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Earth Science Released Questions Study Guide



Multiple Choice
Identify the choice that best completes the statement or answers the question.
 

 1. 

A day on Saturn takes about 10 Earth hours. Which fact would best explain this short day?
a.
Saturn is less dense than Earth.
c.
Saturn rotates more rapidly than Earth.
b.
Saturn is much farther from the Sun than Earth,
d.
Saturn’s orbit has greater eccentricity than Earth’s.
 

 2. 

mc002-1.jpg

The highest elevation on this topographic map
can be no more than about

a.
25 meters
c.
45 meters
b.
34 meters
d.
49 meters
 

 3. 

In an area where a river has cut deep into
Earth, there are several layers of very different
rock exposed. The oldest rock layer is most
likely to be the layer that is
a.
below the other layers.
c.
the most rich in fossils.
b.
the thickest layer.
d.
igneous intrusive rock.
 

 4. 

The existence of extraterrestrial life may never
be proven, but this idea will become more
scientifically acceptable over time if
a.
no one disputes this idea in a scientific forum.
c.
alternative hypotheses are proposed and
confirmed.
b.
hypotheses are made related to the idea.
d.
increasing scientific evidence supports
the idea.
 

 5. 

Which of the following statements best
describes how the planets of the solar system
formed?
a.
They are condensed rings of matter thrown
off by the young Sun.
c.
The Sun captured them from smaller, older
nearby stars.
b.
They are the remains of an exploded star once
paired with the Sun.
d.
They formed from a nebular cloud of dust
and gas.
 

 6. 

Evidence suggests that Earth is about
4.6 billion years old, even though no Earth
rocks have been found that can be dated at
more than 4 billion years old. This discrepancy
is most likely caused by Earth’s original crust
being
a.
difficult to date so precisely.
c.
blasted away during Earth’s formation.
b.
subject to extensive erosion.
d.
destroyed by solar radiation.
 

 7. 

Which of the following is the best evidence that
Earth’s continents were once in vastly different
positions than they are today?
a.
Penguins are found only in the Southern
Hemisphere.
c.
Volcanoes encircle the Pacific Ocean.
b.
Fossils of tropical plants are found in
Antarctica.
d.
Major rivers form deltas from continental
erosion.

 

 8. 

Early telescopes showed stars as only points of
light, while the planets appeared to be much
larger, providing evidence that stars must
a.
be more plentiful in our solar system than
planets.
c.
be much farther from Earth than planets.
b.
travel in elliptical orbits like planets.
d.
reflect much more light than planets.
 

 9. 

What is the source of energy for the Sun?
a.
hydrogen fusion
c.
nuclear fission of metals
b.
internal combustion
d.
burning of solar gases
 

 10. 

The surfaces of planet Mercury and our moon
contain some very large craters that are most
likely the result of
a.
giant lava flows.
c.
nuclear explosions.
b.
asteroid impacts.
d.
large collapsed caves.
 

 11. 

The Sun is an average yellow star in the
Milky Way galaxy, which is described as
a.
a dwarf galaxy.
c.
an elliptical galaxy.
b.
a spiral galaxy.
d.
an irregular galaxy.
 

 12. 

As part of the modern theory of the origins of
the elements, it is hypothesized that before the
formation of the stars, most of the matter in the
universe consisted of what atoms?
a.
hydrogen and helium
c.
silicon and lithium
b.
nitrogen and carbon
d.
uranium and radium
 

 13. 

Stars begin their life cycle in
a.
a black hole.
c.
a nebula.
b.
a nova.
d.
a supernova.
 

 14. 

Astronomers have discovered vast differences
in stars through their observations. One theory
used to explain these differences is that
a.
the distances between stars are vast.
c.
Earth’s atmosphere distorts our view of the stars.
b.
stars are at different points in their life cycles.
d.
there is too much light pollution on Earth to study stars.
 

 15. 

