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Geology and Nonrenewable Mineral Resources

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1 Geology and Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
Chapter 15 Geology and Nonrenewable Mineral Resources

2 Chapter Overview Questions
What major geologic processes occur within the earth and on its surface? What are nonrenewable mineral resources and where are they found? What are rocks, and how are they recycled by the rock cycle? How do we find and extract mineral resources from the earth’s crust, and what harmful environmental effects result from removing and using these minerals?

3 Chapter Overview Questions (cont’d)
Will there be enough nonrenewable mineral resources for future generations? Can we find substitutes for scarce nonrenewable mineral resources? How can we shift to more sustainable use of nonrenewable mineral resources?

4 Core Case Study: The Nanotechnology Revolution
Nanotechnology uses science and engineering to create materials out of atoms and molecules at the scale of less than 100 nanometers. Little environmental harm: Does not use renewable resources. Potential biological concerns. Can move through cell membranes: Figure 15-1

5 GEOLOGIC PROCESSES The earth is made up of a core, mantle, and crust and is constantly changing as a result of processes taking place on and below its surface. The earth’s interior consists of: Core: innermost zone with solid inner core and molten outer core that is extremely hot. Mantle: solid rock with a rigid outer part (asthenosphere) that is melted pliable rock. Crust: Outermost zone which underlies the continents.

6 GEOLOGIC PROCESSES Major features of the earth’s crust and upper mantle. Figure 15-2

7 Tectonic plate Inner core
Spreading center Collision between two continents Oceanic tectonic plate Ocean trench Oceanic tectonic plate Plate movement Plate movement Tectonic plate Oceanic crust Oceanic crust Subduction zone Continental crust Continental crust Material cools as it reaches the outer mantle Cold dense material falls back through mantle Hot material rising through the mantle Mantle convection cell Figure 15.3 Natural capital: the earth’s crust is made up of a mosaic of huge rigid plates, called tectonic plates, which move around in response to forces in the mantle. Mantle Two plates move towards each other. One is subducted back into the mantle on a falling convection current. Hot outer core Inner core Fig. 15-3, p. 337

8 GEOLOGIC PROCESSES Huge volumes of heated and molten rock moving around the earth’s interior form massive solid plates that move extremely slowly across the earth’s surface. Tectonic plates: huge rigid plates that are moved with convection cells or currents by floating on magma or molten rock.

9 The Earth’s Major Tectonic Plates
Figure 15-4

10 Animation: Geological Forces

11 The Earth’s Major Tectonic Plates
The extremely slow movements of these plates cause them to grind into one another at convergent plate boundaries, move apart at divergent plate boundaries and slide past at transform plate boundaries. Figure 15-4

12 Figure 15.4 Natural capital: the earth’s major tectonic plates. The extremely slow movements of these plates cause them to grind into one another at convergent plate boundaries, move apart from one another at divergent plate boundaries, and slide past one another at transform plate boundaries. QUESTION: What plate are you floating on? Fig. 15-4, p. 338

13 Animation: Plate Margins

14 GEOLOGIC PROCESSES The San Andreas Fault is an example of a transform fault. Figure 15-5

15 Wearing Down and Building Up the Earth’s Surface
Weathering is an external process that wears the earth’s surface down. Figure 15-6

The earth’s crust consists of solid inorganic elements and compounds called minerals that can sometimes be used as resources. Mineral resource: is a concentration of naturally occurring material in or on the earth’s crust that can be extracted and processed into useful materials at an affordable cost.

17 General Classification of Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
The U.S. Geological Survey classifies mineral resources into four major categories: Identified: known location, quantity, and quality or existence known based on direct evidence and measurements. Undiscovered: potential supplies that are assumed to exist. Reserves: identified resources that can be extracted profitably. Other: undiscovered or identified resources not classified as reserves

18 General Classification of Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
Examples are fossil fuels (coal, oil), metallic minerals (copper, iron), and nonmetallic minerals (sand, gravel). Figure 15-7

19 GEOLOGIC PROCESSES Deposits of nonrenewable mineral resources in the earth’s crust vary in their abundance and distribution. A very slow chemical cycle recycles three types of rock found in the earth’s crust: Sedimentary rock (sandstone, limestone). Metamorphic rock (slate, marble, quartzite). Igneous rock (granite, pumice, basalt).

