TES 23.3 - Earth Science Teachers` Association



TES 23.3 - Earth Science Teachers` Association
ISSN 0957·8005
Earth Sciences
Volume 23, Number 3, 1998
Joumal of the Earth Science Teachers' Association
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Denis Bates, Institute ~f Earth Studies, University
of Wales, Aberystwyth, Dyf~d SY23 3DB.
Volume 23 No. 3 (1998)
Teaching Earth Sciences
Neil Thomas
The future of Key Skills in Geoscience degree courses:
Opportunity and minefield
Neil Thomas
Transferable skills and the Diploma of Achievement
Peter Kennett
The Geology of construction raw materials: stone,
natural aggregates, cement, brick clays
David Roberts
I I5
Teaching the evolution ofthe atmosphere at Key Stage 4
Alastair Fleming
I 30
(hris King and Peter Kennett
John Knill
Geoff Nicho/son
Keith Moseley
From the (new) Chair
'Science of the Earth' - past and present
Desert Island Exposures: Usan Peninsula, Jordan
The View from My Attic: Notes from your
Promotions Convenor
Keith's Column
Internet News
New Members
SHOPFl,OOR: Measuring the Earth's circumference with a
yardstick (the easy way)
Gene G. 8yrd
Cover picture: Hebertella sp. Interior of ventral valve. Mid Orc:iovician. U.S.A.
Our World Wide Web Home Page is now maintained by John
Grattan, of the University of Wales Abery!!twyth:
John has made beginnings in developing the ESTA site. Further develop,.
ments will follow shortly. Please bench test the site and let him know. of
any problems at [email protected]
TeachingEarth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
RIGS needs you
I write this Editorial having just returned from the annual
of the W~lsh RIGS (Regionalfy Important Geological Sites) groups, which was held in Machynlleth at the end of
September. I was there primarily because I had been asked to
lead part of one of the field excursions, to localities in the
Aberystwyth are? which we have used for teaching. Though I
was on the periphery of the conference, not haVing been
involved in any of the Welsh RIGS groups, I was nevertheless
reminded of the relevance of RIGS teachers of earth science at
all leve.ls, and, further, reminded that we have pUblished articles on RIGS; accounts of RIGS in Wales, England and Scotland
(Vol 1811-3), and on assessing RIGS sites, particularly for
educational use (Vol. 221 I).
Have you thought of contributing to the RIGS work? The
ideal PicldU'OI k Lf?1llre for ('"'/Jesil Beach,
Portkl1ld alld the PUlbecks.
• All rooms en-suite
• Free lecture rooms with video
• Substantial meals
• Packed lunch available
• Many leading schools and
universities catered for
• Reasonable rates
work of identifying .and classifying Sites, of their registration
and legal status, and of their conservation, is being carried out
by people at all levels of expertise and interest, from amateurs
through all the educational fields .to professional. workers:
~ere is an opportunity to participate in geological conservation, and also to benefit from the contacts with all the.se
people. Particularly. for schoo[teachers, this offers •. at the
receiving end - the· contact· with professional and. amateur
earth. scientists which wm greatly. enhance bpththequality of
tea~hmg, and other b:er:Jefjrs such as a source of specimens,
adVIce, and the occasional visitor to the classroom. There is
also the pOSSibility of involving pupils in the work of RIGS
groups: even at primary level it should be possible to have
groups from the classroom helping in th.e cleaning up, and care,
of site~ - and thereby. learning both about their geology, and
the Wider lesson of appreciation and care of the natural
~~LiverpOOI John Moores University
B.Se. Hono rs
Degree i
Earth ~cien e
Geology and Physical Geography are
integrated in a stUdy of the Earth, its
environments and reSources.
The modular degree scheme offers our
students a broad spectrum of options rn
Earth Science. Additional subject areas
may be studied jointly with Earth Science
37 The Esplanade, Weymouth DT4 8DH
Telephone: (01305) 760200
Fax: (01305) 760300
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
giving flexibility to structure a degree
course of thetr choice.
Further details from:- NeilBowc:ten,
School of Biological & Earth Seiences.
Liverpool John .Moo res University,
Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF.
Continuing in ,my predecessor's footsteps, I am keen to produce some words (albeit limited in their wisdom!) in each
issue of TES with a dual purpose: to keep members in touch
with the issues that are important to ESTA and to Earth
Sciences Education in general, and to let you know what I am
doing about these issues on your behalf. Duncan's work over
the past few years, supported by other Council members. has
left ESTA with a louder voice in curriculum planning than
previously known. Therefore, we need to keep the momentum going and to. continue pushing for our subject to feature
. strongly in future iterations ohhe National Curriculum. linked
to this, of course, is the issue of who teaches our subject. This
is particularly important at KS3 and 4. where science and
geography teachers alike need constant encouragement and
practical help to enthuse students about the most fundamental
s.cience of all - that of the Earth. It may not surprise members
to know that, being from a HE background, t am interested in
the "continuum" of Earth Science education. By that I mean
that all sectors - primary, KS3/4, post 16, FE and HE should be
looking towards helping qne another with the provision of
expertise· and dissemination of material with the collective
goal of improving the status and quality of ES teaching. To this
end, the ESTA Secondary Committee (through Mick Wright at
Richmond CoUege) has teamed up with the HE Committee
and Andy Swan and Nick Petford of the School of Geological
S.ciences at Kingston UniverSity to design a series of INSET
courses targeted at science teachers who deliver the ES
content at KS3 and 4. The first of these one-day courses is
scheduled for December 1998.
It is my hope that this type of approach, already in place at a
number of other Universities, will develop a strong bond
between the various sectors in the future (and hopefully
increase ESTA membership along the way!!).
In order to make the "continuum" work. it is necessary to
have healthy, thriving ESTA committees and this is another
thing I am keen to ensure. ESTA has benefited from an
excellent HE Committee Chair for the last two years but Phi!
Gravestock has now completed his term on Council. The
challenge is therefore to do justice to the tireless efforts of Phi!
and Duncan who have helped make ESTA more HE-friendly in
recent times. There is still much to do and one of my main
priorities (and I make no apology for thiS) is to increase the
profile of ESTA in the HE sector. As I write I can almost feel
Primary arid Secondary members shuffling in their seats - fear
not! Despite my background, I am acutely aware that the
lifeblood of ESTA lies in its core membership from the Primary
and Secondary sectors and I want to take this opportunity to
reassure members from these sectors that I am committed to
Earth Sciences education as a whole. It is my fundamental
belief that the only way to take Earth Sciences. education
forward into the new millennium is to work acrosS the sectors
and to produce a body that is the genuine voice of ES education nationally and internationally. This brings me neatly to an
issue which I have no doubt will dominate the minds of ESTA
members in the months to come and, at the same time, stir up
considerable emotions! I refer to the proposed links with the
Geological SOciety. Most members will be aware that ESTA is
currently in close negotiations with a delegation from the GS
with the aim of producing a model. to replace the largely
unsuccessfuljESEC. ESTA's delegation is led by. Chris King
who is accompanied by Maggie Williams from the Primary
Sector and myself.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (7998)
There are so many issues that I would like to flag ur here but
most will wait for the next instalment. However, will plant
one further seed in members' minds. At this year's Annu.al
ESTA Course & Conference we were treated to superb
hospitality, magnificent organisation, a first class INSET, workshop and field work programme and one of the most stimulating and informative invited lectures of recent times, not to
mention a highly amusing and entertaining after dinner speech
from our own Keith Moseley! AfI in all, it was a thoroughly
enjoyable event for all who attended. It is all the more
unfortunate, therefore, that so few people could attend the
Primary and Secondary INSET days and. more disappointingly.
the AGM and Open Forum. The latter provides the opportunity for any and every ESTA member to voice an opinion on
any and every issue we tackle in the Association. It was noted
by several people who did attend the AGM and Open Forum
that the event seemed to lack the healthy debate and discussion of years past and too much time was spent on listening to
reports of committee chairs that could have been read in
accompanying material. There was a distinct feeling that
elements of the ESTA Conference have grown a !ittlestate.
These issues, coupled with the timing of the INSET events
which precluded attendance by many Primary and Secondary
members, have led me anda number of my Council colleagues
to take a fresh look at the Annual Conference. We aim to
establish what are its most popular and stimulating aspects and
how we can consolidate and enhance these. We also aim to
highlight the parts that are in need of a re-think, inter ll1 s .of
timing and structure and to identify potential new programme
items. Questions such as: Should the INSETdays continue to
be timetabled on the Friday!,and. Should the AGM & Open
Forum be moved from the Sunday to another slot where they
can attract more delegates! In order to perform this task
effectively, we need the opinions of the membership right
across the spectrum - established members. new members,
Geologists, non-GeologiSts, Primary, Secondary. HE, Industry
members. Let's face it, the Annual Conference and Course is
one of ESTA's jewels but clearly it is in danger of becoming
stale and therefore turning people away. I encourage (nay
plead with!) all members to get in touchwithoneofthe·three
Council members (via the Secretary) charged with evaluatin~
the conference programme and give us your ideas and comments. The lucky trio are: myself, NikiWhitburnand Polly
As a parting shot, I would like all members to consider two
other issues and, if possible. communicate their thoughts to
The format of TES and the merits/drawbacks of moving
towards a combination of a more rigorous journal and· a
newsletter as separate publications;
Practical ways in which to increase ESTA membership.