Which of the following provides evidence for
plate tectonics?
a.
sea-floor topography
c.
Coriolis effect
b.
ocean currents
d.
atmospheric temperatures
 

 16. 

A rift valley is evidence of which kind of plate
boundary?
a.
convergent
c.
transform
b.
divergent
d.
uniform
 

 17. 

The convergence of two continental plates
would produce
a.
island arcs.
c.
folded mountains.
b.
rift valleys.
d.
trenches.
 

 18. 

It is generally true that igneous rocks
a.
contain primarily evaporates.
c.
normally contain fossils.
b.
can be scratched with a penny.
d.
are composed of silicate minerals.
 

 19. 

Earthquake vibrations are detected, measured,
and recorded by instruments called
a.
sonargraphs.
c.
Richter scales.
b.
seismographs.
d.
magnetometers.
 

 20. 

mc020-1.jpg
At which location would earthquakes be least
likely to occur?
a.
1
c.
3
b.
2
d.
4
 

 21. 

Which type of volcano would be the least
explosive?
a.
cinder cone
c.
shield volcano
b.
stratovolcano
d.
composite cone
 

 22. 

Which of the following energy sources is most
likely to be abundant in California due to its
position on a plate boundary?
a.
wind
c.
solar
b.
nuclear
d.
geothermal
 

 23. 

What energy resource is made possible by the
volcanic activity in California?
a.
hydroelectricity
c.
geothermal energy
b.
nuclear power
d.
solar energy
 

 24. 

The Long Valley Caldera in east-central
California was formed by a massive volcanic
eruption about 760,000 years ago. Since then,
it has erupted several times. Of the following,
which would be least likely to indicate that
another eruption will soon occur?
a.
recurring earthquakes in the vicinity
c.
changes in gas emissions from the caldera
b.
decreases in precipitation in the area
d.
uplifting of the floor of the caldera
 

 25. 

Earthquake activity in California is primarily
caused by
a.
the lowering of aquifer levels.
c.
mining activity during the nineteenth century.
b.
the interaction of tides with the coast.
d.
plates grinding past each other along active
faults.
 

 26. 

The main purpose of the California aqueduct
is to
a.
allow inexpensive water routes for
transporting commercial products.
c.
divert floodwater from populated regions to sparsely populated areas.
b.
transport fresh water to areas with dense
populations.
d.
provide abundant ocean water to drier regions of California.
 

 27. 

Only about 50% of the solar energy directed
toward Earth penetrates directly to the surface.
What happens to the rest of the radiation?
a.
It is absorbed or reflected by the atmosphere.
c.
It is reflected off the Moon and back into
space.
b.
It loses energy traveling through space.
d.
It loses energy overcoming the Sun’s gravity.
 

 28. 

The Moon is very hot on the side facing the Sun
and very cold on the dark side. This extreme
temperature difference is primarily due to
the Moon’s
a.
mineral composition.
c.
reflective rocks.
b.
thin atmosphere.
d.
lack of volcanic activity.
 

 29. 

Which of these could increase average global
temperatures?
a.
increased use of fossil fuels
c.
decreased carbon dioxide emissions
b.
increased ocean algal blooms
d.
increased numbers of animal species
 

 30. 

The clouds that surround Venus are so thick
that the planet actually absorbs less sunlight
than the Earth. Nevertheless, Venus has a
surface temperature of more than 400 C.
Which of these best explains this high surface
temperature?
a.
The bright surfaces of the clouds reflect
sunlight back on the planet.
c.
The thick clouds in the atmosphere prevent heat from escaping.
b.
The strong winds in the atmosphere produce friction.
d.
The sulfuric acid in the clouds releases heat energy.
 

 31. 

More solar energy reaches the equatorial
regions than the polar regions because the
equatorial regions
a.
are covered by a greater area of land.
c.
have days with more hours of light.
b.
have more vegetation to absorb sunlight.
d.
receive sun rays closest to vertical.
 

