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Portal:Earth sciences

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Introduction

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Earth Science is the branch that deals with physical constitution of the Earth and its atmosphere. Earth sciences (also known as geoscience, the geosciences or Earth Science) is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. They are a special type of planetary sciences which deal with the structure and composition of the Earth, its origins, physical features, changing aspects, and all of its natural phenomena. Earth is the only planet known to have life, and hence the only planet with biological processes and a biosphere.

The major disciplines of Earth sciences use physics, mathematics, and chemistry to build a quantitative understanding of the principal areas or spheres of the Earth system. As in many sciences, the Earth can be studied both experimentally and theoretically. Also, there are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth Science.

Although mining and precious stones have been in human interests throughout the history of civilization, their development into the sciences of economic geology and mineralogy did not occur until the 18th century. The study of the earth, particularly palaeontology, blossomed in the 19th century and the growth of other disciplines like geophysics in the 20th century led to the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s, which has had a similar impact on the Earth sciences as the theory of evolution had on biology. Earth sciences today are closely linked to climate research and the petroleum and mineral exploration industries.

Applications of Earth sciences include the exploration and exploitation of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, cartography, weather forecasting patterns, and warning of volcanic eruptions. Earth sciences are related to the environmental sciences as well as the other subfields of planetary astronomy.

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Geyser
A geyser is a hot spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accomplished by a vapor phase. The name geyser comes from Geysir, the name of an erupting spring at Haukadalur, Iceland; that name, in turn, comes from the Icelandic verb gjósa, “to gush”. The formation of geysers requires a favourable hydrogeology which exists in only a few places on Earth, and so they are fairly rare phenomena. There must be a volcanic heat source. Generally all geyser field sites are located near active volcanic areas. The surface water works its way down to an average depth of around 2,134 metres (7,001 ft) where it meets up with the hot rocks. About a thousand exist worldwide, with about half of these in Yellowstone National Park, USA. A geyser's eruptive activity may change or cease due to ongoing mineral deposition within the geyser plumbing, exchange of functions with nearby hot springs, earthquake influences, and human intervention. Erupting fountains of liquefied nitrogen have been observed on Neptune's moon Triton, as have possible signs of carbon dioxide eruptions from Mars' south polar ice cap. These phenomena are also often referred to as geysers. Instead of being driven by geothermal energy, they seem to rely on solar heating aided by a kind of solid-state greenhouse effect. On Triton, the nitrogen may erupt to heights of 8 kilometres (5 mi).

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Glacial lakes, Bhutan
Credit: NASA & USGS

Glacier retreat is a type of glacial motion in which more material ablates from its terminus of the glacier than is replenished by flow into that region. In this region of the Bhutan-Himalaya, glacial lakes have been rapidly forming on the surface of the debris-covered glaciers and researchers have found a strong correlation between increasing temperatures and glacial retreat.

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Halemaumau crater, Hawaii

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For a more comprehensive treatment of topics, see Outline of earth science and Index of earth science articles

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