Discipline of Geology - Department of Physical Sciences - College of Science - University of the Philippines, Baguio

UP Baguio | College of Science | Department of Physical Sciences | Discipline of Geology

Recommended Readings

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Impact from the Deep

Posted by arleneteng on February 23, 2011 at 12:26 AM

A new view on the Permian Extinction.

Strangling heat and gases emanating from the earth and sea, not asteroids, most likely caused several ancient mass extinctions. Could the same killer-greenhouse conditions build once again?

By Peter D. Ward  |September 18, 2006 | Scientific American


A cool early Earth? (Scientific American, 2005)

Posted by arleneteng on February 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM

by John. W. Valley


The textbook view that the earth spent its first half a billion years drenched in magma could be wrong. The surface may have cooled quickly—with oceans, nascent continents and the opportunity for life to form much earlier.

In its infancy, beginning about 4.5 billion years ago, the earth glowed like a faint star. Incandescent yellow-orange oceans of magma roiled the surface following repeated collisions with immense boulders, some the size of small planets, orbiting the newly formed sun. Averaging 75 times the speed of sound, each impactor scorched the surface—shattering, melting and even vaporizing on contact.

Article (PDF format, 525 Kb)


Interesting eBooks

Posted by arleneteng on January 13, 2010 at 10:33 PM

IUGS Special Publication 273 - Myth and Geology

This book is the first peer-reviewed collection of papers focusing on the potential of myth storylines to yield data and lessons that are of value to the geological sciences. Building on the nascent discipline of geomythology, scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines have contributed to this volume. The geological hazards (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and cosmic impacts) that have given rise to myths are considered, as are the sacred and cultural values associated with rocks, fossils, geological formations and landscapes. There are also discussions about the historical and literary perspectives of geomythology. Regional coverage includes Europe and the Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Australia, Japan, Pacific islands, South America and North America. Myth and Geology challenges the widespread notion that myths are fictitious or otherwise lacking in the value for the physical sciences.

Click this link to download the PDF file (14 Mb)

IUGS Special Publication 310 - Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility 


For thousands of years, religious ideas have shaped the thoughts and actions of human beings. Many of the early geological concepts were initially developed within this context. The long-standing relationship between geology and religious thought, which has been sometimes indifferent, sometimes fruitful and sometimes full of conflict, is discussed from a historical point of view. This relationship continues into the present. Although Christian fundamentalists attack evolution and related palaeontological findings as well as the geological evidence for the age of the Earth, mainstream theologians strive for a fruitful dialogue between science and religion. Much of what is written and discussed today can only be understood within the historical perspective.


This book considers the development of geology from mythological approaches towards the European Enlightenment, biblical or geological Flood and the age of the Earth, geology within ‘religious’ organizations, biographical case studies of geological clerics and religious geologists, religion and evolution, and historical aspects of creationism and its motives.

Click this link to download the PDF file (7.9 Mb)



Evolution and the Fossil Record

Posted by arleneteng on December 2, 2009 at 4:51 AM

by John Pojeta, Jr. and Dale A. Springer

Evolution is one of the fundamental underlying concepts of science. This powerful theory explains such phenomena as the history of life as preserved in the fossil record; the genetic, molecular and physical similarities and differences among organisms; and the geographic distribution of organisms today and in the past. Indeed, evolution forms the foundation of modern biology and paleontology and is well documented by evidence from a variety of scientific disciplines.

Article (PDF, 1 Mb)



Origin and Evolution of Earth (National Academy of Sciences, 2008)

Posted by arleneteng on November 30, 2009 at 6:38 AM

Questions about the origins and nature of Earth have long preoccupied human thought and the scientific endeavor. Deciphering the planet’s history and processes could improve the ability to predict catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanoes, to manage Earth’s resources, and to anticipate changes in climate and geologic processes. This report captures, in a series of questions, the essential scientific challenges that constitute the frontier of Earth science at the start of the 21st century.



What do we know about the origin of the earth's oceans? (Scientific American, 1999)

Posted by arleneteng on November 30, 2009 at 6:34 AM

by Tobias C. Owen, Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii

This is a very good question, because we do not yet have an answer that everyone accepts.

