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Understanding The Earth

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130 Pages
English

Description

For all curious readers, the Knowledge Guides open the door to a world of complex and captivating phenomena.
Accurate, detailed visual information is all defined in lay language to make it readily accessible to the non-expert. Definitions to scientific terms are given either in the explanation itself, or in the comprehensive glossary.

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 08 August 2012
Reads 0
EAN13 9782764408902
Language English
Document size 60 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0027€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Exrait

THE VISUAL GUIDES

Understanding
The
Earth

QA INTERNATIONAL

Understanding
Planet
Earth

Publisher
Editorial Director
Executive Editor
Illustrations Editor
Art Director
Graphic Designer
Writers

Translator
Computer Graphic Artists

Page Layout

Researchers

Earth Reviewer

Copy Editor
Production
Prepress

Jacques Fortin

François Fortin

Serge D’Amico

Marc Lalumière

Rielle Lévesque
Anne Tremblay
Nathalie Fredette
Stéphane Batigne
Josée Bourbonnière
Claude Lafleur
Agence Science-Presse
Käthe Roth
Jean-Yves Ahern
Maxime Bigras
Patrice Blais
Yan Bohler
Mélanie Boivin
Charles Campeau
Jocelyn Gardner
Jonathan Jacques
Alain Lemire
Raymond Martin
Nicolas Oroc
Carl Pelletier
Simon Pelletier
Frédérick Simard
Mamadou Togola
Yan Tremblay
Lucie Mc Brearty
Véronique Boisvert
Geneviève Théroux Béliveau
Anne-MarieVilleneuve
Anne-Marie Brault
Kathleen Wynd
Jessie Daigle

Michèle Fréchet
Jafar Arkani-Hamed

Jane Broderick

Mac Thien Nguyen Hoang

Kien Tang
Karine Lévesque

The Visual Guide to Understanding Planet Earthwas created and produced by
QA International
e
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Montréal (Québec) H2Y 2E1 Canada
T514.499.3000 F514.499.3010
©2007 QA International. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without written permission in writing from
the Publisher.

The publisher acknowledges the financial support of the
Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry
Development Program (BPIDP) for its publishing activities.


)3".




0rinted and bound inSlovakia.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 10 20 30 40
www.qa-international.com

Understanding
Planet
Earth

QA INTERNATIONAL

4

28
26
24
22
20
18

Types of rocks

The life cycle of rocks

Mineral shapes

The minerals

Geomagnetism

Inside Earth

6 | Earth’s history16 | Earth’s structure
8The formation of Earth
10The geologic time scale
12Life emerges on the continents
14Our knowledge of geologic time

Ta b l e

30 | Tectonics
and volcanism

32
34
36
38
40
42
43
44
46
48

Plate tectonics
The fate of Pangaea
Continental drift
Volcanoes
Volcanism
Volcanic eruptions
Hot spots
Geysers
Earthquakes
Seismic waves

68
66
64
62
60
58
56
54
52

o f

The tides
Tsunamis
Waves
Ocean currents
Oceanic trenches and ridges
The ocean floor
The world ocean

The world’s rivers and lakes

Watercourses

50 | Water and oceans

c

87
86
84
82
80
78
76
75
74
72

o

Icebergs
Glacial erosion
Glaciers
Configuration of the coastline
Mountains of the world
How mountains are formed
Caves
Landslides
The cycle of erosion
Erosion

70 | The evolving landscape

n

t

e

122
120
118
116
114
112
111
110

n

t

Africa
Oceania
Asia
Europe
South America
North America
Antarctica
Configuration of the continents

88 | Representations108 | The continents
of Earth
90Terrestrial coordinates
92Cartographic projection
94 Cartography
96Cartographic conventions
98Physical and topographic maps
100Thematic maps
102Remote sensing
104Satellites and shuttles
106Time zones

s

124 | Glossary
126 | Index
128 | Photo credits

5

from a cloud of dust
Earth, born 4.6 billion years ago , did not always look like the planet that we know
increasingly
today. In fact, it has been changing constantly throughout its history, becoming
organized and complex
. This fascinating evolution is revealed through the rocks and fossils

that provide evidence of our planet’s early times.

