Tides are created by tectonic processes
produced by the moon and sun on the planet, and they can provide renewable
energy to people living along the coasts. By their constant circulation, they
help to remove toxic pollutants and circulate nutrients for animals to survive.
Tides can affect the currents and the depth of coastal areas. They can also
affect weather and water temperature by mixing artic with warmer water, which
can balance the temperature of the planet.
Sediment transportation is the movement of
materials (minerals or organic matter) thanks to water motion. Those sediments
are important for developing aquatic ecosystems because they help to replenish
nutrients. Even though sediment deposition helps aquatic ecosystems, if the
depositions are too high or low, they can cause environmental issues. Sediment
deposition is extremely important because, without them, coastal zones will be
Hydraulic action, abrasion, impact and
corrosion can cause coastal erosion. Hydraulic action is the mechanical
weathering produced by constant impact of water against the rock. Abrasion is
the weathering of a rock produced by constant impact of rocks, pebbles, and
sand. Corrosion is the degradation of materials produced by chemical reactions
such as oxidation.
A very important control method for
erosion is the construction of groynes, they are structures build along the
coasts preventing erosion by interrupting water flow and movement of sediments.
They are usually made of concrete or stone, and they are constructed along the
coast. Groynes alter the natural state of the beaches and they are highly
criticized because they are expensive and difficult to maintain.
Barrier islands are long and narrow islands
made out of sand or sediments that run parallel to continental mainland. They
protect the coast from erosions and are build up by waves and currents. The
most common areas in which we can find barrier islands are the Atlantic and
Gulf coast of North America. Because of their nature, they are constantly
changing by the motion of water.
Estuaries are bodies of brackish water in
which rivers meet the ocean. This habitat brings home to specific plants and animals
that are adapted to brackish water, and many animals rely on estuaries as
migration stopovers, places to breed and obtain food. They are exposed to
oceanic influences such as waves and tides; and to river influences such as
fresh water and sediments.
Alternative Energy Sources
Nuclear Power has two types of processes:
fission and fusion. Fission is when the atomic nuclei splits away into smaller
ones, and fusion is the combination of small nuclei forming a larger one, both
realizing energy. Fission can be used commercially as a source of energy by the
process of chain reaction. This chain reaction is the basis for powered
reactors, and the one of the most important nucleus is the isotope Uranium-235.
We should consider using solar power
because is a completely renewable resource and does not pollute. Even though
solar panels are expensive, eventually, they’ll keep you saving money because
they are durable. There are two types of solar heating: 1) Passive solar
heating is a natural way to heat your house during winter, and block the sun
during summer, this is possible depending on the architecture of the house. 2)
Active solar heating uses electrical equipment but using the sun as the main
source of energy.
Geothermal energy is heat energy that is stored
in the Earth’s crust, is it renewable and provides energy around the world; they
can be found in plate boundaries, the Ring of Fire, volcanoes, gleysers, and
hot springs. When hot water and steam are trapped in porous rocks, they form a
geothermal reservoir. This type of energy can be brought into the surface by
electricity generation and geothermal heat pumps. They can be used as hots
springs, for heating water, and raising plants in greenhouses.
Hydro power is energy derived from falling
or running water and can be used for many purposes. This type of energy
involves using large volumes of water and rapid movements of the same. It is
highly commercialized, and it provides about 5% of the U.S electricity. It’s a
very clean energy source because the water is not contaminated with chemicals,
but the construction of hydroelectric affects the natural state of the place
affecting animal species.
power converts energy obtained from oceanic tides into electricity, today is
not used a lot but it has potential for future electricity generation. This
type of energy is very expensive, and it has limited availability of sites with
high tidal ranges. However, many technological developments indicate that the
availability of tidal power will be higher, and the cost may be brought down.
Primary sources of energy are the ones that
we can use as they appear in the environment, they include coal, oil, natural
gas and fuels derived from oil shale and tar sand. Fossil fuels are primary
sources of energy that are formed from the remain living organisms. These
sources can be transformed into energy that can be directly used by society by
producing electricity, or used as refined or synthetic fuels.
There are 5 factors that produce mass wasting: 1)
Oversaturation of material with water, which includes rains, melting of scow
capes, or over irrigation. 2) Over-steeping of slopes, in which mining and road
excavation influence. 3) Overloading, which means excessive weight in high
areas. 4) Removal of anchoring vegetation by deforestation or replacing the
native vegetation with other vegetation with shallower roots. 5) Ground
vibrations including natural, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; and
man-made such as the ones produced by constructions or vehicles.
Flow is a type of landslide which moves in a chaotic way
making it violent; exist various types of flow depending on the material that
it is composed, for example, pyroclastic flows produced by volcanoes. A flow
composed by various materials such as mud, sand, soil, trees, etc. are called
debris flow, in order to happen, the area must have a very steep slope,
humidity, and sparse vegetation. The velocity of the flows vary from extremely
fast to slow depending on the slope of the mountain.
A way to prevent landslides is supporting the slopes with
vegetation because the roots help to keep the soil compressed. Other methods
include building retaining walls, reinforcing with concrete and rock bolts
which are anchor bolt applied inside a rock mass that helps to stabilize rock
excavations. Another method is hardening the soil with solutions such as
calcium and magnesium chloride.
