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Task 1

Part A: Short-answer questions (25 points)

  1. The Atlantic basin has the oldest sea floor in the world at over 200 million years old. This section of ocean floor can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, between the coasts of North America and Europe/Africa. These shores are commonly referred to as the "margins" of the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. The shifting of landmasses caused by Pangaea's breakup probably had an impact on Earth's climate because it changed the direction and strength of ocean currents and wind patterns. This possible adjustment in circulation patterns may have affected global temperature and precipitation patterns.
  3. Without active tectonic plate borders, the shift from the continent to the ocean basin is slow and gradual along the passive margin of a continent. The Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and even some of the Southern Ocean all have passive edges.
  4. The Rocky Mountains were formed as a result of compression and uplift caused by the addition of terranes to the western frontier of North America during the process of accretion. Volcanic activity or the decomposition of methane hydrates are two possible explanations for the huge release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere during the Permian-Triassic extinction, which may explain the correlation between carbon isotope levels and this event. This rise in CO2 levels may have contributed to the extinction catastrophe by hastening global warming and acidifying the ocean, both of which would have had disastrous impacts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
  1. Because of their coevolutionary interactions with pollinators, which increased their reproductive efficiency, and because of their ability to form flowers and fruits, which aided in seed dissemination, Angiosperms have become extremely successful. They were able to swiftly adapt and diversify thanks to these characteristics, which ultimately led to their domination in terrestrial environments.
  2. Two living types of archosaurs at the order level are:
  • Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators).
  • Aves (birds).

Two extinct types of archosaurs at the order level are:

  • Dinosauria (dinosaurs).
  • Pterosauria (pterosaurs).
  1. Dinosaurs found in polar regions and those with complicated respiratory systems resembling those of contemporary birds provide evidence for endothermy and the ability to regulate body temperature.

There is evidence that some dinosaurs were ectothermic, such as their huge size and the lack of characteristics like insulating fur or feathers in many species, which suggests a reliance on external temperature regulation.

  1. Possible causes for the slow decline in Cretaceous dinosaur diversity include climatic shifts, fluctuating sea levels, and competition from new species. It's possible that additional factors, such as volcanic activity or ecosystem changes, played a role in the extinction of the dinosaurs, as evidenced by the survival of some dinosaurs until the early Paleogene.

Part B: Comparing the Rockies and the Coast Range (16 points)

Rocky Mountains

Formation and Geological Processes:

The Rocky Mountains in western North America have a complex geological history spanning hundreds of millions of years. They were formed by tectonic events, mostly the North American Plate colliding with the Pacific Plate.

Laramide Orogeny (Late Cretaceous to Early Paleogene): Mountains were built in the Rockies during the Laramide Orogeny 70–40 million years ago. Compressional pressures uplifted and folded sedimentary rock strata, forming the rough mountain scenery we see today.

Tectonic Plate Interaction: The Pacific Plate subducted beneath the North American Plate, creating the Rockies. The Earth's crust buckled and folded because to this subduction event's enormous pressure and heat.

Types and Ages of Rocks

Due to their complicated geology, the Rockies have several rock kinds. These include igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks including sandstone, shale, and limestone generated under tremendous pressure. Additionally, there are extensive granitic intrusions in the region.

Here is an image illustrating the rugged terrain and diverse rock types of the Rocky Mountains:

rocky Mountains with rugged, towering peaks

Figure 1 Rocky Mountains with rugged, towering peaks

Geological map of the Rocky Mountains region

Figure 2 Geological map of the Rocky Mountains region to visualize the types of rocks found there

Geological cross section of the Rocky Mountains

Figure 3 Geological cross-section of the Rocky Mountains

Coast Range:

Formation and Geological Processes:

  • The Coast Range, from Alaska to California, has a different geological history than the Rockies.
  • Subduction Zone (Ongoing): Subduction is the main geological mechanism that formed the Coast Range. In the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the Juan de Fuca Plate subducts beneath the North American Plate. Tectonic forces uplift the Coast Range during subduction.
  • Volcanic Activity: Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker are active volcanoes in the Coast Range. These volcanoes erupt from Juan de Fuca Plate subduction-generated magma.

