Section 1.2 Geology as Storytelling
Geology is storytelling: piecing together a past history based upon our observation of the world around us. Geology seeks to answer the questions:
What is the Earth made of?
What forces shape the landscape?
How did the Earth come to be as I see it today?
In this sense, the geological structures and materials we encounter testify (as their own witness) to a past history of the Earth. The work of a geologist is to interpret this record and tell the story of creation. (This introduces another ongoing tension in science: the extent to which scientific truths are "constructed" vs. "discovered".)
These themes are consistent with the the NSF-supported Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI), formed in 2008 to create a succinct document outlining what citizens should know about Earth science. One of the outcomes of this initiative was the development of a coherent and fundamental set of Big Ideas:
Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
Earth is 4.6 billion years old.
Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
Earth is continuously changing.
Earth is the water planet.
Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth.
Humans depend upon Earth for resources.
Natural hazards pose risks to humans.
Humans significantly alter Earth.