Introduction to Environmental Geology

Prentice Hall
Edward A. Keller  
Total pages
March 2011
Related Titles


This text focuses on helping non-science majors develop an understanding of how geology and humanity interact. Ed Keller—the author who first defined the environmental geology curriculum—focuses on five fundamental concepts of environmental geology: Human Population Growth, Sustainability, Earth as a System, Hazardous Earth Processes, and Scientific Knowledge and Values. These concepts are introduced at the outset of the text, integrated throughout the text, and revisited at the end of each chapter. The Fifth Edition emphasizes currency, which is essential to this dynamic subject, and strengthens Keller’s hallmark “Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Geology,” unifying the text’s diverse topics while applying the concepts to real-world examples.


Five Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Geology are introduced in Chapter 1 to unify the diverse topics in the text: Human Population Growth, Sustainability, Earth as a System, Hazardous Earth Processes, and Scientific Knowledge and Values. The connections are reinforced at the end of each chapter, where the chapter's topic is summarized in terms of these concepts (see 'Revisiting Fundamental Concepts').

An accessible, friendly writing style engages students and includes a wealth of examples.

Student-focused chapter structure includes consistent learning aids to maximize students' understanding of the material and review of major topics:

o Learning objectives
o Chapter summary
o Detailed references at the end of each chapter
o Key terms at the end of each chapter
o Review questions
o Critical-thinking questions that stimulate students to think about some of the important issues in the text and relate these to their lives and society.
Environmental considerations are balanced with a solid presentation of the fundamental concepts and processes of physical geology, so that concepts covered later in the text are easier for students to understand.

Case History and A Closer Look selected features help students relate topics in the text to their world.

Comprehensive appendices help students grasp some of the more applied aspects of environmental geology and are also useful for supplementing laboratory exercises and field exercises. Appendices include:
o Identification of rocks and minerals with accompanying tables and suggestions
o Strength of rocks
o Introduction to topographic and geologic maps with specific information concerning how to read topographic maps, construct topographic profiles, and understand geologic maps
o Introduction to Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and Global Positioning System instrumentation (GPS)
o Discussion of how geologists determine and interpret geologic time
o A glossary of terms used in the field of environmental geology

New to this Edition

NEW! Making the Connection is a new feature found at the end of each chapter. It helps students link each chapter’s Case Histories to the Five Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Geology introduced in the first chapter.

Updated Case Histories and A Closer Look boxes reflect recent natural disasters and hazards.

Material is updated throughout for currency, integrating the most recent geologic developments to garner student interest and demonstrate the relevance of geology to recent occurrences.

Enhanced presentation of the Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Geology feature shows students the relevance of geology to events taking place in the world today.

Significantly improved visuals include a more seamless integration of art and text to enhance student comprehension.

NEW! Chapter dedicated to Tsunamis and their relevance to geology and impact on human life.

NEW! Hazard City: Assignments in Applied Geology, Fourth Edition is now available online an access code is included with every text. Hazard City gives instructors meaningful, easy-to-assign, and easy-to-grade assignments. Students work through 11 different assignments by stepping into the role of a practicing geologist and analyzing potential disasters in the fictional town of Hazard City. New multiple choice assessment items have been added that challenge students to apply the concepts beyond the core set of scenarios provided.

