The geography of the United States is something that is supposedly taught to all of the nation's children. We learn the names of all of the states, their capitals, and their major features, from rivers to mountains to canyons to cities. We even learn roughly how many people are in which state and the key industries that take place there. We might not remember all of it in perfect detail, but generally speaking, we ought to have the gist of it.
However, geography goes beyond knowing where things are and simply being able to identify a city or knowing the difference between a hill and a mountain. What is the technical name for the point where the Mississippi flows into the sea? What is the proper way to refer to that big funny-shaped mountain in Wyoming? What's really underneath Yellowstone National Park? Why does California have all those earthquakes? Knowing the "what" of the landscape is invariably a key to knowing the "how" and from that, the "why." It helps us to make sense of why industries begin in a certain place or what caused migrations of people, and when.
Do you have all the jargon down as well as the names? Let's find out!
The Mississippi is the longest river in the USA. What is the name for the point at its end where it divides into many little rivers?
A delta is where a river reaches the sea, not as one river, but after having divided into a number of smaller ones. The Mississippi Delta is in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
What is the proper name for the type of mountain of which Devil's Tower, WY, is an example?
A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides, like a mesa but narrower. One way to remember the difference is that a mesa is more like a table, a butte is like a chair; and a chair is where you put your butt!
Very ancient Precambrian metamorphic rock is the oldest rock to be found in which mountain range?
This stuff is old - really old. Some of it might be 1.7 billion years old. Yep, that's billion with a "B." The Rockies themselves are nowhere near that old, of course, but some of the stuff of which they're made is!
What term describes the formations for which Carlsbad Caverns, NM, are known?
All of the above
Stalagmite and stalactite are types of speleothem, which is to say, rock formations you find in caves. Carlsbad Caverns has some of the best! You can remember which one is which between stalagmite and stalactite because stalaGmite has a "G" for ground, and stalaCtite has a "C" for ceiling!
The Everglades are a mix of swampland, grassland, wetland, and marshes. They are, unfortunately, also a very endangered habitat due to their location at sea level in Florida, the U.S. state most threatened by sea level rise.
What does Montana have more of than it has people?
There are more cows than people in Montana. That said, Montana has very good wind and is a great place for wind turbines, so many are being built there. It also has a lot of sheep, but not so many nuclear plants, though.
What phenomenon makes the weather in Orange County, CA, so darn nice?
The microclimate around Orange County makes the weather there unbelievably nice. It's rarely too hot, it's never too cold, and it's not at all humid. Unfortunately, much of it has been covered over with ugly McMansions. Otherwise, it would look just like Italy!
By what name are the earliest confirmed European arrivals in the center of the American continent known as?
The Clovis people have many artifacts in common with those found in ancient French civilizations. Thus they are likely Europeans who came over during the Ice Age, using ice floes to cross the Atlantic. They date back 13,500 years, but they are not the original arrivals.
What is the name given to the theory that people arrived by boat on the Pacific coast earlier than the Clovis settlers?
There were definitely earlier settlers than the Clovis people, and it is commonly believed that they arrived by walking across the Bering Strait on a land bridge exposed during the Ice Age. However, this does mean they had to walk across five million square miles of solid ice on the Asian side. Instead, there is another theory that sea kelp and ice floes provided plenty of sustenance for people arriving from Asia by boat.
What is the correct term for the climate of the southeastern U.S. states?
The southeastern U.S. is very nice in the spring, fall, and winter, but in the summer, it is like a sauna. This is because of the humid subtropical climate. That means it's not just warm like say, California, it's also muggy as heck!
What ocean phenomenon is causing mass fish deaths in Florida?
Ocean warming, sea level rise, and coral death are like red tide, all symptoms of climate change - and they are all happening in Florida. However, red tide specifically refers to blooms of toxic algae that love the warmer waters and thus breed, eat up all the oxygen, and kill the fish. Bringing climate change under control will, fortunately, help stop red tide from getting worse.
What geographical feature bisects Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park has a few glaciers (though it's losing them at a speedy rate). However, that is not what bisects the park. It sits on something called the Continental Divide, which is a ridge of mountains and hills. A raindrop falling one side of it will end up in the Atlantic; on the other side, the Pacific.
Which one of these is NOT one of the four biomes represented in the USA's landmass?
Farmland is not a biome; that is, a large ecosystem of flora and fauna existing together in a habitat. The fourth biome is tropical rainforest, which you can find on the North American continent but not the USA.
California is noted for its earthquakes, due to the way the tectonic plates in the area interact. What is the word used to describe how the Pacific plate is behaving with regard to the North American plate?
The Pacific plate is slowly sliding under the North American plate. This is called subduction and it causes regular quakes as the plates slide, get stuck, then release the pent-up energy with an earthquake.