Earth's surface

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography. The Fundamentals of Physical Geography website is designed to be a free online textbook for University and College students studying introductory Physical Geography. Version 1.0 of Fundamentals of Physical Geography contains over three hundred pages of information and more than four hundred 2-D illustrations, photographs, and animated graphics. Besides having the traditional text and 2-D graphics, this information source also has a number of animated graphics, an interactive glossary of terms, a study guide, web pages with links to other Internet resources related to Physical Geography, and a search engine to find information on the Fundamentals of Physical Geography website. The current purpose of this work is to supplement the printed textbooks used in Universities and Colleges with an information source that is interactive and rich in multimedia. The comprehensive table of contents includes chapters on: Introduction to Physical Geography, Maps, Remote Sensing, and GIS, The Science of Physical Geography, Introduction to Systems Theory, The Universe, Earth, Natural Spheres, and GAIA, Energy and Matter, Introduction to Meteorology and Climatology, Introduction to Hydrology, Introduction to Biogeography and Ecology, Introduction to Geology, and Introduction to Geomorphology (more info)
  • Geomorphology from Space. Geomorphology from Space is an out of print 1986 NASA publication edited by Nicholas M. Short, Sr. and Robert W. Blair, Jr. designed for use by the remote sensing science and educational communities to study landforms and landscapes. The core of this book is a gallery of space imagery consisting of 237 plates, each treating a geographic region where a particular landform theme is exemplified. Commentary, photographs, locator maps, and sometimes a geologic map accompany each plate. (more info)
  • Glacial Landforms. This site provides a tutorial on glacial landforms. Glacial erosion, transportation and deposition produce some of the most dramatic and distinctive landscapes found on the surface of the earth. Recognition of glacial topography allows geologists to map the distribution of ice sheets in the recent geological past. There are five tutorials available: Bylot Island, Canada; Space Shuttle Photography; Topographic Map, Mt. Shasta, California; Four Photographs of Glacial Landforms; and Collier Glacier, Oregon. Each exercise contains a visual aid and a link to the answers to questions posed to the user. Other pages include photographs of coastal Greenland, and satellite composite images of Antarctica. There is also a link to the glacial history of Mt. Shasta. (more info)
  • Images: Visualizing Data. Available on this site is a host of images, maps, and animations derived from bathymetric and topographic data. Static images and maps include those of estimated seafloor topography from satellite altimetry, total sediment thickness of the ocean floor, Great Lakes bathymetry, world crustal ages, and coastal relief. Of particular note is an interactive surface map of the Earth, which is composed of enlargable two-minute color relief images. The more basic animations portray global relief, estimated seafloor topography, and world crustal ages on rotating globes. Also provided are two animated tours depicting dives into the Marianas Trench: one portraying a flight through the hypothetically drained Great Lakes, another that is user-controlled showing the bathymetry of Monterey Bay. Various posters and slides of the above topics are available, as are additional images on a linked FTP site. ( This site is likely no longer available. )
  • Internet Resources for Physical Geography. This clearinghouse lists relevant web sites for physical geographers as well as other physical scientists. Web sites are categorized under the following headings: biogeography and ecology, geomorphology and hydrology, hydrology and water resources, soil science, reference materials and publications, information servers, climatology and meteorology, earthquakes, geochemistry, hydroecology, paleontology, volcanoes, and earth science and geology. There are approximately 200 web sites listed on this resource and they range from sites sponsored by non-profit groups and scientific entities, to government-funded organizations and academic centers. (more info)
  • Mars Pathfinder, Science Results, Geology and Geomorphology. This NASA-hosted site is a section of the Mars Pathfinder Science Results Directory with a specific emphasis on the geologic and geomorphic characteristics observed. Many photos and satellite images are available, with the option to view and download full size images. Scientific theories are offered as to the probable geomorphic agents sculpting Mars' surface. (more info)
  • The Laboratory for Experimental Geomorphology (LEG). Over the last 25 years the Laboratory for Experimental Geomorphology (LEG) has been extensively studying overland flow hydraulics and soil erosion (both by overland flow and raindrop impact) and aeolian processes. LEG has developed numerous models, algorithms, and simulation techniques for study in the field, in the lab, or with GIS, some of which are available for demo and free download from this site. There is also a lengthy list of LEG papers that have been published in international scientific literature since 1979. (more info)
  • Visible Earth: Land Surface. This website is part of Visible Earth, which is hosted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and contains a searchable directory of images, visualizations, and animations of the Earth. This section contains images pertaining to surface processes, including erosion, sedimentation, land temperature, land use, soils, topography, and more. Each image is available in a variety of resolutions and sizes, with a brief description, credit, date, and the satellite that took the image. (more info)