The origin of the oceans goes back to the time of the earth's formation 4.6 billion years ago, when our planet was forming through the accumulation of smaller objects, called planetesimials. There are basically three possible sources for the water. It could have (1) separated out from the rocks that make up the bulk of the earth; (2) arrived as part of a late-accreting veneer of water-rich meteorites, similar to the carbonaceous chondrites that we see today; or (3) arrived as part of a late-accreting veneer of icy planetesimals, that is, comets.


In the beginning, there was Ur (Endeavors Magazine, 1997)

Posted by arleneteng on November 30, 2009 at 6:21 AM

by Elizabeth Zubritsky 

As John Rogers sees it, three billion years is as far back as you can go in studying continents. Before that, they didn't exist -- not by his definition.

Traditionally, geologists determined the age of a continent based on the oldest exposed rock, which is some variety of granite. Because granites constitute the foundations of continents, geologists assumed that any granite found must date back to the continent's formation. But Rogers, Kenan professor of geology, pointed out that granites were forming and being reworked into the crust before the crust was steady enough to sustain a continent.

Article (PDF format, 112 Kb)


A prehistoric lahar-dammed lake and eruption of Mount Pinatubo described in a Philippine aborigine legend

Posted by arleneteng on August 7, 2009 at 12:06 AM

by Kelvin S. Rodolfo and Jesse V. Umbal

Abstract. The prehistoric eruptions of Mount Pinatubo have followed a cycle: centuries of repose terminated by a caldera-forming eruption with large pyroclastic flows; a post-eruption aftermath of rain-triggered lahars in surrounding drainages and dome-building that fills the caldera; and then another long quiescent period. During and after the eruptions lahars descending along volcano channels may block tributaries from watersheds beyond Pinatubo, generating natural lakes. Since the 1991 eruption, the Mapanuepe River valley in the southwestern sector of the volcano has been the site of a large lahar-dammed lake. Geologic evidence indicates that similar lakes have occupied this site at least twice before. An Ayta legend collected decades before Mount Pinatubo was recognized as a volcano describes what is probably the younger of these lakes, and the caldera-forming eruption that destroyed it.


Article (PDF format) 1.3 Mb

Plate tectonics started over 4 billion years ago, geochemists report

Posted by arleneteng on July 14, 2009 at 6:43 AM

by Stuart Wolpert

A new picture of the early Earth is emerging, including the surprising finding that plate tectonics may have started more than 4 billion years ago -- much earlier than scientists had believed, according to new research by UCLA geochemists reported Nov. 27 in the journal Nature.

"We are proposing that there was plate-tectonic activity in the first 500 million years of Earth's history," said geochemistry professor Mark Harrison, director of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and co-author of the Nature paper. "We are reporting the first evidence of this phenomenon."

"Unlike the longstanding myth of a hellish, dry, desolate early Earth with no continents, it looks like as soon as the Earth formed, it fell into the same dynamic regime that continues today," Harrison said. "Plate tectonics was inevitable, life was inevitable. In the early Earth, there appear to have been oceans; there could have been life ? completely contradictory to the cartoonish story we had been telling ourselves."

Article (PDF format) 58.5 Kb

A new picture of the early Earth

Posted by arleneteng on July 14, 2009 at 6:41 AM

by Kenneth Chang

The first 700 million years of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year existence are known as the Hadean period, after Hades, or, to

shed the ancient Greek name, Hell.

That name seemed to fit with the common perception that the young Earth was a hot, dry, desolate landscape interspersed with seas of magma and inhospitable for life. Even if some organism had somehow popped into existence, the old story went, surely it would soon have been extinguished in the firestorm of one of the giant meteorites that slammed into the Earth when the young solar system was still crowded with debris.

Scars on the surface of the Moon record a hail of impacts during what is called the Late Heavy Bombardment. The

Earth would have received an even more intense bombardment, and the common thinking until recently was that life could not have emerged on Earth until the bombardment eased about 3.85 billion years ago.

