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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $114.00
  • October 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93518-9
  • 992 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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Portrait of a Planet

Fourth Edition


Stephen Marshak (Author, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


Innovative and up-to-date—the number one Introduction to Geology textbook.

The Fourth Edition of Earth: Portrait of a Planet provides the perfect balance between an authoritative, yet accessible text and a stunning narrative art program. This makes it the book of choice for instructors and students, who all have their own diverse styles of both teaching and learning. The Fourth Edition of this best-selling text constitutes a major revision, packed with recent updates and new features such as beautiful and innovative narrative figures, stimulating inquiry-based pedagogy, a tightened core narrative, hundreds of new photographs, and coverage of hot topics, like the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan, the rare element crisis, the shifting price of oil, and the recent tornado outbreaks.


A reimagined art program

New narrative figures incorporate art, photographs, and satellite imagery, which work together to explain a concept or to tell the story of a particular geologic process. New bubble captions have been added to many figures to point out each figure’s most important elements. What a Geologist Sees (WAGS) figures juxtapose a photograph of a geologic formation with a sketch that demonstrates how a geologist would interpret the photo. Each chapter includes a two-page synoptic art spread, painted by artist Gary Hincks, which comprehensively illustrates the geologic process being discussed in that chapter. Also of note, most of the photos in the book were taken by Stephen Marshak himself from his extensive field work— and stories of his travels around the world enliven the narrative throughout. Additionally, the author worked very closely with the book’s graphics studio to make sure each figure is scientifically accurate and has just the right level of detail for introductory students.

Inquiry based pedagogy

New “Did You Ever Wonder?” bubbles ask simple questions from everyday life that can be answered by reading the paragraph in which the question is imbedded. Geopuzzles pose a big-picture question relating to that chapter’s topic, which is then answered at the end of the chapter. And “On Further Thought” questions in the end-of-chapter material ask students to apply concepts they’ve learned throughout the chapter to real-world applications.

Authoritative, accessible, and up-to-date

Stephen Marshak is singular in his ability to develop clear and original analogies that make difficult concepts easy for intro students to understand. For the Fourth Edition, he has updated each chapter to reflect the most up-to-date research in the field, and each chapter has been rigorously checked for accuracy by an expert in that chapter’s topic. The author has thoroughly revised several chapters on the basis of new and important discoveries and events in those particular fields. These include the chapters on the Earth’s Interior, Volcanoes, the Atmosphere, and Global Change in the Earth System. The recent earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand, Haiti, Chile, and Turkey are discussed, as well as the tornado outbreaks in 2011 and the volcanic eruptions in Iceland and Chile.

Climate change coverage explains the science behind the headlines.

Earth is one of the few intro geology textbooks to include a complete chapter on global change. In the Fourth Edition, content on global warming has been significantly updated to reflect the latest developments in the science. Material on climate change is presented alongside other kinds of natural and anthropogenic (human-caused) global change, providing students with the scientific context behind this hot-button issue and helping them to become more aware global citizens.

New SmartWork Online Homework for Geology

SmartWork online homework features highly visual questions that provide students with just-in-time, answer-specific feedback. Students get the coaching they need to work through the assignments, while instructors get real-time assessment of student progress, with automatic grading and item analysis. Image-based drag-and-drop and hot spot questions make use of carefully developed Marshak images, plus many additional WAGS figures have been created exclusively for the SmartWork program. Additional, conceptual questions challenge students to apply their understanding of the important concepts identified by Stephen Marshak in each chapter’s Take-Home Messages.

SmartWork also contains questions without feedback, including Reading Quizzes, Geotour guided inquiry activities, and approximately 1,000 quiz questions from StudySpace.

Accessible, innovative media

Earth’s media package is carefully and thoroughly integrated with the text and art program. In addition to SmartWork online homework, existing elements have been revised and strengthened:
• The free and open student website, StudySpace, now includes “Science and Society” features for every chapter, which help students relate what they’ve learned to current events and local geologic data. StudySpace’s reading guides and Quiz+ questions (with helpful links to the ebook and animations) have been thoroughly revised to support the Fourth Edition.
• Google Earth Support – The new edition provides both “See for Yourself” two-page topical spreads and more in-depth Geotours (virtual field trips) using Google Earth, which fly students to interesting geologic locations around the globe. Worksheets and an updated workbook are also provided, which include a series of short-answer questions that encourage students to interact with each site in a hands-on way. Self-grading versions of the Geotours workbook questions are available in SmartWork and in Norton’s Coursepacks.
• Over 50 animations illustrate dynamic Earth processes with just the right level of detail, and many are based on WAGS from the text.
• Two types of PowerPoints are available for instructors – traditional lecture slides and Narrative Art slides, which emphasize distinct photos and line art.


    Prelude      And Just What Is Geology?

    PART I     Our Island in Space

    Chapter 1      Cosmology and the Birth of Earth
    Chapter 2      Journey to the Center of the Earth
    Chapter 3      Drifting Continents and Spreading Seas
    Chapter 4      The Way the Earth Works: Plate Tectonics

    PART II     Earth Materials

    Chapter 5         Patterns in Nature: Minerals
    Interlude A      Rock Groups
    Chapter 6         Up from the Inferno: Magma and Igneous Rocks
    Interlude B      A Surface Veneer: Sediments and Soils
    Chapter 7         Pages of Earth's Past: Sedimentary Rocks
    Chapter 8         Metamorphism: A Process of Change
    Interlude C      The Rock Cycle

    PART III     Tectonic Activity of a Dynamic Planet

    Chapter 9        The Wrath of Vulcan: Volcanic Eruptions
    Chapter 10      A Violent Pulse: Earthquakes
    Interlude D     The Earth's Interior-Revisited: Seismic Layering, the Magnetic Field, and Gravity
    Chapter 11      Crags, Cracks, and Crumples: Crustal Deformation and Mountain Building

    PART IV     History before History

    Interlude E      Memories of Past Life: Fossils and Evolution
    Chapter 12      Deep Time: How Old Is Old?
    Chapter 13      A Biography of Earth

    PART V     Earth Resources

    Chapter 14      Squeezing Power from a Stone: Energy Resources
    Chapter 15      Riches in Rock: Mineral Resources

    PART V     Processes and Problems at the Earth's Surface

    Interlude F      Ever-Changing Landscapes and the Hydrologic Cycle
    Chapter 16      Unsafe Ground: Landslides and Other Mass Movements
    Chapter 17      Streams and Floods: The Geology of Running Water
    Chapter 18      Restless Realm: Oceans and Coasts
    Chapter 19      A Hidden Reserve: Groundwater
    Chapter 20      An Envelope of Gas: Earth's Atmosphere and Climate
    Chapter 21      Dry Regions: The Geology of Deserts
    Chapter 22      Amazing Ice: Glaciers and Ice Ages
    Chapter 23      Global Change in the Earth System