WVGES Geoscience Education in the Mountain State,
CATS Environmental Geology, Fall 1999:
Final Exam--Due December 8

Books, videos, notes can be used, but please DO NOT discuss the questions with anyone.

Record/write your answers to each question on the answer sheets. To complete the test, send the answer sheets only to Tom Repine.
Final exam must be postmarked no later than December 8, 1999, or faxed to 594-2575 no later than December 8, 1999. Each participant is responsible for submitting their own answers on time. Facilitators will not collect and mail in your answers.

PART I. Multiple Choice +2 for each correct; -1/2 for each incorrect.

1.) An official in North Carolina has referred to a result of hurricane Floyd as a "...witches' brew." This has been repeated in news broadcasts. What does it refer to?

a. The massive size of the storm.
b. The incredible amount of rain that fell.
c. The storm surge that battered the coast during high winds.
d. The tornadoes that formed.
e. The flood waters that are a mix of waste, 3 million dead animals, and chemicals.

2.) Officials warned of a possible tsunami resulting from one recent quake in Taiwan, but there was no such event. Why did we believe there to be little chance of a tsunami in this case?

a. The epicenter was on land in Taiwan.
b. The epicenter was offshore in shallow water between Taiwan and mainland China.
c. The focus of the earthquake was too deep to create a tsunami.
d. A tsunami is a tidal wave and the earth-moon-sun system was not aligned at the time of the quake to create a wave of water.

3.) The extraction of metals from rocks is nearly as old as the origin of cultures. There is clear evidence that metals were extracted from ore thousands of years ago. Which mineral group of ores provides the greatest environmental problems due to AMD and gases emitted to the atmosphere?

a. Metal carbonates.
b. Metal oxides.
c. Metal silicates.
d. Metal sulfides.
e. Metal surfaces.

4.) Which mineral is especially vulnerable to weathering because it is readily dissolved in weak acids such as rainwater and groundwater? Hint: When it is present in abundance in sedimentary rock, the rock can dissolve and caves can form.

a. Quartz
b. Calcite
c. Micas
d. Feldspars

5.) Which layered silicate family is of great concern because it can cause shrinking and swelling when present in abundance in soils?

a. Clay minerals
b. Quartz
c. Calcite
d. Silicates rich in iron and magnesium

6.) On page 82 of your text, Figure 4.13, the example shown is of a cripple-wall at the base of older structures. In the case of the Loma Prieta quake of 1989, such walls bent or folded to the north. What do you interpret this to mean with respect to the direction of horizontal acceleration due to the quake?

a. It was to the north.
b. It was to the south.
c. It was on E-W.
d. It was only up and down.

7.) On page 54 of your text, Figure 3.4, there is a model of the interior of the earth. What is the primary evidence that the Outer Core is a liquid?

a. S-waves do not pass through it.
b. P-waves do not pass through it.
c. All body waves are stopped by this layer.
d. Drilling has shown this layer to be at the melting point of quartz.

8.) On page 124 of your text, Figure 5.4, active volcanoes and volcano centers are shown in the western U.S. Locate Long Valley Caldera close to the Nevada state line in east-central California. It is a high-silica/low temperature type of magma that is present below the surface. A catastrophic eruption could take place. What is the cause of this volcano?

a. Ocean:ocean convergent
b. Ocean:continental convergent
c. Continental:continental divergent
d. A hot-spot beneath the plate

9.) Which Federal Agency has jurisdiction over the plans for flood control and transportation on the Nation's navigable rivers and streams?

a. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
b. TVA
d. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
e. Department of Transportation

10.) The building of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River drastically changed the ecosystem in the river because of a change in the conditions of the water. Compare and contrast the conditions of the river water before the dam was built and after the dam was built.

a. Clear and cold before; warm and turbid after.
b. Clear and warm before; clear and cold after.
c. Turbid and warm before; clear and cold after.
d. Clear before; turbid after--no temperature change.

11.) The CAP (Central Arizona Project) canal cracked in places due to subsidence caused by the removal of ground water for irrigation. This canal system supplies water to both Phoenix and Tucson (Arizona) from which river system?

a. Mississippi
b. Missouri
c. Rio Grande
d. Colorado

12.) Which of the following sedimentary rocks is composed of carbonates and thus is subject to potential solution weathering in humid, temperate climates? This is of concern because of the problems associated with the formation of sinkholes.

a. A quartz-rich sandstone cemented with iron oxyhydroxides
b. Shale
c. Limestone
d. Conglomerate

13.) You are about to purchase a piece of property, and you seek out a geologic map of the surficial deposits (the unconsolidated materials on the surface--regardless of soil type). The slopes are moderate to steep and the area is covered with colluvium. Do you have any concerns regarding investment? Why or why not?

a. No concerns, the deposits reflect river sands and gravels.
b. No concerns because these are good, sound glacial deposits.
c. Substantial concerns because these deposits suggest that wind storms are common in the area.
d. Substantial concerns because these deposits formed from down-slope movement and they may be unstable when excavated.

