Biology Week 36 - Natural Resources and Pollution

Day 1 - 2 | Day 3 - 4 | Lab | Weekly Quiz

  • Natural resources
  • Renewable resources
  • Wildlife
  • Soil
  • Pedologist
  • Weathering
  • Weathering agent
  • Erosion
  • Nonrenewable resources
  • Water
  • Hydrologist
  • Interception
  • Sheet flow
  • Drainage basin
  • Water budget
  • Hydrograph
  • Flooding
  • Reservoir
  • Porosity
  • Permeability
  • Aquifer
  • Fossil fuels
  • Coal
  • Petroleum
  • Natural gas
  • Minerals
  • Ore
  • Native element
  • Pollution
  • Primary pollutant
  • Secondary pollutant
  • Biodegradable
  • Nonbiodegradable
  • Domestic chemical
  • Agricultural chemical
  • Industrial chemical
  • Oil spill
  • Acid rain

Natural Resources:
the raw materials that support life on Earth.

click to find the answer to today's question Only one "resource" is lost from the Earth daily. What is it?

Types of resources:

  1. Renewable
    1. Forests: link to an Internet Website
    2. Wildlife: link to an Internet Website
    3. Soil: link to a local picture formed by the weathering of loose rock and mineral fragments at the surface of the Earth. A scientist who studies soil is a Pedologist. To understand soils, one must understand weathering:

      • Weathering - the chemical decomposition or physical disintegration of rocks and minerals.
        • Physical weathering agents:
          • Frost wedging - water increases its volume by 9% when it freezes.
          • Wind
          • Thermal expansion
          • Tree roots
          • Animals
        • Chemical reactions:
          • Solution
          • Oxidation
          • Hydrolysis
      • Erosion - the removal and transportation of materials on the Earth's surface. Erosion is a physical process facilitated by wind and water.

  2. Nonrenewable
    1. Water: the hydrosphere of Earth is governed by the water cycle. As you know, the amount of water on Earth is constant, although its distribution is not. Even though impurities are left behind when water evaporates, the water cycle does not insure that clean water is always available. Scientists who study the management of Earth's water are known as Hydrologists.

      • Interception and Runoff: Earth intercepts precipitation, forming small puddles that overflow one into another, sheet flow, until the water reaches small channels marking the start of a river system. The area where all the precipitation is drained into a specific river is known as a drainage basin.
      • Water Budget: Drainage basins account for their water just as you account for your finances. Four terms are used to describe the variations of a water budget:
        • surplus is when precipitation exceeds evaporation/transpiration and the excess creates a stream.
        • usage occurs when evaporation/transpiration exceeds precipitation. The stream won't flow unless surplus water is available that was earlier stored in a reservoir.
        • deficiency exists when all the stored water is used and water must be imported.
        • recharge: is when precipitation again exceeds the loses and the deficiency is "paid back".
      • Discharge and Hydrographs: The volume of water flowing past a specific point in a river during a certain period is referred to as its discharge. A graph of discharge for an entire year is termed a hydrograph.
      • Flooding: The greater the discharge, the greater the depth of water in the channel. A flood results when a river channel is incapable of carrying all the water delivered to it.
      • Dams and Reservoirs: Dams can be built across river channels to capture excess water for later use. Some reservoirs are designed to produce a constant monthly flow downstream.
      • Porosity and Permeability: The amount of water the ground can contain is determined by the porosity of the rock strata. Rounded particles will have the largest pores because they do not fit as closely together. Intrusive igneous rock and most metamorphic rock have no pores, 0% porous. Some extrusive rock may be almost 50% porous. Sedimentary rock varies. Sandstone is 10% to 20%. Shale is highly porous, but the pores are so microscopic that water is prevented from entering or leaving easily.

        The ease with which water can pass through the subsurface is referred to as permeability. If a layer of rock is relatively porous and permeable, allowing water to move through it, it is called an to a local picture

    2. Fossil Fuels: link to an Internet Websiteare the remains of or produced by things that have live on Earth in the past.

      Strip-mining of coal.

      • 90% of the U.S. fossil fuel reserves are coal (500 billion tons) - enough for 200 years. Sadly, coal is also a notorious fuel in regard to pollution. link to an Internet Website Burning ejects particles into the air, causes acid rain downwind of chimneys, and leaves fly ash residue. link to an Internet Website link to an Internet Website Gasification or liquification of coal may partially solve these problems, but not at a price that is presently viable.