Types and Ages of Rocks:

The Coast Range's rocks are diverse due to volcanic activity, sedimentary deposition, and tectonic forces. Basalt, andesite, sandstone, and shale are included. Due to its dynamic geology, the region has large glacial and alluvial deposits.

Here is an image illustrating the volcanic nature of the Coast Range, featuring Mount St. Helens:

volcanic nature of the Coast Range

Figure 4 volcanic nature of the Coast Range

Part C: The Dinosaurs (24 points)


Example Dinosaur

Lifestyle Characteristics

Age Range (Ma)


Tyrannosaurus rex

- Carnivorous

68-66 Ma



- Herbivorous

154-153 Ma



- Herbivorous

76-73 Ma



- Herbivorous, heavily armored

68-66 Ma



- Herbivorous, with distinctive double row of back plates

155-150 Ma



- Herbivorous, with horned frill and facial horns

68-66 Ma


Part A: Short-Answer Questions (25 points)

  1. During the early Paleozoic, there must have been a subduction zone along the coast of either Laurentia's southeast or Baltica's northwest.
  2. The development of the North American continent, the Taconic Orogeny, the Acadian Orogeny, and the Western Interior Seaway were the four major tectonic events in Canada during the Paleozoic.



Ecosystem Position

Feeding Style












Filter Feeder





  1. Certain reef invertebrates can help date a reef from the Paleozoic era:
  • An archaeocyathid from a Cambrian reef
  • The Stromatoporoids of the Ordovician Reef
  • Rugose and tabulate corals from the Devonian reef
  • Sponges and colony rugose corals from the Carboniferous period
  1. In terms of current fish, the lungfish is the most similar to the earliest amphibians.
  2. Since fresh water environments served as a transition zone between marine and terrestrial habitats, allowing opportunities for adaptation and variety, it is likely that migration into these settings occurred before the emergence of land plants and animals.
  3. According to popular belief, Cooksonia was the first vascular plant ever discovered. Plants could only grow taller and more successfully colonize land after the formation of vascular tissues, which carried water and nutrients throughout the plant.
  4. Volcanic activity, climatic change, ocean anoxia, and asteroid strikes are all hypothesized to have contributed to the mass extinction catastrophe that marked the end of the Permian period. Because of these causes, the planet's ecosystems collapsed and much of its biodiversity was lost.

Part B: Discuss the Accumulation of Sediments in

Canada during the Paleozoic (20 points)

Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in Canada:

  • Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB): Large portions of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan are all included in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). It reaches all the way to the U.S. There are many Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.
  • Cordillera Region: Sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic epoch can be found in western Canada's Cordillera region, which encompasses the Rocky Mountains and Coast Range. This is notably true in British Columbia and the Yukon.
  • Appalachian Region: Paleozoic sedimentary rocks are found in the Appalachian region of eastern Canada, especially in sections of Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Geological events associated to the drying up of the Iapetus Ocean cut off this region from Europe.
  • Arctic Canada: Paleozoic sedimentary rocks can be found in Arctic Canada, including the Arctic Islands and the northern mainland. These regions underwent unusual geological conditions due to their proximity to the North Pole at different times.

Geological Settings for Deposition:

  • Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB): Subsidence and sedimentation in a continental interior environment gave rise to the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) during the Paleozoic. As a result of shifts in sea level and tectonic activity, a wide range of sedimentary ecosystems have developed. It's home to substantial oil and gas deposits.
  • Cordillera Region: Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the Cordillera region are commonly linked to the development of North America's western margin. Different conditions, both marine (along the continental edge) and terrestrial (when landmasses collided and changed) led to the deposition of these rocks.
  • Appalachian Region: Sedimentary rocks deposited in the Appalachian region during the Paleozoic era have been connected to the drying up of the Iapetus Ocean. As continents converged and mountain ranges were raised, these rocks originated in a variety of habitats, including shallow marine, deltaic, and terrestrial settings.
  • Arctic Canada: As the continents shifted during the Paleozoic, sedimentary rocks were deposited in a variety of conditions across the Arctic region of Canada. These include shallow marine settings, deltas, and even glacial environments.

Sedimentary rocks in different parts of Canada were deposited under varied conditions due to factors such as tectonic activity, changes in sea level, and variations in the Paleozoic era's climate.