Conceptually, the Association exists to benefit all its members
and Earth Sciences Education across all sectors. Practically, I
am not sure that it currently satisfies these points.. Without
getting too "touchy-feely", I would like to close by stressiRg
that the opinions of all members are very important to me and
Iwould like to hear them. We all have a duty to take ESTAand
ES EdUcation into the neW millennium,· please help those of us
on Council to make sure this happens!
Hwyl fawr!
Neil Thomas
The future of Key SkUls in Geoscience degree cQurses:Opportunity and
For many years, HE providers have been told that employersneedgraduates to show ~Yidence ·of vocational (Key, or
transferahle).skills in addition to.subje~t knowledge. HE, in
.turn. has responded by re-designing parts of degree .courses
to· incorporate the required Key Skills training. Recently,
however, HE has been under increasing pressure to implement Kc;lySkills according to the. natiOnal framework definc;ld by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications
ENCVQ). This article attempts to summarise the NCVQ
Key Skills framework; outline some of the relevant issues
.and potential problems which could .Iimit its use in HE
Geosclences and suggest ways in which the basic concept of
the framework could be adopted to the benefit of skills
training in HE but without producing the administrative
nightmares associated with the full-blown framework.
In a recent DfEE meeting a view was expressed thatthe term
'Key Skills' means something completely different in HE than i~
the secondary/tertiary sector. BasicaUy, there are two defillldons:
Key Skiffs (capital K, capital S): containing five areas - use of
number. IT, communication. working with others and learning
how to learn, as rigorously defined in. the NCVQ national
framework and mentioned In the Dearing Review;
key skiffs (small k, smalls): the collection ofso-called 'transferable skills' that HE thinks students need for employment.
The perception is that, in the HE model, key skills are generally
delivered in an ad hoc fashion with littl.e regard for quantifying
students' performance and achievement. This may indeed be
true but the reality is that the skills contained within the HE
model are exactly the same· a~ those defined in the NCVQ
model. The main problem appears to bethat the Key Skills
framework (capital K, capital S) is far too complex to be
embedded in most university modular degree programmes.
So, HE}s have attempted to produce models that are manageable within their OWn institutions. This leads to confusion
caused by inconsistency of implementation across. the HE
sector and breakdown of the so-called 'continuum' of education provision.
For some time HE has been criticised for its approach to skills
development which, it is claimed, shows little regard to the
(apparently) ~ignificant emphasis placed on these matters in
schools. In fact. in recent years, little importance is attached
to formal coverage of Key Skills areas in the non-vocational
courses run in schooJs. Students are made aware of the skiUs
areas but performance is rarely formerly assessed. Given that
the vast majority of students entering HE to study for
Geosciences degrees still hail from the traditional GCSE and
A-Level (rather than GNVQ) route, the awareness of the
NCVQ Key Skills model in most first year undergraduates has
been limited. In reality, there has been no 'continuum' as far as
Teaching Earth Sciences: Vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Key Skills are concerned but this situ;ltion is set to change.
Formal assessment of Key SkiUs wiU soon.be anir1tegral part of
A-Level courses which means that studentS arriving In BE will
have an increased awareness of the framework and an expectation that. their Key Skills levels of achievemen.t will be
enhanced throughout the duration of their degree course.
The argument from the educationalis.ts lS that unless HE takes
steps to embed the KS framework into degree courses,students will arrive at l.mlversit,y with a multitude .of wet! developed, recorded and eVidenced skills, only for progress in this
area to be halted by ourinabilit,y to .take their learning to a
higher level or, in some cases, our total dlsregar'dforkeyskills
in favour of (perish the thought) subject knowle~e! There~
fore,institutions wil1n~ed to conSider the five KS areas and
develop a model that works within their own particular course
structures. In this wayXey Skills, which we all know to be
important to a balanced HE experience, can be. made to
revolve around the subject matter rather than the less desirable, and ultimately unnecessary, inverse.
Educational.ists believe that HE curriculum planners must attempt to integrate the NCVQ Key Skills ruodel.intodegree
programmes if HE is to train its students to meet tile future
demands of lifelong learning and career development. Furthermore, the degree certificate should Include a Key Skills
accreditation otherwj~e it all me(j.ns nothing.. Su<:h a regimen.
tal approach may ultimately be forced upon us but.this does
not mean that it is the most appropriate or ben~ficlal model.
In a recent article Norman jackson·attemptedto illustrate the
implications of Dearing recommendations for standards in
Geoscience education (Jackson 1997). This bad a mixed
reception within the Geoscienc.es communIt,ybut,. importantly. iIIustrated.the fact. that lmplemc;lnting Dearing could
become a logistical nightmare, which will put off many departments. Incorporati9110fthe NCVQ KS frameworkcouldbe
equallyas problematic unless we (j.dopt a simplified scheme.
At this point, it is appropriate to outline the KS framework.·
Outline oftheNCVQ Key (Core)Skills Frame..
work (source: the NCVQ framework document)
Key Skills (formerly Core Skills) are. nationally recognised,
competence-based qualifications describing the. essential generic skills that underpin a range of acti.vities in education.
employment and life. The awards give credittost!:idents who
consistently demonstrate skills across a range of contexts.
There are five Key Skills (KS} areas:
f. Communication
2. Application 0f Number
3. Information Technology
4. Working with others
5. ImproviRg own learning and performance
A sixth area - Problem Solving- exists but is not yet accredited
by NCVQ.
Each KS area has five levels of attainment, becoming
progressively more demanding in breadth, depth and autonomy. Each KS area, at any particular level, is called a Unit.
Each Unit is sub-divided into two or more elements. Elements are further defined in terms of:
Performance criteria (description of exactly what the candidate has to do)
Range (the variety of circumstances in which criteria need to
be met)
Evidence indicators (type of evidence required)
Amplification (clarification of meaning of phrases used in
Performance Criteria and Range)
Guidance (illustrative examples of how assessment requirements can be met)
Candidates produce evidence (from personal, academic or
work situations) to demonstrate achievement in each area.
The evidence is then assessed (by qualified assessors) and the
student either achieves or does not achieve at a particular
Each level subsumes the previous one so those students who
achieve at level 3 have also satisfied the criteria at levels I and
2. However, it is not acceptable merely to demonstrate
additional performance to move from one level to .anothe~: all
performance criteria should generally be assessed In combmation. Furthermore, the entire range for any level, as outlined
In the performance indicators, should also be met in full. In
progressing from one level to the next, students should fulfil all
elements of the relevant unit, e.g. to be competent at level 3
in Communication, a student must meet the requirements of
the elements 'Take part in discussions', 'Produce written
material', 'Use images' and 'Read and respond to written
The vast array of terminology makes the framework overly
cumbersome and would undoubtedly give rise to problems
should it be adopted in HE. The generally agreed achievement
standard for each KS area at A-level is level 3, implying that
direct-entry students to HE should be proficient at this level.
Should HE departments assume this general case to be accurate (in the absence of any formal certification)~ Should we
conduct some kind of entry test to set a base line for each
student in each KS area? At what level do mature students
enter? How can we account for varying entry levels in our
course design? The level 3 generalisation also suggests that
students should progress to a minimum of level 4 in th.e
second year of their degree and to levelS by the e~d. of their
third year. Assessment of this would be a loglstlcal and
administrative nightmare. If we assume that all students have
Level 3 in all areas because they have A-levels, we are
immediately introducing problems associated with inaccurate
assessment of performance which would make the whole
procedure pointless.
Another significant problem within modular degree schemes is
one of {;onsistency. To ensure that all students hav~ the
opportunity to develop all Key Skills, it is necessary to elth.er
overload core modules with skills training or to repeat skills
training in all modules, neither of which is appropriate.
How to make Key Skills work in Geosciences
degree courses
The key criteria for any successful educational development in
HE are to cut down staff time (to release research time) and,
at the same time, increase student learning opportunities
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
without diminishing the quality of the educational experience.
So, how do we establish a Key Skills framework that wHl satisfy
these· criteria? The short answer is 'With great difficulty!'
However, in view of the perceived importance of KS in the
future of HE, there is a need to produce a workable model.
This model needs to comprise design, delivery and evaluation
(assessment, feedback + recording) components.
The basic element of every model is the design and the key to
this is 'mapping' of current provision. Most departments. at
some stage during the TQA era, have conducted some kind of
'mapping' exercise to. match the standard skills list~e.g. Thomas 1996) against their course content. Such exerCIses often
result in the production of complex course skills maps, grids
or matrices which are usually regarded by staff and students as
being unmanageable and largely un~ecessary.. Consequentlr, a
considerable amount of staff time IS wasted In the production
of documentation that will mainly be used as administrative
preparation for TQA.type visits. Th~s is both. wasteful and
educationally unsound. If these mappmg exercises are to be
effective in establishing a KS culture within HE, they must be
accepted and implemented by all staff and their use rT\.o~~t()red
and evaluated by a staff member with overall responSibility. It
has been my experience that one of the reasons for the
opposition to Key Skills in HE is the way in which the ~h~le
concept is packaged (Thomas 1998) where s~ff, both. JunIor
and senior, regard the development of such skills as peripheral
to the 'core business' of a department. However, employers
constantly remind HE that provision of such skills ~rajriing is of
crucial importance. It is therefore necessary to deVise a scheme
which can embrace reticent staff whilst still prOViding the
necessary opportunities for students to develop and review
Key Skills. The scheme must also provide s~ff with simple and
effective assessment and feedback mechanisms.
One approach has been to devise coursework progra~mes
that require the use and development of as many key skills as
possible in as few items of work as possible. I have seen one
ludicrous example of this approach, fortunately not from
Geosciences. where first year students studying a first semes·
ter module are given a three week assignment (in addition to
attending lectures) which involves:
• working in a group to research a topic,
• presenting the results of their work in the form of a word·
processed technical report and computer-generated poster
presentation, and,
• each group member being given a Viva Voce examination.
