The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth


Essential Principles   1  2  3  4  5  6  7

The ocean affects the place where we live. Many of the rocks and minerals that form our planet came from the ocean. Our favorite sandy beaches are made and changed by the effects of ocean waves and currents, and changes in sea level have also shaped the surface of our land.

2: The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.

a. Many earth materials and biogeochemical cycles originate in the ocean. Many of the sedimentary rocks now exposed on land were formed in the ocean. Ocean life laid down the vast volume of siliceous and carbonate rocks.

b. Sea level changes over time have expanded and contracted continental shelves, created and destroyed inland seas, and shaped the surface of land.

c. Erosion—the wearing away of rock, soil and other biotic and abiotic earth materials—occurs in coastal areas as wind, waves, and currents in rivers and the ocean, and the processes associated with plate tectonics move sediments. Most beach sand (tiny bits of animals, plants, rocks and minerals) is eroded from land sources and carried to the coast by rivers; sand is also eroded from coastal sources by surf. Sand is redistributed seasonally by waves and coastal currents.

d. The ocean is the largest reservoir of rapidly cycling carbon on Earth. Many organisms use carbon dissolved in the ocean to form shells, other skeletal parts, and coral reefs.

e. Tectonic activity, sea level changes, and the force of waves influence the physical structure and landforms of the coast.

NEOSEC Member Resources:

  • Seacoast Science Center – Coastal Geology: School of Hard Rocks
    Age Level: Grade 1 through 9
    Odiorne is the ideal spot to make the study of geology come alive for students. This program begins with a presentation that illustrates the rock cycle, tectonic plate movement and the impact glaciation had on New England. Hands-on activities teach students how to classify rocks. Students then go outdoors to examine rock formations and evidence of glacial activity within Odiorne State Park.

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