Earth & Space Science Roots

Table 1.13 Roots, prefixes and suffixes in earth and space science - From the Sourcebook for Teaching Science

-al relating to - geological, alluvial, astronomical, terrestrial, altitudinal

The U.S. Geological Survey examines issues related to the topography and resources of the Earth.

alt high - altocumulus, altitude, altimeter, altiplano, altostratus

Altocumulus are high cumulus cloud formations.

anti against, opposite - anticline, anticyclone, antilogarithm, antitrades

An anticline is characterized by slopes angled opposite directions down from the crest.

aqu water - aquifer, aqueous, aquarium, aquatic, aqueduct, aquaculture

An aquifer is a body of permeable rock that contains water.

baro pressure - barometer, bar, barometry, barometric pressure, hyperbaric chamber

Barometers are used to measure air pressure.

bi two - binary star, bimetallic, bifurcate, bimetallic, bicarbonate

Binary stars occur in twos.

benth bottom of sea - benthos, benthic, zoobenthos

The benthos refers to the environment or the flora and fauna on the bottom of the sea.

calci lime - calcium oxide, calcified, calcium, calcite, decalcified, calcium carbonate

Lime is composed of calcium oxide, obtained by heating limestone.

calor heat - calorimeter, calorie, caloric, kilocalorie, calorimetry

Calorimeters are used to measure the heat energy in oil-bearing rocks.

carb coal, carbon - carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, bicarbonate, carboniferous, calcium carbonate

Carbon dioxide and carbonic acid are carbon-based chemicals.

cent hundred, hundredth - centigrade, centimeter, centigram, percent

There are one hundred degrees between freezing and boiling on the centigrade scale.

chrom color - chromium, chromosphere, chromatography, monochrome, dicrhomate

Chromium compounds are very colorful.

chron time - geochronologist, geochronology, chronology, chronic, chronicle, chronometer, synchronize

Geochronologists try to determine the time rocks were formed.

circ ring, around - circumference, circumlunar, circulate, circumpolar, circumsolar

The equatorial circumference of the Earth is the distance around the earth at the Equator.

clin slope – clinometer, incline, decline, halocline, anticline, syncline, thermocline

A clinometer measures the slope.

clud, clus to close - occluded front, exclude, exclusive, conclude, cluster, star cluster

An occluded front occurs when a cold front closes in on a warm front.

co, com with, together - cogeneration, conglomerate, condense, compress, confluence

Cogeneration plants produce electricity and heat together.

cosm universe, world - cosmic dust, cosmos, cosmology, cosmonaut, cosmic rays, cosmography

Cosmic dust is composed of small particles distributed throughout the universe.

crust shell - crust, encrusted, crustose, crustal

The Earth's crust is the hard rocky shell above the mantle.

cycl circle, cycle - cyclone, cyclical, cycle, rock cycle, anticyclone, cyclotron, nitrogen cycle

Cyclones are strong wind systems flowing in circles around low pressure zones.

de down, without, from - declination, decomposition, deduce, deform, degenerate, deoxygenate

Declination is measured in degrees from the celestial equator.

deci tenth - decibel, decimeter, decimal, deciliter

A decibel has one tenth the sound intensity of a bel.

dia through, across - diameter, diagonal, diaphragm, diagram

Diameter is the measure across a circle or other shape.

e, ec, ex out, without, from - eclipse, eccentric, ecliptic, elongation, exothermic, effluent

The earth is without direct light from the Sun during total solar eclipses.

epi upon, above - epicenter, epibenthos, epilimnion, epicycle

The epicenter is directly above the focus of an earthquake.

equi equal - equinox, equidistant, equilateral, equilibrium, equation, equator

The length of day and night are equal at the equinoxes.

flu, fluc flowing - confluence, fluid, flue, fluctuate, effluvium, magnetic flux

The confluence of two rivers is the point where they flow together as one.

geo earth - geothermal, geology, geode. geocentric, geomorphology, geography, geotropism

Geothermal energy comes from the Earth.

