Physical Geography

Elements, Minerals, Rocks Unit Outline

Important concepts you should know:

Assessment and Evaluation:

Turned in assignments will be evaluated (unless indicated otherwise) by the Rubrics found after each task.


1. Introductory Power Point Presentation.
Click here for a show that will take you through the basics of Elements, Minerals and Rocks.

2. Formation of Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic Rocks.
Click here to go to a page that contains three animated images that illustrate the formation of the three types of rocks. Your assignment is to copy the images to your workspace and complete a webpage with the textual description to the diagrams.

Click here to see the evaluation rubric for the webpage.

3. The following are just a small sample of sites that deal with rocks:
You could easily use your favorite search engine to discover more.

Answer these questions:
1.    In what ways is the rock cycle powered by energy from above (the sun) and energy from below (the interior of the earth)?
2.    Give examples of events that could occur on a day-to-day basis that are part of the rock cycle.
3.    If you were a geologist attempting to discover places where oil and gas deposits are found in the world, what key conditions would you use to select possible sites for your drilling crews?
4.    a. Based on the three major rock classes, design a chart to point out the visible differences between rocks which could be used in placing individual rock samples into one of the rock classes.
       b. Use this rock classification chart to identify a set of rock samples collected from the field or available in your school. Keep these rocks for a later task.

Each of the above questions are worth 3 marks each. A mark of 3 will be awarded for an exceptional answer, while a 1 or a 2 will be awarded if the question falls short of a complete answer. Part B of number four is worth 5 marks. The above activity will therefore be out of 14 total marks.

4. For fun, once you have looked over the following site:

...take the Rock Quiz found at:

On your honour report your score to the teacher.

5. The Rock Cycle
Go to the following site and find the diagram that was used for the Rock Cycle in the slide show:

Redraw your own version of the Rock Cycle and make sure you clearly label the arrows that describe the different types of rocks and the processes that were involved in their creation.

Click here to see the rubric that will be used to evaluate the above activity.

6. Classification and Identification of Minerals
Minerals are chemicals. They are chemical elements or compounds found naturally in the crust of the earth. They are inorganic, in contrast to organic chemicals (made mainly of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) typical of living things. Some minerals have a fixed chemical composition, others are a series of related compounds. Diamond and quartz are two minerals that may look the same but one is much stronger than the other. One physical property  rarely identifies a mineral. Usually more characteristics must be used to clearly identify a mineral. The following is a list of physical and chemical properties (or tests) that are used to identify minerals. Go to the site found at the end of the list and read up on these properties. Come up with a page or two of notes describing how each of these properties are used in identifying minerals.


The above task is worth a total of 24 marks. You will receive 2 marks for a complete description of each property mentioned above.

7. Mining and the Environment
Mining is the term used to describe the method(s) of extracting minerals and rocks for human use. Write a brief report on one of the following topics:
(Source for these topics: Earth Matters by Ron Chasmer. Oxford University Press.)

Use the following sites as a starting off point:

Click here to see the rubric that will be used to evaluate you on this activity.

8. One of the most popular hobbies in the world is rock collection. Collect a representative sample of rocks and minerals.

Click here to see the rubric that will be used to evaluate you on this activity.

9. ArcView and locating a mine.
Click here to view an activity created by ESRI Canada on Mining. This activity has you locate specific mines in Ontario. There is some excellent background information and some links to sites that will help you make your decision.

Using ArcView open up the following themes located in the ArcCanada\Disk2\world\ directory:

  • Cntry_95.shp
  • Minerals.shp
  • Create a map that clearly identifies countries that contain large mineral concentrations.


    Click here to see the rubric that will be used to evaluate you on this activity.

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