Oceanography Exam I Study Guide Chapters 1-4


I. Introduction to Oceanography Chapter 1

A. The Earth is a Dynamic Ever-changing System

1. Know the Earth's major subsystems

2. Be able to draw/ label the Earth's Cross-section


B. Be able to define Oceanography.

C. Oceanography and the Scientific Theory

1) Know the Scientific Theory approach to nature: the

basic foundation of all sciences.

        The basic steps

        Hypotheses and Theories

        Observations, Data and Evidence

        Methods of Testing

        Interpreting results

2) Understand the basics of how the approach works.

3) Find/create examples of the ST in the real world.

D. Be able to describe and explain the commonly-accepted

explanations for the Origin of Galaxies, the Solar System,

Earth, Ocean and Moon, and Life.

1) The Big-Bang hypothesis

2) The Solar nebula "cold" accretion hypothesis

3) Moltenization and differentiation periods of early Earth.

4) The origin and evolution of the Earth-Moon system.

5) The origin and evolution of Earth's early atmosphere,

oceans, and continental masses.

6) The origins of Life on Earth.

7) The oxygen revolution


E. Know what makes the Earth such a dynamic planet!

1) Generation of INTERNAL HEAT from two key sources

       Gravitational heat of accretion (core)

       Radioactive isotopes barbeque (mantle)

2) The presence of LOTS OF WATER on the surface.

3) Amazing set of balanced physical, chemical, and energy

variables that allow water to exist in all three states.

5) SOLAR input.

6) Know and be able to describe the general physical and

chemical features of both, the Earth's interior and surface.

         The Earth's subsystems

         The global topographic and geographic surface

patterns, e.g. layout of continental masses,

ocean basins, mountain ranges, trenches,

island arcs, mid-ocean rift valleys, etc.


F. Know what stimulated the voyages of the early seafaring

civilizations compare and contrast the

intent and purpose for voyaging of the:

1) Polynesians and Vikings

2) Phoenicians and Greeks

3) Chinese and Europeans


G. List and describe the essential types of information

found in a marine chart (map)

1) Longitude and latitude

2) Scale

3) Coastlines

4) Bathymetry (water depths and contours)

H. Describe the important oceanographic contributions

of the most influential people and organizations throughout the

history oceanography

1) People like: Columbus, Megellan, Henry the

Navigator, Darwin, C. Maury, Captain Cook, and

John Harrison

2) Organizations within governments, military, and private/

public research institutions


I. List and Describe key technologic breakthroughs

that helped advance oceanographic research

1) Seaworthy ships

2) Compass

3) Sextant

4) Chronometer

5) Power winches

6) Electronic sensing devices (ex: for salinity, currents)

7) Sonar

8) Satellite

9) GPS

10) Computers and data software


II. Plate Tectonics and the Seafloor Chapter 2

A. Know The Basics of the Earth's Rock Cycle -

1) What is it? The endless cycle of building-up and

wearing down of the Earth's crust.

        Building up by magmatism and crustal uplift.

        Worn down by weathering and erosion.

        Destroyed/recycled by subduction.


2) A complex physical and chemical interplay of

processes between five major material reservoirs:

magma, igneous rocks, sediments, sedimentary

rocks, and metamorphic rocks.


3) Series of related geologic processes occur between

two material reservoirs:


4) Three Major Rock Types

     Each group defines a variety of rock types that have a common origin.

1) Igneous Rocks - Formed by the cooling and

crystallization of either, magma deep beneath

the Earth's surface, or lava extruded on the

surface, or consolidation of volcanic ejecta.

2) Sedimentary Rocks - Formed from the deposited

layers of clastic and/or chemical sediment via

compaction and cementation.


3) Metamorphic Rocks - Formed by metamorphic

reactions of pre-existing solid rock via a unique

combination of extreme heat, pressure, fluids, and

deviatoric stresses.


