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Study outline oceanography
updated September 28, 2013
Note: this guide is merely a general overview of the material in the chapters. It is not exhaustive,
and it may be missing some key points. There is no substitute for making your own outline of a
chapter while you are studying.
General suggestions for studying
1. Read over the chapter contents on the first page of each chapter—this gives you an
overview of what’s in the chapter and also shows you how it’s broken down into parts.
2. Look through all the graphics, the pictures and diagrams and read the captions. This helps
you visualize while you are reading and also gives you some snap shots of what the author
is presenting.
3. Read the brief reviews that summarize individual sections and the summary of the entire
4. Scan the list of terms. Do you really know what each term means? If you are not sure of the
precise meaning, dig into the chapter and glossary to find out. Remember to use the index at
the end of the book to help you find terms.
5. Be able to answer the questions for review.
6. Read the chapter and take notes as you read.
7. Go over your notes from class.
Preface: What is science?
What is the difference between a hypothesis and a scientific theory?
You should be able to define both words. The scientific process is often called the empirical
method because it is based on measurements and/or observations.
Chapter 1, Introduction to Planet “Earth”
1. Know the locations and relative sizes of the principal oceans of Earth. What kind of land
forms border the oceans?
2. Name the deepest ocean trench and explain when it first explored by humans.
3. Know the basics about the history of ocean exploration and how they contributed to our
A. Early ocean explorations and. Examples: early Pacific islanders (4000 BC–900 AD),
the Kon Tiki voyage, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans.
B. Oceanic explorations during the Middle Ages and contributions of Arabs, the
Vikings, and the Ming Dynasty (1405-1433)
C. Explorations of European explorers during the Renaissance (Age of Discovery);
examples include Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Christopher
Columbus, John Cabot, Vasco Nùñez de Balboa, Ferdinand Magellan, and Juan
Sebastian del Caño.
D. What were the contributions of James Cook to early ocean science.
4. What are the systematic steps of the scientific method; explain why it is important.
5. Know how to explain the difference between a hypothesis and a theory.
6. Describe how the nebular hypothesis explains the formation of the solar system.
7. Compare and contrast Protoearth, and early Earth with modern Earth.
8. Describe density stratification in Earth and the resultant chemical structure. Be able
to rouighly characterize the crust, mantle, and inner and outer core with respect to density
and composition.
9. Describe the physical structure of Earth as it relates to the property of strength and brittle
vs. weak and ductile in terms of the asthenosphere and lithosphere.
10. Distinguish between continental crust and oceanic crust including location, chemical, and
physical properties of the crust.
11. What are isostatic adjustment and isostatic rebound.
12. Describe the formation of Earth’s early atmospheres
13. Describe how photosynthesis played a role in forming atmospheric oxygen; know how it
changed through geologic time, and about its implications for life and the conditions
suitable for life.
14. Describe how Earth’s oceans probably formed.
15. Discuss the origin of the salts in ocean water.
16. Discuss how scientists view the implications of Stanley Miller’s experiment involving the
simulation of primitive Earth’s atmosphere on the origin of life on Earth.
17. What is the evidence for evolution by natural selection.
18. Define autotroph vs. heterotroph
19. Describe the process of radiometric dating for deriving the age of the Earth.
Chapter 2 Plate tectonics and the ocean floor
1. Describe some of the types of evidence that lead Alfred Wegener to formulate his
Continental Drift theory.
2. How did geologist Harry Hess come up with the idea of Sea Floor Spreading?
3. Describe how paleomagnetism works and how it played a role in demonstrating sea floor
spreading. What are magnetic reversals and magnetic stripes on the ocean floor?
4. What is the Theory of Plate Tectonics and what does it explain about earthquakes and
volcanoes? What else does it explain, how?
5. Be able to explain the three different types of tectonic plate boundaries, how they behave,
examples of each, and the geologic features of each.
6. Describe three types of convergent plate boundaries.
7. What is a volcanic arc?
8. Describe the overall age of the ocean floor vs. the age of or rocks composing the continents
and explain why they are different.
9. What are mantle plumes and hot spots? Give an example of a landform created at a hotspot.
10. What are the stages in the development of a coral reef?
11. What is tectonic accretion?
12. What instrumentation allows us to determine and measure motions of tectonic plates?
Chapter 3 Marine provinces
1. How and what do we use to measure the seafloor? What is this called? Bathymetry,
GLORIA, PDR, seismic reflection, ETC
2. What is the hypsographic curve?
3. Know the different marine provinces: continental margins, continental slope,
continental rise, abyssal plains, mid-Ocean Ridge;
