Can You Ace This Basic Geology Quiz?


By: Staff

6 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Geologists study the processes and substances that form Earth. Most of those processes happen over millions of years, but this quiz only takes a few minutes! Find out how rock solid your knowledge of geology is.

The part of Earth that lies just beneath the crust is the …

The mantle "flows" over an extremely long time, but it primarily consists of solid rock.


Areas known as karst are characterized by extensive cave systems and are commonly associated with what type of rock?

Limestone is highly soluble in water compared to other forms of rock. Water erodes passages through limestone and creates the caves and other features common to karst topography.


How old is Earth?

Earth formed approximately 4.54 billion years ago when a disk of debris gathered into a rocky sphere, a process known as accretion.


Moraines are geologic features that can form ridges, rolling hills or wedge-shaped areas. What process causes them to form?

Glaciers scoop rocky debris from the ground and slowly carry it forward, eventually depositing the debris when the glacial ice melts.


What U.S. state was formed by a hotspot of magma that was fed to the crust from the mantle?

The magma was cooled by ocean water, forming the Hawaiian islands.


What sedimentary rock is formed when plant matter is buried and compressed over millions of years?

Coal has been used as a fuel for thousands of years.


What is the Ring of Fire?

The series of active tectonic plate boundaries surrounding the Pacific Ocean accounts for the majority of the world's earthquakes and volcanoes.


How do geologists think Earth's moon formed?

While it's not the only theory, geologists think a planet the size of Mars may have impacted Earth and created the moon not long after Earth formed.


What effect has erosion had on Niagara Falls?

Niagara Falls has "moved" several kilometers over thousands of years.


How does beach sand form?

Over millions of years, ocean waves grind rocks down to grains of sand. The color of a beach depends on the mineral composition of the nearby rocks that formed it.


What causes geysers?

Geysers require specific "plumbing" (usually a lower chamber with a constrained opening at the surface) for the water to become superheated.


How deep is the deepest man-made borehole on Earth?

Russia's Kola Superdeep Borehole reached a depth of 12,262 meters in 1989 and has never been surpassed.


Earth's continents were once joined as a single massive supercontinent. What do geologists call it?

The Greek name Pangaea can be roughly translated to English as "whole Earth."


As you go deeper into Earth, the temperature …

Earth gets hotter the deeper you go. The temperature of the mantle ranges from 1832 F (1000 C) to 6692 F (3700 C).


The subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the Mariana Plate caused the formation of what unique geologic feature?

The deepest part of the Mariana Trench is nearly seven miles below the surface of the ocean.


How have seismologists mapped Earth's interior?

Earthquakes waves move differently through different materials, which is how seismologists know the outer core is liquid and the mantle slowly shifts via convection.


What type of rock is formed by extreme pressure and heat over a long time?

Examples of metamorphic rock include gneiss and marble.


One type of rock can only be formed from the sudden shock and heat of a meteorite impact. What is it called?

Impactites are considered metamorphic even though they don't form over the millions of years required for most metamorphic rocks.


Which of these is NOT a mineral?

Asbestos and lead are both naturally occurring minerals. Pyrex is a brand name for heat-resistant glass.


Which of these is a type of lava flow?

Pahoehoe is pronounced "pah-hoey-hoey" and is a term of Hawaiian origin.


Uncemented sediments can form islands along ocean shorelines. What are these islands called?

Barrier islands are often made of sand dunes and other loose material, and they can shift, change or disappear during storms. They help protect shorelines from erosion and storm surges.


Soil that does not match the age or composition of the underlying bedrock it sits upon is called …

Transported soil is moved by erosion and gravity. Its origin can often be found uphill, but wind can carry transported soil hundreds or thousands of miles, even across oceans.


Which mineral precipitates from oceans and forms rock salt?

Halite forms when salty bodies of water dry up, leaving salt deposits that can be hundreds of meters thick.


What shape is Earth?

An oblate spheroid is a squashed sphere — Earth is slightly flatter at the poles and bulges at the Equator.


What is post-glacial rebound?

During the last glacial period, glacial ice in Europe and North America was up to 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) thick. The incredible weight pushed down on the crust, and in some areas the crust is still springing back into shape.


What causes Earth's magnetic field?

The process that creates the magnetic field is complex, but it is caused by molten iron in the outer core moving due to heat convection from the hotter, solid inner core.


A widely accepted theory suggests that mass extinctions have been caused by asteroid impacts. What evidence is there to support this theory?

The remnants of enormous impact craters, some of them 100 miles (161 kilometers) or more in diameter, can be found worldwide, with some of the largest in South Africa, Canada and Mexico.


What is notable about the mineral called cinnabar?

Cinnabar is mercury sulfide, an incredibly toxic chemical. You should never handle cinnabar, much less taste it.


What is happening to the crust at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?

The crust is spreading out at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge because it's a divergent boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates as well as the South American and African plates.


What happened to Lake Missoula 15,000 years ago?

It's believed that ice dam formation and collapse caused several massive floods during the last ice age, unleashing incredible energy and reshaping the surrounding area.


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