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Student Edition
Instructor Edition
Physical Geology, 9/e

Charles C. Plummer, California State University at Sacramento
David McGeary, Emeritus,California State University at Sacramento
Diane H. Carlson, California State University at Sacramento

ISBN: 0072402466
Copyright year: 2003


Physical Geology is a classic that has been used in classrooms for over twenty years, making it the number one physical geology text in the market today. Updated to include the latest technology and most current information, Physical Geology is for both non-science majors and for students contemplating majoring in geology. The new art program and interactive writing style will grab your students' attention and further their interest in the subject.

What's New in This Edition

The Internet has revolutionized the way we learn. This edition expands upon the integration of the Internet and textbook. We have added boxes that have a brief summary in the book, while the complete boxes are accessible through this book's website. We have shortened some boxes from previous editions, but placed the full box on the website. When we have found excellent and appropriate websites, we have added URLs in the text and in figure captions. Our website has enjoyable and enlightening web exercises that we have tested with our students, as well as animations of some of the figures from the textbook.

We have added new and revised artwork and photos. Some of the changes we have made for this edition include the following items:

In chapter 1, we have added boxes on geology as a career and the origin of the solar system. We have added isostatic adjustment to the important concepts covered in the introductory chapter and have expanded the introduction to plate tectonics. In the minerals chapter, we have added a brief section on polarizing microscopy to the discussion of double refraction and referred the interested reader to a website for more information. The introduction to the rock cycle has been moved to the beginning of the chapter on igneous rocks. In the chapter on igneous rocks and processes, we have overhauled our presentation of Bowen's reaction series to present what students need to know to understand igneous processes and use the website for a more complete presentation of the reaction series. We give a thorough, illustrated explanation of how partial melting takes place in circulating asthenosphere above subducting crust. In the volcanoes chapter we have added a section on volcanoes and myths. We have also added a section that quantifies volcanic hazards. A new box looks at Mexico's Popocatepetl's recent eruptions and the potential for a disastrous eruption.

We have added a discussion of the twelve soil orders and updated the description and diagram of a soil profile to include the E Horizon. Abrasion has been removed as an agent of erosion. Chapter 6 has been expanded to include a discussion and diagram of the relation of plate tectonic settings and types of sedimentary rock. A new astrogeology box featuring the latest Mars Global Surveyor images discusses the importance of sedimentary rock for determining whether water and life once existed on Mars; the regression and transgression box has been moved to the website and now includes animated diagrams.

In chapter 7, we have enhanced the description of the role of water in metamorphism to include why retrograde metamorphism is uncommon. We tie in the dehydration of metamorphic minerals during subduction to supplying the water necessary to partial melting of asthenosphere as described in the chapter on igneous rocks. In the chapter on geologic time, we have greatly expanded our coverage of isotopic dating to include descriptions of the mechanisms of radioactive decay. The recently dated, 4.004 billion-year-old zircon crystal and its implications regarding early Earth history are discussed in that chapter.

Chapter 10 includes new photos of Niagara Falls and braided streams. The stream piracy section has been removed. The astrogeology box has been updated to include a discussion and latest photos of stream-like features on Mars from Nanedi Vallis canyon. Web site URLs provide easy access to additional images from the Mars Orbiter Camera. Chapter 11 includes a rewrite of the Darcy's Law box to address the influence of porosity on groundwater velocity though sediment or rock as well as revision of several diagrams showing the details of groundwater flow and fluctuation. The term speleothem has been added, and a discussion of thermophyllic bacteria around hot springs and the implication for early life is presented.

In the glaciers chapter, we have added a figure showing the extent of glaciation during the ice ages for the world (rather than just North America). We have pointed out that our present sea level is not permanent, because of episodes of more extensive glaciation and global warming.

Chapter 13 has improved maps of deserts and photos of desert features and more realistic diagrams of blowouts and migration of sand dunes; an image of barchan dunes from Mars Proctor Crater has also been added. In Chapter 14, the box on rising sea level has been updated and many diagrams have been redrawn to look more realistic while retaining clarity for the beginning geology student.

In the structure chapter, text and diagrams have been rewritten and redrawn to improve clarity of difficult concepts. An exciting addition to this new edition is the animated diagrams of folding and faulting to show the mechanics of movement and accommodation of strain in the crust.

Chapter 16 has undergone a major revision to include information and spectacular photos of the recent major earthquakes that have struck around the world-Seattle, India, El Salvador, Turkey, and Taiwan. New boxes on earthquake engineering and life-saving tips on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake have been added. The discussion of tsunamis has been revised and expanded to include new diagrams, photos, and a map of travel-time and early warning systems throughout the Pacific rim.