 32. 

Which diagram best models the movement of
coastal air during the afternoon?

mc032-1.jpg
a.
A
c.
C
b.
B
d.
D
 

 33. 

mc033-1.jpg
What causes the wind deflection from the north
and south poles?

a.
the rotation of Earth on its axis
c.
the tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbital
plane
b.
the oblate shape of Earth
d.
the difference in total land mass of the two hemispheres
 

 34. 

mc034-1.jpg
At which location on the map would a rain
forest most likely be found?
a.
1
c.
3
b.
2
d.
4
 

 35. 

Which of these effects generally occurs as the
result of a warm air mass and a cooler air mass
converging at Earth’s surface?
a.
The sky becomes clear.
c.
Cloud formation decreases.
b.
Winds die down.
d.
Stormy weather patterns develop.
 

 36. 

Shifts in Earth’s continents most likely caused a
change in Earth’s
a.
climatic regions.
c.
orbital velocity.
b.
mass.
d.
atmospheric temperature.
 

 37. 

The Gulf Stream in the Northern Hemisphere
and the Brazilian Current in the Southern
Hemisphere move poleward. Compared to
inland areas at the same latitude, the coastal
areas bordering these currents will
a.
be warmer.
c.
have more advection fogs.
b.
be more arid.
d.
have shorter growing seasons.
 

 38. 

Scientists have found fossils of tropical plants in
Antarctica. How could tropical plants have
grown in Antarctica?
a.
At one time, Earth’s entire surface was a
tropical rain forest.
c.
The rotation of Earth has increased, causing cooling of the atmosphere.
b.
At one time, Antarctica was located closer to the equator.
d.
Catastrophic volcanic eruptions melted the ice and exposed the soil to sunlight.
 

 39. 

mc039-1.jpg
Which of these statements is best illustrated by
this diagram?
a.
Animals under water eat plants.
c.
Water-dwelling animals breathe carbon
dioxide.
b.
Land animals exhale oxygen into water.
d.
Plants can take in carbon dioxide from air or water.
 

 40. 

From Earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide is
used by plants, algae, and cyanobacteria during
the process of
a.
photosynthesis.
c.
decomposition.
b.
respiration.
d.
nitrogen fixation.
 

 41. 

mc041-1.jpg
The table above lists the gases coming from a
modern Hawaiian volcano. If ancient volcanoes
gave off the same gases, which gas would have
been most helpful in the development of early
life-forms that could carry out photosynthesis?
a.
N2
c.
CO2
b.
SO2
d.
Cl2
 

 42. 

Earth’s atmosphere is divided into layers that
are based upon their
a.
water content.
c.
gas content.
b.
relative humidity.
d.
temperature gradient.
 

 43. 

mc043-1.jpg
The diagram above shows four layers of
Earth’s atmosphere. Which of the following
correctly labels the layers represented by A, B,
C, and D (from Earth moving upward) in the
correct sequence?
a.
troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere,
thermosphere
c.
troposphere, mesosphere, thermosphere,
stratosphere
b.
thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere,
troposphere
d.
mesosphere, troposphere, thermosphere,
stratosphere
 

 44. 

The primitive atmosphere of Earth was
deficient in free oxygen. What process was
primarily responsible for the development of
the present percentage of free oxygen in the
Earth’s atmosphere?
a.
outgassing
c.
volcanic eruptions
b.
photosynthesis
d.
oxidation of iron-based minerals
 

 45. 

Which of the following human activities
reduces the level of ozone in the atmosphere?
a.
using artificial lighting in scientific polar
stations
c.
releasing chlorofluorocarbons from aerosol cans
b.
using large banks of solar cells for energy
production
d.
destroying large areas of the equatorial rain forests
 

 46. 