5. Major rock-forming Processes

a. Heating (any rock) Partial Melting Magma


b. Transport (magma) Cooling Crystallization Igneous Rock


c. Weathering (any rock) Erosion Sediment


d. Deposition (sediment) Compaction Cementation Sedimentary



e. Heating +/- Pressure +/- Fluids +/- Stress Metamorphic Rock

6. Be Able to Draw A Simple Rock Cycle Diagram

B. Know The Basics of Earth's Hydrologic Cycle

1) What is it?

        The endless cycling of water via evaporation, precipitation, and runoff on Earth's surface.

        Major player in controlling Earth's climate

        Powers weathering and erosion.

        Plays a key role in mid-ocean hydrothermal systems

        Plays a key role in subduction zone.          

2. Be Able to Draw/Label A Simple Hydrologic Cycle Diagram


C. Wegener's Theory of Continental Drift (TCD)

1) Be able to explain the overall basic concept of CD


2) Know the terms Pangaea, Gonwanaland, and Luarasia


3) List the major types of evidence supporting TCD


4) Know the major obstacle that discredited the TCD


5) Know the key scientists that developed/supported TCD


D. Know All the Basics of the Plate Tectonic Theory --

1) Stiff, outermost shell of solid Earth consisting of

the crust and uppermost mantle called the lithosphere

*      Broken up into 6 major plates & 12 minor plates

*      Move over the hot, plastic athenosphere mantle.


2) Each tectonic plate moves independently: two adjacent

plates can interact in one of three ways:

*    Diverge

*    Converge

*      Slide past one another


3) Three types of plate boundaries and associated process

*              Divergent = rifting/ seafloor spreading; tensional

*              Convergent = subduction/ collision; compression

*              Transform = strike-slip faulting; shearing

4) Spreading centers and Continental rifts form at divergent

boundaries, where two plates are moving away from

each other, forming brand-new oceanic crust.


5) Subduction zones and magmatic arcs form at convergent

boundaries, where an oceanic plate dives beneath

either a continental or oceanic plate into the mantle.


6) Continental collision zones also form at convergent

boundaries where two continental masses are

meeting head-on.


7) Great, transform strike-slip fault systems are created

where two plates slide sideways, past each other.


8) Three proposed driving mechanisms of plate tectonics

a.     mantle convection

b.   ridge push

c.    slab pull


9) The plate interactions, over time, cause a

number of spectacular phenomena, including magmatic arcs,

mountain chains, terrane accretion and ocean basin collapses and


        Describe the terrane accretion process


        Describe the Wilson Cycle


10) The plate tectonic theory unifies the observation and hypotheses

                            which attempt to explain most geologic phenomena.


11) The Earth's rock cycle is driven in large part by the perpetually moving plates


E. Seafloor Spreading (SS)

1) Be able to explain the basic concept of seafloor spreading


2) Know the key terms associated with seafloor spreading


3) List the major types of evidence/discovers behind SS


4) Know the key scientist that proposed


F. Subduction

1) Be able to explain the basic concept of subduction


2) Know the key terms related to subduction


3) List the major evidence/discovers for subduction


4) Know the key scientist that proposed


G. Important Points concerning Theory of Plate Tectonics - Know that:

1) Plate Tectonics is a unifying theory because it is able

to explain many geologic phenomena.

2) The so-called "Wilson Cycle" represents a plate tectonic

cycle of plate motions where an ocean basin is born,

grows, then shrinks, and finally collapses.


3) There are 500 million-year Supercontinent Cycles of plate

motions and interactions that begins with the break-up of

an old supercontinent and ends with the formation of a new



4) Plate tectonics is the cause of Earth's mountain building,

magmatism, and never-ending resurfacing of the planet.


5) The Earth's rock cycle is fueled by plate tectonics.


