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Origin and Structure of the Earth and Beyond

This is the study of the earth’s rocky parts found on the crust (lithosphere) and its
historical evolution. It covers lots of different disciplines of sciences such as mineralogy
and petrology, geochemistry, geomorphology, paleontology, stratigraphy, structural
geology, engineering geology and sedimentology.
Physical Geography
Also known as geosystems or physiography. Physical Geography deals with the study
of the physical features of the Earth’s surface. It also deals with the different processes
and patterns in the natural environment, as opposed to the cultural domain of human
This field studies the shape of the Earth, its reaction to different forces as well as its
magnetic and gravitational fields. This study is most vital for mineral and petroleum
Soil Sciences
Soil sciences cover the Earth’s outermost layer which is the crust. Major sub-disciplines
of soil sciences include edaphology and pedology.
This field of science studies the marine and freshwater domains of the hydrosphere.
The major subdivisions include hydrogeology and physical, chemical, and biological
Glaciology studies the ice and icy parts of the Earth known as the cryosphere, and its
effects to the environment.
Atmospheric Sciences
This deals with the study of the gaseous parts of the Earth, known as the atmosphere.
The major sub-disciplines are meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and
atmospheric physics
These different fields of Earth Sciences are interdisciplinary. They rely on one another
for information to further develop their respective areas.
Structure of the Earth
The crust is the outermost layer of the Earth comprising about 8-40 km in depth. The
presence of mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes on the Earth’s crust are
explained through studying of the different energy transformations. The crust is
separated from the next layer by a boundary or surface with seismic waves that change
velocity, known as Mohorovičić Discontinuity. It was named after Andrija Mohorovičić, a
Croatian seismologist who discovered its existence.
The mantle lies beneath the crust and extends to a depth of 2,900 km making it the
thickest layer of the Earth. It is made up of very hot and dense rocks which flow due to
great differences in temperature moving from the bottom to the top of the mantle,
called convection currents.
Convection currents from the deepest part of the mantle is a very hot material that rises
and cools, then sinks and then heats again making a cycle. The convection current acts
like a conveyor belt in a factory which moves boxes. The mantle is divided into 2
sections: the upper and lower mantle, separated by the transition zone (a discontinuity
between the 2 mantles).
The core is the innermost part of the Earth. It is divided into two parts - a solid inner
core which is about 1,300 km and a liquid outer core about 2,250 km thick.
The outer core is made up of very hot liquid metals. It is composed of melted nickel and
iron. The inner core, on the other hand, is in a solid state despite its very hot
temperature, because of the pressure. The metals are squeezed in and are so dense
that they are not able to move.
Formation of Earth
The Creation Theory - is biblical in origin asserting that everything in the universe,
including humans were created by a supreme being in a span of 7 days
The Big Bang Theory - speaks of the Earth's formation in a scientific perspective. It
states that the universe is formed sometime between 10 and 20 billion years ago from a
cataclysmic explosion.
The two contradicting theories stemmed lots of arguments from believers of the
creationism and those who believe otherwise. One cannot really say exactly how the
universe was formed, but humans do work on the pieces of evidence that are at hand to
answer whatever questions people may have.
History of the Earth
The Earth was formed about 4.5 Billion years ago. During the Earth’s early formation, it
was desolate and was just composed of ice and rock with no atmosphere and water.
However, deep within it lie radioactive elements gradually unleashing their radioactive
power as well as melted rocks that did not cool for the next hundred million years. As
the cooling took place, a dense core of nickel, iron and other
Heavy elements formed, which was enveloped by a liquid outer core. Land masses
began to form spewing lava and ash clouds. Gravity held the blanket of gases. Moisture
in the clouds fell as rain and evaporated, and fell again, eventually forming the bodies of
water. These processes continuously took place and the Earth was reshaped again and
The same forces acting on the Earth today are the same forces that shaped the Earth