Earth’s history

8

10

12

14

The formation of Earth
How it all started

The geologic time scale
Finding the origins of life

Life emerges on the continents
Increasingly complex organisms

Our knowledge of geologic time
Sources for dating

T h e f o r m a t i o n o f E a r t h
How it all started

Five billion years ago, the Solar System did not exist. There was only a huge
diffuse cloud of dust and gases turning slowly on itself. Over time, the Sun was
formed, followed by the nine planets,
including Earth, which formed
Earth’s history
like a snowball, by the
agglomeration of matter
around the original nebula.

0Q

W0

0E

R0
EMERGING FROM A CLOUD OF DUST
It all started 4.6 billion years ago, in one of
the spiral arms of the Milky Way. Impacted by
a shock wave that probably came from the
explosion of massive stars, a cloud of dust
(the solar nebula )ate rotn tobegaQ.
At the center of the cloud, matter became
increasingly dense, hot, and luminous.
It gave rise to an embryonic star, which
became the SunW.
Dust in the surrounding area began to
agglomerate. Small pebbles grew larger,
forming embryonic planets, or protoplanets,
a few kilometers in diameter E.
The protoplanets collided with each other
and agglomerated until they reached the size
of planetsveral th(seins retemolik dnasuo
diameter). Over hundreds of millions of years,
the emerging planets, including Earth, were
intensely bombarded by other rocky bodies

R.

LIFE ARISES FROM A BALL OF LAVA
When it was first formed, about 4.6 billion years ago, Earth was completely covered with an ocean of
burning lavacihtI .ktemo sreeddril kalerun horkcs—vel—qiiu d oceron rsu tr crithed net haT.
Little by little, the ocean of lava cooled. Pieces of crusta dnf oltadeo nthe surface of tenalp eh,tfoedrm
which was being intensely bombarded by meteorites and comets Y.
Over time, an early crust. The heformednest ,usva ylemetheorm to fted nnd aonirs achartnecnoc ,lekci
core, while the lighter elements (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, etc.) formed the crust U.
Earth was also host to intense volcanic activity, which led to the expulsion of light gases and liberated an
early atmosphereropav re demrof ; dsouclethrene trfll yidffs radicathat wa,destaw oc tnedn. ’s iAs tomayod
advent of rain allowed for the creation of lakes, rivers, and oceans. At the same time, the crust broke up and
formed continents I.
The presence of continents, oceans, and an oxygen-poor atmosphere resulted in the formation of more and
more complex molecules, which led to a remarkable phenomenon: lifehtraE retfa syearion billn a t ahoMer .
was born, life appeared in the oceans O!nesto th ontntine coaey t srme oegre aokew fil bonli .tIt eh not

0T

0Y

crater

continent

ocean

0O

0U

I0

meteorite

volcano

Earth’s history

T h e g e o l o g i c
t i m e s c a l e

Finding the origins of life

Since it came into being, 4.6 billion years ago, Earth has undergone numerous
transformations. In the beginning, it bore absolutely no resemblance to what we
Earth’s history
see today. The planet’s landscape changed very slowly: continents and oceans
formed, animal and plant species appeared and then were replaced by others.

10

To determine and date the major transformations of a world in perpetual change,
geologists have created a geologic time scale.

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE WORLD: AQUATIC LIFE
The Precambrian Period Qis the oldest and longest period in the
history of Earth. During this period, 4 billion years ago, the terrestrial
crust was formed, followed by the continents and oceans. Life
came into being 500 million years later, when the first
cellular organisms appeared, along with the first
bacteria and algae.
Precambrian
Q
In the Cambrian Period W, various groups
(4.6 b.y. to 570 m.y.)
of invertebrates evolved in the shallow
seas that covered much of Earth.
The first vertebrates appeared in the
following period, the Ordovician E.
There were also great quantities of
coral, sponges, and mollusks
such as cephalopods.

Cyanobacteria, colmymon
called blue-green algae, were
the first micro-organisms to
appear on Earth.

The trilobitewas an invertebrate
with an exoskeleton and a body
divided into three lobes.

m.y.: Millions of years ago

W
(570C–a5m0b5 rmia.yn.)

The brachiopodwas a marine
animal whose thin shell was
covered with grooves.

Calcareous concretions
formed by microscopic
algae, stromatolites,
more than 3 billion years
ago were evidence of the
first life forms.

The first vertebrates
were agnaths f,his
with no jaw.

E
Ordovician
(505–440 m.y.)

