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Geology Vocabulary Key Term Definition Determines direction (N, S, E, W) using the Earths natural magnetic poles


What something is made of Composition

Convection currents

The circular motion of liquids or gases due to density differences that result from temperature differences

Convergent boundary

Plate motion where two plates move toward each other; creates ocean trenches


The innermost layer of the Earth; the inner core is made of solid metal and the outer core is made of liquid metal The outermost layer of the Earth



To break down or wear down over time Decompose

Divergent boundary

Plate motion where two plates move away from each other; creates a mid-ocean ridge or mountain chain The release of energy at a plate boundary caused by friction (stress) on rocks over time



The movement of soil or rock particles from one place to another

Preserved remains of animals or plants from the past Fossil

The study of the Earth Geology

A mass of ice that moves over land and exists year round Glacier

Rock formed when magma cools or hardens Igneous


The outer solid part of the Earth; consists of crust and upper mantle

Any material that attracts iron or materials containing iron Magnet


The middle layer of the Earth; made mostly of molten rock (magma)



Rock formed when heat, pressure, or fluids act on igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rock to change its form or composition, or both Naturally occurring inorganic solid that has a definite chemical composition and an orderly internal atomic structure Anything that is or was once alive that contains the element carbon


The movement of lithospheric plates on the Earths crust Plate tectonics

Rock cycle

A model that describes how rocks slowly change from one form to another through time



Loose materials, such as rock fragments, mineral grains, and the remains of once-living plants and animals that have been moved by wind, water, ice, or gravity A type of rock that is most likely to contain fossils and is formed when layers of sand, silt, clay, or mud are cemented and compacted together Dirt composed of rock, minerals, and decomposed organic matter


Transform boundary

Plate motion where two plates slide past each other; creates fault lines


A mountain (or sometimes a hill) that releases magma from the mantle


The breaking down of rocks, soil, and minerals through direct contact with the Earths atmosphere