TOEFL IBT – Geology

Vocabulary is promordial in order to improve your TOEFL score. Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed !

This vocabulary will be useful if you ever take a geology course in school, for satisfying your curiosity, or especially for any English exams you may take. Here we will look at the most commonly used words having to do with geology, along with their French translations.


small earthquake that follows a main shock

Seismologists reported 616 aftershocks, but none of those were serious.

la réplique


name for fossil resin or tree sap that is appreciated for its color

Visitors are challenged to find the forgeries among several amber pieces.



a body of saturated rock or sediment through which water can move readily

Disputes over rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers cross national borders.



a chain or cluster of islands

Spanish priests brought Catholicism to the archipelago in the 16th century.



fragments of pulverized rock created during volcanic eruptions

Even things like volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere can cause that.

les cendres volcaniques


rock form scooped out by water erosion

About half the basin’s land area is in Pennsylvania.

le bassin


rock underlying the surface of a terrestrial planet

Muskeg forms because permafrost, clay, or bedrock prevents water drainage.

le soubassement

continental shelf

extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain

The shoal is claimed by Malaysia as part of its continental shelf.

le plateau continental

convergent boundary

boundary between two plates that are moving toward each other

There is no convergent boundary within the North American Plate.

la limite convergente


innermost layer of a planet

The Earth’s core is 2,890 km below the surface.

le noyau


outermost solid shell of Earth, or of any other planet or moon

The Earth’s crust is about 2 billion years old.

la croûte


landform where the mouth of a river flows into an ocean, sea, desert, estuary, lake, or another river

The delta also harbors more than 120 species of fish.

le delta

divergent plate boundary

boundary separating two plates moving away from each other

This once-active divergent plate boundary became the passive, trailing edge of westward-moving North America.

la limite divergente


displacement of solids, usually by the agents of currents such as wind, water, or ice by downward movement in response to gravity or by living organisms

I expect the erosion to continue well into the new year.



semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea

Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments.



discrete rock fracture, which shows evidence of a displacement

When faults move against each other, they can cause earthquakes.

la faille


mineralized or otherwise preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms

We found fossils in the earlier sediments that are worth a look.

le fossile


a coarse-grained, intrusive, igneous rock containing megascopic quartz

Granite cliffs loom above evergreen forests that tower over the highway.

le granite


the time it takes for a given amount of a radioactive isotope to be reduced by one-half

It has a half-life of about 4 ½ billion years.

la demi-vie

hot spring

spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally-heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust

The water races back to the surface as steam or hot springs.

la source chaude

igneous rock

rock formed by solidification of cooled magma (molten rock) with or without crystallization

This rock is an uncommon igneous rock known as troctolite.

roche éruptive


 molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption

Around its base, old lava flows are covered with snow.

la lave


sedimentary rock composed largely of the mineral calcite

Water then ate away at the limestone to form the caves.

le calcaire


molten rock that sometimes forms beneath the surface of the earth that often collects in a magma chamber

Magma pours into the depression, forming domes and other features.

le magma


highly viscous layer directly under the crust and above the outer core

Earth’s mantle is about 2,900 km thick.

le manteau


light-colored highly vesicular volcanic rock of very low density

Pumice is considered a glass because it has no crystal structure.

la pierre ponce


granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar

In some watersheds, logging and farming have increased silt runoffs.

la bourbe


large-scale processes affecting the structure of the earth’s crust

Understanding plate tectonics helps to explain the cause of submarine earthquakes.

la tectonique des plaques

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