The only reason for producing such a ~kills overload is to ,l=ra.m
the necessary training into one exercise and be done With It!
No doubt. the module leader will dutifully place a tick next to
all the relevant skills on the circulated skills matrix and claim
that they are developed and assessed on his/her module. It all
looks good in the course documentation .but how can ~e
students possibly develop and evaluate their performance 10
such an overloaded aSSignment?
This kind of scenario and the vast array of skills elements
suggests that it is almost imp?ssible to adopt the.KS framework in its entirety. A solution to the problem IS tobre.ak
down the minefield of the KS framework and highlight the
elements within each ohhe five (eventually six) KSareas which
we believe to be most important and relevant to Geosdences
students. Of course, departments may well come up with
compl~telydifferent lists if asked to conduct such an exercise .
and ·.that Introduces· further· inconsistencies to. the process.
On the other . hand, .if a group of ge.osdentists were to get
togedierandproducea definitive KS fram~workfor us.e in all
nationaJ degree courses we would beaccused. perhaps rightly.
of attempting to stifle the individuafityof departments; So,
what is the most appropriate courseofaction~ The .answer
dependsuporl th~ structure andflexil::Hlity of individual degree
courses. For courses which have a significant core element
running through thre~ years, the picture is more straightforward and prescription of a Key Skiflsframework (at least in
theory) is relatively sirnple.formodular coursesofferirlga
large amount ofchoice and limited eoreelement in second and
third years, consistency .of assessment becomes a problem.
Thea$$~e<l K.eySkills elements WQuld have. to be attached to
. CQre modules, with skillsconteFltof Qther modules being a
tQP-UP to the required attainment lev.el for the year. This, of
course, introduces th~ potential problem of cramming highlighted in the example above .. In t.hisscenario it might be very
diffic;:ultto map aprogr~ssion from Level 3 (entry) to LevelS
(graduation) in aU KS areas ... The one common element to atl
geosciencE~s degree courses is fie:ldwork, an environment that
has great p<>tential fgr skills development. An obvious solutionseemstodeSign fieldV(orkprggramm~s that h;IVea.sigllificant element of key skills training and. asseS$ment, thereby
redUcing .the requirement to overlo~dother core modul.e5.
As. evidenced from the 1997UK Geosdences Fieldwork Symposiumat Lek~ter (ESTA Special Publication), Key Skills can
be·embedded within fieldwork with minimal detriment to the
subje~ matter. In fact this approach enhances the fieldwork
programme by highHghtingthegeneric. trainingaspe~tsln
additipn to developing geological knowledge. All KS elements
couJdfeasibly be covered. infieldwo.rk but themo~t obvious
andrelevaritare probably:
working with others (KS elements from NCVQ framework; identify collective goals and responsibilities; work to
collective goals);
communiCation (KS elements: .take part in. discussior)s;
prodUce written material; .use images; read and respond to
written materials);
improving own learning and performance (KS. elements:
identify targets; follow schedule to meet targets).
In summary, to design an effective framework, departments
L highlight the Key Skills that are important to itscourse(s);
2. lTlaptlie current skills provision in each module/course;
3. identify learning opportunities tor KS in core modules.
withoutoverloadiRg these modules;
4.allocatest!fficiel'lt.KS opporturiitiesto all modules to minimise the problem of inconslstency in student opportunity;
5. prodt,lceaskifls diet that gives opportunities .for ample
prpgression of KSthroughout the years of the degree
Delivery. Assessment and Feedback of Key Skills
The delivery and assessment of Key Skills material has consistentlycaused>problems in HE due. to a combination 9f staff
unfamitiaritywith the material, lack of interest, lack of relevance to the 'core business' of the department etc .. (Thomas
1998).Oe.spitethese problems,UK HE Geosdentists have
developed a large volume of exce:llent material which few
people ;lre aware of. In respons~ to this, the DfEE-funded UK
Earth .$dences Discipline Network has produced the document Helping Earth Sciences student to Develop Key Skills: A
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt, 3 (1998)
PortfoliO of Curriculum ExerGises which is. designe~ to help tutors
deliver subject-relevant Key SkiHs exerdses .and contains exercises for all fevels·.of a.degree·.course foruse.!Jla range of
learning environments. ThisportfoJ!Q isavaitable to .311
Geosciences academics .andis intended .tobean evolving
nationat·reSOllf'Ce forGeoscienceeducatiori.[CGPiesareavan~
able from Or Neil .• Thomas. UKEarth·Scienc:~ D.iscipline
Network. School of Geologka!Sciences, KingStgltlUniversity,
Penrhyn .Road,. Kil'lgston-upon~Thames.Surrey KT I lH.Email: [email protected] £2.0~OO,}
Feedback needs to be both specific and. constrllctive ..... Com:ments like "poor oral presentation skiUs"on a feedback.form
is not very helpft,lItoa.student - themarkgive1lfor the
exercise will tell them that their presentation.has beEm poor!
Feedback needstoprovfdeexplicit commentsol"\·what went
wrong and constructive advice onexactlyhowth~stU<fent can
improve.. Also. positive feedback needs to be· given· on. what
went well s.o that the student canconsoHdatepelformance in
these areas .. To main:tainquaHty of the feeqbackprocess we,
as staff, need to .avoid falling. into the trap. of· providing 'lazy'
feedback due to the pressures of our numerousotner commitments.
In order .to be .fully effective, educationalists believe that a
student must have some kind of accreditation for key skills to
accompany module and COl,Irse grades. SeveraI HEls have
attempted. to introduce Key· Skills certificates orgra.oes on
student result transcripts. Alternative models include:
L KeySkiUs assessed by way ()f performance
in courseworkit.ems(forasinglem9dule)
which have specific skills elements
attached. Fprexample:
Grade 'A' in,CommLj'nication would be. awarqedfgr asclJdent
who achieved. >.70% • IIl!llodule.· assigQments·. s:overing/alf· KS
elements in the coromuniclltionl;!oit ,defined· in the. .nodule
gUide aod key skil1sframework) at theappropf'iatelev~tThis
model wouldindude.a l(eySkills~de(s) f(>l".eachmoduIe
V(h ich G:ould be recorded onthe$t(:Identtr~cr:ipt~long with
the academic grade..for the. module but would rn>t neees$arily
be the same as the academic grade,
2. Key Skills grade equated with module
grade. For example:
If a particular module Is mappedtodev(!lopeltl)eraJ! KeySkins
elements or a number of specific elements at.the apj>roprjate
level. a student who obtains a grade~,A: in the mooule, will. be
deemed to have obtained a grade'A'in Key SkUls~
3. Assign a .grade to each K~y~ldlls;,a:rea,
based on performance a;cl"ossallinodules.
For example, see figure I.
KS area
Application of Number
Information Tc,<,hnology
Working wilh olhers
Improving own ll!tlrning
& pert'ornUlm:t:
SmlesrerlYeur gnuJe ModUles useti/o "otaln firade
GllO IOA,Gll 020B,GUllOOB
GlIOIOA.(;UH6HB, MAl W!.!\
GL10201t (,OIOII.B, GLl052B
GLI llOOB , GLl.ll20B
The list of modules used could be in order of importance in
each KS area if reqUired. This model could either use a section
at the bottom of the academic transcript or employ a separate
transcript to record achievement.
A member of staff acts as a committed co-ordinator of the
entire process, with backing from the head of department;
The process is regularly reviewed and improved at staff!
teaching & learning meetings.
4. The inverse of Model 3, where each module
has a grade for each skills area. For example,
see Figure 2.
All of this. of course, will require the time and energy of
already heaVily-loaded staff. However, with HEFCE set to
raise the profile of learning and teaching in HE, issues like Key
Skills will soon need to move from being 'peripheral' to 'core'
business in the minds of all Heads of Department.
Kn' Skills an'a
Apr. Of Number
\Vorking wtlh others
Improving own...
Each of these models has its merits and problems both generally and in terms of specific degree course structures. Models
I and 4 are perhaps the most educationally-sound, with skills
grades being awarded on the basis of individual pieces of work
with well-mapped Key Skills elements. Model 2 only works jf
the module originally has a. well-defined and appropriate KS
element, covering all reqUired elements of each Key Skills area.
This is, however, the least labour intensive of the models in
terms of assessment and, as such. may be attractive to course
managers. Models 3. and 4 have the disadvantage of being very
labour intensive and requ iring one mem ber of staff to assess, in
conjunction with individual module leaders, each student's
Key Skills performance.
Jackson, N.J. (1997). Implications of the Dearing report for
Academic Standards in Geoscience Education. Geoscientist, 7
Thomas, D.N. (1996). The incorporation of transferable skills
training within I;arth Sciences degree courses: A case study
from the University of Liverpool. In, Stow, D.A.V. & McCal\,
G.J.H. (Eds), Geosdence Education & Training in schools and
universities (or industry and pUblic awareness, 549-554, Balkema
Rotterdam, 855pp.
Thomas, D.N. (1998). The UK Earth Sciences Personal and
Career Development Network: Final Project Report. Department
for Education & Employment. 26pp.
Neil Thomas
School of Geological Sciences
Kingston University
Anyone who has examined the Key Skills framework document wiHrealise that it is full of jargon, cumbersome and has
significant and time-consuming implications for staff training
and curriculum planning. As such. it is unrealistic to suggest
that we can· adopt the framework as it stands. This article
outlines some possible solutions to the problem but is designed, principally, asa catalyst for discussion. Like it or not
the Key Skills concept is hereto stay so, ineVitably, HE courses
will be asked to adopt some form of KS framework in the notto-distant future.
