Glossary


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BED--A layer of rock in the Earth. Also the bottom of a body of water such as a river, lake, or sea.

BLUFF--A high and steep bank or cliff.

BUTTE--A steep-sided hill with steep sides that usually stands away from other hills.

CHAT--Small pieces of crushed rock and gravel. May be used for paving roads and roofs.

CUESTA--A hill with a steep slope on one side and a gentle slope on the other. Cuesta is the Spanish word for cliff.

DELTA--A deposit of sand and other sediment, usually triangular in shape. Deltas form at the mouths of rivers where the water flows into the sea.

DEPOSITION--The laying down of sediment such as sand, soil, clay, or gravel by wind or water. It may later be compacted into hard rock and buried by other sediment.

ERA--A unit of geologic time usually lasting hundreds of millions of years. Eras are divided into smaller units of geologic time called periods.

EROSION--The wearing away, breaking down, or dissolving of rock and other material by wind or water. The eroded material is often carried off and deposited in other areas.

ESCARPMENT--A steep slope or cliff.

EVAPORITE--Sediment deposited when sea water evaporates. Gypsum, salt, and anhydrite are evaporites left behind when ancient Kansas seas dried up.

EXTINCT--No longer existing. Many types or species of animals, such as dinosaurs, lived in the past but are found no where in the world today. They are extinct.

FAULT--A fracture or break in underground rock along which one or both sides move. Movement along faults may produce earthquakes.

FOSSIL--The outline, traces, or body part of a plant or animal that has been preserved in rock. Animal tracks preserved in rocks are also fossils.

GEOLOGY--The study of the Earth, what it's made of, and how it changes over time.

GLACIER--A moving mass of ice.

IGNEOUS ROCK--Rock that forms when a hot liquid (magma) cools and hardens.

INORGANIC--Not made of or derived from living matter. Minerals are inorganic.

INTRUSION--An igneous rock formed from magma that pushed its way through other rock layers. Magma often moves through rock fractures, where it cools and hardens.

LAVA--Hot molten rock (magma) that has reached the Earth's surface after flowing out of volcanoes or cracks in the earth.

MAGMA--Hot, liquid rock. Igneous rocks are formed when magma cools.

MARINE--Relating to the sea. Native to or formed by the sea.

MESA--A flat-topped hill with steep sides.

METAMORPHIC ROCK--Rock that has changed from one form to another by heat or pressure.

METEOR--Small bodies of matter, such as rocks, traveling in space. They are heated and often disintegrate after entering the Earth's atmosphere.

METEORITE--Stony or metallic material of a meteor that has survived passage through the Earth's atmosphere and reached the Earth's surface.

ORGANIC--Made from or derived from living matter. Coal is made from plants, which are organic.

OUTCROP--A natural exposure of a rock bed at the Earth's surface.

PALEONTOLOGY--The study of ancient life based on the examination of plant and animal fossils.

PERIOD--A unit of geologic time. Several periods make up an era.

PERMEABLE--Capable of being penetrated by fluid. Permeable rocks have interconnecting pores, or holes, that water can pass through.

PETROGLYPH--An ancient drawing carved on a rock.

POROUS--Having holes or pores that allow passage of gas or liquid. Porous rocks may contain gas, oil, or water.

ROAD CUT--A location where rock or dirt, usually on a hill, is cut away to make room for a road.

SEDIMENT--Rock or other material that has been worn or broken into small pieces. Sediment is often carried from its original location by wind or water and deposited in other areas.

SEDIMENTARY ROCK--Rocks formed from sediment, broken rocks, or organic matter. Many sedimentary rocks are formed when wind or water deposits sediment into the layers, which are pressed together by more layers of sediment, forming underground beds of rocks.

SINKHOLE--A natural dip or hole in the ground formed when underground salt or other rocks are dissolved by water and the ground above collapses into the empty space.

SUBSURFACE--Underground. Below the Earth's surface.

TOPOGRAPHY--Physical features, such as hills, valleys, and plains that shape the surface of the Earth.

UPLIFT--An upheaval. Elevation or raising of part of the Earth's surface through forces within the Earth.


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Kansas Geological Survey
Placed online Feb. 1, 1996
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URL = http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/primer/glossary.html