14.) Lahars are accumulations of unconsolidated materials on the flanks of volcanoes. These deposits are most often found at the base of the volcanoes and in some cases they extend many tens of miles from the cone itself. If these deposits are mapped in a region, there is significant concern for safety. What makes these deposits suggest a danger exists? In 1984 one of these events killed 23,000 in Armero, Columbia!

a. They were mobilized by rocks falling from the volcano during a major earthquake.
b. They were mobilized by water (rain and snow melt) and flowed rapidly down hill and down the valley as a mud flow.
c. They were ejected from the caldera and could bury a town.
d. They are dense, superheated clouds of debris (hundreds of degrees C).

15.) A road-cut in Morgantown is only about 6 feet in height, yet it has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to continually repair damage done by the continued movement of the slope onto the road. Local folks call it a landslide. You can now suggest what the material is that is moving and why it began to move.

a. Overloading of colluvium
b. Undercutting of colluvium
c. A sinkhole in limestone
d. Overloading of shrinking clays

16.) This fall, after weeks of rain, and extensive flooding, at least 321 people were confirmed dead in south eastern Mexico. In one remote corner, the earth "...opened up and swallowed the Totonac Indian community." An entire school disappeared along with the teacher and all but two of her students. Reports from survivors said the mud did not come from above...it was as if it exploded downward." What do you agree is the most likely suggestion as to the geologic conditions?

a. The town was built in a caldera.
b. The town was lost as a result of soil piping.
c. The town was lost due to a mudflow or lahar.
d. The town may have been built on a cavern which collapsed.

17.) Just as we had predicted after hurricane Floyd, conditions in Pamlico Sound, NC relate to a growing "dead zone" in one of the two most important fish habitats and invertebrate ecosystems along the east coast. Not only were metals, chemicals, agricultural waste, and untreated sewerage swept into the Sound, but so too were enormous quantities of fertilizer. What caused the dead zone if fertilizer is used to promote growth of plants?

a. The fertilizer was too strong and it killed the fish.
b. The fertilizer promoted the growth of extraordinary amounts of algae and they depleted the oxygen content.
c. The BOD (biological oxygen demand) was driven to zero and the oxygen-rich water poisoned the fish.
d. The mud made the water cloudy, and the fresh-water from the flood was on top of the denser sea water thus killing the fish.

18.) Why are benches cut in the bedrock adjacent to the interstate highways in West Virginia? The exposures are often very high, being 60-100 feet above the roadway!

a. To diminish the cost of construction.
b. To catch debris which falls off the face.
c. To obtain more rock to fill local valleys the road must cross.
d. To reduce overloading and undercutting of the slope.

19.) In the United States, why do we often speak of the 100th meridian as being the separation line between pedalfers and pedocals? NOTE: Calcium carbonate accumulates in pedocals; Al and Fe are leached from the upper horizon of Pedalfers.

a. East of this meridian, limestone is more abundant and the soils are calcium rich.
b. West of this meridian, there is more rainfall.
c. East of this meridian, vegetation is more abundant and calcium is present in the plants.
d. West of this meridian evaporation exceeds precipitation over much of the landscape.

20.) By what chemical process do caves form in limestone?

a. Oxidation of the limestone.
b. Reduction of the trace amounts of iron in the rock.
c. Hydration of the trace amounts of anhydrite.
d. Hydrolysis of feldspar grains in the limestone.
e. Solution of the limestone.

21.) Which Federal Agency has oversight authority for assisting Americans following a natural disaster?

a. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
b. EPA
d. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

22.) Why is the pool level of reservoirs in the headwater reaches of rivers in the east (WV, PA, MD, etc.) lowered so drastically during late September and October of each year?

a. To allow for cleaning of debris (floating and on the bottom).
b. To discourage boating and recreation activities in cold weather.
c. To have storage capability in case of floods from hurricanes or snow melt.
d. To expose the original stream channel in the fall for fishing enthusiasts.

23.) The modern method of removal of thicker, flat lying coal beds, the longwall method, is a procedure that ensures subsidence. The roof rock is designed to collapse as the panel is mined. Why are older room and pillar underground coal operations also subsiding--often many tens of years later?

a. The pillars are all made of wood and the wood is rotting.
b. The mines filled with water and the pillars dissolved.
c. Robbing the pillars did not allow for sufficient support.
d. The removal of ground water from the mine caused collapse of the roof.