Submarine landslides are common in inclined seafloor areas
transporting sediment from mainland to deep ocean. They occur in places where
are subjected to earthquakes and storm waves, and they can be source of
tsunamis and collapse of coastal areas. The mobilization of sediments depends
on the density, softer sediments will travel long distances; and the amount of
energy that the sediment has while falling.
An avalanche is the rapid flow of snow that grows in mass as
they pull more snow, the amount of snow depends on the acceleration and slope.
Some causes of avalanches include earthquakes, rain, and rock-falls, and
melting due to solar radiation, but they occur mostly during storms. They are
different from mudslide because they have less viscosity and fluidity, and from
rock slides because they are ice free.
Soil as a Resource
Soil can have different colors and it indicates the
composition of the soil, for example, red soil contains iron, white soil
contains calcite, dark brown and black contain organic matter. Soil texture can
be determined by its texture of by using qualitative methods and their
classification depends on the percentages of clay, sand and silt in the soil.
There are cases that soils can have mixture of particles; it is considered a
loam if it has three particles, but if it has two particles the name varies
depending of the composition.
Soils have two classifications: pedocal and pedalfer soils.
Pedalfer soils are found in wet and humid climate, they are composed of
aluminum and iron oxides, leaching depends on the climate, for example, the
wetter the climate, more leaching; and they tend to have red color. Pedocal
soils are found in dry climates, they are rich in calcium and low in organic
matter; this type of soils can be typically found in Western USA.
Soil is produced by mechanical weathering of rocks and
minerals, and it is composed by organic and inorganic materials. Some factors
that determine this process are the composition of materials, time, topography,
and the climate which is the most important. Soil horizon is a layer and are
defined by their physical features such as color or texture, and composition:
the upper layer contains organic material or humus, and the lowest one is the
Wetland soils are rich in organic matter, saturated with
water, and act as retention ponds for flood waters. They play number of roles
in the environment with water purification, and providing habitats for
waterbirds and aquatic plants. Wetlands are highly affected by water pollution
and rising sea levels, and the have been drained for land development.
The Dust Bowl was a period that began in the 1930’s, of dust
storms that affected agriculture of the American and Canadian. It affected a
large area composed of 100 million acres around 5 states. It was caused by
clearing natural vegetation, drought, sustained winds, and poor farming
practices. Some consequences were farming crisis, dust storms, deaths and dust
Water as a Resource
Almost 98% of fresh water is found in the groundwater; they
are extremely important because they supply drinking water, help to grow food,
are used in many industrial processes, and they are also a source of recharge
for lakes and wetlands. The fluid storage and mobility depends on the
permeability and porosity of the groundwater. Igneous and metamorphic rocks
have low porosity and permeability, sedimentary rocks may have cavities, and
clastic sediments always present cavities.
Groundwater flows from high pressure to low pressure and
from high to low elevations. It can be recharge by the processes of
infiltration, percolation, and migration, and it is discharged when it flows
into a stream or escapes to the surface in a spring. The discharge can vary
depending on soil moisture, groundwater storage, evaporation, and permeability.
An aquifer is a rock with sufficient porosity and
permeability to hold water, this water can be extracted from wells. Aquitards
are the ones with high porosity and low permeability. The recharge of an
aquifer can occur naturally by the process of water cycle, and by anthropogenic
processes when recycled water is routed to the subsurface. Aquifers can occur
in various depths, and the ones closer to the surface are used for water supply.
Karsts are areas formed from the dissolution of rocks such
as limestone, gypsum, and dolomite; those rocks are very soluble in water.
Karst aquifers tend to form extensive channels and large caves formed by
chemical dissolution. Because of the irregular distribution and channels, is
difficult to estimate the amount of water, and contaminants can spread quickly.
These aquifers contain freshwater and 40% of the water used in the USA comes
Hard water is the water that has high amount of mineral content,
happens when water passes though deposits of limestone and chalk made up of
calcium and magnesium. Even though it is not harmful for health, it can pose
serious problems in industrial settings. It prevents soap from lathering
properly and leave mineral deposits in plumbing and domestic devices. Water
softening is used to reduce hard water’s effects.
when a water source is excessively enriched with nutrients, allowing the growth
of plants and algaes but result in oxygen depletion. The water is covered with
algal blooms which limits light penetration into the water, reducing growth and
death of plants. It is induced by the discharge of fertilizers, detergents, and
sewage into the water. Panama Bay is considered an eutrophic area, resulting
from pollution, and this can decrease biodiversity and toxicity effects.
Using natural and chemical products for farming can lead to
agricultural pollution affecting living organisms, humans, and economy. The causes
of this pollution include the use of pesticides and fertilizers, contaminated
water, soil erosion and sedimentation, pests, and weeds. To prevent agricultural
pollution, people should use fertilizers at the right time and quantity, plant
certain grasses to prevent soil erosion, and manage animal wastes.
contaminations result from human activities, and occur in areas where the use of
land is intensive, and the population density is high. Chemicals and wastes
contaminate ground water, the migration occurs from areas of high to low concentration,
and is difficult and expensive to clean up the water. Contaminated water can
cause diseases, harms wildlife, toxic water, affect economy, and could produce certain
types of cancer.