A teacher demonstrated the possible effects of acid rain by placing several types of rocks in separate beakers containing a vinegar solution with a pH of 3. As time passed, some of the solutions retained a pH of 3 while other solutions gradually reached a pH of 7. Which of the following best explains this variation of Ph in this demonstration?
a.
All solutions eventually reach a pH of 7, so the experiment is not complete.
c.
The rocks have varying chemical composition so some but not all of them react with acid.
b.
Vinegar is an organic compound that reacts unpredictably with inorganic rocks.
d.
The students should have measured the pH immediately after mixing since acid rain reacts quickly in nature.
 

 47. 

mc047-1.jpg
A student models an impact crater on the Moon by dropping a marble from a known height onto a pan of smooth flour. Before reaching any conclusions about the results of this simple experiment, the student repeats the activity several times so that
a.
differences produced by standard variability in conditions become clear.
c.
her ability to simulate a meteor impact becomes more realistic with practice.
b.
she can produce as large a crater as possible before measuring a diameter.
d.
she can illustrate a perfectly circular crater for her writ-up of the experiment.
 

 48. 

Which planet was formed from the light gases of the outer solar nebula?
a.
Mars
c.
Venus
b.
Mercury
d.
Uranus
 

 49. 

Although many ancient civilizations designated certain patterns of stars as constellations, they never included planets in their constellations. What feature of planets, as opposed to stars, explains this?
a.
They look bigger than stars.
c.
There are not enough of them to form a constellation.
b.
They are more difficult to see than stars.
d.
They do not maintain fixed positions relative to other planets or stars.
 

 50. 

Fusion is a form of nuclear reaction resulting in an enormous release of heat energy. The fusion of hydrogen to helium is a reaction that continuously occurs in
a.
the Sun and other typical stars.
c.
Earth’s outer core of molten iron.
b.
the ionosphere and thermosphere.
d.
a comet’s tail of ionized particles.
 

 51. 

Relative cooling rates of igneous intrusive rocks can be estimated by comparing rocks’
a.
crystal sizes.
c.
density.
b.
composition.
d.
chemical reactivity.
 

 52. 

The Richter scale measures which of the following earthquake characteristics?
a.
intensity
c.
frequency
b.
magnitude
d.
probability
 

 53. 

Geothermal energy is possible where there is
a.
wind.
c.
coal.
b.
oil.
d.
magma.
 

 54. 

mc054-1.jpg

Geothermal energy, a possible energy resource, is based on which phenomenon?
a.
There are concentrations of heat in some places of Earth’s crust.
c.
Heat energy from the Sun penetrates deep into Earth.
b.
Earth’s internal energy heats its surface more than the Sun does.
d.
Human activity is the largest source of heat energy on Earth.
 

 55. 

Venus is warmed by solar radiation, but its thick cloud cover increases the temperature because the clouds
a.
prevent the escape of heat into space.
c.
absorb short light wavelengths, leaving heat.
b.
convert solar radiation into heat.
d.
produce heat as they are pushed by strong winds.
 

 56. 

Air moving from the poles toward the equator turns west. The primary cause of this global deflection is
a.
the shape and size of land masses.
c.
changes in the magnetic field.
b.
larger cities surrounded by farmlands.
d.
the rotation of the planet.
 

 57. 

When a layer of cool air at the surface of Earth is found under a layer of warmer air above it, the result is known as
a.
the Coriolis effect.
c.
a temperature inversion.
b.
the greenhouse effect.
d.
an upwelling.
 

 58. 

Snow on the ground prevents polar climates from gaining heat by what mechanism?
a.
heating by greenhouse gases
c.
reflection of solar radiation
b.
heat spread from the equator
d.
release of heat from Earth’s core
 

 59. 

Carbon in the atmosphere is most often found as which of the following compounds?
a.
stratospheric ozone
c.
carbon monoxide
b.
fossil fuel
d.
carbon dioxide
 

 60. 

Most of the molecular oxygen in the early atmosphere of Earth resulted from
a.
photosynthesis in primitive plants
c.
volcanic eruptions
b.
decaying primitive plants and animals
d.
lightning striking Earth
 

 61. 