throughout its history. This is known as the principle of uniform processes. Volcanic
eruptions, earthquakes, storms, and floods which have all occurred in the past, still
continue to shape the Earth today, just at different rates.
The geological history of Earth follows the major events in Earth's past based on the
geologic time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the
planet's rock layers (stratigraphy). Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by
accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the
formation of the Sun, which also created the rest of the Solar System.
Earth was initially molten due to extreme volcanism and frequent collisions with other
celestial bodies. Eventually, the outer layer of the planet cooled to form a solid crust
when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed soon afterwards,
possibly as the result of a Mars-sized object with about 10% of the Earth's mass
impacting the planet in a glancing blow. Some of this object's mass merged with the
Earth, significantly altering its internal composition, and a portion was ejected into
space. Some of the materials survived to form an orbiting moon. Outgassing and
volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor,
augmented by ice delivered from comets, produced the oceans.
As the surface continually reshaped itself over hundreds of millions of years, continents
formed and broke apart. They migrated across the surface, occasionally combining to
form a supercontinent. Roughly 750 million years ago, the earliest-known
supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form
Pannotia, 600 to 540 million years ago, then finally Pangaea, which broke apart 180
million years ago.
The present pattern of ice ages began about 40 million years ago, and then intensified
at the end of the Pliocene. The Polar Regions have since undergone repeated cycles of
glaciation and thaw, repeating every 40,000–100,000 years. The last glacial period of
the current ice age ended about 10,000 years ago.”
Continental Drift Theory
Alfred Wegener theorized that there was once a vast supercontinent 200 million years
ago which he named Pangaea meaning "All-earth".
Pangaea broke into two smaller supercontinents, called Laurasia and Gondwana
throughout the Jurassic period. By the end of the Cretaceous period, the continents
were separated into land masses that looked like our modern-day continents. In 1915,
Alfred Wegener published this theory in his book, “On the Origin of Continents and
There are fossil evidences which supported the continental drift theory. Eduard Suess,
an Austrian geologist first substantiated that there had once been a land bridge
connecting South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. He named this large
land mass Gondwanaland. This was the southern supercontinent formed after Pangaea
broke up during the Jurassic period. Suess based his deductions on the fossil plant
Glossopteris, which is found throughout India, South America, southern Africa,
Australia, and Antarctica.
Fossils of Mesosaurus (one of the first marine reptiles, even older than the dinosaurs)
were found in both South America and South Africa. These finds, plus the study of
sedimentation and the fossil plant Glossopteris in these southern continents led
Alexander duToit, a South African scientist, to bolster the idea of the past existence of a
supercontinent in the southern hemisphere, Eduard Suess's Gondwanaland. This lent
further support to A. Wegener's Continental Drift Theory
The Subsystems of the Earth
The lithosphere is basically the rocky crust of the earth. It is inorganic and is composed
mainly of different kinds of minerals.
This is composed of all the waters in the Earth. This includes the oceans, seas, rivers,
lakes, and even the moisture in the air.
The biosphere is comprised of all living organisms, from the smallest bacteria to the
largest whale. Plants, animals, and single-celled organism are all part of the biosphere.
Atmosphere is the mass of air surrounding our planet. It is subdivided into different
layers of different densities. The air of Earth is comprised of 79% Nitrogen and fewer
than 21% Oxygen. The remaining amount is shared by Carbon Dioxide and other form
of gasses.
Remember that the parts mentioned are interconnected and influence the climate,
trigger geological processes, and affect life all over
Geology came from the Greek word Geo, meaning "Earth" and logia, "study
of". Thus, geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the
rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change.
Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate
tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates. In modern times, geology is
commercially important for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation and for evaluating
water resources.