Article (PDF format) 105.7 Kb

Life in extreme environments

Posted by arleneteng on July 14, 2009 at 6:38 AM

by Lynn J. Rothschild & Rocco L. Mancinelli

Each recent report of liquid water existing elsewhere in the Solar System has reverberated through the international press and excited the imagination of humankind. Why? Because in the past few decades we have come to realize that where there is liquid water on Earth, virtually no matter what the physical conditions, there is life. What we previously thought of as insurmountable physical and chemical barriers to life, we now see as yet another niche harbouring 'extremophiles'. This realization, coupled with new data on the survival of microbes in the space environment and modelling of the potential for transfer of life between celestial bodies, suggests that life could be more common than previously thought. Here we examine critically what it means to be an extremophile, and the implications of this for evolution, biotechnology and especially the search for life in the Universe.

Article (PDF format) 777 Kb

Are we now living in the Anthropocene?

Posted by arleneteng on May 14, 2009 at 6:21 AM

by Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Alan Smith, Tiffany L. Barry, Angela L. Coe, Paul R. Bown, Patrick Brenchley, David Cantrill, Andrew Gale, Philip Gibbard, F. John Gregory, Mark W. Hounslow, Andrew C. Kerr, Paul Pearson, Robert Knox, John Powell, Colin Waters, John Marshall, Michael Oates, Peter Rawson, and Philip Stone

Abstract.The term Anthropocene, proposed and increasingly employed to denote the current interval of anthropogenic global environmental change, may be discussed on stratigraphic grounds. A case can be made for its consideration as a formal epoch in that, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, Earth has endured changes sufficient to leave a global stratigraphic signature distinct from that of the Holocene or of previous Pleistocene inter-

glacial phases, encompassing novel biotic, sedimentary, and geochemical change. These changes, although likely only in their initial phases, are sufficiently distinct and robustly established for suggestions of a Holocene-Anthropocene boundary in the recent historical past to be geologically reasonable. The boundary may be defined either via Global Stratigraphic Section and Point ("golden spike") locations or by adopting a numerical date. Formal adoption of this term in the near future will largely depend on its utility, particularly to earth scientists working on late Holocene successions. This datum, from the perspective of the far future, will most probably approximate a distinctive stratigraphic boundary.

Article (PDF format) 530 Kb

Hutton's geology

Posted by dog-upb on April 27, 2009 at 11:39 PM


No vestige of a beginning -- no prospect of an end.

Geologists are engaged on the business of reconstructing the earth's past and determining the agents of geological change. The only documentary evidence of the earth's origins and ancient past, and of the agents that had caused change, available to Hutton was the book of Genesis, and he had skeptically put it aside, along with miracles. But what if the processes that are presently observable were to be taken as the key to the past? How far might geological enquiry go with the assumption that what is now going on is all that has ever gone on -- that the modern world presents an exhaustive catalogue of the processes that have shaped the world, and are continuing to shape it?

Article (PDF format) 63 Kb

Taken from Science in the Scottish Enlightenment

How rocks evolve (Economist.com, 13 Nov 2008)

Posted by arleneteng on April 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM

It is not just living organisms that evolve. Minerals do too, and much of their diversity has arisen in tandem with the evolution of life.

Evolution has come a long way since Charles Darwin?s time. Today it is not only animals and plants that are seen as having evolved over time, but also things that involve the hand of humans, like architecture, music, car design and even governments. Now rocks, too, seem to be showing evolutionary characteristics. Rocks are made from minerals, which like all matter are composed of individual chemical elements. What makes minerals special is the way that the atoms of those elements are arranged in lattices which create unique crystalline structures and shapes. Today more than 4,000 different minerals can be found on Earth. When the planet began to be formed, however, few existed.

Curious as to how this great variety came about, Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, and a team of colleagues set out on their own voyage of discovery. Their study, just published in American Mineralogist, explores the history of minerals by identifying how much of the diversity was created by the rocks alone and how much of it was created by the evolution of life.

