Rocks & Minerals

Kaboom! On a beautiful clear morning, Sunday May 18, 1980, at 8:32AM, the quiet still air was shattered by an explosion 300 times the magnitude of the atom bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan. Mount Saint Helens in southwestern Washington erupted, exploding hundreds of feet off the pristine snow-capped summit. What caused this destruction? Changes within Earth!

Earth is a dynamic planet. Processes that change Earth's surface operated in the past much as they do today. Evidence of past surface and climatic changes are indicated in the rock and fossil records. Rocks are composed of minerals. Rocks and minerals cycle through processes that change their form. Earth's surface is changed by heat flowing from Earth's hot interior toward the cooler surface and by atmospheric processes. Earth's surface can change abruptly through volcanoes and earthquakes, or gradually through mountain building, weathering, erosion, and deposition. All changes eventually cause visible changes on Earth's surface.

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