        Pumpjacks lifting crude oil out of the ground.

      • The domestic petroleum industry is struggling to find oil as our reserves become depleted. Today, more than half of our oil is imported - a dangerous trend. The U.S. presently consumes 6.6 billion barrels of crude oil each year. Petroleum geologists estimate that the U.S. has 40 billion barrels of demonstrated (certain) oil reserves. There are an estimated 200 billion barrels of sub-economic reserves that might be discovered someday.

        Natural Gas Pipeline Most of the world's oil reserves are located in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. At the present rate of consumption, these reserves will last about 100 years.

      • U.S. consumption of natural gas is about 20 trillion cubic feet per year, with almost none being imported. The U.S. has about 200 trillion cubic feet of demonstrated natural gas reserves.

    3. Minerals: naturally occurring inorganic solids with a more or less definite chemical composition and an orderly structure. There are about 3000 minerals, classified into families based on the presence of certain atoms: silicates, sulfides, oxides, hydroxides, halides, and carbonates. A chemical assay of a mineral will reveal its composition:
      • Qualitative assays reveal the presence of substances.
      • Quantitative assays reveal the amounts of each substance.

      A few common minerals:

      • Quartz - SiO2 - Impurities produce many colors of these 6-sided crystals.
      • Galena - PbS - Lead ore, forming cubic crystals.
      • Pyrite - FeS2 - "Fool's gold" is an ore for iron and sulfur.
      • Magnetite - Fe3O4 - "Lodestone" is an ore for iron.
      • Fluorite - CaF2 - Impurities produce many colors in this fluorine ore.
      • Calcite - CaCO3 - Impurities produce many colors in this calcium ore.
      • Halite - NaCl - Forms clear, cubic crystals.
      • Gypsum - CaSO4 . 2H2O - Used for plaster and wallboard.
      • Corundum - Al2O3 Impurities produce many colors. Perfect red crystals are rubies and blue are shappires.

      While they are not classified as minerals, five native elements, gold, silver, copper, sulfur, and carbon, are found in an uncombined state in nature. link to an Internet Website

  3. Energy Resources

    There is no shortage of energy because energy cannot be destroyed, but there is a crisis in the fact that energy might not occur in the form we prefer and at a cost we can afford. Energy that powers the Earth's volcanoes, earthquakes, and other interior processes originates mainly from nuclear decay and radioactive materials. Energy to power the Earth's surface processes originates in nuclear reactions on the Sun. These two sources and their conversions supply virtually all energy for society.

    The three basic resources available near the surface of the Earth are:

    1. traditional chemical sources
    2. thermal sources
    3. mechanical sources

    Average Price of Gasoline in the U.S. Today link to an Internet Website

    Chemical energy is so important that you should be aware of the following facts about it:

Energy Content and Costs of Various Fuels link to an Internet Website
Source Measurement Approximate Energy Content Approximate Costs
Coal tons 24 million BTU/ton 7000 Kw-hr/ton $30 ton $0.004/ Kw-hr
Natural Gas cubic feet 1000 BTU/ft3 0.30 Kw-hr/ft3 $0.004/ft3 $0.13/ Kw-hr
Gasoline gallon 132,00 BTU/gal 38.7 Kw-hr/gal $1.00/gal $0.026/ Kw-hr
Crude Oil barrel (42 gal) 6 million BTU/bbl 1750 Kw-hr/bbl $20 ton $0.011/ Kw-hr
Nuclear tons of TNT 1 million kcal/ton 1160 Kw-hr/ton into electricity $0.08/ Kw-hr

Annual Per Capita Energy Use in the United States
Food 1 million kcal 1,000 Kw-hr/year/person
Gasoline 345 gallons 14,000 Kw-hr/year/person
Crude Oil 45 barrels 80,000 Kw-hr/year/person
Coal 1.6 tons 11,000 Kw-hr/year/person
3,000 Kw-hr/year/person

Resource and Waste Management:

The United States is a material consumptive society with an enormous appetite, sometimes using more materials than most of the other nations of the world in total. This rapidly depletes our reserves and forces us to import materials from countries that have richer deposits. To add to our problems, the amount of trashlink to an Internet Websitefrom goods, packaging, and demolition, not to mention the by-products of mining, all of which may contain toxic ingredients, require disposal by isolation or dispersal into the environment in a safe way. Multiple use and recyclinglink to an Internet Websiteare helpful, but the problem is still escalating. The only real solution must include less demand, either by reducing population or reducing needs.

link to a local webpage with useful information

Day 1-2 Assignment - Natural Resources (Test Your Concept Understanding)
  1. Fill out this online opinion survey. link to an Internet WebsiteBe prepared to discuss your answers in class.

