Geology: the Key Ideas (4th ed.).
Abingdon: Hodder Headline.
Geology is the study of our four-and-a-half billion-year-old planet - in particular of how the natural systems shaping its surface and interior work today and how they functioned in the past. It is far more than just rocks and fossils, though recognizing the different varieties of these and understanding the clues they can give you about the deep past is a crucial aspect of Geology. When you read this book, you will find that life has caused radical changes in the composition of the atmosphere, and that this in turn has affected how minerals and rocks weather and erode.
Earth's life-moderated temperature has allowed it (unlike Venus) to hang on to the store of liquid water that it inherited from its origin, maintaining surface conditions suitable for life and allowing rigid tectonic plates to glide around over the less rigid interior. You could argue "without water no life, without life no water, and hence without life no plate tectonics". In reality, it is not as simple as that becouse the Earth system is complex. The essence of how the "rock cycle" works (including the heating, melting, eruption, cooling, erosion, transportation, burial and deformation of rocks), and similarly the overlapping "hydrological cycle" and "carbon cycle" (exchange of water and carbon between the Earth's interior and atmosphere by routes both direct and indirect) may seem straightforward enough, but there are many processes that are inadequately understood and interrelationships that await deeper exploration.
I have tried to keep this book clear and relatively basic. It is, after all, an introduction. If you become sufficiently intrigued to want to look further into any part of my story, then I will have succeeded.
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