Chapter 12:Riches in Rock: Energy and Mineral Resources flashcards |

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Gas or liquid fuel made from plant material (biomass). Examples of biofuel include alcohol (from fermented sugar), biodiesel from vegetable oil, and wood.


Mineral material that precipitates from water and fills the spaces between grains, holding the grains together.


An organic sedimentary rock formed from plant debris.

coalbed methane

Natural gas produced during the diagenesis of coal.

coal gasification

The transformation, by human activity, of coal into various gases.

coal rank

A measurement of the carbon content of coal; higher-rank coal forms at higher temperatures.


The capacity to do work.

energy resource

Something that can be used to produce work; in a geologic context, a material (such as oil, coal, wind, flowing water) that can be used to produce energy.

fossil fuel

An energy resource such as oil or coal that comes from organisms that lived long ago, and thus stores solar energy that reached the Earth then.

gas hydrate

An ice-like solid consisting of water and methane.

geothermal energy

Heat and electricity produced by using the internal heat of the Earth.

greenhouse effect

The trapping of heat in the Earth's atmosphere by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which absorb infrared radiation; somewhat analogous to the effect of glass in a greenhouse.

hydrocarbon reserve

An accumulation of accessible oil and gas.


A chain-like or ring-like molecule made of hydrogen and carbon atoms; petroleum and natural gas are hydrocarbons.


The waxy molecules into which the organic material in shale transforms on reaching about 100 ยกC. At higher temperatures, kerogen transforms into oil.

meltdown (of nuclear reactor)

The melting of the fuel rods in a nuclear reactor that occurs if the rate of fission becomes too fast and the fuel rods become too hot.


A solid composed almost entirely of atoms of metallic elements; it is generally opaque, shiny, smooth, and malleable, and can conduct electricity.

mineral resources

The minerals extracted from the Earth's upper crust for practical purposes.

nuclear reactor

The part of a nuclear power plant where the fission reactions occur.

nuclear waste

Radioactive materials produced in a nuclear reactor.

Oil Age

The period of human history, including our own, so named because the economy depends on oil.

oil shale

Shale containing kerogen.

oil window

The narrow range of temperatures under which oil can form in a source rock.


Rock containing native metals or a concentrated accumulation of ore minerals.

ore deposit

An economically significant accumulation of ore.


Compacted and partially decayed vegetation accumulating beneath a swamp.


The degree to which a material allows fluids to pass through it via an interconnected network of pores and cracks.


The process during which chlorophyll-containing plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, form tissues, and expel oxygen back to the atmosphere.


The total volume of empty space (pore space) in a material, usually expressed as a percentage.

reservoir rock

Rock with high porosity and permeability, so it can contain an abundant amount of easily accessible oil.


A supply of useable material.

salt dome

A rising bulbous dome of salt that bends up the adjacent layers of sedimentary rock.

tar sand

Sandstone reservoir rock in which less viscous oil and gas molecules have either escaped or been eaten by microbes, so that only tar remains.


In the context of hydrocarbons, a trap is a geologic configuration that accumulates and holds oil underground.

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