The Changing Face of the Land

Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. Which type of weathering produces cones of talus?
    Denudation.
    Dissolution.
    Frost wedging.
    Hydrolysis.
    Oxidation.

  2. What is the sum of all weathering, erosion, and mass wasting resulting in the lowering of the land toward sea level?
    Denudation.
    Dissolution.
    Frost wedging.
    Hydrolysis.
    Oxidation.

  3. What is the definition of erosion?
    The accumulation of sediment following transportation.
    The disintegration and decomposition of rocks at or near the earth's surface.
    The dissolution of soil components.
    The incorporation of and transportation of material by mobile agents such as water, wind, and ice.
    The transfer of rock material downslope under the influence of gravity.
    The washing out of fine soil components.

  4. In which climate is chemical weathering likely to occur most rapidly?
    Desert.
    Polar region.
    Tropical forest.

  5. What is the primary agent of sediment transportation from sites of weathering to sites of deposition?
    Glaciers.
    Gravity.
    Plants and animals.
    Rivers.
    Wind.

  6. What is the deepest horizon in a soil, composed of partly weathered bedrock?
    A.
    B.
    C.
    E.
    O.

  7. What soil horizon is composed mostly of organic matter?
    A.
    B.
    C.
    E.
    O.

  8. What is the definition of leaching?
    The accumulation of sediment following transportation.
    The disintegration and decomposition of rocks at or near the earth's surface.
    The dissolution of soil components.
    The incorporation of and transportation of material by mobile agents such as water, wind, and ice.
    The transfer of rock material downslope under the influence of gravity.
    The washing out of fine soil components.

  9. What type of mass wasting involves block rotation and leaves scarps?
    Creep.
    Earthflow.
    Lahar.
    Mudflow.
    Rockslide.
    Slump.
    Solifluction.

  10. What type of mass wasting is channelized like a river?
    Creep.
    Earthflow.
    Lahar.
    Mudflow.
    Rockslide.
    Slump.
    Solifluction.

  11. What triggers mass wasting?
    Earthquakes.
    Loss of vegetation.
    Oversteepening of slopes.
    Saturation by water.
    All of the above.

  12. What is the ultimate force that causes mass wasting?
    Electricity.
    Gravity.
    Tides.
    Water.
    Wind.

  13. What factor causes a river to be braided?
    High discharge.
    High sediment load.
    Shallow gradient.
    Steep gradient.
    Tight channelization.

  14. What is often formed when a mountain stream enters a broad valley?
    Alluvial fans.
    Deltas.
    Drainage basins.
    Point bars.
    Tributaries.

  15. What features are created when rivers enter the ocean?
    Alluvial fans.
    Deltas.
    Drainage basins.
    Point bars.
    Tributaries.

  16. What drainage pattern is the most common?
    Concentric.
    Dendritic.
    Rectangular.
    Radial.
    Trellis.

  17. What type of drainage pattern tends develop around volcanoes?
    Concentric.
    Dendritic.
    Rectangular.
    Radial.
    Trellis.

  18. What is alluvium?
    Any stream-deposited sediment.
    Back swamp mud deposits.
    Bed load sediments.
    Dissolved sediments.
    Suspended sediments.

  19. Where are distributaries found?
    At river divides.
    At river mouths.
    In drainage basins.
    In floodplains.
    In point bar deposits.

  20. What rock type do caves nearly always form in?
    Basalt.
    Granite.
    Limestone.
    Sandstone.
    Shale.

  21. Which speleothems stand up from the cave floor?
    Columns.
    Flowstone.
    Soda straws.
    Stalactites.
    Stalagmites.

  22. What is terrain full of sinkholes and disappearing streams called?
    Dendritic drainage.
    Inverted valleys.
    Karst topography.
    Patterned ground.
    Potholes.

  23. Why are valley deposits at mountain fronts usually fan shaped?
    Deposition of sediment constantly rechannelizes the stream.
    Sheet flow occurs over the whole area during storms.
    Slumping spreads sediment out evenly in all directions.
    The stream meanders across a broad floodplain.
    Wind reworks the stream deposits over a wide area.

  24. Which material is a wind deposit derived from suspended load?
    Alluvium.
    Dune sand.
    Loess.
    Outwash.
    Till.

  25. How is the transportation of sediment by wind different from that of running water?
    Wind has a low density compared to water.
    Wind is not confined to channels.
    Wind can spread sediment over large areas.
    Wind is not capable of transporting coarse sediments.
    All of the above.

  26. Which side of a sand dune is typically steepened to the angle of repose (maximum steepness possible)?
    Downwind.
    Upwind.

  27. Match each dune type with its description.
    Dune type Description
    Barchan.
    Longitudinal.
    Parabolic.
    Star.
    Transverse.
    Long, parallel to wind.
    Long, perpendicular to wind.
    Curved with center downwind.
    Curved with center upwind.
    Dunes with radiating ridges.

  28. Match each dune type with the wind and sand conditions that create it.
    Dune type Wind and sand supply
    Barchan.
    Barchanoid.
    Longitudinal.
    Parabolic.
    Star.
    Transverse.
    One wind direction, large sand supply.
    One wind direction, medium sand supply.
    One wind direction, small sand supply.
    Multiple similar wind directions.
    Multiple diverse wind directions.
    Sand anchored by vegetation.

  29. Which sequence is thought to represent the evolution of coral reefs around volcanic islands?
    First barrier reefs, then fringing reefs, then atolls.
    First barrier reefs, then atolls, then fringing reefs.
    First fringing reefs, then barrier reefs, then atolls.
    First atolls, then fringing reefs, then barrier reefs.
    First atolls, then barrier reefs, then fringing reefs.

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.