Regardless of the model adopted by individual departments,
the following ten generic points are crucial to the success of
the concept:
The adopted model. must be simple, transparent and staff·
There must be minimal disruption to subject-specific training (indeed any model should enhance this training);
There must be consistency throughout all years and all
Staff must be trained to deliver an'd evaluate the model
The model must be designed to offer a diet of KS which
allows student performance to progress from entry to
The assessment strategy must be fair and appropriately
Staff must give concise, constructive and informative feedback to allow maximum student development;
The l1lechanism(s) of recording achievement must be appropriate and meaningful;
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
These should have been paid by the
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your subscription?
Send your cheque to:
Polly Rhodes
96 Chase Road
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Direct Debit
Transferable skills and the Diploma of Achievement
Peter Kennett
Other articles in this issue of Teaching Earth Sciences will
probably concentrate on the ways in which skills learned
through the medium of Geology classes may be applied to
other walks of life. I propose to tackle the subject the other
way rouncland to describe scheme in use at my school which
emphasises the skills themselves .and then encourages students to apply them to their A-Lev~ (or GNVQ Advanced)
We have been using OCEAC's Diploma of Achievement
for several years, having become involved initially. as a trial
school for "The NortM" Most teachers will know the difficulty involved in persuading students to turn up for enhancement lessons, let alone to get them to ~ke an active part when
they are there. We were no exception. and were looking for
something to stimulate our students. when we heard of the
Diploma: ·'n its early days. it was very much the brainchild of
John Lewis. OBE, an inspirational teacher who was formerly
Head of PhysiCS at Malvern College. :rhe intention was that it
should be fun to do, easy to administer and valuable in the
skills which it engendered. The skills were selected in consultation with the universities, industry an.d commerce, who
were all too aware of the large gaps in the personal development of many of their recruits.
With the coming of the Dearing Review, the Diploma has
inevitably attracted more bureaucracy, since it is hsped that it
will eventually carry UCASaccreditation and also feature as an
"up and running" system of skills teaching. However, it is a lot
simpler to administer than several other current systems of
examining, and when dealt with properly is mostly good fun.
The intention is that Diploma work should be handled mainly
in tutor groups, w.ith the Form Tutor acting as a facilitatoras
much as a teaCher. However, points for the certificate may
also be gained from within other lessons, and A-Level Geology
presents many good opportunities. I have found a useful
interplay between Diploma requirements and those of the
Geology lesson: for example, if students have been shown how
to give a "presentation" before they come to. do one in
Geology, the result is usually better thanifthey have had no
experience. It also pr.ovidesauseful 'carrot' ifthey know that
I shall be making a brief written report on their performance
to the Form Tutor.
Although the format of the Diploma will shortly be changed
somewhat, to dovetail with the implications of·the· Dearing
review, a brief summary is· given below, abstracted, with
permission, from the Diploma of Achievement Handbook
(Figure I).
Most of the eight categories of skills are subdivided into four
• There are two essential elements in the Diploma of Achievement:
• The Diploma comprises a maximum of eight categories of SKILL. These are:
0 communication: language skills
0 research and investigating skills
0 communication: presentation skills
0 designing and making skills
0 organising skills
0 computing skills
0 numeracy skills
0 survival skills
NOTE: To receive a Diploma it is necessary to qualify in a minimum of four skill categories
of which two must be the two categories of communication.
• The Resource Package [Volumes 1 and 2 or the CD ROM version) covers an extensive
range of THEMES in which skills may be developed.
These include:-
Figure I
0 communication
0 money matters
0 survival skills
0 information technology
0 business in the conununity
0 understanding Europe .
0 numeracy
0 legal matters
0 projects
0 learning to learn
0 health issues
0 philosophical issues
• Centres can use topics and activities of their own which may augment or replace the above.
These may include schoollcollege/community activities, work experience, visits, ~d
fieldwork expeditions. The Diploma can thus provide a coherent framework for extracurricular activities as well as formal 'classroom subjects'.
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
further divisions. For example. the Communication:Presentation
Skills section is broken down into:
Making a presentation;
Note-taking: We usually attend several outside lectures during
the A-Level course. given by university lecturers or at meetings of the Yorkshire Geological SOciety. Notes may either be
taken at the time, or retrospectively, thus proving that some of
the material went through the mind of the student! (Myown
lessons are so anecdotal that I could never use students' notes
arising from them for assessment!)
Speaking skills;
Presenting numerical data;
Discussion skills
In each of these. a student is marked on a 2,4 or 6 scale,
e.g. Making a Presentation
2 marks:
The presentation is complete.
4 marks:
The presentation is complete. and is interesting
and competent.
6 marks:
The presentation is complete. is interesting and
competent. and is confident, enjoyable and
appropriate to the audience.
Writing skills and Reading skills: These are readily assessed from
a range of work. and students usually have enough opportunities with their Form Tutor.
Communication: Presentation skills
Making a presentation; Students give an illustrated presentation
on a volcano of their choice, fairly early in the course, which
provides a good graphic topic for scoring a "6". They have. also
recently drawn up posters on different sedimentary environments and then defended their poster in front of the class.
Other opportunities arise from time to time. To try to ensure
uniformity of standards. the school has devised its own re-
I have found it possible to accredit skills in Geology in some of
the following areas:
Communication: language skills
Ustening skills: Judged on the nature of questions asked and
interest showll whilst being shown round an opencast or
quarry site by the Manager.
Subject teachers
Diploma te.chers
Diploma Presentations
Please help us to record 'evidence' for what is essenhally a verbal aspect of the Diploma course
Name of student
Title of ptesentatlOrr
Brtef synopsis of coverage:
Approx. tength of presentation
Did student work:
as one of a team
Old student use
TV clip
other visual aid
V'Jhat was audience reaction like:
Please aUocate maTKs to as many as appropriate of the following criteria
As 2, and the
The presentation is
As 4, and the
presentation is conftdent
enjoy.mle and
appropriate to the
presentallon. is
interesting and
A 'message' is
: !s 2, and the 'message'
IS conveyed !ucdly In a
clear VOice
4, and the 'message
JS conveyed With
, comp-lele conftdence and
j con . . u:tion
Able 10 prepare
numerical data
adequately for a
Ab1e to participate jn
group dtscussion
; As 2, and able to prepare j As 4, and able to present
f the data In the most
! numerical data in an
appropri3'le form
' interesting and confident
~ manner
"'T"4'"'' .
.... "'Ti5'""""
t As 2. and the
l contributiOn has. some
substance relevant to lhe
! As 4, and ha~ an ability
to develop and J Of
i challenge ideas of others
from .. OrganislnUM1!.J. .. ·
Makes 8 contrIDution to
the team
,:" ................ ····················-;-·6···
\ As 2. and shQW$
sensitivity to others in
i theleam
l As 4 and the
j contribution enhances
t the performance of
j others and so adds 10
j the spml DJ the grOllp
Signature of subject leacher
Please- return this form to the ,student for submission 10 hJslher Fonn
Figure 2
Marks transferred to student records by form "TmOl
Tutor lor filing for the Dlpfoma course
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
cording sheet which is completed by the subject teacher at the
time of the presentation and given to the student for the Form
Tutor's files (Figure 2).
Speaking Skills: This section is distinct from the above skill and
relates to the aUdibility and conviction with which a topic is
delivered. It is assessed at the same time as the presentation.
Presenting numerical data: This is almost always done. badly,
with facts and figures, e.g. about volcanic eruptions. being
rattled off at high speed. Through listening to the others.
students soon realise that tpeir own delivery was poor, and
hopefully improve next time they have to perform!
Discussion skills: These can be covered in almost any lesson
where group discussionis involved: It is also assessable. when
a student is discussing a J>lan for an investigation, for example.
Organising skills
Managing time; Working in a team and Decision making skills:
These are all possible areas for assessment during a wide range
of fieldwork and lab work. I have not yet tried assessing the
fourth criterion, Managing people, in a geological situation!
Numeracy skills
Handling numbers; Using graphs and Handling statistics: These
can all be covered in investigations such as sieving sediments
t9 determine their sorting and their possible origin. Recendy~
some students plotted graJ>hs of the size of vesicles against
distance from the margin of the pillow lavas at Strumble Head,
in an effort to find out how they cooled.
I have not tried to assess Handling money in a geological
context, but perhaps I shall watch to see who is the first to run
out of pocket money on the next residential field course...!
Research and investigation skills
Planning skills; Research skills; Investigating skills and Analysing
skills: The criteria are very close to those required for A-Level
geological coursework and two sets of marks may often be
allocated at the same time.
Designing and making
I haven't tried this one in a geological context yet. a/though
there is no reason why an elaborate. design for a piece of
equiJ>ment for a geological investigation should not be counted
for the Diploma.
The other two areas are assessed rather differently, with
points being allocated on aUcan do" basis.
Computing skills
My uSe of computers in class is minimal. However, students
are encouraged to use a machine for production of coursework
and cancoUect marks for Diploma by doing so. Latterly, I
have been handed some excelJentcomputer-generated graphs,
(some of them in colour!) covering such themes as porosity
measurements and sieving results.
stomach i.e. cooking, hygiene, castings etc. I.havenot foun(
geological ways of testing these. although some students have
been encouraged to qualify in First Aid (for thebody)~ which i~
always comforting to know during field work..Thel!earest WE
have come to assessing cooking waS in awarding a "6" to thE
grandma of one student, who made a quantitY of rich frui1
cakes for our recent field trip, in order. to .heJp keep cost!
