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ESS 1: Intro to Earth System Science Midterm 2019 Version A

Part A: Answer the following 30 multiple choice questions on the DataLink form using a pencil. Questions are worth 1 point each.

1. What of the following is NOT one of the major 4 “spheres” making up the Earth System?

a. solarsphere           b. atmosphere             c. hydrosphere                 d.  geosphere

2. Remembering what type of system the Earth is, the total amount of carbon on Earth since its formation has:

a. increased                    b.  decreased                  c. stayed the same

3. The map below shows 2 continents from above. The black and white stripes show the normal and reverse    magnetic orientation of minerals within the ocean crust between them. Use the geomagnetic timescale on the

right hand side to say when the continents started splitting apart.

(Tip – there is an active mid-ocean ridge forming new ocean crust today.)

a. 20 Myrs             b.  30 Myrs           c.  40 Myrs            d. 60 Myrs             e. 100 Myrs


4. The inclination of rocks on a continent 200 million years ago is shown below. On the map, where would the continent be at that time?


5. Which of the diagrams shows the pattern of islands caused by a tectonic plate moving to the southwest over a hotspot? (The island above the hotspot today is shown by a triangle and older islands as circles.)


6. What information provided the MECHANISM that finally allowed people to accept the idea that the continents had moved around the world?

a. Magnetic records from volcanic rocks from different continents showed 'apparent polar wander'.

b. Mid-ocean ridges run through the middle of the world's oceans where volcanism occurs producing new ocean crust.

c. Fossils and rock types on the coasts of Africa and South America matched and implied that they were once close together.

7. Which of the following is NOT a result of gravitational forces?

a. the formation of the solar system

b. the differentiation of Earth into layers while the Earth was molten

c. the normal and reverse magnetic stripes on the seafloor

8. The gravitational force between 2 objects = F. What would the gravitational force between the 2 objects be if the mass of both objects doubled?


a.    4F                   b.   2F                       c.   F                     d.   ½ F                   e.  ¼ F


Which of the letters    on the map marks the location of:

9. a continental-




10. an ocean-ocean convergent               boundary?

11. a continental        transform boundary?

12. Seismic body waves (P-waves and S-waves) have different properties. Which of the following is NOT something that we can investigate using these different properties?

a. the interior structure of the Earth

b. when an earthquake will happen

c. the distance from the epicenter

13. Most of the energy that melted the Earth and allowed it to differentiate into different layers came from:

a. collisions as the Earth formed          b. Earth’s magnetic field                c. volcanism at Earth’s surface

14. Use the graph below, which of the seismograms were recorded at a station 100 km away from the epicenter?


15. Using the information from the diagram below, where is the location of the epicenter?


16. Which of the following would be a chemical weathering process rather than a physical weathering process?

a.  oxidation                         b.  root wedging                  c.  frost wedging                  d.  thermal expansion

17. Rhyolitic magma would be found where:

a. the mantle melts under divergent boundaries in the ocean

b. ocean crust melts during subduction at convergent boundaries

c. continental crust melts at divergent boundaries in the continent

18. Stratovolcanoes result in more explosive eruptions because:

a. the magma that forms them is less viscous and so has less gas content

b. they have steeper slopes so there is more gravity to cause explosions

c. the magma that forms them has higher silica content so is more viscous

19. Why are volcanoes important to the Earth system?

a. Because they create new areas of land

b. Because the ash from eruptions can affect how energy travels through our atmosphere

c. Because the gases released from volcanoes affect our atmospheric composition

d. All of the above

20. In plate tectonics, several rigid plates of lithosphere move relative to each other on top of the asthenosphere. The asthenosphere is:

a. liquid                 b. solid

21.  Nitrogen became the dominant gas in our atmosphere today because:

a.     It was released by photosynthesis once life evolved

b.    It is the most common gas released by volcanoes

c.     It is removed from the atmosphere by weathering

d.    It has a short residence time compared to carbon dioxide

e.    It is an unreactive gas and does not dissolve in the ocean

22.  At which position (A, B, C, or D) will the northern hemisphere be experiencing summer?


23.  Which of the diagrams below accurately shows the spectra which the Sun and the Earth give out? Stefan Boltzmann Law:      I = σT4        Wien’s Law:       λmax  = 2898 / T


24.  Which of the following explains why the Equator is warmer than polar areas?

a.     incoming radiation is spread over a larger area in polar areas

b.    longer periods of daylight near the Poles in winter

c.     the Equator is closer to the Sun than the Poles

d.    most volcanic activity happens in tropical areas

25.  I add 8,000 Joules to 2kg of a liquid and the temperature increase from 2 ᵒC to 4 ᵒC. What is the specific heat of the liquid?

a.    400 J/kgᵒC             b. 1000 J/kgᵒC          c. 2000 J/kgᵒC          d. 16,000 J/kgᵒC          e. 32,000 J/kgᵒC

26.  Which of the following wind systems is NOT due to the different specific heat of land and water?

a.    santa ana winds                   b.   land/sea breezes                  c   monsoons

27.  Solid lines represent shortwave (visible) radiation and dotted lines represent longwave (infrared) radiation. Which of the diagrams below best represents the transfer of energy on Earth?


