The solid part of the Earth is made of rocks that can be collected directly from the Earth’s surface or that can be extracted from mines and by deep drilling both on dry land and on the ocean floors. The rocks can be those forming the mountain we climb up, and can also be formed by deposits created by a large number of fragments, cemented together, that we walk upon every day. Rocks are formed from the combination of a number of minerals, solid substances defined by a precise chemical formula that can be found in nature. Consequently the study and analysis of rocks and minerals is very important because it enables us to define the structure and the composition not only of the Earth’s surface by also what lies inside the Earth.
Hydrocarbons are a particular type of sedimentary rock, present in nature in the solid, liquid and gaseous form, as bitumen, oil (petroleum) and gas respectively. Since a long time, man has learnt to exploit these resources. In particular, in the energy section, we shall examine in detail how these deposits are utilized and how important they are.
The mineral resources are important for industrial development. These consist of minerals or rocks whose concentration is suited for extraction and utilization by man for various purposes.
In the subsoil we do not only find rocks and minerals, but also another resource that is very important: water, that is concentrated mainly in the layer that is no more than 750 metres deep. As it is one of the principal resources that has enabled the development of life on the Earth, we have dedicated it a special section, which you can refer to for more detailed information.

subjects dealt with in Subsoil

terra_400x225_0008_rocce e minerali

Rocks and minerals

Minerals are solid substances that are present in nature and can be made of one element or more elements combined…

terra_400x225_0006_terremoti

Earthquakes

An earthquake, as the word itself describes, is a quake or a movement of the Earth, also known as seism…

terra_400x225_0009_il sottosuolo una risorsa

Subsoil: a resource

Easily pliable limestones, sandstones and igneus rocks are often used for some specific constructions, like frames, building fronts, columns and…

terra_400x225_0010_i giacimenti del sottosuolo

Mineral deposits

Modern industrial society consumes high quantities of energy for heating, transport and industries. The main energy sources are natural fuels,…

special reports

  • 20 March 2011 / Earth

    The earthquake in Japan

    In-depth on the earthquake in Japan Japan is one of the countries in which earthquakes occur most frequently. The reason…

    16 July 2013 / Earth

    Van Allen belts

    The spectacular phenomenon of polar auroras The Van Allen belts are responsible for polar auroras, one of the most fascinating…

    5 January 2005 / Earth

    Tsunami in the Maldives

    The tsunami On the 26th December 2004, an earthquake that took place 300 km west of the Island of Sumatra…

  • 8 November 2013 / Earth

    Magnets and superconductors

    The phenomenon of magnetism Which one of us has not played at attracting small pieces of iron with a magnet?…

    10 January 2012 / Energy

    Shale gas

    The golden age of gas The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an international organisation that represents one of the points…

    6 September 2009 / Energy

    Oil fields beneath the ice

    New borders As global warming is causing the ocean ice to disappear, the Arctic Sea bottom has become the object…

  • 15 September 2008 / Energy

    Natural gas

    Natural gas Natural gas has been the last fossil fuel to assert itself on a global scale. For over a…

    7 September 2011 / Energy

    Ten years of oil demand

    World oil demand The International Energy Agency  (IEA) recently published the data of world oil demand in 2010. This gives…

    13 May 2013 / Earth

    Small steps, great footprints

    Which one takes up more space, an apple or a steak? Have you ever wondered how much space is taken…

  • 20 March 2011 / Earth

    The earthquake in Japan

    In-depth on the earthquake in Japan Japan is one of the countries in which earthquakes occur most frequently. The reason…

    16 July 2013 / Earth

    Van Allen belts

    The spectacular phenomenon of polar auroras The Van Allen belts are responsible for polar auroras, one of the most fascinating…

  • 5 January 2005 / Earth

    Tsunami in the Maldives

    The tsunami On the 26th December 2004, an earthquake that took place 300 km west of the Island of Sumatra…

    8 November 2013 / Earth

    Magnets and superconductors

    The phenomenon of magnetism Which one of us has not played at attracting small pieces of iron with a magnet?…

  • 10 January 2012 / Energy

    Shale gas

    The golden age of gas The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an international organisation that represents one of the points…

    6 September 2009 / Energy

    Oil fields beneath the ice

    New borders As global warming is causing the ocean ice to disappear, the Arctic Sea bottom has become the object…

  • 20 March 2011 / Earth

    The earthquake in Japan

    In-depth on the earthquake in Japan Japan is one of the countries in which earthquakes occur most frequently. The reason…

  • 16 July 2013 / Earth

    Van Allen belts

    The spectacular phenomenon of polar auroras The Van Allen belts are responsible for polar auroras, one of the most fascinating…

  • 5 January 2005 / Earth

    Tsunami in the Maldives

    The tsunami On the 26th December 2004, an earthquake that took place 300 km west of the Island of Sumatra…

from the Multimedia section

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    Subsoil structure

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    Analyzing rocks

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    Subsoil and rocks

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    Rock salt

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    Subsoil resources

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    energy

    Classification of reservoirs

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  • earth

    Activities in the subsoil

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    energy

    Oil reserves

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    energy

    Oil production: first ten countries in 2012 (%)

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curiosities

  • Volcanic activity of Vesuvio

    One of the most famous volcanic disasters was the eruption of Vesuvio in 79 A.D., which destroyed the cities of…

    Volcanic eruptions

    The activity of some volcanoes is characterized by violent explosions that break the magma into fragment of different size. Those…

    Bacteria as miners

    The ability of chemoautotrophic bacteria to take energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds is used to extract ores. The…

  • Mountains on the Earth

    The different landscapes that we analysed in the previous section are distributed in the five continents of the Earth. Observing…

    Geothermal fields

    Zones that are characterised by a high and anomalous heat flux are those where the release of energy from the…

    And in underground tunnels?

    There are groups of terrestrial animals that eat insects, worms and other invertebrates. An example of them are moles, that…

  • Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour. This animal has no pigmentation as he lives in total…

    Laterite and bauxite deposits

    These deposits can be observed in those tropical areas that are characterized by seasonal rainfalls, such as some large areas…

    What about the permafrost?

    In Sub Arctic Swedish regions, some scientists studied the changes of permafrost in marshes and noticed a constant reduction in…

  • Volcanic activity of Vesuvio

    One of the most famous volcanic disasters was the eruption of Vesuvio in 79 A.D., which destroyed the cities of…

    Volcanic eruptions

    The activity of some volcanoes is characterized by violent explosions that break the magma into fragment of different size. Those…

  • Bacteria as miners

    The ability of chemoautotrophic bacteria to take energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds is used to extract ores. The…

    Mountains on the Earth

    The different landscapes that we analysed in the previous section are distributed in the five continents of the Earth. Observing…

  • Geothermal fields

    Zones that are characterised by a high and anomalous heat flux are those where the release of energy from the…

    And in underground tunnels?

    There are groups of terrestrial animals that eat insects, worms and other invertebrates. An example of them are moles, that…

  • Volcanic activity of Vesuvio

    One of the most famous volcanic disasters was the eruption of Vesuvio in 79 A.D., which destroyed the cities of…

  • Volcanic eruptions

    The activity of some volcanoes is characterized by violent explosions that break the magma into fragment of different size. Those…

  • Bacteria as miners

    The ability of chemoautotrophic bacteria to take energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds is used to extract ores. The…

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