Geology and Health
The geology of a given area may affect water quality. Some contaminants, such as arsenic and radon, are released into groundwater and surface water through natural processes of erosion and sedimentation. Radon is especially dangerous because it is undetectable. However, if it enters your home through the air or drinking water, radon exposure can increase your risk for cancer, which is the second leading cause of non-smoker lung cancer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies the radon potential based on the geology of the area. Radon is a by-product of uranium erosion, which is found in the earth’s crust.
Geology and the Environment
Another of the interesting facts about geology is how it affects the environment. Areas with rugged topography may be more subject to erosion due to runoff. The steep surfaces are a vehicle for faster water flow. This in turn, can cause more widespread erosion, depositing sediment into lakes and streams.
The geology can also influence water quality. Bedrock consisting of limestone will act as a buffer to acidic waters. This chemical property can be advantageous in areas, which receive more acidic precipitation due to air pollution. The bedrock can help stabilize pH levels, reducing the impact of acid rain.
Geology and the Economy
Geology plays an important role in determining the industry of a particular area. Coal formation occurred millions of years ago due to geologic processes involving ancient organisms and their environment. Concentrations vary as does the type of coal.
For example, Pennsylvania, because of the geology unique to this area, is the primary source of the hardest coal, which is called anthracite. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, about 13 percent of the United States’ land is underlain in coal deposits.
Because of their prevalence, fossil fuels such as coal, provide up to 85 percent of the nation’s energy needs as estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the interesting facts about geology is that the physical structure and substance of the planet form the foundation of the entire U.S. economy because of the role of fossil fuels.
The reliance on fossil fuels, however, comes at a price. The burning of these fuels emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This fact has given rise to concerns that global warming will cause irreversible harm to the planet.
Geology and Natural Disasters
Like weather, geology plans a role in the occurrence of natural disasters. Humans cannot stop natural disasters. They can only take prevention measures. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center estimates that there were 31,777 earthquakes worldwide in 2008, causing 88,011 fatalities.
Earthquakes show that the geology of the planet continues to evolve. Active volcanoes and faulting influence the dynamics of the planet and illustrate the major influence that geology has over all life. As long as the planet exists, geology will remain central in its influences.
Geology impacts many aspects of everyday life, whether or not you are aware of its influences. From the safety of drinking water to the health of the planet, geology plays a key role in determining the course of events.
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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: EPA Map of Radon Zones – epa.gov
U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center: Earthquake Facts and Statistics – earthquake.usgs.gov