Part C: Brachiopods of the Paleozoic (20 points)


History (Time Range)

Morphology (Valve Shape, Symmetry, Hinge Type, Pedicle)


Ordovician to Permian

- Valve Shape: Generally rounded to oval

- Symmetry: Biconvex (both valves are convex)

- Hinge Type: Usually with a simple, straight hinge line

- Pedicle: Attached to substrate via a pedicle through a small foramen


Ordovician to Devonian

- Valve Shape: Pentagonal or five-sided

- Symmetry: Biconvex (both valves are convex)

- Hinge Type: Typically with dental plates and sockets

- Pedicle: Attached via a pedicle foramen and diductor muscles


Cambrian to Recent

- Valve Shape: Linguliform (shaped like a tongue)

- Symmetry: Inequivalved (one valve is convex, one is concave)

- Hinge Type: Inarticulate, lacking teeth and sockets

- Pedicle: Extends through a pedicle foramen


Ordovician to Permian

- Valve Shape: Variable, but often biconvex or subtriangular

- Symmetry: Biconvex or subequivalved (valves differ in size)

- Hinge Type: Typically with a simple, straight hinge line or teeth

- Pedicle: Attached via a pedicle foramen and diductor muscles


Ordovician to Permian

- Valve Shape: Variable, often biconvex, with distinctive fold and sulcus

- Symmetry: Biconvex or subequivalved (valves differ in size)

- Hinge Type: Complex, with teeth and sockets

- Pedicle: Attached via a pedicle foramen and diductor muscles


Ordovician to Recent

- Valve Shape: Variable, often biconvex, with a distinctive sinus and fold

- Symmetry: Biconvex or subequivalved (valves differ in size)

- Hinge Type: Complex, with teeth and sockets

- Pedicle: Attached via a pedicle foramen and diductor muscles


Permian to Recent

- Valve Shape: Variable, often biconvex, with a distinctive loop or spire

- Symmetry: Biconvex or subequivalved (valves differ in size)

- Hinge Type: Complex, with teeth and sockets

- Pedicle: Attached via a pedicle foramen and diductor muscles

Task 2

Part B: Exercises (40 points in total)

B1: Find an example of mechanical weathering, slope failure, or a soil profile (20 points)

Go outside somewhere near to where you live and find a scene that shows one of the following features: (a) mechanical weathering of a natural rock surface (either an outcrop or a large boulder), or (b) some type of slope failure, or (c) a soil profile (in your yard, or in a place where it’s acceptable to dig a shallow hole and then fill it in). Take a couple of photos, one showing the feature up close and another showing some context so that your instructor can understand the setting. In one of the photos, provide some evidence that you were there when the photo was taken (for example, your hand in the photo with 2 fingers extended, or a piece of paper with your name on it). Include the photos with your assignment and write an explanation describing what you saw.

Part B: Exercises (45 points in total)

a.For earthquakes with MW values of 10, 10.5, and 11, we can use the Moment Magnitude Calculator to make educated guesses about the features of the rupture zone. The estimates are as follows:


Length (km)

Width (km)

Displacement (m)













b. It's quite improbable that Earth will ever experience an earthquake of magnitude 10 or higher. This is mostly because of how strong rocks are and how thick the Earth's crust is.

An earthquake of magnitude 11 requires various features unique to the planet itself, in contrast to Earth.

The scale of geological processes and the magnitude of energy released during tectonic events are both dependent on the planet's size. In this respect, Earth's size is restrictive.

Lithosphere Thickness: Larger earthquakes can occur when the lithosphere is thin because seismic waves can travel farther. The thickness of Earth's lithosphere is more than that which is required for MW 11 earthquakes.

Earth's rocks would have to have different physical attributes, including reduced strength and higher ductility, to accumulate the stress and strain required for earthquakes of such magnitude.

Greater tectonic motions and seismic energy release are both possible results of a more active mantle convection system.

In essence, a planet would need to be very different from Earth geologically and physically for it to have earthquakes of MW 11. Due to the Earth's geological and structural constraints, earthquakes of that magnitude are extremely unlikely to occur here.