It has been determined that the oldest rocks retrieved from the Moon by Apollo astronauts were formed 4.44 billion years ago, while the oldest rocks found on Earth are less than 4 billion years old. This difference is most likely because
a.
Earth formed well after the Moon was formed.
c.
Earth’s oldest rocks have been recycled by plate tectonics and erosion.
b.
Earth cooled more slowly than the Moon.
d.
Earth and the Moon were both captured by the Sun’s gravity at different times.
 

 62. 

Before humans visited the Moon and brought back lunar rocks, the age of the Moon was unknown. Radioisotope dating of these rocks showed that the age of the oldest lunar rock was closest to
a.
186,000 years
c.
4.4 billion years
b.
6.5 million years
d.
15 billion years
 

 63. 

An astronomer uses a telescope to observe a star. The color of the star indicates that it has a size and surface temperature similar to that of the Sun. Using this information, the astronomer can conclude that the star
a.
is older than the Sun.
c.
is moving very quickly away from Earth.
b.
will survive for several billion years.
d.
has a mass similar to the mass of Jupiter.
 

 64. 

Which of the following is most responsible for the formation of new crust at the edge of a tectonic plate?
a.
mountain building at a continent-continent convergent boundary.
c.
two tectonic plate sliding past one another at a transform boundary.
b.
magma rising up from the mantle at a divergent boundary.
d.
subduction of one oceanic plate under another at a convergent boundary.
 

 65. 

Which of the following is most likely to produce a fragmented sedimentary rock?
a.
magma fractured on the ocean floor
c.
gravel deposited in a silt bed
b.
calcite crystallized from seawater
d.
limestone dissolved in cave formation
 

 66. 

Water is important to so many different types of industry. Which industry’s water requirements the greatest burden on California’s fresh water supply?
a.
aerospace
c.
tourism
b.
manufacturing
d.
agriculture
 

 67. 

What is the driving force for surface ocean currents?
a.
density layering
c.
the Coriolis effect
b.
global winds
d.
salt concentration
 

 68. 

Temperature inversions can occur when
a.
hot air rises during the night and sinks during the day.
c.
cool air becomes trapped below warm air.
b.
air is heated directly by solar radiation
d.
places are warmer in winter than summer.
 

 69. 

Ocean surface currents are created by
a.
differences in water temperature.
c.
friction with winds.
b.
differences in water density.
d.
salinity variations.
 

 70. 

Sailing from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea is difficult because the sea flows into the ocean instead of the ocean flowing into the sea. This phenomenon occurs because the Mediterranean Sea has a higher density du to a
a.
higher salinity
c.
lower air pressure
b.
lower volume
d.
higher oxygen content
 

 71. 

mc071-1.jpg
Where would deserts most likely be found on Planet X?
a.
A
c.
C
b.
B
d.
D
 

 72. 

Which of the following was made possible by the presence of photosynthetic bacteria on Earth?
a.
a water cycle
c.
carbon fixation
b.
an oxygen cycle
d.
anaerobic respiration
 

 73. 

The release of carbon from limestone reservoirs into the atmosphere is most often accomplished by the
a.
abrasion of the limestone by wind-blown sands.
c.
formation of stalagmites and stalactites in limestone caves.
b.
destruction of limestone by lichens.
d.
chemical reaction between limestone and rainwater.
 

 74. 

During periods of increased global temperatures, which of the following is most likely to occur?
a.
a decrease in atmospheric CO2
c.
a decrease in earthquakes
b.
an increase in atmospheric CO2
d.
an increase in earthquakes
 

 75. 

The first atmosphere that formed above Earth was most likely due to what process?
a.
eruption of volcanoes
c.
development of land plants
b.
movement of water
d.
occurrence of violent storms
 

 76. 