28.  The saturated adiabatic lapse rate (5 oC /km) is less than the dry adiabatic lapse rate (10 oC / km) because:

a.    the water in the clouds makes the air heavier and so it rises more slowly

b.    latent heat is released by condensation when air becomes saturated

c.     latent heat is released by water vapor when it is compressed to form clouds

d.    the air expands less as it rises above 500m


29.  Which of the following statements about water vapor, clouds, and Earth’s temperature is FALSE?

a.    The 3 feedback loops on the diagram are all positive feedback loops which will accelerate climate warming

b.    Increased cloud cover could have either a warming or cooling effect on Earth’s temperature

c.     Increased water vapor in the atmosphere will cause warming because it is a greenhouse gas

30.  Why does the polar jet stream form at high altitude where the Polar cell meets the Ferrel cell?

a.     Because there are very fast winds blowing from 60 o N towards the pole at Earth’s surface

b.    Because there is the least friction at this location on Earth and so very fast winds

c.     Because there is a large temperature difference and so a large pressure gradient at high altitude at that location

PART B: Answer the following short questions on this exam paper. The value of each question is in brackets. The total for this section is 30 points.

1. Feedback loops (2)

a) Draw the appropriate arrows between them to represent the feedback loop described below: (1.5) At warmer temperatures, less carbon dioxide dissolves in our oceans which results in more    carbon dioxide building up in our atmosphere.


b) Is this a positive (amplifying) or a negative (stabilizing) feedback? (0.5)         POSITIVE /   NEGATIVE

2. Earthquake hazards (2)

a)   Which earthquake scale is most helpful for trying to educate the public about the risks they will face due to the primary damage mechanism? (1)                              Mercalli scale  /   Magnitude scale

b)   What secondary earthquake damage mechanism could cause deaths after a large earthquake on the San Andreas? (0.5)


c)    What could kill you in the case of a stratovolcano eruption? (0.5)


3. Plate boundaries and volcanoes (7)


The map above shows 2 areas of continent separated by an area of ocean. Plate boundaries are marked.

a)    Below the map, in the space provided, draw a cross-section from A to B. Make sure you draw and label the crust, lithosphere, and asthenosphere. (3)

b)   i) On the map draw ONE square to show the location where you would find a shield volcano. (1)

ii) On the map draw ONE triangle to show the location where you would find a stratovolcano. (1)

c)    On the map:

i) draw S”s where shallow earthquakes would occur. (1)

ii) draw D”s where deep earthquakes would occur. (1)

4. Relative and absolute geologic time (4)

On the diagram below, sedimentary rock units are labelled 1-8, the igneous rock unit is labelled A, and the fault is labelled X.

A)   Erosion occurred

B)   Erosion occurred

C)   5-6 deposited

D)   7-8 deposited

E)    Igneous rock A intruded

F)    Fault X occurred

a)    Put the above sentences A-F in order to complete the sequence of events that created this geologic sequence. (3)

Oldest event

Most recent event

Rock units 1-4 deposited

Rock units 1-4 were tilted






Erosion is occurring.

b)   Igneous rock A contains a radioactive element with a half-life of 200 million years. If 25% of the radioactive element remains, how old is the rock? (1)

Age = __________________________

5. Interpreting the rock cycle (5)


The rock cycle above is in steady state.

a)   Complete the cycle above by naming the missing flux (A), and calculating the missing value (B): (2) A = ___________________________________

B = ___________________________________

b)   Calculate the residence time of sediment. (1)

Residence time = amount in reservoir / total sources OR sinks

Residence time = _________________________

c)    Identify the rock types in the images A-D below: (2) Clastic sedimentary rock = _____

Intrusive igneous rock = ______

Extrusive igneous rock = ______

Metamorphic rock = ______


6. Isobars and winds (5)


The map above shows the sea level pressure (in mb) over the US.

a) On the map above examine the isobars and identify whether locations X and Y are areas of high or low pressure. (1)

X = _____________                      Y = ______________

b) Calculate the pressure gradient between X and Z. The distance between them is about 2000 km. (1)

Pressure gradient = high pressure low pressure



c) Draw a star to mark the location on the map where there is the greatest pressure gradient and so the fastest winds. (0.5)

d) Winds at the surface at X will CONVERGE / DIVERGE so air in the center will be forced to RISE /FALL and so the area is more likely to experience CLOUDS AND RAINFALL / CLEAR SKIES. (1.5)

e) On the diagrams below draw arrows to show how wind would flow around area Y if it were high up in the atmosphere. (1)

7. Atmospheric moisture (3)


a) Air has an actual vapor pressure of 10 mb and a relative humidity of 50%.

i. What is the dew point temperature of the air? (1)                                                    __________

ii. What is the actual temperature of the air? (1)

Relative humidity =    actual vapor pressure        x 100%

saturation vapor pressure



b) On a different day, the air temperature is 20 ᵒC and the dew point temperature is -10 ᵒC. How far would the air need to be lifted before clouds would form? (1)


8. Planetary temperatures (2)

Factors that control our planetary temperature include:

A)   Solar luminosity              B)   Distance from the Sun           C)  Albedo         D)   Greenhouse effect


Using the information above about Earth and Venus:

a)   Which factor (A, B, C, or D) would be the same for Earth and Venus? (0.5)

b)   Which factor (A, B, C, or D) would cause Venus to be cooler than Earth? (0.5)

c)    Which two factors would cause Venus to be warmer than the Earth? (1)





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