24.) Why does coal mining in the south-western counties of WV have to resort to the Mountain Top Removal method?

a. The only answer is greed--it is cheaper than the methods used in north-central WV.
b. The coal is very thick and it is high sulphur coal. The Mountain Top Removal method prevents Acid Mine Drainage.
c. The coal is so deep and overlain by so much shale that the easy way to get at the coal is to push the shale over the hill.
d. There are so many thin coal seams that the only way to retrieve the coal and stay competitive in world markets is to open the mountain from the top down to remove all of the thin coal layers.

25.) What is the current forecast for the world-wide weather pattern over the next 6-8 months?

a. El Nino returns!
b. La Nina will stay around
c. We will finally have a normal year! No El Nino and no La Nina
d. Scientists have been unable to provide a forecast

26.) How will desertification alter such areas as the Sahel in Africa?

a. The Sahel will be irrigated naturally and there will be more plants.
b. The Sahel will shrink in areal extent and grazing will have to be cut back.
c. The Sahel is not a true desert thus desertification is not relevant.
d. Sand dunes will become anchored.

27.) In the American Southwest, the conditions are semi-arid rather than true desert. On BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, ranchers graze untold numbers of cattle. What is a result of overgrazing here?

a. A marked increase in erosion.
b. A marked increase of deposition in the form of dunes.
c. A stable equilibrium as the grazing keeps the plants from altering the arid conditions.
d. A marked increase in the formation of parabolic dunes as vegetation anchors barchans.

28.) The Great Lakes are International Boundary Waters (U.S. and Canada). Industrialization over the past 150 years has created significant problems regarding pollution of water and the inclusion of heavy metals and poisonous metals in sediments. Mercury in the water and sediments is one such problem. What is the best action to take with respect to the contaminated sediments in harbors of cities on the lakes?

a. Dredge and remove now.
b. Cover the sediments with a cap of concrete.
c. Do no disturb but monitor--we could make the problem worse.
d. Solidify the loose sediments with an epoxy material to seal the contaminants in place.

29.) Examine Figure 11.16 (p. 303) in your text. In terms of annual shoreline change, what can be said about the three coasts: EAST, WEST, GULF?

a. More severe erosion is taking place along the East Coast.
b. More deposition is taking place along the West Coast.
c. The Gulf Coast is relatively stable.
d. The East Coast is relatively stable.

30.) Examine Figure 11.19 (p. 305) in your text. After a hurricane eroded part of the barrier island, the Ocean City inlet was kept open and jetties were built. What is the eventual fate of the wildlife preserve on the north end of Assateague Island?

a. It will eventually move out into the Atlantic Ocean.
b. It will merge with the north barrier again.
c. It could erode and be lost.
d. It will grow to the north into the Isle of Wight Bay.


1.) Identify two reasons for land subsidence in WV.

a. ___________________________
b. ___________________________

2.) How does leachate form at a landfill in WV?

3.) What is the "solution" for the storage of HLW in the U.S.? (High Level Nuclear Waste)

4.) Identify the two Federal Agencies which had their "own" ideas regarding the control of the Missouri River.

The plan for "dry years." Agency ____________________________________
The plan for "wet years." Agency ____________________________________

5.) How are gabions constructed? Why are they often used in WV to stabilize slopes and/or river banks?


1.) The Corps of Engineers commented on the problems of very slow retreat of water from crop land protected by constructed levees along the Mississippi River after record flooding a few years back. Identify the reasons why the flood water did not recede immediately as the river level went down.

2.) Dr. Orin Pilkey of Duke University has four "rules" to apply if you are going to buy and build on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He likes to say "if you can see the ocean, the ocean can see you." What does he mean by moving "up and back"? Most structures are on stilts above the surface. Why is this?

3.) Compare and contrast the topography at the sites of Boulder (Hoover) Dam on the Colorado River and Ft. Peck Dam on the Missouri River.

At Boulder Dam:
At Ft. Peck Dam:

4.) Compare and contrast the engineered structure (materials and type of construction) for the dams in Question 3.

Boulder Dam:
Ft. Peck Dam:

5.) The DOH stores road salt along a road in WV. The residence across the road is downslope and relies on a well for water. Only a tarpaulin is used to protect the salt. What problem could be predicted regarding the quality of ground water flowing to the well?


Identify one site near your school where you would lead us as a part of an environmental field trip to your county. Identify the topical subject to be covered, the road or highway we should take, the history of identification and/or solution of the environmental concern.

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