Welcome to Physical Geology Laboratory: Interactive Diagrams and Questions!

The purpose of this “book” is to help students practice skills to master learning objectives for physical geology laboratory.  I hope you will find these materials helpful; however, they are not a substitute for attending class or help sessions.  Pictures do not tell the whole story for minerals and rocks! It is very important to use other observations such as feel, hardness, and luster, which can only be done effectively in person.

How to Use This Book

Please navigate using the drop-down menu on the left side, or in the Table of Contents below.  Each module includes multiple pages which can be quickly accessed by clicking on the + button next to the module.


  1. Physical Properties of Minerals
  2. Mineral Identification


  1. Bowen’s Reaction Series
  2. Igneous Rock Textures
  3. Igneous Rock Identification


  1. Sedimentary Rock Textures
  2. Sedimentary Rock Identification


  1. Metamorphic Rock Textures
  2. Metamorphic Rock Identification

Topographic Maps

  1. Introduction to Topographic Maps
  2. Topography and Bathymetry
  3. Contour Lines
  4. Topographic Features
  5. Latitude and Longitude
  6. Scale and Slope
  7. Applications: Plate Tectonics


Plate Tectonics

  1. Motion at Plate Boundaries
  2. Global Positioning System
  3. Azimuth
  4. GPS Data and Plate Motion
  5. Plate Motion Vectors
  6. Plate Boundaries
  7. What Type of Plate Boundary?


Geologic Structures

  1. Original Horizontality and Superposition
  2. Tilted Beds and Strike and Dip
  3. Faults
  4. Folds
  5. Plunging Folds
  6. Domes and Basins
  7. Geologic Structures and Plate Tectonics


Geologic Time

  1. Principles of Relative Dating
  2. Unconformities
  3. Worked Example: Relative Geologic Time
  4. Relative Ages 1
  5. Relative Ages 2
  6. Relative Ages 3
  7. Relative Ages 4
  8. The Geologic Time Scale

Geologic Maps

  1. Plate Motion Through Geologic Time
  2. Geologic Map of North America
  3. Reading a Geologic Map
  4. California
  5. Michigan
  6. Utah
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. The Grand Canyon

How to Cite this Book

Physical Geology Laboratory: Interactive Diagrams and Questions, Elizabeth A. Johnson, CC-BY-SA.  https://viva.pressbooks.pub/physicalgeologylab

You may re-use, copy, or modify any of these materials for your own use, but you must reference the author.


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Physical Geology Laboratory Copyright © by Elizabeth Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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