An introduction to geology
An introduction to geology

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An introduction to geology

Week 1: Building stone

Introduction to Week 1

In this free course, An introduction to geology, you will discover how your mobile phone is linked to the ocean floor and volcanoes, how the plastics industry makes use of tiny marine plants and animals, and why your kitchen worktop’s appearance is influenced by colliding continents.

Start by watching the video below, where course authors Anne Jay and Marcus Badger go into more detail about the material you will study.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1.1 Introducing the course
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Transcript: Video 1.1 Introducing the course

ANNE JAY:
I don’t see any fossils in here. Do you?
MARCUS BADGER:
No, I don’t either.
ANNE JAY:
You can see, here, the tiny, little needle-like little bits of, possibly, creedite?
MARCUS BADGER:
This is glass. Glass is made from sand, sand just like …
MARCUS BADGER:
… some sort. So, what are they?
ANNE JAY:
We’re going to go on a journey of discovery, digging out the geology of the world around us. And, whilst we do that, we are going to find out some amazing things about the Earth.
MARCUS BADGER:
Everything around us that hasn’t been grown either relies on or contains material that had to be found by a geologist.
ANNE JAY:
In this course, we’re going to look at ocean floors, volcanoes, and how they’re linked to your mobile phone.
MARCUS BADGER:
We’re going to learn how colliding continents and mountain-building processes influence the appearance of many buildings and some kitchen worktops.
ANNE JAY:
And we’re going to look at natural resources and how they impact the environment and the economy.
Whether you’re in an ordinary house like this or out in the wilderness, geology is all around us. And the materials that are sourced by geoscientists are found there, as well.
So come and have a look at this. This is a great rock. So this is what we call an "igneous" rock. And although pretty hard now, it was actually molten, at one point, deep inside the Earth.
Now we can see little crystals, little needle-like crystals, in here. Now this tells us that it wasn’t erupted like a lava from a volcano. It cooled deep inside the ground and was then mined out to become my fireplace.
MARCUS BADGER:
So, if we come out here, we’ve got glass. Glass like this, it’s from sand, just ordinary sand that would be, like, on a beach. And that’s the sediment. And that’s what forms sedimentary rocks. So this is basically just rocks formed from bits of other rocks.
ANNE JAY:
Come on, let’s see what we can find in the bathroom. This is great. So, talcum powder that a lot of us have around. The main ingredient is talc, hence it’s called ‘talcum powder’, and that’s a metamorphic rock.
So the way that actually forms is, in the Earth you have plates. One goes down underneath the other one. In this zone where it goes down, you get lots of pressure, not too much temperature, and that’s just the place that talc forms.
MARCUS BADGER:
So, in this room, one thing that stands out is this vacuum. That’s made of plastic. So, plastics are oil derivatives. And hundreds of millions of years ago this would have been little, tiny bugs, billions of them, swimming around in the sea. But now that’s been turned into oil, and we’ve turned it into plastics. And we’re going to do a lot more on oil derivatives later in the course.
End transcript: Video 1.1 Introducing the course
Video 1.1 Introducing the course
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In this first week of the course, you will learn about different types of rock, before finding and identifying some rocks near you. You’ll finish the week by looking at the rock cycle and plate tectonics.

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