4. What are turbidity currents and what deposits do they leave? Where do they
5. Deep see canyons--significance? What, and where, is a deep-sea fan?
6. Where do you find hydrothermal vents? What do you find there?
7. What's the difference between a fracture zone and a transform? Where are they?
Chapter 4 Marine sediments
Lithogenous Sediment
Sediment Texture
Biogenous Sediment
Sediment Texture
Hydrogenous Sediment
Composition and Distribution
Cosmogenous Sediment
Origin, Composition, and Distribution
Distribution of Neritic and Pelagic Deposits: A Summary
Events Revealed by Sea Floor Sediments
Ocean Sediments as a Resource
Gas Hydrates
Sand and Gravel
Evaporative Salts
Phosphorite (Phosphate Minerals)
Manganese Nodules and Crusts
14. Sediments vs. sedimentary rock: sediments can be produced by weathering or by
accumulation of organic material. Sediments include fragments of rock or mineral debris
that accumulate (sand, silt, etc) or can included precipitates that come out of solution
(salt, gypsum, calcium carbonate, silica, etc)
15. 2. Know the four main types of marine sediments: lithogenous, biogenous,
Chapter 5. Water and Seawater
Atomic Structure
The Water Molecule
Interconnections of Molecules
Water: The Universal Solvent
Water’s Thermal Properties
Heat, Temperature, and Changes of State
Water’s Freezing and Boiling Points
Water’s Heat Capacity
Water’s Latent Heat
Water Density
Salinity Variations
Determining Salinity
Dissolved Components Added and Removed from Seawater
Acidity and Alkalinity of Seawater
The pH Scale
The Carbonate Buffering System
Processes Affecting Seawater Salinity
Processes that Decrease Seawater Salinity
Processes that Increase Seawater Salinity
The Hydrologic Cycle
Surface and Depth Salinity Variation
Surface Salinity Variation
Depth Salinity Variation
Seawater Density
Pycnocline and Thermocline
Comparing Pure Water and Seawater
Membrane Processes
Other Methods of Desalination
Chapter 6: Air-Sea interaction
Earth’s Seasons
Uneven Solar Heating Effects
Distribution of Solar Energy
Oceanic Heat Flow
Atmospheric Physical Properties
Water Vapor Content
Coriolis Effect Influence On Moving Objects
Example 1: Perspective and Frames of Reference on a Merry-Go-Round
Example 2: A Tale of Two Missiles
Global Atmospheric Circulation
Circulation Cells
Wind Belts
Circulation Cells: Idealized or Real?
Oceanic Weather and Climate Patterns
Weather Versus Climate
Sea and Land Breezes
Storms and Fronts
Tropical Cyclones
Ocean’s Climate Patterns
Sea Ice and Iceberg Formation
Formation of Sea Ice
Formation of Icebergs
Chapter 7 Ocean circulation
1. Surface currents vs. Deep currents.
direct methods: floats, fixed devices
indirect methods: radar, satellites, doppler
deep water: ARGO, tracers
Effects of global winds, Coriolis effect, continents, and friction on surface currents.
Effects of salinity, temperature, density changes on thermohaline circulation, deep ocean
conveyor belt
Effects of thermohaline circulation on climate.
Misc effects that influence circulation, sea surface elevation, upwelling/downwelling, biological
productivity, etc
Gulf stream effects, Sargasso Sea
Monsoons--seasonal changes
mis origin of surface currents--winds, Coriolis effect
subtropical gyres: equatorial currents, boundary currents, equatorial countercurrents
subpolar gyres
Eckman spiral and Eckman transport
Geostrophic flow
western intensification
ocean currents and climate
upwelling and downwelling productivity
Chapter 8 Waves and water dynamics
Chapter at a glance:
Most waves produced by storms
Most move in circular motion
In shallow water the physical characteristics of waves change.
Tsunamis are high energy waves that can be very destructive.
ocean waves, atmospheric waves, internal waves
Progressive waves: longitudinal, transverse, orbital (three types of motion)
Characteristics of waves: wave crest, trough, wave height (H), wavelength (L), wave
steepness, wave period (T), frequency (f), wave base (~1/2 L)
Deep-water waves, wave speed (S) aka Celerity (C) [relationship of wave speed to L
and T]: longer L: higher S
Shallow-water waves: water depth is < L/20
transitional waves: L is 2–20 x water depth
Development of wind-generated waves:
Ripples = capillary waves
Gravity waves
Sea/ Sea area
Factors affecting wave energy: wind speed, duration, fetch
Beaufort Wind Scale
Location of highest wind speed and roaring 40s, furious 50s, screaming 60s.
Maximum height of waves?
Fully-developed sea--equilibrium condition
swell--move faster than the wind
wave trains - wave dispersion
decay distance
wave trains move at 1/2 velocity of individual waves
Interference patterns: constructive, destructive, mixed, "surf beat"
Rogue waves (sidebar on p. 243)
surf zone, shoaling water, spilling breaker, plunging breaker, surging breaker, surfing
wave refraction
wave reflection
standing waves
tsunami: causes: earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, meteor impact
splash waves (tsunami produced by meteor impact)
tsunami runup
noteable tsumanis
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: sensors, buoys, tide-monitoring stations
wave power
Chapter 9 Tides
What causes tides? What is the tidal bulge?
What is a tidal period?
What are Spring tides vs. Neap tides? Relate this to the position of the Moon in its orbit around
the Earth.
Declination of the Moon and Sun--how does this effect the tidal bulge?
aphelion and perihelion vs. apogee and perigee? (p. 269)
Types of tidal patterns: what type do we have in the Puget Sound?
Tidal bores
Influence of tides on biological cycles.
Potential use of tides for power: environmental effects?
Chapter 10 Beaches and coasts
Note coastal features related to wave refraction and longshore drift: tombolos, spits,
baymouth bars, etc, and effects of breakwaters, jetties, and groins.
Examples of beach hardening or hard stabilization and effects thereof; beach replenishment,
swash, backwash, etc
Erosional shores, depositional shores and associated features; barrier islands, deltas, beach
compartments/pocket beaches, submarine canyons, emerging shorelines, submerging
Eustatic (global) sea level changes vs. isostatic adjustments (ex: rebounding of Earth's crust
and changing relative sea level after glacial melting)
Chapter 16 Oceans and climate
1. Know Earth's environmental spheres and how they interact.
2. Know feedback loops, paleoclimatology, proxy data examples, Oxygen isotopes
3. Milankovitch cycles; influence of sun on climate, etc
4. Influence of volcanoes on climate: could cause warming or cooling depending on style, type,
size of eruption.
5. Past examples of fluctuating climate: Ice ages, Little Ice Age, Medieval optimum, etc.
6. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC
7. Know major "Greenhouse" gases, basic nature of Earth's heat budget, infrared energy etc
8. CO2, carbon cycle basics, impacts of fossil fuels.
9. Potential/likely changes to ocean from warming of climate.