F. Be Able to Identify All Major Plate Tectonic Boundaries

On a Map or Globe

1) Circum-Pacific basin and adjoining continents

2) North and South Atlantic basin and adjoining continents

3) Indian Ocean and adjoining continents


G. Be Able to Identify Elements of Plate Tectonics in a

Geographic Illustration (see online practice exam)

)1 Match plate processes (ex. seafloor spreading)

with associated geographic features (ex. mid- ocean ridges)


H. Understand and be able to explain the concept of isostacy.


III. Marine Provinces -- Chapter 3

A. Know the Geographic Significance of Seafloors

1) Oceans and seas cover over 70% of Earth's surface


2) Earth's seafloors constitute a global-scale topographic

region of low-lying relief that contrasts to the high-

standing relief of the continents


3) Seafloors represent the most vast (by far) depositional

environment on Earth

  Site of massive sedimentation and region of sedimentary

rock production


4) The evidence used to establish and support the Theory

of Plate Tectonics was established from the scientific

study of seafloors and its sediments


B. Know Components and Nature of Continental Margins

        Shelf flat portion nearest shoreline

        Slope steep outer edge of shelf

        Rise base of slope where continebt and oceanic crust meet

1) Shelf-slope break, Submarine canyons, Turbidity currents

2) Continental margin seafloors consist mainly of

Granitic crust = outer edges of continents

Covered primarily by Terriginous sediments


3) Water depths are shallow; up to 200 meters on shelves


4) Explain difference between Passive versus Active

continental margins


C. Know Components and Nature of Deep Ocean Basins

        Abyssal plains and hills

        Oceanic trenches

        Oceanic ridge systems and fracture zones

        Hydrothermal vents

        Oceanic islands, atolls, guyouts, and seamounts


1) Ocean basins have rugged, variable topography


2) Oceanic basin seafloors consist of

        Basaltic crust = ophiolite package

        Pelagic clays and oozes (sediments)

         Pelagic clays derived from continents

         Oozes consist mainly of skeletons of microscopic marine organisms

3) Water depth of deep ocean average 4,000 meters


IV. Seafloor Sediments - Chapter 4

D. List and Describe the Types of Seafloor Sediments

1) Four types of marine-based sediment - See Table 5.2






2) Pelagic clays derived from primarily three land-based



        Volcanic eruption (ash falls)

        Windblown material

        Consist mainly of quartz and clay


3) Describe the two main types of Biogenous Oozes

       Calcium carbonate oozes

        Siliceous oozes

        Constitute fecal pellets from larger animals

        Fine sand- to silt-size particles


4) Define the sources of calcium carbonate oozes



        Found on bottoms less than 4,500 meters deep (CCCD)


5) Define the sources of siliceous oozes

       Tropical Radiolarians

        Polar Diatoms


6) Define types of hydrogenous sediments

        Manganese nodules

       Phosphate nodules

       Massive metal sulfide deposits



E. Describe and Explain the Distribution of Seafloor

Sediments -

1) Study Table 5.3 very carefully


2) Study Figure 5.13 very carefully


3) Distribution of each sediment type controlled by several

environmental factors:

               Proximity to sediment source

        Rate of sedimentation (each specific sediment type)

        Chemical stability at site of deposition


4) Unique distribution pattern for each sediment type

Study Distribution Map shown in Figure 5.13

        Lithogeneous -





F. Define the Rates of Seafloor Sedimentation

1) Deep ocean sedimentation rates are very low


2) Each type of deep seafloor sediment has specific rate

        Lithogeneous - 2 millimeters per 1000 years

        Biogenous - 1 to 6 centimeters per 1000 years

        Hydrogeneous - 1 to 10 millimeters per 1 million years

        Cosmogenous - Negligible


G. List and Describe Methods of Seafloor Sediment


        Piston Coring samplers

        Drag bucket and Clamshell samplers


H. List and Describe Types of Seafloor Mineral Resources

1) Continental Margins

       Oil and gas (hydrocarbons)

       Sand and Gravel


2) Deep Ocean basins

       Manganese nodules

       Massive metal-sulphide deposits

        NO gold and silver


V. Vocabulary Lists - Chapters 1-4

A. Study the Terms and Concepts Lists Found at the End

of Each Chapter

1) Attempt to remember them

2) Be ready to define many of these (at least the

ones that I have included in this study guide)