It is publicly important for the prediction and understanding of natural hazards, and the
remediation of environmental problems. Geology plays a role in geotechnical engineering and is a
major academic discipline.


The Principle of Uniformitarianism

This principle states that the processes that act to reform the Earth today are very much the same as
how it worked in the past. It only goes to show that the natural laws are constant across space and
time. According to James Hutton, a Scottish Physician and Geologist, “The present is the key to the
past. The past history of our globe can be explained by what can be seen to be happening now.”

The Principle of Intrusive/Cross – Cutting Relationships

Intrusions are basically liquid rocks that form from under the Earth’s surface. This principle states
that if an intrusion of igneous rock cuts across a formation of sedimentary rock, the igneous intrusion
is therefore younger than the sedimentary rock.

The Principle of Inclusions and Components

It is stated in this principle that if inclusions are found in a formation of sedimentary rocks, it means
that the inclusions are older than the formation that comprises them. As such, it is common for a
gravel to be torn and eventually be part of a new formation.

The Principle of Original Horizontality

This principle was suggested by Danish geological pioneer, Nicholas Steno (1638-1686). According
to him, the layers of the sediments are originally deposited horizontally under the action of gravity.
This is extremely vital in studies concerning folded and tilted strata.

The Principle of Superposition

According to this principle, if rock layers are not overturned, then the oldest rock layer is situated at
the bottom part, whereas layers succeeding it are younger. A younger rock layer cannot slip past an
older layer unless deliberately done so.

The Principle of Faunal Succession

This principle is based on the fossils found in the different layers of sediment formations. Just like
the principle of superposition, fossils which are at the bottom part are typically older than those
above them. In such a way, a bone of a Neanderthal man cannot be found at the same level as that
of the bone of a dinosaur that precedes it.

These are just some of the processes and principles

that geologists use in determining the history of
Earth. Through such studies and principles, the
sequencing and chronological order of life on Earth has
been unraveled, and has been unraveling continuously
throughout the years of scientific studies employed in

Plant Organ Systems
The Difference between Plants and Animals

Plants are so different from animals that sometimes there is a tendency to think of them
as not being alive. With few exceptions, plants do not gather food, nor do they move
about or struggle directly with their predators. Plants can neither run away from danger
nor strike blows against an adversary.

Introduction to Plants

There are two major groups of plants- the vascular and the nonvascular plants.
The nonvascular plants were among the first plants, but they never developed enough
adaptations to land environments as they lack root systems. They also lack conducting
channels or vascular tissues. Thus, their growth is limited as water conduction in their
stems is to a short distance only.
Among the most common nonvascular plants are mosses and liverworts.

The vascular plants include ferns and seed producing plants. Seed plants may be
gymnosperms, which have naked seeds, or angiosperms, those with true seeds.
Angiosperms are further subdivided into monocots (those with one seed leaf) and dicots
(those with two seed leaves).

Figure 1: General Classifications of Plants

Monocots Dicots

Embryo One cotyledon Two cotyledon

Leaf venation Usually parallel Usually netlike

Vascular bundles
Vascular bundles
Stems usually arranged
in a ring

Fibrous root Taproot usually

system present

Flowers Flower parts Flower parts

usually in usually in multiple
multiples of three of four or five

corn, wheat, roses, clover,

Examples lilies, orchids, tomatoes, oaks,
and palms and daisies

Table 1: The Difference between Monocots and Dicots

What Plants Need to Survive

 Sunlight - plants use the energy from sunlight to carry out photosynthesis

 Water and Minerals – water is one of the raw materials in photosynthesis. Minerals
are nutrients in the soil that are needed for plant growth

 Gas exchange - plants require oxygen to support respiration as well as carbon dioxide
to carry out photosynthesis

 Movement of water and nutrients - most plants have specialized tissues that carry
water and nutrients upward from the soil and distribute the products of photosynthesis
throughout the body.

The Root and Shoot System

Root System
The root system anchors the plant and penetrates the soil, from which it absorbs water
and ions crucial for the plant’s nutrition. Root systems are often extensive, and growing
roots can exert great force to move matter as they elongate and expand.
Shoot System
The shoot system consists of the stems and their leaves. Stems serve as a scaffold for
positioning the leaves, the principal sites of photosynthesis. The arrangement, size, and
other features of the leaves are critically important in the plant’s production of food.
Flowers and other reproductive organs, and ultimately, fruits and seeds are also formed
on the shoot.
Principal Organs in Plants and their Functions
Absorb water and dissolved nutrients from moist soil
Anchor plants in the ground
Hold plants upright and prevent them from being knocked over by wind and rain
Supports the plant body
Transports nutrients among different parts of the plant
Principal organ in which plants carry out photosynthesis

