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What is the Earth Made of?

Seminar Leader:
Reto Gieré


Our Earth is made of solids, liquids and gases, which interact with each other on various levels and scales. The surface of our planet is in constant change, and we can observe the processes that shape it. However, we are only rarely aware of the processes that are taking place inside of the Earth. To understand both interior and surficial processes, we must acquire knowledge on the materials that our Earth consists of, i.e., minerals, rocks, fluids, and gases. In this course, we will be discussing the fundamentals of Earth materials and, once we have reviewed the properties and compositions of these materials, we will explore mechanisms of geological change. We will investigate how elements and ions arrange themselves to form minerals; how minerals crystallize to create different types of rocks; how rocks are transformed, de-formed and disintegrated; how mountains are built; and which roles plate tectonics, volcanism, earthquakes, weathering and erosion play in the creation and destruction of mountain chains. The seminar will consist of presentations, movies, and discussions, and will help you in under-standing the dynamics of our planet.

Unit TitleAuthor


Watch Out! It’s an Earthquake!

Monique Henry
Keywords: Earth disruptions, Earth Science, Earthquakes, occurrences, Philadelphia School District of Philadelphia

Minerals in Society

Cristobal Carambo
Keywords: Chemistry, geology, rock cycle

Volcano Folklore vs. Reality

Tia D. Larese
Keywords: Chemistry, earth sciences, geology, volcano


Kimberly Sweeney
Keywords: erosion, Science, weathering

Extracting Earth’s Elements

Eual A. Phillips
Keywords: Chemistry, compounds, coordination, covalent, crystals, earth, endangered elements, Environmental Science, green chemistry, ionic, Math, minerals, molecular geometry, physics

The Earth’s Layers

Monique McCoy
Keywords: algebra, climate change, Earth Science, Math, Physical Science, Science