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The combination of weathering and erosion leads to the wearing down or denudation of mountains and continents, with the erosion products being deposited in rivers, internal drainage basins, and the oceans. The unconsolidated accumulated sediments are transformed by the process of diagenesis and lithification into sedimentary rocks, thereby completing a full cycle of the transfer of matter from an old continent to a young ocean and ultimately to the formation of new sedimentary rocks.
Simple fossil forms can be found in early Precambrian rocks as old as 3,500,000,000 years, and it is widely considered that life on Earth must have begun before the appearance of the oldest rocks.
Determining the Mohs scale of hardness, which lists 10 common minerals in their relative order of hardness: talc (softest with the scale number 1), gypsum (2), calcite (3), fluorite (4), apatite (5), orthoclase (6), quartz (7), topaz (8), corundum (9), and diamond (10).
Harder minerals scratch softer ones, so that an unknown mineral can be readily positioned between minerals on the scale.
Paleontological research of the fossil record since the Cambrian Period has contributed much to the theory of evolution of life on Earth.
Several disciplines of the geologic sciences have practical benefits for society.
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Earthquake seismology has largely been responsible for defining the location of major plate boundaries and of the dip of subduction zones down to depths of about 700 kilometres at those boundaries.