Types of roots
Taproots are mainly found in dicots. In some plants, the primary root grows long and
thick while the secondary roots remain small. This type of primary root is called taproot,
Taproots of oak and hickory trees grow so long that they can reach the water below the
earth’s surface. Carrots, dandelions, beets, and radishes have short, thick taproots that
store sugars or starches.
Fibrous roots
These are mainly found in monocots. Fibrous roots branch to such an extent that no
single root grows larger than the rest. The extensive fibrous root systems produced by
many plants help prevent topsoil from being washed by the rain. A grass is an example
of a plant with fibrous roots.
Root structure and its growth
A mature root has an outside layer, the epidermis, and a central cylinder of vascular
tissue. Between these two tissues lies a large area of ground tissue.
The epidermis of a root is covered with tiny projections called root hairs. These hairs
penetrate the spaces between the soil particles and produce a large surface area
through which water can enter the plant. Just inside the epidermis is a spongy layer of
ground tissue known as the cortex. The endodermiscompletely closes vascular tissue in
a central region called the vascular cylinder.
Roots grow in length as their apical meristem produces new cells near the root tip.
These fragile new cells are covered by a tough root cap that protects the root as it
forces its way through the soil. As the root grows, the root cap secretes a slippery
substance that lubricates the progress of the root through the soil. Cells at the very tip of
the root cap are constantly being scraped away, and the new root cap cells are
continuously added by the meristem. Most of the increase in root length occurs
immediately behind the meristem, where cells are growing longer. At a later stage, the
cells mature and take on specialized functions.
Stem’s structure and function
In general, stems have three important functions: They produce leaves, branches and
flowers; the hold leaves up to the sunlight, and they transport substances between roots
and leaves.
Like the rest if the plant, the stem is composed of three tissue systems: dermal,
vascular, and ground tissue. Stems are surrounded by a layer of epidermal cells that
have thick cell walls and a waxy protective coating. The vascular tissue in stems
conducts water, nutrients, and other compounds up and down the plant. Xylem and
phloem tissues form continuous tubes from the roots through the stems to the leaves.
These vascular tissues link all parts of the plant allowing water and nutrients to be
carried throughout the plant. Stems can also function in storage and photosynthesis.
In most plants, stems contain distinct nodes, where leaves are attached, and
the internode regions between the nodes. Small buds are found where leaves attached
to the nodes. Buds contain undeveloped tissue that can produce new stems and leaves.
In larger plants, stems develop woody tissue that helps support leaves and flowers.
Arrangement of tissues in a stem differs among seed plants
Monocot Stems
The cross section of a young monocot stem shows all the three tissue systems clearly.
The stem has a distinct epidermis, which encloses a series of vascular bundles, each of
which contains xylem and phloem tissue. Phloem faces the outside of the stem, and
xylem faces the center. In monocots, these bundles are scattered throughout the
ground tissue. The ground tissue is fairly uniform, consisting mainly of parenchyma
Dicot Stems
Young dicot stems have vascular bundles, but they are generally arranged in an
organized, ring-like pattern. The parenchyma cells inside the ring of vascular tissue are
known as pith, while those outside form the cortex of the stem. In dicots, these relatively
simple tissue patterns become more complex as the plant grows larger and the stem
increases in diameter.

Primary growth and secondary growth

Primary Growth of Stems

This type of growth occurs only at the ends of plants or at the tips of roots and shoots.
Primary growth results to increase in length of plant. Primary growth of stem is
produced by cell divisions in the apical meristem. It takes place in all seed plants.\

Secondary Growth of Stems

The pattern of growth in which stems increase in width is called secondary growth. In
conifers and dicots, secondary growth takes place in lateral meristematic tissues called
the vascular cambium and cork cambium. Vascular cambium produces vascular tissues
and increases the thickness of stems over time. Cork cambium produces the outer
covering of stems. The addition of new tissue in these cambium layers increases the
thickness of the stem.

