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Have you ever wondered how scientists analyse the environment? This free course, Practising science: Reading the rocks and ecology, introduces you to the techniques used by science students at residential schools. You will learn how to determine where rocks have come from and how they were made. You will also examine the processes involved in determining the ecology of a particular area.
By the end of this free course you should be able to:
- explain the difference between a mineral and a rock;
- describe the textural differences between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks;
- account for these differences in terms of the processes that produce these rocks;
- classify igneous rocks according to their grain size and mineralogical composition;
- recognise the difference between a body fossil and a trace fossil;
- sketch a rock exposure and identify faults, folds and joints;
- suggest a sequence of geological events that can best explain the features observed in a rock exposure;
- relate processes of the rock cycle to a plate tectonic setting;
- describe the causes of sea-level changes and evidence for these changes;
- understand how to use a hand lens;
- define ecology;
- explain some of the reasons why the study of ecology is important;
- describe some of the ways in which soil pH influences the distribution of organisms;
- describe some of the seaweeds and some animals zonation on rocky shores;
- describe in general terms how transects, quadrats, point quadrants and time counts can be used objectively to collect quantitative data about field sites.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Earth Sciences: reading the rocks
- 1.1 About this unit
- 1.2 The Earth's crust
- 1.3 Minerals and rocks
- 1.4 The formation of igneous rocks
- 1.5 The formation of sedimentary rocks
- 1.6 The formation of metamorphic rocks
- 1.7 Interlude
- 1.8 Geological fieldwork
- 1.9 The rock cycle
- 1.10 Changing sea-level
- 1.11 Summary
- 2 What is ecology?
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Practising science: reading the rocks and ecology
This unit introduces you to the types of activities undertaken by students of the earth sciences and ecology. You will learn how data is collected and analysed.
This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from SXR103_1Practising science, which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Geology courses or view the range of currently available OU Geology courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 19th July 2011
Last updated on: Monday, 17th March 2014
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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