Chapter 8 Studying the Earth's Surface

Chapter 8 Studying the Earth's Surface - 2009 Allan Ludman...

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1 CHAPTER 8 STUDYING EARTH’S LANDFORMS PURPOSE • To understand the different ways in which geologists study the surface of the Earth. • To be able to select the most appropriate image for studying an aspect of Earth’s surface • To practice interpreting landform models MATERIALS NEEDED • A clear plastic ruler marked in millimeters and/or tenths of an inch and • a circular protractor. • A globe and maps provided by your instructor 8.1 INTRODUCTION It is easier to study Earth’s surface today than at any time in history. To help understand surface features, we can now make detailed surface models from satellite elevation surveys and download images of any point on the planet at the click of a mouse using Google Earth ® and NASA’s WorldWind. Geologists were quick to understand the scientific value of satellite imaging technology and adapt new methods as quickly as they are developed. You will use images in this manual that even researchers didn’t have at their disposal a decade ago. The study of the Earth’s surface is almost as dynamic as the surface itself! And you don’t have to be in a college laboratory to use this technology because much of it can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. Google Earth ® and NASA’s World Wind show satellite images of the entire globe and can be used to get three-dimensional views. Microdem® can build realistic digital elevation models of the landscape, draw topographic profiles, measure straight-line distances and the length of meandering streams, and estimate slope steepness. Other resources are relatively inexpensive: National Geographic’s TOPO! provides continuous topographic map coverage of each state for about $100 and also draws profiles and measures distances. 8.2 IMAGES USED TO STUDY EARTH’S SURFACE © 2009 Allan Ludman and Stephen Marshak W.W. Norton & Company
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