Mid-Term Study Guide

Note: This page was updated on March 5, 2000.

On-Campus Midterm Exam:
Wednesday, March 15, 9-10 am, Rm 413;  6-8 pm, Rm 417

Please Read This Very Very Carefully!!!

On Wednesday, March 15, all students in all sections (internet and on-campus) will take an on-campus midterm exam. Internet students must make arrangements to take the exam some time on the 15th during regularly scheduled on-campus lecture hours. Please e-mail me at least two weeks before the exam if you have special circumstances that will prevent you from taking it during lecture hours. I will arrange another time on that day for you to take the exam. I will not, however, arrange another day. Check your calendar now and make arrangements with your employer, if necessary, to take the exam at the appointed time and date.

The midterm exam will be based on the materials in the first half of the course. The midterm exam will consist of 50 multiple choice (A-E) questions worth 3 points each. The midterm exam is worth a maximum of 150 points. No books or notes will be allowed. Cheating will be prosecuted!

The following rules will apply to the on-campus midterm exam:

  1. All students must bring a Form No. 882-ES Scantron and a #2 pencil. No other materials, including backpacks and drink/water bottles, will not be allowed in the exam area.
  2. Seating will be assigned for the exam. A seating chart will be made available prior to the exam to familiarize you with the seating arrangements.
  3. All students must present identification with name and photo at the time of exam.
  4. Students arriving more than 15 minutes late will not be admitted to the exam.

Everyone, including students enrolled in Internet sections, is required to take the on-campus midterm exam on the Fullerton College campus. Students living more than 50 miles from campus may elect to take the midterm exam at an alternate location, such as a college campus or church, if available and if approved a week in advance by the instructor.

Sections to Study

Here are the sections to be covered in the mid-term exam:

Section I
Oceanography defined
How to read a map
Making sense of tables
Making sense of graphs
Simple mathematics

Section II

The Gaia Hypothesis

Section III
How did the oceans form?

Continental drift
Theory of plate tectonics
Hot spots
Where submarines lurk
Origins of life
Evolution of marine invertebrates
Dinosaurs of the sea
Gaia Thoughts

Section IV

Properties of water
The hydrologic cycle
Why the sea is salt
Ocean waters of the world
Global winds
Ocean currents

Exams to Study

Here is a listing of the practice exams and regular exams relevant to these materials.  You may print them if you like. Note that some of the materials on these exams will not be tested.

Practice Exams

Go to Practice Exam #2 Now!
Go to Practice Exam#3A now!
Go to Practice Exam #3B now!
Go to Practice Exam #3C now!
Go to Practice Exam #4B Now!
Go to Practice Exam #4C Now!
Go to Practice QuizA  for Section IV Now!
Go to Practice QuizB for Section IV Now!

Go to Practice Quiz C for Section IV Now!


Go to Exam #2 Now!
Go to Exam #3 Now!

Exam #4 will be available Tuesday, 12:01 AM, March 14.

Study Guide

Click this link for a study guide of keywords, concepts and math problems.


Sample Midterm

Note: Not all of these questions will apply

OCE130: Introduction to Oceanography

Fall 1999

Exam Letter B

Turn pagers and cell phones OFF. Anyone looking at or handling ANY electronic device, including calculators, during the exam will receive a ZERO (0).

Put your Name, SID#, Class and EXAM LETTER (A, B, C or D) on your scantron.. Read every question and answer carefully before marking your scantron. Failure to provide Name, SID#, Class or Exam Letter will result in a ZERO (0).

When you have completed your exam, raise your hand and I will pick it up. Do not get out of your seat until I have taken your exam. DO NOT TALK. Anyone leaving his or her seat with an exam or anyone talking will receive a ZERO (0).

There are 50 questions worth 3 points each. Take your time. Breathe often. Good luck!

