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Glossary

Facies
The overall characteristics of a rock unit that reflect its origin and differentiate the unit from others around it. Mineralogy and sedimentary source, fossil content, sedimentary structures and texture distinguish one facies from another.

Farm-in agreement
A common form of agreement between exploration companies whereby the holder(s) of a permit (farm-out party) agrees to assign an interest in the permit, or some portion of it, to another company (farm-in party) that is willing to fund agreed exploration activities.

Fats or lipids
A lipid is one of a group of naturally occurring compounds, also known as fat, that are soluble in organic solvents such as chloroform or alcohol, but insoluble in water. Simple lipids consist of long chains of fatty acids. Compound lipids contain phosphoric acid, sugars, nitrogenous bases or proteins, and include the phospholipids, glycolipids and lipoproteins. Steroids may also be classified as lipids.

Fault
A break in the earth’s crust accompanied by a displacement of one side of the fracture with respect to the other, and in a direction parallel to the fracture; the fracture does not have to be straight.

Fauna
The animal life of a given area. A list of all species of animals found in a given area.

Fern
A vascular plant bearing spores (rather than seeds), with flattened leaflike “fronds” further divided. Some flowering plants (Achillea, yarrow; Conium maculatum, poison-hemlock; and the common house plant “asparagus fern,” for example) have leaves which superficially resemble ferns, but they are, in fact, flowering plants and not ferns.

Fertilizers
Any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply certain elements essential to the growth of plants.

Fibers
Unit of matter characterized by a high ratio of length to width.

Fifth environmental action programme
The fifth environmental action programme towards sustainability which was communicated by the Commission to the Council of Ministers in 1993, sets targets for the period from 1993-2000, together with a legislative agenda to the end of 1997. The action programmes are policy documents from the European Commission which aim to provide strategic guidance and orientation for the substantive work programmes and actions of the principal actors within the European Community.

Filtration
A series of processes that physically removes particles from water.

Fire wall
A wall to prevent the spread of fire; usually made of non-combustible material.

Fischer-tropsch
Process in which carbon monoxide and hydrogen mixtures are converted in hydrocarbons and related compounds.

Fixed carbon
The combustible residue remaining after volatile matter has been driven off by heating of coal.

Fixed noise sources
A noise source with fixed location not related to the natural environment, such as sounds emanating from aircraft, highways, industrial, commercial and residential sources.

Flocculation
Process by which clumps of solids in water or sewage are made to increase by biological or chemical action so that they can be separated from the water.

Flooding
The inundation of normally dry land by water. Flooding is most common in river valleys or along the coastal areas of lakes, seas and oceans. River floods are caused when a river channel is incapable of carrying the volume of water added to it, and the excess spills over on to the adjacent floodplain. Heavy and prolonged precipitation, snowmelt, channel constrictions, dam failures and alterations to drainage basins may produce or contribute to flooding. Global warming through the increased melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and the subsequent rise in sea level, has the potential to increase the frequency and extent of coastal flooding.

Flora
The total plant or bacterial life forms of a region or geological period.. “Vegetation” is more limited, usually meaning the large vascular plants.

Flotation unit or air flotation unit
Flotation techniques are used to separate solids and oils from liquid effluents. The mixture may be treated with coagulation and flocculation (see) agents to encourage the agglomeration of the solids or oil. When air or gas is injected into the mixture, bubbles attach themselves to the agglomerated particles and float them to the surface to form a blanket. This blanket is removed from the surface before the particles have a chance to become resuspended in the clarified liquid.

Flow rate
The volume, mass, or weight of a fluid passing through any conductor per unit of time.

Flue gas purification plants
This is a series of devices designed to remove, or rather, reduce the concentration of pollutants in the flue gas to be treated. Depending on the chemical-physical properties of the flue gas and the pollutants, the system can be composed of one or more stages. The decision on which of the systems below is most appropriate depends on the physical state of the pollutant present in the gaseous current, and its chemical properties.

Fluvial environment
Pertaining to an environment of deposition by a river or running water. Fluvial deposits tend to be well sorted, especially in comparison with alluvial deposits, because of the relatively steady transport provided by rivers.