Many kinds of plants have modified stems to store food. Tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, and
corms can remain dormant during cold or dry periods until favorable conditions for
growth returns

Kinds of stems adapted for storage and dormancy

 Tuber - a stem, usually growing underground, that stores food. An example is a

 Bulb - made up of a central stem surrounded by short, thick leaves. Leaves wrap
around and protect the stem and also store food. A bulb may remain dormant for a
long time, yet still grow as a plant. An example is an onion.
 Corm – looks similar to a bulb, but is a thickened stem that stores food. A corm has an
outer covering that consists of layers of thin leaves. An example is the gladiolus.
 Rhizome – The stem of a ginger is a rhizome, which is a horizontal, underground
stem. New shoots can form from a rhizome, allowing plants to undergo periods of


The leaves of a plant are its main organs of photosynthesis. Much of the internal
structure of leaves can be understood in terms of their functions in carrying out
The structure of a leaf is optimized for absorbing light and carrying out photosynthesis.
To collect sunlight, most leaves have thin, flattened sections calledblades. The blade is
attached to the stem by a thin stalk of called a petiole. Like roots and stems, leaves
have an outer covering of dermal tissue and inner regions of ground and vascular
tissues. Leaves are covered on top and bottom by epidermis made of layer of tough,
irregularly shaped cells. The epidermis of many leaves are covered by the cuticle.
Together, the cuticle and the epidermal cells form a waterproof barrier that protects
tissues and limits the loss of water through evaporation. The vascular tissues of leaves
are connected directly to the vascular tissues of stems. In leaves, xylem and phloem
tissues are gathered together into bundles that run from the stem into the petiole. Once
they are in the leaf blade, the vascular bundles are surrounded by parenchyma and
sclerenchyma cells.
Plants take in all the materials needed for photosynthesis and specialized cells on the
underside of the leaf regulate this process.

The specialized cells of the leaf

The bulk of most leaves is composed of specialized ground tissue known as mesophyll.
Mesophyll cells are packed with chloroplasts and carry out nearly all photosynthetic
activity of most plants. Carbohydrates produced in photosynthesis move from mesophyll
cells into phloem vessels, which carry them to the rest of the plant.
Just under the upper epidermis is a layer of tall, column-shaped mesophyll cells called
the palisade mesophyll. These closely packed cells absorb most of the light that enters
the leaf. Beneath the palisade layer is the spongy mesophyll, a loose tissue with many
air spaces between its cells. These air spaces connect with the exterior
through stomata (singular: stoma), which are pore-like openings in the underside of the
leaf that allow carbon dioxide and oxygen to diffuse in and out of the leaf. Each stoma
consists of two guard cells, which are specialized cells in the epidermis that control the
opening and closing of the stomata by responding to changes in water pressure.
Plant Tissue Systems
Most mature plant cells do not divide to form new cells. New growth is instead produced
in cells that make up the meristematic tissue.
Meristematic tissue is the only plant cell tissue that produces new cells by mitosis
All the cells of a plant originate in meristems and at first look alike. They divide rapidly
and have thin cell walls. As meristematic cells mature, they differentiate into one of the
three main tissues of a plant. Meristematic tissue is found in several places in the plant:
at the end, or tip, of each growing stem and root is an apical meristem
Apical meristem - a group of undifferentiated cells that divide to produce increased
length of stems and roots

The three plant tissue systems

Dermal Tissue
Outer covering or the skin of a plant; consists of a single layer of epidermal cells
The exposed outer surfaces of the cells are often covered with a thick, waxy layer,
or cuticle, that protects against water loss and injury
The surfaces of some leaves also have tiny cellular projections known as trichomes
In roots, dermal tissue includes root hair cells that provide a large amount of surface
area that aid in water absorption
On the underside of leaves, dermal tissues contains guard cells, which regulate water
loss and gas exchange

Vascular Tissue
Transports water and nutrients throughout the plant
The principal types of vascular tissue are xylem and phloem
Xylem – water-conducting tissue consists of tracheids and vessel elements
 Tracheids are long, narrow cells with walls that are impermeable to water. These
walls, however, are pierced by openings that connect neighboring cells to one
another. When tracheids mature, they die, and their cytoplasm disintegrates.
 Vessel elements are much wider than tracheids. Like tracheids, they mature and die
before they conduct water. They are arranged end to end on top of one another like
stacks of tin cans. The cell walls at both ends are lost when the cells die, transforming
the stack of vessel elements into a continuous tube through which water can move
Phloem – food-conducting tissue consists of sieve tube elements and companion cells
 Sieve tube elements are the main phloem cells. These cells are arranged end to end,
like vessel elements, to form sieve tubes.The end walls of sieve tube elements have many
small holes in them. As sieve tube elements mature they lose their nuclei and most of the other
organelles in their cytoplasm. The remaining organelles hug the inside of the cell wall. The rest of
the space is a pipeline through which sugars and other foods are carried in a watery stream.
 Companion cells are phloem cells that surround sieve tube elements. They keep their
nuclei and other organelles throughout their lifetime. Companion cells support the
phloem cells and aid in the movement of substances in and out of the phloem stream.