An astronomer notes the change in position of Mars over several nights and then calculates that Mars orbits the Sun once every 400 Earth days. This figure is considerably lower than the 687 Earth-day orbit that is widely accepted for Mars. The scientist should
a.
publish the findings to reveal the flaw in established orbital theories.
c.
gather a new set of data and see if the results remain the same.
b.
form a hypothesis to explain how the orbit of Mars can vary so greatly.
d.
add 287 days to the calculations to match the accepted figure.
 

 77. 


The diameter of Saturn is almost ten times that of the Earth, yet its density is much less. This can best be explained by the fact that Saturn
a.
is farther from the Sun.
c.
has a shorter period of rotation.
b.
is a gaseous planet.
d.
has a ring around its center.
 

 78. 

Before the telescope was invented, people had the idea that the planets were closer to Earth than were the stars. Which piece of evidence contributed to this conclusion?
a.
The planets were the only objects with visible moons.
c.
The stars were consistently brighter than the planets.
b.
The Milky Way was sometimes visible during the day.
d.
The planets appeared to move much more quickly than the stars.
 

 79. 

Scientific evidence suggests that magnesium is formed by stars during
a.
photosynthesis
c.
nuclear fusion
b.
the fission of carbon atoms
d.
convection inside sunspots
 

 80. 


The final stage of a star’s existence is determined by its mass. The most massive stars will end their lives as
a.
supergiant stars
c.
white dwarf stars
b.
neutron stars
d.
black holes
 

 81. 

The youngest rocks on the ocean floor are typically located near what feature?
a.
a mid-ocean ridge
c.
an abyssal plain
b.
a continental shelf
d.
a subduction trench
 

 82. 

Landslides in California are caused by a combination of environmental factors, such as heavy precipitation, and geological factors such as
a.
karst topography and poor drainage.
c.
reverse faulting and perched water tables.
b.
crust folding and artesian springs.
d.
steep topography and unstable soil structure.
 

 83. 

The majority of fresh water in California is used for
a.
drinking
c.
livestock
b.
agriculture
d.
fire fighting
 

 84. 

Permanent deforestation can contribute to potential global warming by
a.
decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels
c.
decreasing atmospheric Nlevels
b.
increasing atmospheric CO2 levels
d.
increasing atmospheric N2 levels
 

 85. 

Earth rotates in an easterly direction. Therefore southward wind currents in the Northern Hemisphere appear to be deflected to the
a.
east
c.
north
b.
west
d.
south
 

 86. 

When comparing temperatures of two California regions of the same latitude, students found that the nighttime temperature dropped significantly at the desert site but only slightly at the coastal site. This difference is mostly caused by
a.
lower wind speeds in the desert than at the coast.
c.
lower carbon dioxide levels in the desert than at the coast.
b.
less water vapor in the desert than at the coast.
d.
less vegetation in the desert than at the coast.
 

 87. 

What piece of evidence supports the theory that volcanic eruptions formed Earth’s early atmosphere?
a.
Volcanoes expel gases with chemical compositions which closely match the ratios of non-photosynthetic gases in air.
c.
Volcanoes expel a mixture of gases consisting almost entirely of water vapor and oxygen.
b.
Volcanoes are clustered near the equator, so their gas output spreads over Earth’s surface.
d.
Volcanic eruptions are inversely proportional to local atmospheric pressure.
 

 88. 

Which of the following processes puts carbon from a forest floor back into the atmosphere?
a.
combustion
c.
evaporation
b.
photosynthesis
d.
transpiration
 

 89. 

According to many scientists, what process led to the formation of the early atmosphere of Earth?
a.
outgassing
c.
asteroid collision
b.
metamorphism
d.
galactic dust
 

 90. 

According to scientists, which of the following material categories is thought to be the primary cause for the depletion of the ozone layer?
a.
chlorofluorocarbons
c.
fossil fuels
b.
coal-containing sulfur
d.
hydrocarbons
 



 
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