Reading the above may give the impression that the Diploma is
all aboutcoHecting Scout badges, rather than being seriousl)
concerned with .the personal devetopme~t of a student anc
equipping him or her for life beyond school. In so far as the
Diploma is fun to do, there is a good d.eal of truth in this, bU1
it makes a welcome change from the minutiae ofexaminin~
techniques which my GNVQtoUeagues tell me they have tc
endure, and works out just as accurately in the end!
Scope must also be provided for teaching some of the skills
not simply assessing them, although our most successful Form
Tutors have discovered that it pays to start assessment as
soon as possible, partly to buildup the fife, but also tc
encourage learning a skill in a purposeful way.
On the occasions when 1 have had to stand in for an absent
Form Tutor. I have found it helpful to use video dips of other
people giving presentations.. One source of rnaterialis the
video supplied by OCEACfor· trainil1g teachers, and showln!!
several sixth formers giving brief presentations on topics 01
their choice. Most of them are fairly predictable and only a
few count as memorable enough for a "6".
1 then show an excerpt from the 1995 Christmas Lectures,
"Planet Earth, an explorer'S .guide", given.by Dr. JamesJackson.
Students (who are mostly not ge.ologists) are unanImous in
giving Dr.jackson a "6+". When asked to analyse the excerpt,
they realise that part of the succeSS is due to having readily
available, not only two technicians, but also a range of custom
built gadgets, superb 5J>ecimens. and access to video dips.
However, they also acknowledge that the main ingredient is
the obvious enthUsiasm of the speaker and hi~ delight in his
subject. That, at f~ast, can be emulated by a school student on
a fow cost budget!
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that students become more
aware of the range of skilJs which they heed in. their own
subject areas and are more Willing to work at improving them.
I still have the notes made by a fellow u/1dergraduateduring my
first seminar talk at university. ] thought .1 had made a good
showing - the topic was black shale ehvironments -until f was
handed the notes later. They read, "Mr. Kennettstands up to
speak... cough, cough: um, er..... black: shaJes.,..•<x:cur at the
bottom of the sea....... " and so it went o.n. I stjll cough. I have
forgotten all about thesignifican<;e ofblacks:l:tafes, butt like to
think that my presentation skiflshave improved a bit since
those days. The process would have been a lot quicker and
less painful if only I had done the. Diploma of Achievement.. .!
Those interested in finding out more about the Diploma of
Achievement should c0t:ltact the Project Direttor, ,Mr. 60b
Burkilf, or the Board's Officer llc Diploma of Achievement.
Dr. Paul Beedle. Oxford and Cambridge Examinations and
Assessment Council, /, Hills Road, Cambridge, CBI 2EU. (Tel
Survival skills
These are engagingly titled First Aid for the body i.e. normal First
Aid; First Aid for the Home i.e. household maintenance, such as
changing tap washers etc.; First Aid for the car and First aid for the
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
Peter Kennett
High Storrs School
The Geology of construction raw materials: stone, natural aggregates,
cement, brick clays
I. Introduction
David Roberts
This article is based on David Roberts' second contribution
to the Keele Conference in 1997, and should be read in
conjunction with his earlier article on ELEPHANT COUNTRY: the search for Mineral DepOSits.
Other (bl
64 :108
I 14:lH3
Other (8.)
Natm::a! gas and oil:
Methane (oa equivalent)
C-oudenaates and {}thct (c)
Iron ore
Non·ferrous ores {m~tal content):
Cop(Wr (d)
Zinc (d)
Silv ... (e) (kg)
Gold (kg)
Chalk (1')
CO-rumon clay and shale (p)
Igneo•• rock (l)
Limestone (excluding dolomite)
Dolomite {excluding limestone)
Sand and gravel:
Marine {j)
Ball clay (sale8)
China clay (saies)
China stone
Diatomite (n)
Fired.y (p)
Rock ,alt
Salt from brine
Salt in brine (m)
Silica sands
Chert and flint (f)
Fuller's earth (sales)
Gypsum (natural) (i)
Peat (OOOm 3 )
Potash (0)
IB 187
This is an attempt to compress the salient points of what is a
final year Module on a Degree Course into a manageable
framework to be used in schools. At a more advanced stage
this topic forms an M.Sc. course at Queen Mary College.
London and is well covered in an excellent book by J. E.
Prentice. Commercially, Construction Raw Materials are big
business and by volume are by
far the largest contributor to
mineral production (including
oil and coal) in the United Kingdom as is shown by the statis19H5
tics in Fig. I. In terms of value
they are outperformed only by
the energy minerals, oil, gas
and coal (Fig. 2). Yet, despite
their importance in our lives
they have been ignored in al52
most all U.K. Geology Degree
Courses though it is encouraging to note their inclusion in
A-level syllabuses. I will leave
you to ponder on the reasons
behind this omission since I
would prefer to keep my council on the subject. at least in
54 i
55 i
1200 •
Slurry etc. recovered from dumps. ponds, rivers etc.
Biogas from landfill and sewage.
c Including ethane, propane and butane, in addition to condensates.
d Content 0{ mixed (:oneentrate.
Silver content of copper-zinc and lcad~zinc concentrates.
Great Britain only.
g BGS estimates based on data from producing companies:,
h Slate figures inc1ud~ waste used for constructional fill'and powder
and granules used in industry.
BGS estimal.e.
Including marine-dredged landings at foreign porta (o'portal; see
k Excluding a smaU production of granite in Northern Ireland.
1 In addition, the foUowing amounts of ib'l1e{1US rock were produced
in Guernsey tthou8.!).nd tonnc-s): 1991: 288; 1992: 151; 1993: 180;
1994: 192; 1995: 184; 1996: 198.
Used for purposes other than salt making.
Dry weight
Marketable product (KCI).
Excluding 11: small production in Northern Ireland.
Sources: Office for National Statistics, Department of Trade and
Industry, Department of Economic Development (Northern Ireland),
Crown Estate Commissioners (marine sand and gravel produced fot
export), AdviSOry and Finance Committee (Guernsey), and company
Teaching Earth SCiences; vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Superficially they seem to lack
glamour. and this is not surprising when mineral dossiers
are produced with such titles
as "Common Clay and Shale".
though in reality there is nothing common about many of
these materials since they must
all meet stringent quality control parameters. Until I developed an interest in the commercial side of geology and met
geologists in the Extractive tndustries, from whom I have
learned a lot. I used to think
that most rocks were suitable
for aggregates. Like most people I did not give a second
thought to the fact that all the
bricks used on a house could
be produced to same size.
Figure ,. UnitedKingdom
1>rodu,tion of minerals
1991-97. Ref>roduced from
United Kingdom Minerals
Yearbook '991 by 1>ermission of the Briti$hGeo/og;.
col Survey © NERC. All
rights reserved.
£ million
Sand and gravel
LiInestone and dolomite
Common clay and shale
China clay
Ball clay
Fuller's earth
Silica sands
Gypsum and anhydrite
Miscellaneous minerals
Natural gas
N at;lral gas liquids
Crude petroleum
Iron ore
Other non-ferrous metals
At 199() constant prices
(using GDP deflator)
Oil jUld gas
Construction and industrial
a Calculated on anex·mine or quarry basis.
Source: British Geological Survey.
b The values ofproduction presented in this table are estimates made by the BGS using a variety of da1;a $Ources. For 1995 selected data from
the Prodcom inquiry (an EU statistical inqurry on the volume an~ value of products fo: sale) ha.!) been used for the first time for construction
and industrial minerals. This has resulted (or ~rtainminerals. particularly salt, in an apparent ino-ease in the value of production that
reflects priInarily the source of the information rather than a real increase in the value of produciion.
Figu~ 2. Approximate value of minerals produced in the. United Kingdom '989 .. 1996. Value;s calculated o.non
ex-mine or quarry ba$is. Reproduced from United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 1997 by permission of the British
Geological Survey © NE-RC. All rights reserved.
shape and colour. The assessment work, with rigorous quality
control procedures. of the clay is vital to this end.
It is true that construction raw materials are widelyavailable in
Britain,but many ofthem happen to be in attractive recreationalareas such as the Peak District. Others for commercial
reasQnsneed to be close to locations of usage because transport casts are high and the price of an aggregate. for example,
Can doubleiftransported 15-20 m·iles. A visit to your local
builders' merchant (or if YOll are rich the local garden centre!)
will show you the range of prices for loose gravel for drives or
gardenareas.J bought some Staffordshire pink gravel recently
at. £ 16· per .tonne but I. was offered a yellow flint gravel from
the South of Engtand at 3 times the price. No doubt in
Hampshire, Staffordshire Pink Gravel is 3 times the price of
the local yellow flint gravel. In regard to the location of these
materials one o(the· main obstacles to be overcome by the
extractors Is Planning Consent. Recreational areas are valued
for their scenic beauty by holidaymakers who are content to
clutter the landscape with their caravans but object toa quarry
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
on the horizon even if it does provide employment for the
indigenous people. Near towns and villages problems of noise,
dust and traffkresultingfrom mineral extraction can be a
problem and must be reconciled.
A clay or sand pit ora hard rock quarry canon/y be sited
where·that mineral exists and jfthatmaterialisneeded by a
consumer it cannot be won elsewhere. Since vveliveinhouses
and drive on. roads we all are. thecon~umers:theextraction
company is the "middle. man". ReconcHingthe·. contlictof
interest and competing land use coupled with other planning
matters can occupy .avery large proportion of the working
week for a geologist in this industry.