Ground Tissue
The cells that lie between the dermal and vascular tissues
The types of cells found in ground tissue are parenchyma cells, collenchyma cells, and
sclerenchyma cells.
Parenchyma Cells have thin cell walls and large central vacuoles surrounded by a thin
layer of cytoplasm. In leaves, parenchyma cells are packed with chloroplasts and are
the site of most of a plant's photosynthesis.
Collenchyma Cells have strong, flexible cell walls that help support larger plants.
Sclerenchyma cells have extremely thick, rigid cell walls that make ground tissue tough
and strong.
Transport in Plants
Water transport
The combination of root pressure, capillary action, and transpiration provides enough
force to move water through the xylem tissue of even the largest plant.
 Root pressure is the pressure created by water entering the tissues of a root that push
water upward in a plant stem.
 Capillary action is the tendency of water to rise in a thin tube through cohesion and
adhesion. Cohesion is the attraction of molecules of the same substance to each
other. Because of cohesion, water molecules have the tendency to form hydrogen
bonds with each other. Adhesion is the attraction between unlike molecules. Water
molecules can also form hydrogen bonds with other substances through its adhesive
property. Water is attracted to the walls of the tube, and water molecules are attracted
to each other. The thinner the tube, the higher the water will rise inside it. Capillary
action is seen in the two main types of xylem which is the tracheid and vessel
 Transpiration is the most powerful force that contribute to water transport in plants.
Transpiration is the evaporation of water through the leaves. When water is lost
through transpiration, osmotic pressure moves water out of the vascular tissue of the
leaf. Then, the movement of water out of the leaf “pulls” water upward through the
vascular system all the way from the roots. This process is known as the transpiration
To understand what regulates the rate of transpiration, it helps to follow the path water
takes through the leaf. Water enters the leaf through the xylem and moves into spongy
mesophyll. This movement of water into the leaf raises water pressure in the guard cells
of the, opening the stomata. The rate of transpiration increases as water vapor escapes
through the open stomata. Falling water pressure in the leaf also affects the guard cells,
which then close the stomata. This limits further water loss from the leaf and helps the
plant to maintain homeostasis.

Nutrient transport
Many plants pump sugars into their fruits. All of this movement takes place in the
phloem. In cold climates, many plants pump food down to their roots for winter storage.
This stored food must be moved back into the truck and branches before growth begins
again in the spring. Phloem carries out this seasonal movement of sugars within a plant.
A process of phloem transport moves sugars through a plant from source to a sink.
A source can be any cell in which sugars are produced by photosynthesis. The sink is a
cell where the sugars are used or stored. How does phloem transport take place? One
idea put forward by many scientists is called the pressure-flow hypothesis or the
movement from source to sink.
In the pressure-flow hypothesis, sugars are pumped into the phloem at one point, called
the source. For example, sugars produced by photosynthesis may move from a leaf. As
concentrations of sugar increase in the phloem, water from the xylem moves in by
osmosis. This movement causes an increase in pressure at that point, forcing nutrient-
rich fluid to move through the phloem away from nutrient producing regions and toward
the region that uses these nutrients, called the sink.
Conversely, if a part of a plant actively absorbs nutrients from the phloem, osmosis
causes water to follow. This movement of water decreases pressure and causes a
movement of fluid in the phloem toward the sink. When nutrients are pumped into or
removed from the phloem system, the change in concentration causes a movement of
fluid in the same direction. As a result, phloem is able to move nutrients in either
direction to meet nutritional needs of the plant.