glaci ice - glacier, glaciation, glacial, glaciology, glacial polish, glaze

Glaciers are large slowly moving rivers of ice.

grad step, go - retrograde, prograde, grade, gradual, graduate, graduated, gradient

Planets periodically exhibit retrograde motion and appear to go backwards.

graph writing, drawing - geography, graphite, oceanography, photography, cartography, topography

Geographers represent landforms using maps and other drawings.

halo salt - halite, halogens, halocline, halophyte

Halite is rock salt.

helio sun - aphelion, perihelion, heliograph, heliocentric, heliostat, heliosphere, heliopause

The aphelion is the point in orbit when a planet or comet is farthest from the Sun.

hydr, hygr water - hydroelectric, hydraulics, hydrate, hydrology, hydrothermal, hydropower, hygrometer

Hydroelectric power plants produce electricity from the energy in falling water.

-ic relating to - benthic, pelagic, atmospheric, acidic, basic

The term "pelagic" relates to the open sea.

ign fire - ignite, igneous, ignition, igneous fusion, metaigneous

Igneous rocks are "born of fire" in volcanoes or the depth of the Earth.

im, in not - independent variable, inversion, immobile, immiscible, inversion layer

Independent variables do not depend upon dependent variables.

-ion process - erosion, conservation, pollution, decomposition, evolution, liquefaction

Erosion is a process in which soil and rock are worn away.

iso equal - isobar, isotherm, isocline, isostasy, isotope

Isobars are lines on meteorological maps that connect points of equal pressure.

-ist one who studies - meteorologist, geologist, geophysicist, environmentalist, conservationist

Meteorologists study the atmosphere and weather.

-ite ore, rock, crystal - bauxite, bentonite, chalcopyrite, dolomite, granite, rhyolite, graphite

Bauxite is an aluminum ore.

kilo thousand - kilopascal, kilogram, kilometer, kilovolt, kiloton, kilowatt, kilowatt-hour

A kilopascal is one thousand pascals of pressure.

liqu fluid, liquid - liquefaction, liquefy, liquid, liquid crystal

During earthquakes, some soils undergo liquefaction and are more fluid than normal.

lith rock - lithosphere, batholith, neolithic, Paleolithic, lithify

The lithosphere is the rocky crust and outer portion of the mantle.

lu, lum light - luminous, translucent, luster, luminescence, luminosity

Stars are luminous, producing light during nuclear reactions.

magn great - order of magnitude, magnify, magnitude, magnification

Each order of magnitude is ten times greater than the previous one.

mar sea - Mare Tranquilis, marine, mariner, marsh, maritime, mare

Mare Tranquilis, the "Sea of Tranquility" is a large, dark, basalt plain on the Moon.

medi half, middle - medial moraine, Mediterranean, medium, median

Medial moraines form in the middle between two adjacent glaciers.

meso middle, between - mesosphere, mesocyclone, meson, Mesozoic, Mesoamerica

The mesosphere is between the stratosphere and thermosphere.

meta between, change - metamorphic, metastable, metamorphism, metathesis

Metamorphic rock has undergone change as a result of heat, pressure and time.

meter measure - anemometer, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, diameter, hygrometer

Anemometers are used to measure wind speed.

nimb rain - nimbus, cumulonimbus, nimbostratus

Nimbus clouds usually produce rain.

nov new - nova, supernova, innovation, novice, Nova Scotia, novel, novice

Novas are stars that display a new, rapid increase in brilliance.

nox, noc night - nocturnal, vernal equinox, autumnal equinox, noctilucent clouds

At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, day and night are of equal length.

-oid like, form - metalloid, colloid, asteroid, meteoroid, crystalloid

Metalloids are like metals in many ways.

-ology study of - seismology, meteorology, petrology, climatology, mineralogy, geology, meteorology

Seismology is the study of earthquakes and related phenomenon.

orb circle - orbital velocity, orbit, orbiter, orb

Satellites must travel at orbital velocity to continue circling the Earth.

ortho straight, correct - orthoclase, orthogonal, orthoquartzite, orthoslice

Orthoclase crystals are common in granite and exhibit straight planes of cleavage.