20 Rock Cycle Figure 15-8

The extraction, processing, and use of mineral resources has a large environmental impact. Figure 15-9

22 Natural Capital Degradation
Extracting, Processing, and Using Nonrenewable Mineral and Energy Resources Steps Environmental effects Mining Disturbed land; mining accidents; health hazards, mine waste dumping, oil spills and blowouts; noise; ugliness; heat Exploration, extraction Processing Transportation, purification, manufacturing Solid wastes; radioactive material; air, water, and soil pollution; noise; safety and health hazards; ugliness; heat Use Figure 15.10 Natural capital degradation: some harmful environmental effects of extracting, processing, and using nonrenewable mineral and energy resources. The energy required to carry out each step causes additional pollution and environmental degradation. Transportation or transmission to individual user, eventual use, and discarding Noise; ugliness; thermal water pollution; pollution of air, water, and soil; solid and radioactive wastes; safety and health hazards; heat Fig , p. 344

Minerals are removed through a variety of methods that vary widely in their costs, safety factors, and levels of environmental harm. A variety of methods are used based on mineral depth. Surface mining: shallow deposits are removed. Subsurface mining: deep deposits are removed.

24 Open-pit Mining Machines dig holes and remove ores, sand, gravel, and stone. Toxic groundwater can accumulate at the bottom. Figure 15-11

25 Area Strip Mining Earth movers strips away overburden, and giant shovels removes mineral deposit. Often leaves highly erodible hills of rubble called spoil banks. Figure 15-12

26 Contour Strip Mining Used on hilly or mountainous terrain.
Unless the land is restored, a wall of dirt is left in front of a highly erodible bank called a highwall. Figure 15-13

27 Mountaintop Removal Machinery removes the tops of mountains to expose coal. The resulting waste rock and dirt are dumped into the streams and valleys below. Figure 15-14

28 Mining Impacts Metal ores are smelted or treated with (potentially toxic) chemicals to extract the desired metal. Figure 15-15

The future supply of a resource depends on its affordable supply and how rapidly that supply is used. A rising price for a scarce mineral resource can increase supplies and encourage more efficient use.

Depletion curves for a renewable resource using three sets of assumptions. Dashed vertical lines represent times when 80% depletion occurs. Figure 15-16

New technologies can increase the mining of low-grade ores at affordable prices, but harmful environmental effects can limit this approach. Most minerals in seawater and on the deep ocean floor cost too much to extract, and there are squabbles over who owns them.

32 Getting More Minerals from the Ocean
Hydrothermal deposits form when mineral-rich superheated water shoots out of vents in solidified magma on the ocean floor. Figure 15-17

Scientists and engineers are developing new types of materials as substitutes for many metals. Recycling valuable and scarce metals saves money and has a lower environmental impact then mining and extracting them from their ores.

34 Sustainable Use of Nonrenewable Minerals
Solutions Sustainable Use of Nonrenewable Minerals • Do not waste mineral resources. • Recycle and reuse 60–80% of mineral resources. • Include the harmful environmental costs of mining and processing minerals in the prices of items (full-cost pricing). • Reduce subsidies for mining mineral resources. • Increase subsidies for recycling, reuse, and finding less environmentally harmful substitutes. • Redesign manufacturing processes to use less mineral resources and to produce less pollution and waste. Figure 15.18 Solutions: ways to achieve more sustainable use of nonrenewable mineral resources. QUESTION: Which two of the solutions do you think are the most important? • Have the mineral-based wastes of one manufacturing process become the raw materials for other processes. • Sell services instead of things. • Slow population growth. Fig , p. 351

35 Case Study: The Ecoindustrial Revolution
Growing signs point to an ecoindustrial revolution taking place over the next 50 years. The goal is to redesign industrial manufacturing processes to mimic how nature deals with wastes. Industries can interact in complex resource exchange webs in which wastes from manufacturer become raw materials for another.

36 Case Study: The Ecoindustrial Revolution
Figure 15-19

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