In my other paper "Elephant Country" (Roberts 1998) I
likened the search for metalliferous mineral dE:lposlts to the
hunt for the "Big Elephant"-quitea romantkncrtion. To
maintain the analogy 1suppose the Construction Raw Materials could be compared wjth farm animals- there are plenty of
them. We know where most of them are but is the quality
acceptable? This is not quite as romantic as an Elephant hunt
but is a lot more relevant to our lives. The following brief
overview should provide many examples of the importance of
quality control and testing of these materials. each aspect of
which is directed to the end usage.
At the present day the use of stone can be grouped under
three major headings: Dimension Stone. Slate, and
Armourstone. Different properties of the natural stone are
required for each usage.
2. Construction stone
Man has always used stone for construction and a visit to
Neolithic sites in Britain will demonstrate this point. From
Chysauster in Cornwall to Skara Brea in Orkney the use of
natural stone to construct dwellings can be seen. The rocks,
of course. are different because the local geology is different
and thi.s shows how early man made use of the materials
around him. Whether it was the granite of Cornwall or the
sandstones of Orkney, what was of importance to early man
was the way in which the rock split along natural discontinuities
(bedding or joints) into manageable sized blocks. On a more
dramatic scale the Pyramids of Egypt and the Inca City of
Machu Pichu both utilised this feature in the rocks and it must
be remembered that both these were constructed by fitting
the rocks together without any cement. The development of
the use of stone follows the progress of civilisation and all the
great Ecclesiastical buildings in Britain used natural stone. One
must not ignore the use of the pure white Carara Marble by
the Renaissance architects and sculptors and on a world-wide
scale the use of stone has been extensive.
Stone which is cut and dressed into regularly shaped pieces is
referred to as Dimension Stone and these can have a variety of
sizes. The larger blocks can be measured in metres in 3
dimensions though smaller blocks would be reqUired for such
uses as pavement curbs. Possibly the best known use of
dimension stone is for ornamental purposes where slabs not
much more than a few centimetres thick but up to one or two
metres in the other two dimensions form a cladding on the
main construction or as floor tiles.. These rocks are mainly
polished before use.
300--- -----. -
..--- ..- - . - - ...- ..-
+ - - - - - --1\-.
Dimension Stone
A good exercise to set VI formers would be to visit the town
or city to note the extensive use of dimension stone and to try
to identify rock types and consider the properties of those
rocks which made then suitable for that purpose. Whilst a
visit to the local cemetery could also demonstrate the ornamental use of rock, possibly contact with a monumental
mason or marble yard may be more appropriate. Students
should also consider how well the different rocks have withstood weathering. From this study they should have noted
that a good Dimension stone should have:
I. Structural strength to carry the reqUired load without
failure; a very important factor for stone used in foundations of dams or bridges. for example.
2. Durability. It should resist exposure to the atmosphere
and ground water. Porosity would be an important factor
here, particularly with freeze-thaw·cooditions.
3. Attractive appearance particularly when polished. Larvikite,
for example. which was extensively used by Burtons, is
very attractive when polished but looks rather dull when
x I( x
~ : x
: = :
Jurassic limestone
----- - - - - - - ------- - ----- - --- ---------------.
~ ~
Permo· Tflas sandstone
x x x
-------- - --x - ------------- --- -----------------
Perrruan magnesian hmeSiOf'le
Carbcmierous sanostone
(P ~ Pennant sanOStOne}
____________ .: __
CacbonrferQus limes.cne
~_D__ ~ _________ Q.::Q.01."!!'~ _______ _
Pa1aeozoJc slq.-fe
(+ ;:: normal to cleavage)
______________+__ x_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ~ _ _ _ _
1 __________ _
___________ ~_~ __~_ ~ ~~~ __ ~i . . ___~___ __ . :. __ ~_~_
;Cl ~. JCr .lOt ~i cvl IG I POI %f'OCr 1Cl tl!:)IJoil:IQt 1!~IH:rOlflOqaoH!lUt~:.C.~J():J()::.u:.:!-Qt:t':>
Wk • Mod. stron<;l
Figure 3.
Great Britain production of natura' aggregates 1965-1'97. Reproduced from United Kingdom
Miner8lsYearbook 1997 by permission of the British
Geological Survey © HERC. All rights reserved.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Very strong
Extremely Slrcng
Figure 4. Unconfined compres,ive strength (UCS) of
British Rocks. From Prentice 1990, figure 3. I, page 70
© 1990 J. E. Prentice. Reproduced with kind permission
from K'uwer Academic Publishers.
4. Ease of quarrying and dressing (cutting and shaping into the"
required product) - this would be>bestnoted ina quarry
but .even in· its place of usage. the rock should reveal
information on this. Much dimension stone is won Without
the use of explosives since these shatter the rock and
hencCe well spaced discontinuities assist in quarrying.
Examples of rocks used as Dimension Stone are:
Granites: To monumental masons this term frequently includes dolerite, granodiorite and even basalt ("Black Granite"1).
Marble: Amongst the most attractive of stones particularly
some of those from NorWay with pink and white calcite, the
fosterite marbles of Iona and Connemara in the British Isles
and from Vianna do Compostella in Portugal.
Umestones(often classified as marble.inthe trade). Cotswold
Stone, Portland Stone and Pur beck Marble are obvious examples but some Crinoidallimestones of the Carboniferous and
Devonian· Limestones must not be excluded.
These are but a few examples to set the scene and no doubt
you will be able to identify many different ones, including
imports, within your local area.
b) Slate
This is a ·fine grained rock with a good slaty deavage and which
can be cleaved and cut into thin well shaped pieces. It is
important that. post-cleavage joints are not closely spaced
otherwise the resulting pieces would be too small. In Britain
the classic slate area is North Wales. whose slate prOVided
roofing material for Victorian Industrial Towns and export.
Other important slate production is from Delabole Quarry in
Cornwall and the Lake District.
Some slate productions is as a Dimension Stone as evidenced
by the ubiquitous slate gravelitones, fence posts and walls in
NorthWa1es and the attractive cleaved tl,lffs oftheBorrowdale
Volcanic Rocks produced by BurJingtonSlate in the Lake
District. Slate does not take a good polish but the sedimentary
and tectonic structures displayed on a coffee tables made of
Coniston Slate make it make it an interesting topic ofconversation for us no doubt, but it probably bores our visitors.
c) Armourstone
Armourstone or Rock Armour requires very large durabl.e
rocks, some of which can weighas much as. 20 tonnes each. A
major use is in Sea Defences or Breakwaters where they are
employed to take the main forclil of the sea to protect a
weaker shoreline, Although cQncn:~te is the main material in
sea defences (95%), the remaining 5% still constitutes a substantial resource requirement. It is often stated that ideally
the quarry to supply this material should be close to the point
of usage but this cannot easily be achieved in all cases since
shore lines. that need to be protected by Armourstoneare
normally composed of weak rocK. A good example is the
offshore reefs built from granites, gneisesand larvikitefrom
Norway to· protect the beaches on the N.E. Norfolk Coast.
Shipping· rock across the North. Sea from a coastal quarry is
much cheaper than/and transport from a quarry in Britain.
To bea suitable armourstone the rocks must have the following properties:
Must not be badly fractured otherwise they will fragment
Must have excellent strength and durability
TeaChing Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Must have a very g()od resistance to weathering.
A coastal super quarrywrrently beingasliessedby Tarmac in
SOlJthern Norway is .likely toproduce~oodarmourstone.
The rock is anorthosite with wide spacep fractureli and in
addition to. the above properties also has the advantage for
this usage in its being heavy. Thelocatiohin~flord well
protectedfrom storms and with nO tidal rallgecoufd make this
quarry a major supplier of good durable. rock to much of
Northern Europe. . Compare this example with th~ sUPer
quarry proposed by .RedlandAggregateson the hie of Harris
also to exploit. anorthosite.ln Norway opposition. to the
qlJarry is. nOfl"existent, there are no restrictions. on hours or
number of days the quarry can be worked and th.ere are many
more days. in the year when weather conditions would permit
the loading of rock onto ships. Harris cCan experience hign Seas
and strong winds for days on end whereas in Norway there is
protection In the fjord. Searing in mind the level of opposition
to quarry development in Harris as an additional factor which
site wolilcl you choose?
Good Armour-stone can. be produced from granites and Jimestones if the joints are widely spaced or from sandstones if
they are formed asa result of pressure solution lithification
rather than aweakbondin.g cement. In order to establish the
quality of a rock forarmourstone a thorough petrogtaphic
examination is reqUited so as to ensure that flowe;:tk minerals
such as clays or m icrofractu res, which would open up under
weathering, are present.
Should the Severn Barrage ever be constructed blocks of rock
armour with a side dimension of 3 metres will be reqlJired on
the seaward side. An interesting class exercise wou1d be to
look at a map· of the British Isles and consider if a rock with
these properties exists on shore. One possibiUty Is the Land's
End Granite, orSciUy Isles Granite lIthe joints areJarenough
apart but just think about the opposition there. would be to
the development of a major quarry in those areas for this
purpose. A more likely source of suitable natural armourstone
would be Scandinavia or Eastern Canada. However, the
alternative is concrete caisons built on shore to the required
dimensions and then floated into position );0 be filledwith rock
for fill. Floating out concrete caisonsis not a new idea as
evidenced by the remains of.theMulberry HarbQuron the
beaches of Aromanche on the Normandy .coastwhichwas.
designed to protect the landing of troops and equipment on
shore after D Day. Unfortunately, the winds and sea strength
were underestimated and the construction, though g60d . in
concept,.did not have the desired effect. This isanotherfactor
that the designers oh Severn Barragewould have to consider
and furthermore when~: would the aggre~te for such a large
volume of strong c6ncreteand rod~ fill be.sourced?Thereare
limestone headlands neat Weston-Super-Mare bvtl for one
.doubt if the National Trust which owns some would be too
happy to see a headland gradually disappear only to be replaced ac:ross the Bristol Channel.
