Geological Terms Beginning With "F"

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The deformation might not be accompanied by earthquake activity. Faults that creep usually have fewer earthquakes than faults that move suddenly. The photo shows a curb and sidewalk which were becoming offset due to creep along the Hayward Fault in California. The curb was repaired in Crushed and smeared rock debris that is found between the two walls of a fault produced by crushing action of fault movement. The photo shows serpentinite gouge in the Bartlett Springs Fault.

The intersection of a fault with Earth's surface, often as seen in the field, on an aerial photo or on a satellite image. A line on a geologic map that represents the intersection of a fault with the Earth's surface.

The image is an oblique aerial photo of the Banning Fault in the northern portion of the Coachella Valley of California. An area of rock that has numerous fractures of similar trend and dip.

Rocks usually do not fail with a clean break, instead they fail through the formation of numerous fractures along a zone of failure.

As a result, many named "faults" are actually zones of fractured rock. The term also has a regulatory use. These "fault zones" are geographic areas where buildings and land use are subject to regulation because they are thought to be exposed to the hazard of a nearby fault.

These fault zones are usually drawn on maps and published by a government agency for public viewing. A principle of relative dating that is based upon the observed sequence of organisms in the rock record. The relative age of two rock units can frequently be determined by matching the fossils found in those rocks to their positions in the rock record. A term used to describe an igneous rock that has a large percentage of light-colored minerals such as quartz, feldspar , and muscovite.

Also used in reference to the magmas from which these rocks crystallize. Felsic rocks are generally rich in silicon and aluminum and contain only small amounts of magnesium and iron.

Granite and rhyolite shown here are examples of felsic rocks. See mafic to contrast. Colored flashes of light emitted from a gemstone that result from incident light being separated into its component colors as it passes through the stone. Each gem material has a characteristic dispersion. Some have exceptional dispersion and produce a very intense fire. Although many people believe that diamond has the strongest dispersion of all gems, a few gems such as sphalerite, demantoid garnet shown in the photo , sphene , and zircon have an even greater dispersion.

A translucent-to-transparent opal with a warm background color of yellow, orange or red. It may or may not exhibit a "play-of-color. An open fracture or crack in Earth's surface that can result from a wide variety of causes that include: Fissures associated with volcanic activity can produce large outpourings of magma. Others can be the initial step of forming an igneous dike. Some fissures are filled with valuable minerals.

A deep, narrow, steep-walled, U-shaped valley that was eroded to a depth below sea level by glaciers and then flooded with sea water after the glacier melted.

An overflow of water onto lands that are normally above local water levels. Can be caused by stream discharge exceeding the capacity of the stream channel, storm winds and reduced pressure drawing water from a lake or ocean onto the coastline, dam failure, lake level increase, local drainage problems or other reasons.

A sequence of parallel to subparallel basalt flows that were formed during a geologically brief interval of time and which covered an extensive geographic area. Thought to have formed from simultaneous or successive fissure eruptions. In the photo are layered flood basalts from the Columbia River. Public domain image by William Borg. A tidal current that moves towards land as high tide approaches, covering the inter-tidal zone.

Flood currents can temporarily reverse the flow of rivers that enter the ocean. They can be very strong at the openings of bays and between barrier islands, where large amounts of water must flow through a narrow opening in a limited amount of time. The arrows in the image show the directions that water would flow as flood currents enter a river and fill lagoons behind barrier islands. An area of alluvium-covered, relatively level land along the banks of a stream that is covered with water when the stream leaves its channel during a time of high flow.

The astronaut photo shown here, which was taken above the border between Laos and Thailand in August , shows the Mekong River flood plain covered with muddy water. A water height that is reached when the discharge of a stream exceeds the capacity of the channel. A tidal current that generally moves landward and occurs during the part of the tide cycle when sea level is rising. See neap tide for contrast. A well that taps an aquifer that is under enough pressure to force water to the surface.

Caused when the aquifer has a recharge area at a higher elevation. The photo shows a fluid-filled inclusion in quartz that also contains a vapor bubble. The letter "L" indicates the liquid, and the "V" indicates the vapor bubble. The ability of a material to temporarily absorb a small amount of light and an instant later release a small amount of light of a different wavelength. This change in wavelength causes a temporary color change of the mineral in the eye of a human observer.

The color change of fluorescent materials is most obvious when the materials are illuminated in darkness by ultraviolet light which is not visible to humans and the materials release visible light. A more detailed explanation of fluorescence can be found in our article on fluorescent minerals.

The photo shows specimens of opal from Virgin Valley, Nevada in normal light and under shortwave ultraviolet light. Fluorescent minerals are minerals that have the ability to be stimulated by ultraviolet light and release a fluorescent glow.

Some require illumination by longwave ultraviolet light, some require illumination by shortwave ultraviolet light. Fluorite is an important industrial mineral composed of calcium and fluorine CaF 2. It is used in a wide variety of chemical, metallurgical and ceramic processes. Specimens with exceptional diaphaneity and color are cut into gems or used to make ornamental objects. A point beneath Earth's surface where the vibrations of an earthquake are thought to have originated. Also known as a hypocenter.

A bend or flexure in a rock unit or series of rock units that has been caused by crustal movements. Folds frequently form near convergent plate boundaries where the rock units are under compression and the folds accommodate crustal shortening. Sketch of folds in outcrop by Sir Charles Lyell.

These can be structural such as cleavage, textural such as mineral grain flattening or elongation, or compositional such as mineral segregation banding. The photo shows a phyllite from Frederick County, Maryland. A name often used for pyrite because it is sometimes mistaken for gold by inexperienced people.

Chalcopyrite and tiny flakes of biotite mica are also often mistaken for gold. Anyone who plans to go panning for gold should learn the easy methods for identifying gold to avoid embarassment and wasting their time.

A group of tiny organisms, protozoans that belong to the subclass Sarcodina, order Foraminifera. They produce a very thin calcium carbonate test shell with one to many chambers. They are usually marine, less than one millimeter in size, and their tests can make up a significant portion of the carbonate sediment in some areas.

A calcareous sea-floor sediment composed primarily of foraminifer tests. The image shows a lab dish containing calcareous ooze dredged from the floor of the Arctic Ocean.

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