.

Water Cycle

Water Cycle

The movement of water between the atmosphere, ground and surface water bodies through the processes of evaporation, precipitation, infiltration, percolation, transpiration and runoff. Also known as the "hydrologic cycle".

Water Quality

Water Quality

An assessment of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water, especially how they relate to the suitability of that water for a particular use. In the photo a National Park Service employee conducts water quality monitoring using, hand-held meters, of a stream at Russell Cave National Monument.

Watershed

Watershed

The geographic area that contributes runoff to a stream. It can be outlined on a topographic map by tracing the points of highest elevation (usually ridge crests) between two adjacent stream valleys. The watershed of a large river usually contains the watersheds of many smaller streams. Also referred to as a "drainage basin".

Water Table

Water Table

A level beneath the Earth's surface, below which all pore spaces are filled with water and above which the pore spaces are filled with air. The top of the zone of saturation in a subsurface rock, soil or sediment unit.

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Domestic Operations

Water Witching

The practice of locating groundwater by walking the surface of a property holding a forked stick, a pair of L-shaped rods, a pendulum or another tool that responds when the person moves above a location that will yield an adequate flow of water to a drilled well. Although many people believe in this practice, including a few geologists, it is almost unanimously rejected by geologists and hydrologists. The National Ground Water Association has issued a position statement that rejects the practice. Also known as "dowsing", "divining" and "doodlebugging".  Image © iStockphoto and Monika Wisniewska.

Wave-Cut Terrace

Wave-Cut Terrace

A long, level surface formed by wave erosion during a time when sea level was higher.

Wavelength

Wavelength

An interval of repetition in a wave-like disturbance. The distance between two successive crests or two successive troughs.

Wellhead Price

Wellhead Price

The value of natural gas at the mouth of the well.

butane

Wet Gas

Natural gas that contains hydrocarbons other than methane that are in the gaseous state in the high temperatures and pressures of the subsurface, but that condense into liquids as they flow from a well. These condensates include hydrocarbons such as pentane, butane, propane, hexane and others. They have commercial value and must be refined from the methane to make it a suitable fuel.

White Opal

White Opal

"Light opal" or "white opal" are terms used for an opal material with a white, yellow, or cream-colored body color. This is the most common body color for precious opal.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal

A removal of water from a surface or groundwater source for use.

Worked Over Well

Worked Over Well

A previously drilled hole that is reentered and treated to improve or initiate a flow of oil and or natural gas, without drilling additional footage.

Working Interest

Working Interest

An interest in a mineral property that entitles a party to a share of the mineral production, often subject to a royalty. The party is responsible for either carrying out or bearing the costs of exploration, development and production.

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