Rock Cycle

The Geology of Coal

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In this video, a geologist describes how coal, a sedimentary rock, was formed when organic materials piled up in swamps millions of years ago. Over time, heat and pressure transformed the buried materials into peat and into various forms of coal. The geologist shows samples of low- and high-sulfur coal. High-sulfur coal contains a lot of pyrite, which is a mixture of sulfur, iron, and traces of other minerals. As long as it is underground, this mixture causes no environmental problems. But when it is exposed to air through mining, the pyrite rusts and forms sulfate salts on the coal's surface that can contaminate water.

This resource is part of the Water Solutions collection.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Making North America | Granite vs. Basalt Formation

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Examine the origins and characteristics of two types of rock—basalt and granite—that cover the ocean floor and much of the land surface of Earth, in this video from NOVA: Making North America: Origins. While early Earth’s undersea surface was made entirely of dark, heavy volcanic rock called basalt, over time, a lighter kind of rock formed. This rock, called granite, was buoyant. It floated up from the ocean floor and gathered in thick layers, creating landmasses that we call continents. This resource is part of the NOVA: Making North America Collection.

Rocks and Minerals | Science Trek

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This video segment from IdahoPTV's Science Trek defines the different types of rock and how they are formed. Learn about the ways rocks are classified and find out all the ways rocks can be changed. This resource is part of the Idaho Collection.

The Search for the Origin of Life: Early Earth

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John Peters visits Canadian glaciers and Yellowstone National Park to explore the chemical reactions that provide the foundations for life on earth. A one-minute history of the study of the origin of life, and the most extreme life forms, which exist in hot springs and glacial run-off are also featured.

Volcanoes | Science Trek

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This video segment from IdahoPTV's Science Trek explains where and how volcanoes form and the role magma plays in their formation. Descriptions and examples of the 3 kinds of volcanoes are gives. Tectonic plates and hot spots are also discussed.

The Real Dirt About Clay

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What kind of geology makes the best clay for the pottery industry? Watch as a third generation potter analyses the dirt he digs up and then converts it into fine art. What kind of geology makes the best clay for the pottery industry?  What makes clay?  How is geology related to pottery making?

Dinosaur Train | Minerals

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In this Dinosaur Train clip, Dr. Scott the paleontologist discusses minerals, explaining that most form deep inside the earth where the temperatures are very high.

Making North America | Formation of the Ancestral Rockies

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Learn about the mountain range that preceded the Rocky Mountains and how remnants of that long-lost range are still visible today—as jagged slabs of red sandstone—in this video from NOVA: Making North America: Origins. Long before the Rockies formed, the Ancestral Rockies stood. Over millions of years, these ancient mountains eroded into the sand and gravel that eventually compressed into horizontal layers of sandstone. Later, underground forces drove a large piece of the ocean floor under the North American continent, shattering the sandstone layer and forcing pieces of it to jut out of the ground. This resource is part of the NOVA: Making North America Collection.

Geology of Death Valley | NatureScene

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Take a walk through Death Valley as host Jim Welch and naturalist Rudy Mancke discuss the glacial history, tectonic forces, and weathering and erosion that have shaped Death Valley. They point out some geologic features that characterize the area including fault block mountains, alluvial fans, and craters.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

The Grand Canyon: Its Youngest Rocks

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Discover a dramatic landscape created by relatively recent rock-forming activity in the Grand Canyon in this video from NOVA. Volcanic eruptions only a million years ago created the canyon's youngest rocks. In contrast with the much older Vishnu Schist formation, this younger rock has been much more susceptible to physical change. When three-hundred-meter (thousand-foot) lava dams periodically blocked the river, they were quickly eroded away and river flow restored. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

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