Assessment Questions: New assignable, assessable, multiple-choice questions have been added to each Hazard City assignment. The questions will focus on the higher-level thinking qualities of application and synthesis based on student interactions with the specific assignments.
Thoroughly class tested: All activities have been refined through testing in both the traditional and online classroom.
Substantial critical-thinking assignments: Each activity takes 30-90 minutes. The activities require students to gather and analyze real data, participate in real issues, encounter uncertainty, and make decisions.
Student flexibility for submitting answers: The website includes downloadable worksheets that students can submit to the instructor. The website also includes assignable multiple-choice questions, that can be computer graded and feed to a course gradebook.
Easy to assign: Each self-contained assignment encourages students to research, explore, learn on their own, and think. Assignments are:
o Map Reading: Builds map-reading skills and gives students the confidence they need to solve map-based problems in later assignments.
o Ground Water Contamination: Students use field and laboratory data to prepare a contour map of the water table, determine the direction of ground water flow and map a contaminated area.
o Tsunami/Storm Surge Assessment: The student is hired as a consultant to help develop a hazard assessment/response plan to the village's possible inundation by water.
o Volcanic Hazard Assessment: Researching volcanic hazards, collecting field information, and decision-making are all used to determine the potential impact of a volcanic eruption on different parts of Hazard City.
o Landslide Hazard Assessment: Students research the factors that determine landslide hazard at five construction sites and make recommendations for development.
o Earthquake Damage Assessment: Students research the effects of earthquakes on buildings, explore Hazard City, and determine the number of people needing emergency housing given an earthquake of specific intensity.
o Flood Insurance Rate Maps: Flood insurance premiums are estimated using a flood insurance rate map, insurance tables and site characteristics.
o Snowpack Monitoring: Students utilize climatic data to estimate variables that are key to flood control and water supply management.
o Coal Property Evaluation: The potential value of a mineral property is estimated by learning about mining and property evaluation then applying that knowledge in a resource calculation.
o Landfill Siting: Students use maps and geological data to determine if any of five proposed sites meet the requirements of the State Administrative Code for landfill siting.
o Shoreline Property Assessment: Students visit four related water-front building sites—some developed and some not—and analyze the risk each faces due to shoreline erosion processes
NEW! New media on the companion website includes assignable, assessable animations from the Geoscience Animation Library correlated directly to the text. The site also contains RSS feeds providing students with articles about current geologic events and data from trusted sites and sources, such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Table of Contents

Brief Contents

PART ONE Foundations of Environmental Geology

  • Chapter 1 Philosophy and Fundamental Concepts
  • Chapter 2 Internal Structure of Earth and Plate Tectonics
  • Chapter 3 Minerals and Rocks
  • Chapter 4 Ecology and Geology

PART TWO Earth Processes and Natural Hazards

  • Chapter 5 Introduction to Natural Hazards
  • Chapter 6 Earthquakes and Related Phenomena
  • Chapter 7 Tsunami (new chapter)
  • Chapter 8 Volcanic Activity
  • Chapter 9 Rivers and Flooding
  • Chapter 10 Slope Processes, Landslides, and Subsidence
  • Chapter 11 Coastal Processes
  • Chapter 12 Impact of Extraterrestrial Objects

PART THREE Resources and Pollution

  • Chapter 13 Water Resources
  • Chapter 14 Water Pollution
  • Chapter 15 Mineral Resources
  • Chapter 16 Energy Resources
  • Chapter 17 Soils and Environment

PART FOUR Environmental Management, Global Perspective, and Society

  • Chapter 18 Global Climate Change
  • Chapter 19 Geology, Society, and the Future


Edward A. Keller is a professor, researcher, writer, and most importantly, mentor and teacher to undergraduate and graduate students. Currently, Dr. Keller's students are working on earthquake hazards, how waves of sediment move through a river system following disturbance, and geologic controld on habitat to endangered southern steelhead trout. He was born and raised in California (Bachelor’s degree in Geology and Mathematics from California State University at Fresno, Master’s degree in Geology from University of California at Davis), it was while pursuing his Ph.D. in Geology from Purdue University in 1973 that Ed wrote the first edition of Environmental Geology, the text that became the foundation of the environmental geology curriculum. Ed joined the faculty of the University of California Santa Barbara in 1976 and has been there since, serving multiple times as the chair of both the Environmental Studies and Hydrologic Science programs. In that time he has been the author on over 100 articles, including seminal works on fluvial processes and tectonic geomorphology. Ed’s academic honors include the Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award, Geological Society of America (2004), Quatercentenary Fellowship from Cambridge University, England (2000), two Outstanding Alumnus Awards from Purdue University (1994, 1996), A Distinguished Alumnus Award from California State University at Fresno (1998), the Outstanding Outreach Award from Southern California Earthquake Center (1999).