3. Coarse aggregates
Coarse aggregate is defined as particles over Smm in wameter
and is used as a primary ingredient in concrete, in );he body of
roads or when bound with bitumen as the surlacelayer on
roads and runways. The potential resources of bulk aggregate
in Great Britain are enormous andVemay (f976) estimated a
resource of 7300)(.109 t<;>nnes of hardn,)ck. This will not hav.e
reduced ~ignificantlyoverthepast 20 ye~rs.lt is a cheap
plentiful material easy to extract, requires little processing and
is the basis of our construction industry. Figure 3 shows the
level of production of natural aggregates since 1965. Note the
high volumes extracted during the "building boom" of the late
f 980s and the effects of the recession that followed. Although
the price of the aggregate at the quarry gate is low the cost of
transport is high for this bulky, heavy material and is the
biggest element of its cost on site. Sources of aggregate
therefore need to be close to the point of usage and if this is
not possible they must be accessible by cheap rather than
expensive freight. Marine transport from Sc:otfand or Norway to S.E. England would be a lot less than road transport
from Derbyshire or Cornwall. One of the major factors that
. has been responsible for the extensive exploitation of the
Mendip Hills is that it is the closest surface hard rock in Britain
to S.E. England where no surface hard rock exists but where
there is great need. The Mendip Hills also provided much of
the material for the M4 and MS.
A particularly large size aggregate is Rock for Fill though some
sources claSSify it under stone. It is rock in an unbound state
which is used to create a foundation rigid enough to bear the
reqUired load and is free draining. Sub-layers in roads are
constructed from rock fill as is much of rock-fill dams. Since
this material forms the drainage layer in constructions, it is
critical that the rock behaves in a similar way when wet as it
does when dry. Shales, clays and any sort of mud rock in any
quantity (however small) must be avoided since they can fill
voids (and hence impede drainage) and can swell when wet
thus causing heave or other deformation of the sub-base. In
Britain the quafity of rock for fill in road sub-bases is dictated
by the Department of Transport and those roads which carry
consistently a high volume of heavy loads must meet stricter
quality parameters than those which carry lighter and lower
volume traffic. The role of the geologist is to ensure that the
rock used meets the required criteria and quality monitoring is
necessary to avoid litigation if something goes wrong. This is
particularly so if artificial material (furnace or foundry slag) or
secondary material such as crushed concrete, bricks or burnt
colliery shale (where the clay minerals have been thermally
"metamorphosed") is used.
Aggregates form the bulk of concrete and the properties of
the aggregates will dictate the resultant properties of the
structure which has been constructed from it whether it is a
high-rise building, a road, a bridge. a dam or the floor of a
warehouse. The aggregate must bear the load, be resistant to
the environment in which it is employed (i.e. does not degenerate rapidly if wet or under freeze-thaw conditions) or
remains rough on the wearing surface of a road so as to
prevent the road developing into a skid pan.
To predict the behaviour of aggregates a series of laboratory
simulation tests have been designed to predict the behaviour
of aggregates in their place of usage. In Britain these are
prescribed by British Standards. BS 812; BS 882, 120 I; and in
the United States by the" American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). In continental Europe different standards apply
for each nation and whilst the same parameters are evaluated
the tests differ in detail as do the national specifications. Some
rocks which would not pass British specifications may be
perfectly acceptable in France.
Many properties of the rock are tested and whilst a rock may
not have the full properties for one usage it may be perfectly
good elsewhere. The more stringent the criteria that have to
be met the fewer the rocks that can aCtually meet them and
hen<;e those that do can command a higher price and travel
further. The following are the main properties tested.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Strength This is the ability of a rock (or other material) to resist compression which is of most importance in the
construction industry. The compressive strength measures
the load bearing capacity of the rock and is carried out in the
laboratory by applying pressure in one direction to a cored
cylinder of rock and recording the pressure at which the rock
fails. This is referred to as Unconfined Compressive Strength
(UCS) and is uniaxial. Fig. 4 shows the UCS for a range of
British Rock.
The weakest rocks used as aggregates are the Jurassic limestones where the three cleavages in calcite prOVide multiple
lines of weakness. Weak Cement is responsible for the lower
readings for the Permo-Trias Sandstones whereas the Carboniferous Sandstones have a stronger cement. The reason
why the Pennant Sandstone of the South Wales Coalfield is
very strong is due to its sand grains being <;emented by
pressure solution. Note also the difference in the UCS of
Palaeozoic Slate when tested normal and parallel to the cleavage. Granites can be the strongest of all rocks but they also
have the widest range due to the variety of rocks which come
under this name. Those with a high quartz content, close
interlocking grains and are well crystalline are the strongest. It
should be noted that these measurements are for unweathered
samples - the strength of weathered rock is greatly reduced.
Note also the absence of basic igneous rocks from this table
and this is due to the susceptibility of ferro-magnesian minerals
to break down to clays when weathered with the resulting loss
of strength. If load-bearing is the main use for the rock this
test prOVides the reqUired information but those rocks which
give the best results here may not be the best for other
Water Absorption and Shrinkage This is of greatest
Significance if the aggregate is to be used in concrete. An
aggregate with a high water absorption due to, for example.
porosity, will abstract the water from the cement and cause
the whole concrete mass to shrink with resultant fractures
and loss of strength. Rocks with a clay mineral content,
particularly altered basic igneous rocks are particularly bad in
this respect since clay minerals such as montmorHlonite have a
great capacity to absorb water and swell. plaCing internal
stresses on the concrete with resultant fracturing and ultimate
Grading This is the distribution of particle size and the
sizes sold are achieved by screening in the quarry which can
never be totally effective. Some undersized partides could
well be present and the main concern is in regard to fines (less
than 7SJ.tm) which coUld include a day mineral faction. However. if the fines are not day they need not be deleterious but
are likely to cause high water demand in concrete. Tests on
the final concrete product are used to assess strength. It is
then the obligation of the supplier to maintain consistency of
particle size distribution percentages in the aggregate so that
consistency of quality of the concrete is maintained.
The following tests relate primarily to road bUilding particularly the road surface which has to withstand the effects of
traffic and weathering.
Aggregate Crushing Value (ACV) measures the red)
sistance of the aggregate to a continuous load. Note thatit is
the fragmental aggregate that is tested here not a sample of
rock as in the Unconfined Compression test. In the ACV test
the fragments of the aggregate will rub against each other
producing fines and it is the percentage of nne$ produced
which this test measures.
t::::l Horntets
,., 50
c:::J Hornte~s
c::J ~asan
~ 20'
Aggregat"crushillg value
o ~B""1.u..OIlU12C1l1w4"'SA,Ua 201.0- Z'-22..l..4-'ZLS2-'-6-'3'--0
10 !214 )618202224,262830
c::'J Quartzlte
Agg"'gale cruShing value
Aggrogale Impact value
Aggregale impact value
c:::J Quartlite
Glitslone 50
B 1012141,616202224262830
Aggregate crusrung value
. e 10 12141618202224262830
Agglegale Cfust'!"rng value
Figure 5.
Aggregate crII$hing value (ACV) of British
Roadstone. Data from Rood Research Rood Note 24.
Aggregate Impact Value (AIV) This, test simulates the
continuous pounding from traffic that an aggregate will have to
Withstand. Whereas for the ACV a continuous load is applied.
this test employs a standard hammer dropped from a standard
height onto the specimen for a prescribed number of times
arid the amount of fines produced measured.
Aggregate Abrasion Value (AA V) This simulates the
actiqn of pneumatic tyres impregnated with grit on the wear·
ing course of a road~ The loss of weight of a fixed sample of
aggregate is measured after it has been abraded by a rotating
lap fed by sand for a prescribed time.
Graphs of the results of these tests on British roadstqnes are
shown in figs. 5, 6 and 7. The relationship between ACVand
UCS is not always dear. Note that Carboniferous Limestone
has a higherUCSthan most sandstones but is out performed
by qIJartzite and gritstones in the ACV and .AtV and performs
worse thanbasaJts in both tests. Homfels perforr:ns the best
of an rQcks for its ACVAIV and AAV which is not surprising
since it isa very dQse textured siliceous rock with interlocking
grains. The hardness of quartzite is dearly manifest .in its
excellent performance in the AAV test. Limestones overall do
notperforrn well in all these tests in relation to othe.r materials and )let they are widely used as the wearing coorse.on cl
road. Perhaps the next text will help explain the reasons for
Polishe.d Stone Value (PSV) This mejlsures the ability
of aggregat~sto lose their roughness on the Wearing surface of
a road after a period of use by traffic and develop a polish with
the resultant dangers. All other tests wilt measure thedurabiJity of a. road surface and have economic and inconvenience
implications but this test is used to ensure that inappropriate
Agglegate impacl value
Aggregale impacl value
figure 6. Aggregate impoct volue (AIV) of Britisb
Roodstonses. Data (ro,pRoadResearch Rood Note 24.
~ 50
~ 40
Aggregate abraSion value
c:::::I QuartZite
Aggregate abras"'" value
Aggregate <>btaslon value
figure 7.
Aggregate abrasioQ value .(MV) 0.( British
Roodstones. Data from RotJdReseal'ch Rood Note 24.