The Orthoceras cephalopod, ancestor of the
squid, the octopus, and the nautilus, had
a flat or slightly curved shell.

THE HISTORY OF EARTH IN ONE YEAR
It is difficult to conceive of such a huge stretch of time as 4.6 billion years of evolution, but we can get
an idea by squeezing the period into one year. Imagine that Earth was created at midnight on January 1.
The first life form appeared in April. Plants started to grow on land at the end of November. Dinosaurs first
walked the Earth in mid-December, and disappeared on December 25 at around 7:00 p.m. Human beings
populated Earth on December 31 at 11:25 p.m. and built the pyramids in Egypt at 11:59.29 p.m. America
was discovered at 11:59.57 p.m.!
THE CONQUEST OF EARTH
During the Silurian Period R, the first land-based plants grew and fish with jaws began to appear.
The Devonian Period Tmarked the arrival of insects and the first land-based animals: amphibians. During this
period, fish species became more diversified, and the continents, previously barren, began to be covered with
horsetails and ferns.
During the Carboniferous Period Y, a rise in sea level led to the formation of huge marshes. All of
the vegetation died and decomposed, forming layers of peat that became deposits of coal. The first
reptiles appeared.

Fernsbegan to grow at the water’s
edge. Some were small, but others
were as tall as today’s trees.

The oldest insect known, the
archaeognath, had no wings, but
it did have long antennae.

Over time, the fins of some fish
were transformed into limbs.
Theichthyostegawas one of the
first amphibians to evolve. Its
tail looked like a fishtail.

Acanthodians,t ehf thwih is fstir
jaws, appeared during the Silurian
Period. Their fins had long spines.

Cooksoniaa omgnrewe
the first plants to grow
on land. They consisted
of stems, with no leaves
or roots.

R
Silurian
(440–410 m.y.)

The oldest winged insects date from
this period. Among them was the
giant meganeura dragonflyht ,iw
a wingspan of 70 cm.

T
Devonian
(410–360 m.y.)

In coniferous forests, millipedes
such as the arthropleura
measured up to 2 m in length.

Sharks were among
the dominant fish
of the Carboniferous
Period. Some species,
such as the falcatus,
had a jagged spine on
top of their heads.

YCarboniferous
(360–286 m.y.)

11

Earth’s history

L i f e e m e r g e s o n
t h e c o n t i n e n t s
Increasingly complex organisms

REPTILES, MAMMALS, AND DINOSAURS
In the Permian Period Uame dryer. aomhimpanbiass eht ilc etamceb dndebauoel speitr fr oveking, ta r,
At this time, the continental masses formed a single supercontinent: Pangaea.
Earth’s history
During the Triassic Period I, upvigibro k eageb t naitnotnene superc, ths.nentonti’s cdoyaott si egnr
Mammals, dinosaurs, and a variety of aquatic reptiles appeared.
During the following period, the Jurassic O, Pangaea broke apart, creating a space that became the
Atlantic Ocean. Dinosaurs such as the plateosaurus and the brontosaurus dominated the planet. Some
reptiles and the first birds took flight. Flowering plants began to grow.

12

The dimetrodoneno sao wethf
carnivorous reptiles that dominated
in the Permian Period. This animal’s
large wingspan enabled it to regulate
its body temperature.

The plateosauruswas one of the
largest dinosaurs of the Jurassic
Period. This long-necked
herbivore stood on its hind legs
to reach the leaves on trees.

Among the Triassic Period dinosaurs was
the biped coelophysiscarosuoi a v,
predator with powerful talons.

The mouse-sized
megazostrodon onefw oas
the first mammals to appear
on Earth. An insectivore, it
was active mainly at night.

Permian
U
0
(286–245 m.y.)
The first marine reptile, the
mesosaurus, was a small animal
with a long, pointed muzzle.
It swam in shallow waters.

ITriassic
0
(245–208 m.y.)

A medium-sized, long-necked reptile,
the nothosaurusteh defbeebdaw
adapted for swimming.

The archaeopteryx, one of the
earliest winged animals, had
features typical of both reptiles
(claws, teeth, long tail) and
birds (wings, feathers).

OJurassic
0
(208–145 m.y.)

The ichthyosaurusev dekooyrl
similar to a dolphin. This marine
reptile measured from 1 to 5 m
in length and was very well
adapted to aquatic life.