Article (PDF format) 61 Kb

Book chapters (Wicander & Monroe)

Posted by dog-upb on April 13, 2009 at 9:49 AM


01 The dynamic and evolving earth (PDF format, 1 Mb)

  • Earth is a complex, dynamic planet that has continually evolved since its origin some 4.6 billion years ago.
  • To help understand Earth?s complexity and history, it can be viewed as an integrated system of interconnected components that interact and affect each other in various ways.
  • Theories are based on the scientific method and can be tested by observation or experiment.
  • The universe is thought to have originated about 15 billion years ago with a Big Bang, and the solar system and planets evolved from a turbulent, rotating cloud of material surrounding the embryonic Sun.
  • Earth consists of three concentric layers -- core, mantle, and crust -- and this orderly division resulted during Earth's early history.
  • Plate tectonics is the unifying theory of geology.
  • An appreciation of geologic time and the principle of uniformitarianism is central to understanding the evolutionary history of Earth and its biota.
  • Geology is an integral part of our lives.
02 Minerals and Rocks (PDF format, 3.56 Mb)
  • Chemical elements are composed of atoms, all of the same kind, whereas compounds form when different atoms bond together. Most minerals are compounds, which are characterized as naturally occurring, inorganic, crystalline solids.
  • Of the 3500 or so minerals known, only a few, perhaps two dozen, are common in rocks, but many others are found in small quantities in rocks and some are important natural resources.
  • Cooling and crystallization of magma or lava and the consolidation of pyroclastic materials account for the origin of igneous rocks.
  • Geologists use mineral content (composition) and textures to classify plutonic rocks (intrusive igneous rocks) and volcanic rocks (extrusive igneous rocks).
  • Mechanical and chemical weathering of rocks yields sediment that is transported, deposited, and then lithified to form detrital and chemical sedimentary rocks.
  • Texture and composition are the criteria geologists use to classify sedimentary rocks.
  • Any type of rock may be altered by heat, pressure, fluids or any combination of these, to form metamorphic rocks.
  • One feature used to classify metamorphic rocks is foliation -- that is, a platy or layered aspect, but some lack this feature and are said to be nonfoliated.
  • The fact that Earth materials are continually recycled and that the three families of rocks are interrelated is summarized in the rock cycle.
03 Plate tectonics: a unifying theory (PDF format, 7.4 Mb)
  • Plate tectonics is the unifying theory of geology and has revolutionized geology.
  • The hypothesis of continental drift was based on considerable geologic, paleontologic, and climatologic evidence.
  • The hypothesis of seafloor spreading accounts for continental movement and the idea that thermal convection cells provide a mechanism for plate movement.
  • The three types of plate boundaries are divergent, convergent, and transform. Along these boundaries new plates are formed, consumed, or slide past one another.
  • Interaction along plate boundaries accounts for most of Earth's earthquake and volcanic activity.
04 Geologic time: concepts and principles (PDF format, 3.2 Mb)
  • The concept of geologic time and its measurements have changed throughout human history.
  • The principle of uniformitarianism is fundamental to geology.
  • Relative dating -- placing geologic events in a sequential order -- provides a means to interpret geologic history.
  • The three types of unconformities -- disconformities, angular unconformities, and nonconformities -- are erosional surfaces separating younger from older rocks and represent significant intervals of geologic time for which we have no record at a particular location.
  • Time equivalency of rock units can be demonstrated by various correlation techniques.
  • Absolute dating methods are used to date geologic events in terms of years before present.




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Bush, M. Ecology of a Changing Planet.
Dott, R. and Prothero, D. Evolution of Earth.
Keller, E. and Botkin, D. Environmental Geology.
Kump et al. The Earth System.
McGeary, D. and Plummer, C. Earth Revealed.
Mintz, L. The Science of a Dynamic Earth.
Murck, B.W. and Skinner B.J. Geology Today: Understanding Our Planet.
Odum, E. Fundamentals of Ecology.
Skinner, B. et al. The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science.
Tarbuck, E. and Lutgens, K. Earth Science.
Wicander, R. and Monroe, J.S. Historical Geology.
Woodhead, J. The Earth’s Surface and History.