B2: Crustal deformation (15 points)




Δ North (cm/y)

Δ East (cm/y)

Total offset (cm/y)


Albert Head





Bear Cove





Holberg Inlet










Neah Bay





Quadra Island









  1. The DRAO station, located on the North American Plate, is used as a reference point, and the horizontal motions shown here are the result of the stations' relative motion to that station. Tectonic processes, such as the subduction of the Juan de Fuca (JDF) Plate and the Explorer Plate beneath the North America Plate, are responsible for the movement. The cumulative stress and strain from the plate contacts could lead to major seismic activity and the possibility of massive earthquakes, particularly along the subduction boundary, in the future.
  2. Because of their proximity to the subduction boundary, where the Juan de Fuca Plate meets the North America Plate, the NEAH and UCLU stations are moving at a higher rate than the other stations. Higher relative motion rates between these stations and the DRAO reference point might be expected due to their proximity to the plate boundary.
  3. Despite being close to the subduction boundary, the HOLB station may be moving more slowly than other stations because it may be in an area with less direct interaction between tectonic plates. The rate of crustal motion can be affected by factors such local geological characteristics, fault direction, and the unique dynamics of the subduction process in that place.

B3: Volcanic hazards (15 points)

1.Examples of volcanic hazards:

Type of Event

Location and Date

Lava Flow

2018 Kilauea eruption in Hawaii

Pyroclastic Flow

AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii


1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia

Ash Fall

1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington

2. Typical radii from the volcano affected by these events:

Type of Event

Radius that Can Be Affected

Lava Flow

Several kilometers (variable)

Pyroclastic Flow

10-30 kilometers or more


Up to tens of kilometers

Ash Fall

Hundreds to thousands of kilometers (downwind)

3. Potential for property damage and casualties:

Type of Event

Potential for Property Damage and Casualties

Lava Flow

Property damage can be significant; casualties low if evacuation is possible.

Pyroclastic Flow

Extremely high potential for both property damage and casualties, especially in populated areas.


High potential for property damage and casualties, especially in valleys and river channels.

Ash Fall

Property damage to infrastructure; potential for respiratory health issues if ash is inhaled in large quantities.

Part B: Exercise (30 points in total)

B1: Metals in lithium-ion batteries (30 points)

Metal 1:


Production (tonnes/y)

Reserves (tonnes)


Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Approximately 95,000

Estimated: 3.4 million


Approximately 7,200

Estimated: 1 million


Approximately 3,500

Estimated: 230,000

Metal 2:


Production (tonnes/y)

Reserves (tonnes)



Approximately 42,000

Estimated: 2.7 million


Approximately 18,000

Estimated: 8.2 million


Approximately 7,500

Estimated: 2.2 million

  1. Cobalt: Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, and Russia
  2. Lithium: Australia, Chile and China

Concerns about child labour, unsafe working conditions, and environmental harm have surfaced in connection with cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These issues are especially linked to the artisanal mining sector, which is responsible for a significant share of the country's cobalt production.

Water-intensive techniques used in lithium mining can put a strain on water supplies in nations like Australia and Chile. Ecosystems in the area may also be harmed by the extraction of lithium. Concerns over land use and water rights have been voiced by several indigenous populations.

The environmental and social implications of mining and processing technologies can be reduced by the adoption of best practices by individual enterprises and the implementation of appropriate regulatory frameworks. Given the rising need for these metals in renewable energy technologies, efforts are being made to address these concerns and encourage more responsible mining operations.

Part C: Long-Answer Questions (50 points in total)

C1: Where does your water come from? (15 points)

The XYZ Municipal Water District, which is a public utility, supplies my home with water. The majority of the water I use comes from lakes and reservoirs, specifically Lake ABC, a large reservoir in our area. The water in this district is purified before being distributed to residents.

Type of Water: Surface water from Lake ABC is the main type of water used.

Threats to Water Quality There are a number of potential threats to the water quality that we have access to. Industrial and agricultural runoff, pollution, and chemicals are all potential threats that could contaminate the lake. Water quality can also be impacted by the presence of naturally occurring organic debris and dangerous microbes. To reduce these dangers, the water district uses rigorous treatment methods like chlorination and constant monitoring.

The effects of climate change on our water supply might be devastating. The amount and quality of water in Lake ABC may be affected by changes in precipitation patterns and higher temperatures. The supply of water for treatment and distribution could be impacted if the lake's water level drops due to prolonged droughts or changing weather patterns. Another way in which rising temperatures exacerbate water scarcity is by increasing evaporation rates.