-ous, -us characterized by - aqueous, nebulous, igneous, carboniferous, nimbus, cumulus

Aqueous solutions are characterized by water, the "universal solvent".

paleo ancient - paleontology, Paleozoic, paleobotany, paleomagnetism

Paleobotany is the study of ancient, fossilized plants.

pel, puls push, pulse - pulsar, pulsate, impulse, propel, repel

Pulsars are thought to be rapidly rotating neutron stars that emit pulses of radio waves.

pelag the sea - pelagic, bathypelagic, abbysalpelagic

Fish living in the open sea are known as pelagic fish.

peri around - perimeter, periscope, perigee, perihelion

The perimeter of an island is the length around its shores.

petr rock - petrified, petrification, petrology, petrochemical, petrography, petroleum

Petrified wood was once organic, but now is rock.

phys nature - physicist, physics, physiography, physical geography, physical science, geophysics

Physicists study the nature of energy and matter.

plan flat - Altiplano, planar, plains, floodplain, coplanar

The high, flat, tableland of South America is known as the Altiplano.

pole, polar end of axis - Polaris, circumpolar, North & South Poles, polar cap, polar projection, aurora Polaris

Polaris, the pole star, is in line with the Earth's axis.

pos put, laid - deposit, expose, position, composite, opposite

Alluvial deposits have been laid down over time.

quad four - quadrat, quadrangle, quadrilateral, quadrillion, quadruple

A quadrat is a four-sided parcel of land used in field studies.

re back, again - nonrenewable, renewable, report, retain, research, reaction

Once depleted, nonrenewable resources can not be tapped again.

retro back, again - retrograde, retrorocket, retrofit, retrogression

During retrograde, planets appear to move backward.

rupt break - eruption, erupt, rupture, interrupt, abrupt, disrupt

During eruptions, magma breaks through the Earth's crust.

sal salt - desalination, salinity, saline, salt, salinization

Desalination removes salt from water.

sed, sid sit, settle - sediment, subside, residue, sedimentary, residual

Sediments form when particulates settle out of a mixture.

solar sun - solar wind, solar cell, solar flare, Solar System, solarize

Solar wind is a flow of charged particles from the Sun.

sphere ball, sphere - lithosphere, stratosphere, exosphere, asthenosphere, thermosphere, atmosphere

The lithosphere is the outermost spherical layer of the Earth.

struct build - infrastructure, structure, construct, instruct, obstruct, destruction

Infrastructure must be built before superstructures are erected.

sub under, below - subsoil, subduct, submerge, subduction zone, subscript, subarctic, substrata, substrate

Subsoil lies immediately below surface soil.

super above, over - superstratum, supernova, superheat, supercool, supersaturate, superscript

The superstratum lies above other layers.

syn together, with - syncline, geosynchronous, synthesis, geosyncline

Water flowing down the opposite slopes of a syncline will come together.

terr earth - subterranean, terrain, territory, terrestrial, extraterrestrial, terrace, terrarium

Subterranean structures are located below the surface of the Earth.

therm heat - thermal, thermometer, geothermal, isotherm, thermocline

Thermals are upward currents of heated air.

trans across, through - translucent, transoceanic, transit, transmit, transect, transparent

Light goes through translucent objects.

trib give - tributary, contribute, attribute, distribute

Tributaries give their water to other rivers.

typ type - prototype, type, typical, typology, typify

Prototypes are the first of their type.

ultra beyond - ultraviolet, ultrasound, ultrahigh frequency (UHF), ultramafic

Ultraviolet radiation has a frequency beyond that of violet radiation.

umb shadow - umbra, penumbra, umbrella

The umbra is the darkest shadow in an eclipse.

vert, vers turn - diversion dam, divert, invert, reverse, convert

Diversion dams turn the course of rivers or streams.

volcan fire, volcano - volcanologist, volcano, vulcanize, volcanology, volcanism

Volcanologists study volcanoes.