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Geological Terms Beginning With "W"

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A stream valley in an arid region that is dry except during the rainy season.


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

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:

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:

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.


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:

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.

Wave-Cut Terrace:

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


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

Wellhead Price:

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


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

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:

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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