Journal assignment: Choose one of the major cities in the country you are doing your portfolio report on. Coordinate with the other members of your group so that you each pick a different city. a) Report on the physical setting of your city. For example, what major rivers can effect the city? Is there a well developed flood plain? Are lakes part of the setting? What type of topographic relief is there? If the city is along the coast, what is the coastal setting like? Much of this information can be garnered from a good physiographic or topographic map. b) What might be some of the environmental concerns associated with this setting? Including a map with your written response would be a good idea. Don't hesitate to contact me is you have tried and are having difficulty getting information.

Reading assignment: Doss, P. K., An Earth Scientist in City Hall: Geology and Community Planning, in The Earth Around Us.


How is the urban environment unique geologically and environmentally?

Urban geology - a sub-discipline in its infancy.

A comment on cities as sites of environmental blight.

Geologically: what characterizes cities from a geologic perspective?

Where do cities tend to be located in the physical landscape?

They often are located along transportation routes, in valleys, along rivers and on deltas, on the piedmont at the foot of mountains. Example of major cities along the fall line of the Eastern U.S. Coast. One can classify urban areas on basis of geologic setting: coastal setting, coastal-plain fluvial setting, piedmont setting, lake margin setting. Cities within each group could have common geologic problems.

Try to see how many cities could fall into these catogories. Think of some cities that do not fit into these categories. Why was the city sited there?


What might be environmental problems common to many cities?

While there are commonalities, there is also incredible diversity in terms of their geology, as each has its own unique geology. Even within a city tremendous variation in geology can exist.


Environmentally: what characterizes cities from a human environmental perspective?


What are typical modifications to the landscape in the urban environment?


What are point sources of contamination in the urban environment? Sources of contamination are separated into point and non-point sources. Point sources have an easily identifiable source of limited area. Non-point sources are introduced into the environment from multiple outlets distributed over a wide area. examples of non-point sources in the city include run-off from chemically treated lawns, or salt from snow-ice removal operations.


USGS report - Selected Findings and Current Perspectives on Urban and Agricultural Water Quality by the National Water-Quality Assessment Program.