The XYZ Municipal Water District has taken water-saving measures and looked into diversifying water sources, like investing in groundwater extraction, to deal with climate-related problems. They are also working with regional agencies and keeping a close eye on climatic trends to ensure a steady water supply even as the climate shifts.

In conclusion, Lake ABC is the primary source of my drinking water because it is a surface water. Although there are certain threats to water quality, the municipal water district uses stringent treatment techniques to guarantee that the water is safe to drink. Climate change, however, threatens our water supply's reliability and longevity, necessitating proactive steps to adjust to new circumstances and secure a reliable water infrastructure.

C2: Water problems in First Nations communities (20 points)

Water pollution is a persistent problem in some First Nation villages in my region. The situation of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, Canada, is one such instance.

Source of the Problem:

Attawapiskat's water contamination problem is largely caused by inadequate water infrastructure and treatment facilities. The town's water treatment system is outdated and can't handle population growth. Natural contaminants like iron and manganese in local water supplies worsen the problem.

Plan to Correct:

Attawapiskat's water contamination has been a long-standing issue. The water treatment facility will be expanded and renovated, along with distribution and water management upgrades. Local operators have been trained to ensure the treatment facility runs efficiently. In addition, provincial and federal authorities have been consulted about funding infrastructure improvements and long-term solutions.

Status of the Process:

Despite progress and expenditures, Attawapiskat's water infrastructure is poor. Water quality difficulties remain, therefore households are recommended to boil their water for long periods. Water contamination solutions have been hampered by delays, regulations, and finances. Attawapiskat residents lack potable drinking water despite years of government effort and guarantees.

Attawapiskat is not alone in facing difficulties; many other First Nation communities in Canada have similar problems with water contamination. The process of solving these issues is slow and complicated, but it is underway. This circumstance highlights the critical importance of taking immediate and long-term action, investing in new and upgraded infrastructure, and committing to making sure all Indigenous and remote communities in Canada have access to clean, safe drinking water.

C3: Nuclear power (15 points)

There are good arguments on both sides of the contentious matter of whether or not to continue using nuclear power. Environmental, social, economic, and security concerns all need to be taken into account while forming a judgment on nuclear power.

When it comes to the environment, supporters of nuclear power point to the fact that electricity generated in nuclear reactors releases very little carbon dioxide. Particularly in areas where renewable energy sources encounter intermittency difficulties, nuclear energy can assist address the urgent problem of climate change and provide a reliable supply of electricity.

The disposal of nuclear waste and the possibility of catastrophic accidents are two areas where nuclear power is met with opposition. Many nations still struggle with how to safely store nuclear waste over the long term, despite the dangers it poses to ecosystems and future generations.

Concerns about public safety and acceptance are central to the social context of nuclear energy. Supporters stress the strict safety precautions and regulations that have been put in place to prevent mishaps. They state that nuclear energy can help with energy security and employment creation.

In contrast, skeptics bring to high-profile nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, which had devastating effects on people and the environment. Public criticism and resistance to nuclear initiatives can stem from widespread fear of nuclear accidents.

When it comes to finances, it's important to keep in mind that nuclear power plants often demand large upfront costs and can take years to build. Nuclear power supporters say that once reactors are up and running, they provide a reliable, low-cost electricity source for decades.

The high initial costs and the risk of cost overruns, according to its detractors, make nuclear power less competitive than renewables like wind and solar. Subsidies for nuclear power, they say, might take money away from renewable energy.

Nuclear power raises security issues because to the potential for nuclear materials to slip into the wrong hands or for nuclear accidents to be used maliciously. Modern nuclear facilities, its supporters say, have strong security systems in place to prevent theft or sabotage.

Opponents, however, point to the potential of nuclear proliferation if additional countries adopt nuclear power and the necessity for constant watch. They worry that security safeguards will be weakened because of investments in nuclear energy.

Finally, the future of nuclear power is complex and situation-specific. Challenges connected to waste disposal, safety, affordability, and security cannot be overlooked despite its potential to contribute to a clean energy future and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To attain sustainability and meet the pressing concerns of climate change, a well-rounded strategy should be taken into account when deciding whether to develop or phase down nuclear power. This strategy should include strong safety measures, appropriate waste management, and an emphasis on diversifying energy sources.

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