1. James Lovelock originally proposed that life controls planetary processes. This hypothesis is known as the

weak Gaia hypothesis

planetary differentiation

global climate change

strong Gaia hypothesis

all of the above

2. Homeostasis is defined as

a form of reproduction among trilobites

a form of living together

maintenance of relatively constant internal conditions

the idea that life influences planetary processes

none of the above

3. A good example of homeostasis in humans is

constant itching


REM sleep



4. The presence of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere maintains the chemistry of our atmosphere in a state of

chemical equilibrium

chemical disequilibrium




5. The hypothetical processes whereby prokaryotic life forms "joined together" and formed the mitochondria and other organelles of eukaryotic cells is known as






6. The first life forms on our planet probably were probably

Eukaryotic bacteria



Prokaryotic bacteria

7. Which of the following is NOT necessarily a property of living matter:


acquires energy and matter from its external environment


requires oxygen

all of these answers are properties of living organisms

8. Single-celled, calcareous phytoplankton that play a role in cloud formation are





9. The formation of clouds requires the presence of cloud condensation nuclei. One such CCN is

water, H2O

sodium chloride, NaCl

nitrate, NO3-

dimethyl sulphides, DMS

10. The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are examples of





all of the above

11 At the vernal equinox, where on the planet is the sun directly overhead?

Arctic Circle

Antarctic Circle

Tropic of Cancer


Tropic of Capricorn

12. The tilt of the Earth relative to its plane of orbit is

the reason for the seasons

the cause for differential heating of the planet

23.5 degrees

ultimately, what drives weather and ocean currents

all of the above

13. The following are examples of what kind of scales: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc

temporal scales

spatial scales

musical scales

oceanographic scales

no scales at all

14. The following are examples of what kinds of scales: inches, meters, feet, furlongs, parsecs…

spatial scales

musical scales

temporal scales

astronomical scales

no scales at all

15. On the first day of summer in California, where is the sun directly overhead:

23.5 degrees South

23.5 degrees North

the equator

the Arctic Circle

16. How do coccolithophorids, a type of oceanic phytoplankton, possibly play a role in the regulation of temperature on our planet, according to James Lovelock?

the water absorbs more heat when they are present

they stimulate the eruption of volcanoes

they release carbon dioxide when they photosynthesize

they float towards the sun and make it hotter

they release chemicals that create clouds

17. How can we distinguish the living world from the non-living world?





all of the above


18. The field of study that looks at how the universe came into being, why it looks as it does now, and what the future of the Universe holds is called:





19. In order of decreasing wavelength, what are the colors of the visible spectrum?

a. Violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red

b. Green, yellow, orange, red, blue, violet

c. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet

d. Orange, red, yellow, green, blue, violet

20. Formation of the continents, the earth's iron core and outgassing of the Earth's atmosphere came about because of:

plate tectonics

big bang


planetary differentiation

21. Scientific estimates of the origins of life on our planet place it at about

a. 15 million years ago

b. 15 billion years ago

c. 3.8 billion years ago

d. 3.8 million years ago

e. 4.6 billion years ago

22. The Age of Bacteria is important because:

all of the biogeochemical cycles of elements were established

it lasted 2 billion years

recycling of organic matter arose

it led to endosymbiosis and evolution of eukaryotic organisms such as humans

all of the above

23. What happened during the oxygen holocaust?

a major extinction of organisms

oxygen became a permanent part of the Earth's atmosphere

rusting of iron minerals became a constant occurrence

aerobic organisms began to evolve

all of the above

24. Which group of photosynthetic organisms, still found today in Shark's Bay, Australia, built a calcium carbonate structure known as a stromatolite?