Flux
The rate of continuous change, flow or movement of liquid, particles or energy. The rate of discharge of a liquid, removal of energy or particle depositing from one body to another.

Foating roof tank
Storage tank with a roof that floats on the liquid surface and rises and falls with the liquid levels.

Food chain
A sequence of organisms, each of which uses the next, lower member of the sequence as a food source. Members of a chain are interdependent so that a disturbance to one species can disrupt the entire hierarchy. A food chain is a simple way of thinking about energy moves through a community of living things. The sun’s energy is transferred from plants (producers) through animals (consumers) and finally returned to the soil by decomposers that feed on the dead and waste products.

Forest
Generally, an ecosystem characterized by a more or less dense and extensive tree cover. More particularly, a plant community predominately of trees and other woody vegetation, growing more or less closely together.

Fossil
Any remains, trace or imprint of a plant or animal that has been preserved in the Earth’s crust since some past geologic or prehistoric time.

Fossil fuels
Coal, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and fuels derived from crude oil (including petrol and diesel). They are called fossil fuels because they have been formed over long periods of time from ancient organic matter.

Fractional distillation
A process by which components in a chemical mixture are separated according to their different boiling points. Vapours from a boiling solution are passed along a column. The temperature of the column gradually decreases along its length. Components with a higher boiling point condense on the column and return to the solution; components with a lower boiling point pass through the column and are collected.

Freezing point
The temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid; also called melting point.

Freight
The amount charged for carrying goods by land, sea or air, usually expressed as a price per ton weight but for sea cargo, often per ton of cubic space filled.

Friction
A force that tries to slow things down when two things rub against each other.

Friends of the Earth
Environmental network working at grassroots level, consisting of 31 independent national groups in 30 countries with more than 3000 local chapters. FoEE is heavily involved in the sustainable development debate and recognises the need to change lifestyle and consumption patterns.

Fuel cell
A device that converts the energy of a fuel directly to electricity and heat without combustion.

Fuel oil
A liquid fuel composed of a mixture of medium-sized or heavy hydrocarbons and produced by refining crude oil. Lighter varieties of fuel oil include diesel fuel, home-heating oil, kerosene, and jet fuel, while heavier fuel oils are used by industries, ships, and electric power plants to generate heat and power.

Fuel switching
The short-term capability of a manufacturing establishment to have used substitute energy sources in place of those actually consumed. Capability to use substitute energy sources means that the establishment’s combustors (e.g., boilers, furnaces, ovens, and blast furnaces) had the machinery or equipment either in place or available for installation so that substitutions could actually have been introduced within 30 days without extensive modifications. Fuel-switching capability does not depend on the relative prices of energy sources; it depends only on the characteristics of the equipment and certain legal constraints.

Fuels
Any material substance that can be consumed to supply heat or power. Included are petroleum, coal, and natural gas (the fossil fuels), and other consumable materials, such as uranium, biomass, and hydrogen.

Fugitive emissions
Emissions that are released inadvertently or accidentally from a controlled or closed system. Examples of fugitive emissions are leaks from gas pipelines and valves, venting and flaring of gases, methane emissions from coal seams and vapour given off by petroleum stores.

Fumarole
Fumaroles are steam vents (Latin “fumus” = smoke); the “smoke” is water vapour (temperature between 200°C and 800°C), the dominant constituent, but acid gases characteristically occur. There is an intimate connection between fumaroles and simple hot springs: hot springs can be transformed into fumaroles, which in turn, during the wet seasons, become hot springs again.

Fumigation
A process by which the soil is sterilized from any insect, disease or weed, prior to the growing of a crop. This is usually done by covering it with mulch and injecting a Fumigant (gas or low-boiling liquid) into the soil.

Fungicides
Chemicals used to kill fungi (see).

Fungus
(Plural: fungi) A multicellular organism with cell walls and nuclei, but lacking chlorophyll. The fungi include many unrelated or only distantly related organisms, such as mushrooms, yeast (such as that used in making bread or beer), and the molds (for example, those that are used in making cheese or that cause rotting of food). Fungi can cause many plant and animal diseases. However, they are also the source of a number of useful antibiotics (for example, penicillin, which comes from the Penicillium mold).

Furan
A hetero-aromatic. See also THF.

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