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Geology 100: Basic Vocabulary

Common prefixes, suffixes, and roots

  • clast: broken
  • -cline: tilted, gradient
  • de-: reduce
  • dis-: separation, opposite
  • ex-: out of, away from
  • feld: field
  • geo-: earth
  • hydro: water
  • iso: same
  • -lith: stone
  • -meso: middle
  • meta-: change
  • -morph: form, shape
  • plagio-: combining form
  • paleo-: ancient
  • pelagic: pertaining to ocean
  • pluto-: deep seated (Roman god of underworld)
  • pre-: before
  • proto-: first
  • pyro-: fire
  • spar: crystalline materials
  • -sphere: ball
  • strat-: layer
  • stria: small groove
  • sub-: under
  • super-: above
  • syn-: together
  • tecto-: build or construct. Geology means movement of structures

Samples

Here are some examples based on the above:

  • decline: reduce tilted.
  • pyroclast: fire broken.
  • stratosphere: layer sphere
  • hydrosphere: water sphere
  • isomorph: same shape
  • metamorphic: change shape
  • mesolith: middle stone
  • feldspar: field crystalline structure
  • plagioclase feldspar:

Minerals

The 8 most common elements in Earth’s crust (by mass) are: 

- 46.6% Oxygen (O)
– 27.7% Silicon (Si)
– 8.1% Aluminum (Al)
– 5.0% Iron (Fe)
– 3.6% Calcium (Ca)
– 2.8% Sodium (Na)
– 2.6% Potassium (K)
– 2.1% Magnesium (Mg)

  • Potassium feldspar, potassium (K), aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), and oxygen (O).
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