heterotrophic bacteria


hydrothermal vent organisms

25. According to theory of endosymbiosis, the mitochondria in eukarytoic cells came from:

outer space

ancient bacteria

South Park



26 Which of the following is a property of oceanic crust?

a. Composed of basalt

b. Heavier than continental crust

c. younger then continental crust

d. formed at mid-ocean ridges

e. all of the above are properties of oceanic crust

27. Submarine canyons are formed as a result of:

a. oceanic-oceanic convergence

b. longshore current

c. naval war games

d. turbidity currents

e. none of the above

28 The relationship between giant tube worms and chemosynthetic bacteria:

a. is photosynthetic

b. is successional

c. is symbiotic

d. is subliminal

e. is lithospheric

29. Cold core rings form when warm water from the __ "spins off" with cold water from the __

a. Gulf Stream...Labrador Current

b. Canary Current...East Greenland Current

c. Florida Current...California Current

d. Florida Current...Labrador Current

30. The process by which one tectonic plate is thrusted beneath another is known as:

a. Abduction

b. subduction

c. volcanism

d. divergence

31. Iceland is a good example of:

a. convergent boundary

b. a mid-ocean ridge

c. continental-oceanic convergence

d. oceanic-oceanic convergence

32. The Marianas Trench formed as a result of:

a. oceanic-continental convergence

b. continental-oceanic convergence

c. sea-floor spreading

d. oceanic-oceanic convergence

e. none of the above

33. Hawaii and Yellowstone are good examples of:

a. hot spots

b. plate boundaries

c. subduction

d. sea-floor spreading

e. none of the above

34. The phenomenon by which clouds form over mountains and strip the air of its water is

a. sublimation

b. the rain-shadow effect

c. concentration

d. evaporation

35. The age of the Universe is_____________ while the age of the Earth is _____________:

a. 30 million...5 million

b. 5 billion...540 million

c. 540 million...4 million

d. 15 billion...4.6 billion

36. Symbiosis refers to:

a. movement of sand

b. the name of a character in The Lion King

c. a disease affecting coral

d. a living together of two organisms

37. Which wavelength of light penetrates the deepest into pure seawater?

a. approximately 430 degrees

b. approximately 430 nanometers

c. approximately 430 centimeters

d. approximately 430 millimeters

e. approximately 430 meters

38. The exponential decrease in light intensity as a function of depth is described mathematically by

a. Stimpy's Law

b. Beer's Law

c. Whiskey's Law

d. Kenny's Law

e. LA Law

39. Why are tropical waters like Hawaii so clear?

a. lots of sunshine in Hawaii

b. lack of kelp to keep the water clean

c. lots of phytoplankton in the water

d. absence of light-absorbing components like phytoplankton

40. Why do seasons occur?

a. the Earth gets closer to the sun in the summer and further away in the winter

b. the tilt of the Earth causes less solar radiation per unit area in winter and more solar radiation per unit area in summer

c. the sun gets hotter in the summer and cooler in the winter

d. the Earth spins faster in summer than winter

41. You are located at the intersection of the equator and the Prime Meridian. You move 60 miles (1 degree) to the west. What is your current latitude?

a. 1 degree West

b. 1 degree East

c. 179 degrees East

d. 0 degrees

42. You are located at the intersection of the International Date Line and the Prime Meridian in the northern hemisphere. Where are you?

a. At the north pole

b. At the equator

c. At the south pole

d. In Greenwich, England

43. You are located at the Intersection of 45 degrees North latitude and 45 degrees West longitude. You move 1 degree south and 1 degree west. Where are you?

a. 44 degrees south and 44 degrees east

b. 44 degrees north and 46 degrees west

c. 46 degrees north and 44 degrees east

d. at the equator

44. If light intensity at the surface is 1500 photons per square centimeter per second, what is the intensity of light at the bottom of the euphotic zone?

a. 150 photons per square centimeter per second

b. 15 photons per square centimeter per second

c. 1.5 photons per square centimeter per second

d. 0.15 photons per square centimeter per second

45. An example of a western boundary current in the North Atlantic Ocean is the

a. Canary Island Current

b. California Current

c. Gulf Stream

d. Kuroshio Current

46. A cold water current that flows south along the eastern Pacific is the

a. Gulf Stream

b. Canary Island Current

c. Kuroshio Current

d. West Australia Current

e. California Current

47. Weather buoys provide important _________ information while satellites provide important ________ information.

a. Spatial…temporal

b. Spatial…spatial

c. Temporal…temporal

d. Temporal…spatial

e. None of the above


48. What does the graph at left illustrate?

a. The attenuation of light as it penetrates the water column

b. The exponential decrease of light intensity as a function of depth

c. Three different values for k, the attenuation coefficient

d. Beer’s law

e. All of the above

49. Which curve – A, B, or C – represents the deepest euphotic zone?

a. A

b. B

c. C

50. Which curve – A, B or C – represents the highest "k" value?

a. A

b. B

c. C


Questions? E-mail me.