How Humans Impact the Lithosphere NCES Standard 2.2 Created Fall 2012
Urbanization • Destroying natural areas can reduce the beauty of an area and have a potential economic impact. • Rapid development can result in very high levels of erosion and sedimentation in river channels. • Pollution of soils is possible by leaking gas tanks and other chemicals.
Deforestation • Cutting down all the trees in an area loosens the soil and makes it very easy for extreme erosion to occur. • One solution is replanting and a system of harvesting that thins out the area.
Landfills • In Wake County, solid household wastes that cannot be recycled are buried in landfills. • If there are hazardous chemicals that leak or heavy metals, it is possible that the soil can be contaminated even though the landfill is lined.
Agriculture • Agriculture takes space. • Use of chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers can contaminate soil and affect soil fertility. • Organic fertilizers are better. • Planting the same crop over and over can strip vital minerals out of the soil. • Crop rotation can help.
Overgrazing • Overgrazing is the removal of excessive amounts of plant growth by animals in one area. This accelerates erosion and strips away topsoil, resulting in no plants able to grow. • Rotate animals among pastures. Overgrazing by sheep in Patagonia, Chile has lead to major erosion.
Mining • People require minerals to live, but people also have wants that require minerals. • Underground mining requires digging out large areas, increasing the risk for sinkholes and cave ins. • Strip mining destroys the environment. • Mine operators are required to perform reclamation after finishing with the mining site. This means they must put the land back together and restore it to its original condition.
Harvesting Peat • Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation. Eventually, peat can turn into coal. • Peat can be burned for fuel. • Advantages • low sulphur content • minimal mercury content • low ash content energy • values equivalent to coal less expensive than oil and natural gas and price competitive with other biofuels • minor engineering retrofit needed when substituted for, or blended with, coal • Since peat forms nearer to the surface, it requires less digging.
Drilling for Oil and Natural Gas • Oil and Natural Gas are nonrenewable resources that will eventually run out. • Drilling can cause the lithosphere to be disturbed. It can cause earthquakes. • Soil and groundwater can be contaminated. • Fracking is a hot political topic.
Human Activity and Shorelines • NC is well known for its beaches and Outer Banks. As more and more people retire, there is more development on our coast. • Removal of vegetation at the coast can cause serious erosion. The plants help hold the sand in place. • Man made erosion control, like sandbags, can make erosion worse downshore. • Erosion causes houses to be condemned and potentially fall into the ocean.
The area around the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse experienced extreme erosion, so it was moved about a ½ mile inland. This house is on our coast and was used in the Nicholas Sparks’ movie “The Notebook”. Notice how the water is coming up under the house and it is in danger of falling in the sea.
Human Activities and Mountainsides • Blasting away rock to build roads • Erosion by building houses and other buildings • Remove tops of mountains for mining • Logging forests