  2. Take this online test. link to an Internet WebsiteRecord your score in your portfolio.

  3. The Arizona "State Soil" is named the Casa Grande Series. Study this website to answer the following questions about the Arizona State Soil. link to an Internet Website
    1. Describe the Casa Grande series taxonomic class.
    2. Describe the geographic setting of Casa Grande series Soil.
    3. What native vegetation grows in Casa Grande series soil?
    4. Describe the surface layer of Casa Grande series soil.

  4. Read this article about the question, "paper or plastic?" link to an Internet Website Why is neither a good choice and what should we do?

  5. Study this website about the history of petroleum link to an Internet Website with an Oklahoma perspective.
    1. Bitumen might be the first petroleum product used by man. List several uses early man found for bitumen.
    2. The modern petroleum industry came about because of consumer need for what product?
    3. The famous "first" oil well was drilled by "Colonel" E. L. Drake near Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859. How deep was this well?
    4. What did Oklahoma ranchers use oil for in the mid to late 1800's?
    5. What Native American tribe was the first to lease land for oil drilling in 1896?
    6. What were the years known as the "Black Gold Era" of petroleum in Oklahoma?

Research Links:

Day 3 - 4

Pollution: link to an Internet Website
impurities producing an undesirable change in an ecosystem.

click to find the answer to today's question Is agricultural fertilizer a pollutant?

Types of pollutants:
  1. Biodegradable - subject to decay by microorganisms.
  2. Nonbiodegradable - cannot be decomposed by microorganisms.
    • Primary pollutants - emitted directly into the environment.
    • Secondary pollutants - result from some action of a primary pollutant.
World Cartoon

click for a career
Careers with the EPA
    Sources of Pollution:

    1. Domestic

    • Chemicals material safety data sheets like Trichloroethylene link to an Internet Website
    • Lead shot link to an Internet Website
    • Lead sinkers link to an Internet Website

    2. Agricultural

    • Pesticides link to an Internet Website like DDT link to an Internet Website

3. Industrial

Day 3-4 Assignment - Natural Resources (Test Your Concept Understanding)

  1. Study these acid rain pages link to an Internet Websitelink to an Internet Websitelink to an Internet Websiteto answer the following questions.
    1. What is the pH of acid rain?
    2. What two acids are found in acid rain?
    3. What area of the United States has the greatest problem with acid rain?
    4. Why are some building more affected by acid rain than others?
    5. What's being done to reduce acid rain?

  2. Use the Environmental Defense Fund link to an Internet Websiteto answer the following:
    1. What percent of surface waters in Maricopa county have beneficial uses which are impaired or threatened?
    2. What watersheds are found in Maricopa county?
    3. Do any of these have serious water quality problems?
    4. Where does maricopa County rank out of Arizona's 15 counties in terms of an average individual's added cancer risk from hazardous air pollutants?
    5. Where does the greatest risk come from?
    6. Are any waste sites in Maricopa County on the EPA's National Priority Superfund List?

  3. Use this political action website link to an Internet Websiteto answer the following:
    1. What was the exact time and date that the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound?
    2. How much crude oil was spilled into the environment?

  4. Find out the rotton truth about garbage. link to an Internet Website
    1. How many million tons of municipal solid waste are produced by Americans each year?
    2. How much of that garbage is food?
    3. What accident in 1907 produced the first "paper" towels?

Research Links:

Biology Class










The Earth is usually thought of as a "closed" system. This means that nothing enters or leaves the system. However, Earth looses vast amounts of heat daily by radiating it back into space. Happily, Earth also receives heat from the sun daily in the same way.










To be a pollutant, something must produce an undesirable change in an ecosystem. Agricultural fertilizers, when correctly used, replace minerals taken from the soil - not an undesirable thing. The only way fertilizers become pollutants is through the introduction of huge quantities into the environment through misuse or spills.