CHAPTER 15  

GEOLOGIC RESOURCES: NONRENEWABLE MINERAL AND ENERGY RESOURCES

Questions to Ponder:

1. List three types of mineral resources, and give one example of each. Clarify the relationship between identified resources and reserves.

2. Distinguish between subsurface and surface mining. Briefly describe the environmental impacts of mining.

3. Draw a hypothetical depletion curve. Project how this curve would be affected by the following changes in assumptions: (a) recycling of the resource is increased, (b) discoveries of new deposits of the resource are made, (c) prices rise sharply, (d) a substitute for the resource is found.

4. Visually illustrate distribution of the world's nonfuel mineral resources. State which foreign sources are most critical to U.S. needs. State which of those sources are potentially politically unstable.

5. List environmental impacts of extracting, processing, and using mineral resources. Summarize the U.S. 1872 Mining Law. List seven ways to reform this law.

6. Assess the possibility of increasing mineral resource supplies through finding new deposits, improving technology of mining low-grade ore, getting minerals from the ocean, and finding substitutes. Take a position on this issue of mining Antarctica.

7. How much of the total energy used to heat the earth and earth's buildings comes from commercial energy? List five key questions to ask about each energy alternative to evaluate energy resources. Define net energy and state its significance in evaluating energy resources.

8. Distinguish among primary, secondary, and tertiary oil recovery. List the advantages and disadvantages of using conventional oil, oil from oil shale, and oil from tar sands to heat space and water, produce electricity, and propel vehicles.

9. Distinguish among natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, and synthetic natural gas. List the advantages and disadvantages of using natural gas as an energy source.

10. List and describe three types of coal. Indicate which is preferred for burning and which is most available. List and briefly describe three methods for extracting coal. List advantages and disadvantages of using coal as a fuel source.

11. Briefly describe the components of a conventional nuclear reactor. List advantages and disadvantages of using conventional nuclear fission to create electricity. Be sure to consider the whole nuclear fuel cycle, including disposal of radioactive wastes, safety and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, and the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons.

12. Summarize current thinking about disposal of low-level and high-level radioactive wastes.

13. List and briefly describe three ways to decommission a nuclear power plant. List findings of a 1987 commission which bring the credibility of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to safeguard the nuclear power industry into question.

14. Describe the potential use of breeder nuclear fission and nuclear fusion as energy sources.

 

Key Terms (Terms are listed in the same font as they appear in the text.)

area strip mining (p. 342)
bitumen (p. 361)
breeder nuclear fission reactor (p. 376)
coal (p. 363)
coal gasification (p. 365)
coal liquefaction (p. 365)
contour strip mining (p. 342)
crude oil (p. 353)
depletion time (p. 345)
dredging (p. 342)
identified resources (p. 339)
liquefied natural gas (LNG) (p. 362)
liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) (p. 362)
mineral resource (p. 339)
mountaintop removal (p. 342)
natural gas (p. 362)
net energy (p. 353)
nonrenewable resources (p. 339)
nuclear fusion (p. 376)
open-pit mining (p. 342)
ore (p. 339)
overburden (p. 341)
petrochemicals (p. 355)
reserves (p. 339)
smelting (p. 344)
spoils (p. 342)
subsurface mining (p. 341)
surface mining (p. 341)
synthetic natural gas (SNG) (p. 365)
tar sand (p. 361)
undiscovered resources (p. 339)