The nature of geology
“Geology is a complex
of sciences about composition, structure, and history of development of
the earth’s crust and the Earth. The sources of geology are in the great
antiquity and connected with the first information on rocks, minerals,
and ores. The term ”geology” was introduced by a Norwegian scientist M.P.Esholt
in 1657. Geology became an independent branch of the natural science
in XIII – early in XIX centuries (U.Smith, A.G.Verner, J.Getton,
Ch.Laiel – abroad; M.V.Lomonosov, V.M.Severgin – in Russia). Qualitative
leap in the history of geology – its changing into a complex of sciences
late in XIX – early in XX centuries – was connected with using of physicochemical
and mathematical methods of investigations. Modern geology includes: stratigraphy,
tectonics, geodynamics, marine geology, regional geology, mineralogy, petrography,
sedimentology and geochemistry, teachings of useful minerals, structure
and composition of the earth’s crust. Geology is closely connected with
physical geography, geophysics (physics of “solid” Earth), crystallography,
paleontology, and others. A special group is the fields of applied
importance: hydrogeology, engineering geology, geocryology, and others
as well as new directions of geology formed at the joints with other natural
sciences – petrochemistry, petrophysics, tectonophysics, etc.”
“Bolshoi entsiklopedicheskii slovar” (Big encyclopaedia)
Moscow, scientific publishing “BSE”;
Sankt-Peterburg, “Norint”, 1997, p. 265-266
The Earth’s crust, the core and the mantle of the Earth. Gravitational action of heavenly bodies. Colossal blocks, immense faults, and movement of lithosphere platforms. Mantle flows and magma bursting onto the surface through volcanic necks… The richest underground pantries of the Planet with the mysterious and enigmatic caves, swift glacial streams, unique exotic druses of crystals and nuggets of precious metals. Mountain ways, dangerous stone-falls, crafty rivers, floods, overgrown burnt out places, mosquitoes, and heavy rucksacks, and - a moment of triumph - rare finding, joy of discovery! - All this is geology – most attractive and romantic of the Earth sciences!
Geology and society
A modern man surrounded by the results of the scientific-technical progress achievements, rarely meditates on the fact that minerals and rocks, called in common parlance stones, are a part of the animate nature like plants and animals. Nevertheless, the stone world is much more ancient than the animate world. It’s not accidentally that the most ancient and prolonged part of the mankind history, disappeared in the shadows of bygone millennia , is called the Stone Age. There is no question, that the sources of knowledge about useful minerals were available in those prehistoric times, when there were no scientific ideas of surrounding nature. Primitive people could know about useful properties of minerals and rocks through their struggle for existence. For the primitive man stone was both arms and tool. Our ancestors made firm hammers of basalt or nephrite, knives and scrapers and arrow- and spear-heads of brittle obsidian.
The Stone Age was changed by the Brazen Age, then by Bronze Age, and then by the Iron Age, as the progress of civilization. Man learned little by little to know and find native metals: copper, gold, silver, then ores rich in of copper, tin and iron, to mine these ores and smelt metals and alloys suitable for making more firm and perfect instruments of production. The main purpose of stone changed: it was used not only in its natural aspect, but also as rocks and ore – a source of metals and other chemical elements. The name “mineral” came from Latin word “minera” that means “delivering the metal”, that is, ore.
When towns appeared, stone came into use as a firm building material, first of all for palaces and temples, that at present strike us with their elegance and longevity. The rarest minerals – gems, such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, diamond, pearl, opal – gladden us by unfading beauty and remarkable properties and are the symbols of combination of pleasant and useful in nature.
Our time much more vigorously treats nature. Searching for raw materials for industry, man takes out of the Earth about 35 million tons of rocks every year. XX century shows the rates of the useful mineral evacuation, that cause confusion of minds. During the last century man took from the Earth’s depths much more than over the whole history of mankind. Rock as a mineral product and building material makes the base of the modern industry: metallurgical, chemical, atomic, glass-ceramic, building, and others. Precious and industrial rocks and minerals have assumed greater value as their natural resources run out.
The natural reserves of the planet are coming to an end. 85% of the copper and 87% of iron world reserves have been mined. The picture is not better with other minerals: lead, tin, zinc, and all precious metals. A little more lucky is the destiny of aluminium and manganese. So we must make thrifty use of natural resources as we search for new deposits. Will be the geology able to provide the civilization progress with necessary raw materials? Very likely, the recipe is one: search for roundabout ways creating the substitutes of metals, new technologies and production regimes, that is, setting hopes upon science. Modern economics must be based on the minds of scientists rather than on the natural resources.
History of many discoveries indicates that it is impossible to know the truth by parts, it must be comprehended as a whole, especially for geology. Recently, scientists of different countries are giving more attention to the crust and upper mantle of the Earth. The interest of scientists is the cases of volcanism seismicity, vertical and horizontal displacements of the matter on the surface of the Earth and inside. Fundamental investigations of these processes are necessary to elucidate the causes of distribution and localization of useful minerals and to predict such intense phenomena as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The studies need the cooperation of scientists from many countries working together. The investigations of natural forces acting in the depth of our planet will be important for the progress of the Earth science.
Primorye is the first region of Russia where a Branch of Academy of Sciences was organized. In the outskirts of Vladivostok, in the picturesque forest, the buildings of “Akademgorodok” have sprung up. Its windows look at the sea. There is something symbolic in choosing the place for the institutes of the Far Eastern Branch of Academy of Sciences. Almost all scientific problems of this large territory that is rich in diverse resources are related to the ocean, its volcanic belt, or ocean shelf. Specialists in Earth sciences must be near the objects of their researches. Primorskii Krai, with its unique nature and rich mineral resources, is an extremely beneficial land for geological investigations. Riddles, not found yet treasures, and mysteries will be sufficient for many generations.
VERA PAKHOMOVA, senior research worker, Laboratory
of ore district metallogeny, Far East Geological
Institute, FEB RAS