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Field Trip to Mars

Glossary ~ O to T

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Kids Field Trip to Mars

Terms and Definitions

Here are some basic terms used in the tour. At the bottom of each page in the tour is a short list of terms used on that page and their definitions. Find more science terms in the Kids' Cosmos Field Trip to Mars Glossary.


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Deposits of rocks, boulders, gravel and sand (called glacial drift) left behind by flowing water from glaciers as they melted.
Outwash Plain
A smooth plain covered by deposits from water flowing from glaciers.
Pale yellow, glassy material that forms when hot steam and other gases contact water during a lava flow. Sand and clay is usually mixed in as well.
Pillow Basalt
Basalt formed underwater or as a basalt flow contacts a river or lake.
The period of geologic time that began about two or three million years ago and ended approximately 8,000 years ago.
The period of geologic time that began about ten million years ago and ended approximately two or three million years ago.
Plunge Pool
When water flows over a falls it erodes the area below leaving a hollow spot. The material that was eroded is deposited downstream.
A light-colored volcanic rock containing lots of bubbles from trapped gases. This rock can sometimes float on water.
Pyroclastic Flow
A hot, fast moving and high-density (thick like a dust storm) mixture of ash, pumice, rock fragments and gas formed during explosive eruptions.
Rain Shadow
A mountain or mountain range that blocks rain clouds just as an object might block sunlight to form a shadow. Areas in the shadow are more dry as a result.
Weathered rocks, gravel, soil and such that covers bedrock.
Richter Magnitude Scale
A scale that mathematically rates how much force an earthquake releases based on seismograph readings.
Ripple Mark
See also Current Ripple. Parallel, elongated mounds of sediment formed in wind or water currents. Large ripple marks found in the Channeled Scablands were the most convincing evidence for the Missoula Floods. See also Glacial Lake Missoula.

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A flat region with exposed lava rock and a thin layer of soil and sparse vegetation. Usually cut through with channels.
A type of metamorphic rock formed as older rocks recrystallize under heat and stress from pressure charactorized by a flaky layering of light and dark areas.
Collection of sand, silt, gravel and organic material that sinks to the bottom of a river, lake or ocean. Some or all of these materials may be present.
Sedimentary Rock
Rock formed by pressure and accumulation, e.g., lakebeds changed into rock form loose sand, silt and organic materials.
Shield Volcano
A volcano shaped like a bowl in the middle with long gentle slopes made by basaltic lava flows.
Molten rock that has flowed between other rock layers usually horizontally and cooled.
Rock debris that has fallen from the sides of a cliff or steep slope.
Deposit from a glacier of unsorted rocks, boulders, gravel and sand (glacial drift).

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Kids' Cosmos… Expanding Minds Beyond the Limits of the Universe

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