In the chapter on Earth's interior and its geophysical properties, we have updated and expanded our coverage of the core-mantle boundary to include a discussion of the D layer and ultra low velocity zone (ULVZ) as well as incorporating exciting new discoveries about the dynamics of the deep interior of Earth. Chapter 18 includes a new astrogeology box on the origin of the ocean. Maps of features on the sea floor have been revised.

The plate tectonics chapter has been partially rewritten and expanded to include an illustrated discussion of the paleontological evidence for continental drift. It also includes new information and an accompanying figure presenting the latest ideas about the dynamics of plates and mantle plumes at depth in the mantle.

In the chapter on mountains and the continental crust, we have expanded our coverage of the Appalachians by discussing their post-orogenic erosional and uplift history. Our geologic resources chapter now includes a box on frozen methane hydrates as a potential new energy resource along with its potential to contribute to global warming.


The Internet has revolutionized the way we obtain knowledge and this book makes full use of its potential to help students learn. We have made the process student-friendly by having all websites that we mention in the book, a mouse-click away from this book's website. (We also include all URLs in the textbook for those who wish to go directly to a site.) Within our website we have Internet exercises to allow students to get the most out of appropriate sites as well as raise interest for independent, further exploration on a topic. We expect to add more sites and exercises to our web pages as we discover new ones after the book has gone to press. Our website also features on-line quizzes and a study guide to help a student succeed in a geology course.

Technology-Related Supplements

For Instructors:

· Online Learning Center at htm:// containing:

· Access to PowerWeb-Geology
· Password Protected Instructor's Manual
· Password Protected Test Item File
· PowerPoint Slides containing lecture outlines, line art, and photographs from the textbook
· Lecture Outlines
· Web Links and more!

· Visual Resource Library CD-ROM with all line art and most photographs from the text
· Physical Geology Photo CD-ROM with 650 images (in addition to images from the textbook)
· Interactive Plate Tectonics CD-ROM
· Geoscience Videotape Library (available to qualified adopters)
· Computerized testing software
· PowerPoint CD-ROM containing lecture outlines, line art, and photographs from the textbook

For Students:

· Online Learning Center at containing:

· FREE Student Study Guide
· Animations of difficult concepts
· Interactive Quizzing
· Key Term Flashcards
· Access to PowerWeb-Geology
· Web Links and more!

Printed Supplements

· 224 Transparencies
· 350 Slides
· Laboratory Manual for Physical Geology, 11th edition, by Zumberge, Rutford, and Carter, ISBN 0-07-239195-2
· Laboratory Manual for Physical Geology, 4th edition, by Jones, ISBN 0-07-243655-7
· Student Atlas of Environmental Issues, by Allen, ISBN 0-697-36520-4
· You Can Make a Difference: Be Environmentally Responsible, by Getis, ISBN 0-07-292416-0


We have tried to write a book that will be useful to both students and instructors. We would be grateful for any comments by users, especially regarding mistakes within the text or sources of good geological photographs.

Diane Carlson would like to thank her husband, Reid Buell, for his support and technical assistance with several chapters. We thank Susan Slaymaker for writing the planetary geology material originally in early editions.

We are also very grateful to the following reviewers of the ninth edition for their careful evaluation an useful suggestions for improvement.

William W. Atkinson, Jr., University of Colorado-Boulder
J. Bret Bennington, Hofstra University
Stephen K. Boss, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
Kevin Cornwell, California State University, Sacramento
P. Thompson Davis, Bentley College
Dave Evans, California State University, Sacramento
Tim Flood, St. Norbert College
Norm Harris, Nassau Community College
Tim Horner, California State University, Sacramento
Chris Hill, Fullerton College
Paul Hudak, University of North Texas
Leslie Kanat, Johnson State College
Alan Lester, University of Colorado-Boulder
Donald Lindsley, SUNY at Stony Brook
Jerry F. Magloughlin, Colorado State University
Penelope Morton, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Doug Oliver, Tarrant County College
Eugene Perry, Northern Illinois University
Dr. John D. Pigott, University of Oklahoma
Randye L. Rutberg, Hunter College
William E. Sanford, Colorado State University
Kevin J. Smart, University of Oklahoma
Mark Swanson, University of Southern Maine
Sarah Ulerick, Lane Community College
Andrew Warnock, Colorado State University
John Wickham, University of Texas-Arlington


To obtain an instructor login for this Online Learning Center, ask your local sales representative. If you're an instructor thinking about adopting this textbook, request a free copy for review.