Figures 5, 6 and 7 from Prentice 1990, figures 3.2 page 74, 3.3 page 75 and 3.5 page 77 respectively. © 1990}. £ Prentice. .Reproduced
with'kind permission ofKluwer Academic Publishers.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
(Slag) (Calcined bauxite)
Artificial group
~ C'---'---"--_~.o..:L.I---.J'--J1
~ -,---,---,17Z<!<"<'<'----'---L--.l1--J1
Flint group
Granite group
Basal! group
(Calcined flint)
(Normal flint)
Gritslone group
Homlels group
(Normal limestones)
(Gritty limestones)
limestone group
Porphyry group
25 30 3540
45 50 55 60 65
brake. It could be just like braking on a surface ofsmallbaUbearings. Hence all these tests have to be applied and as is the
case with much in economic geology only a few rocks pass all
the tests - these can command a higher price in the market
70 75 .Quartzite group
Flakiness This is a measure of the shape of the
aggregate particles and because of the nature of rock formation most rocks have an inhomogenous character that when
broken they form flatter and elongate fragments rather than
cuboidal. Quantification of this feature is undertaken by
measuring the three dimensions of at least 200 pieces of
crushed rock and determining length ratios. This laborious
process is necessary because these fragments will always align
themselves in concrete and the strength ofthe concrete will
reflect the strength of aggregate in its weakest orientation.
Note the difference in the UCS of slate parallel and perpendicular to the cleavage (FigA).
Resistance to Weathering Weathered rock will
make an inferior aggregate to unweathered and hence it is
important during quarrying that weathered material is not
incorporated with the unweathered. Natural weathering
processes will affect rock aggregate when on a road or in a
structure and hence it is important to establish the length of
time it is likely to take before the pristine rock becomes
weaker through weathering. For example, top dreSSing on a
road should be such that it will not deteriorate through
weathering during the desired life of that section or road.
Tests to simUlate freeze thaw conditions and the effects of
moisture need to be undertaken.
Polished stone value
Distribution of polishcd stone valucs in different groups of rock
Figure 8. Distribution of Polished Stone Values (PSV) of
different groups of rock. From Prentice 1990 (after
Hartleyf970) figure 3.6 page 79. © J. E. Prentice.
Reproduced with kind permission of K'uwer Academic
material is not used as a wearing course since it could result in
loss of life. . Fig.S shows the PSV performance of a range of
British Rocks.
In Britain a PSV of 65 is regarded as the lower limit for a skidresistant surface and these rocks should be used where the
road conditions present a particular hazard. The graph (Fig.S)
shows that rocks of this quality are far from common and with
the exception of the artificial group it is some gritty limestones and gritstones which are the best. This answers the
question raised above and despite their weaker nature hi
respect of ACV, AIV and AAV the factor of safety and high PSV
is paramount.
Gritstones and Gritty Limestones owe their high PSV to the
fact that each of the main constituents' abrades at a different
rate. The calcite in a gritty limestone will abrade easier than
the quartz grains leaving them standing proud. A similar
situation occurs with gritstones, particularly some greywackes
(though n.ot all greywackes) with a high porosity and more clay
and lithic fragments than quartz.
It would be quite easy to assume that a high PSV would make
a rock ideal for a wearing surface on a road but this cannot be
use,din isolation. A rock with a high PSVmay fragment very
quickly and result in a road surface which is covered in loose
grit with its attendant dangers when vehicles slow down and
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
It can be seen from the above that comprehensive tests have
to be made before a rock can be declared a suitable material
for aggregates and it is rare to find one rock which satisfies all
criteria and hence in any conStruction a variety of aggregates
are reqUired for different purposes.
When you visit quarries, whether working or disused,it
should always be remembered that those excavations were
made because somebody needed that rock and was prepared
to pay to extract it. They were not excavated to: provide
debris' for fossil collectors or to display other geological
features. In a quarry always ask yourself the question,"What
is special about this rock in this locality?" and on the oasis of
the points listed above try to consider appropriate uses. Also
consider why the quarry (if it is abandoned) came to the end of
its life - the answers may be geological or they may be
4. Fine aggregate
In construction usage this is material which is below 5mm
diameter. To all intents and purposes it is sand though
sedimentologists regard 2mm as the upper size limit for sand
and to them fine aggregate would have to include some fine
gravel. It need not be natural sand since some fine aggr~gate is
produced by crushing coarser material and its composition
can be minerals other than quartz or rock fragments.
This material is Widespread but like coarse aggregates it has to
be established that the quality is right for the required usage
and that it is in the right place. Like crushed rock it needsto be
as close to its point of usage as possible and if it is too distant
it can render the deposit uncommercial. An obvious example
would be all the sand in the Sahara which would be too
expensive to transport to Britain. A less obvious case is>the
sand produced as a result of china clay extraction in Cornwall
which is many times more than the needs. of the local area but
cannot be economically transported to other parts of the
Uses of fine aggregate
In most construction uses fine aggregate is a filler .. In concrete,
(pr example, It fills in the voids that would be/eft by the coarse
aggregate thus reducing the requirement of the bindil1g agent,
cement, which is more expensive and weaker. Thus, fine
aggregate contributes to the strength of the concrete.
Con~retjng Sand is a major constituent of mass concrete and can also be used in the 'unbound' secti.on of road ways.
In both these cases it is used With coarse aggregate. It is also
used in concrete products such as drainage pipes. concrete
pavers, kerb stones etc. (B5882).
Building Sand when mixed with cement produces
cement screed for floors and wallreridering; another signifi..,
cant use is in brick mortars (BS 1200).
Asphalt Sand is produced when mixed withbituminousproducts and is used in the bound section of roadways as
tarmacadam (B5594). In unbound form it is used as a filler in
trenches for main services.
For each of these uses different 9uality parameters are required and the tests have to be carried out according to British
Standards as has the product to meet the quality parameters.
b. Specification and Testing
Grain Size Analysis This is carried out by sieving
samples of the sand and recording the particle size distribution... This procedure has to be undertaken with care to avoid
misinterpretation. due to errors in the procedure. For exampie. a concrete sandshoutdhave a Wide range of partj~le
distribl.ltion sizes (!.nd beaogularin order to produce a dense
wel~ packed interlocking structure to give the concrete strength.
A uniform size of spherical grains would cause sliding of
partic1esal'ld leave a large volume of void which would need to
befilfed in with cement. If notfilled with cement the pores
couldeaslJy .become saturated with water· or remain as alrfllledcavities. This would be detrimental under freeze-thaw
lao ,-'-_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _-:;:_---:\,:.:;;1&=mm~..;.2;;;;.)..:..6m"_I!\'_::::Sr·O
Mortar sand has limits d~fined as showniri the accompanying
graph (Fig.9)
Sf.!lk Density This is an indirect measure of pary:ic;:le
packing. The closer thepartides·are packed the greater will
be the denSity of the sand. A sand .with many ~qidswouldhav.e
a lower dry density. The percentage voids. can be: cakulated by
comparing the bulk denSity of the sand with the density of the
mineral which if quartz is 2.635 grams/cc. If ltitre.of dry quartz
sand weighs 1.527kg the % voids is
(1- 1.527 IX
100 =42%.
iii}Grain Shape Sphericityand roundness are the main
factors to beas~essed, both of which are undertaken by a
qualitative visual approach using a binocular microscope and
comparing the grains with printed charts. Well rounded grains
increase the workability of mortar sands and are therefore
reqUired for a sand to be used in wall rendering whereas
angular graiITs, as stated above, are best for concrete. Thetwo
types are not interchangeable in their usage.
Mineralogy .lnBritain, because of the recent gladations
with the attendantm'elt water flows the softer· minerals have
been removed leaving behind quartzose sands. In troplcal
latitudes where chemical weathering of rocks dominates with
laterization fine aggregates of aquartzose nature are difficult
to find. A good flne aggregate. should be dOlilinantlyquartz or
quartzose rock though this cannot be stated categorically as
constituting a suitable fine aggregate. Some strainedquaru
andchert have been shownto have a defeterious reaction with
the cement (Alkali Sni~ Reaction) causing stresses and hence
fractures in the concrete. Hence it is Important to determine
the nature ohhe silica.
Soft and friable minerals can cause weaknesses in the product
and elongate particles can cause somelami~ationjn the concrete thus affectingitsstreilgth .• TI-le commonestdefeterious
minerals are days.• coals and carbon(!,tes. The .smectite days
such as Montmorilfonite cause shrinkage due totheirllbility to
absorb moisture and can cause concrete to crack. . For mortar
sand a little day Can give a smoother finish and if it is. not a
smectite there may not be shrinkage problems .•. However,· it .is
the retardation of adhesion with cement or asphalt that causes
problems when day partidescoat quartzosegrains: Coal,
Iign;teand peat are a problem for concrete roof tiles since
they allow leakage and theirpresencein a sand f113yrend.er it
unsuitable for this purpose since they ar~not.readilyremoved.
Problems occur with carbonate minerals if they are mixed
With quartz due to their dIfferent absorptioll ofmoisture at:ld
resulting differential shrinkage. lithe fine aggregate is. entirely
carbonate, as are sands in mal"lY tropical areas. the Same
problems do not arise.
In Britain flne aggregate is won from:- marine sands Which are
often. rounded grains and too fine (incorp9rated.sneflsare a
problem due to the voids they callse);glacial sands where
sorting is imperfect andsome poorly cons()ti!JatedTertiary
and Cretaceous Sandstones . such as the l.eighton Buzzard
Sands (lower Greensand). River sands and gravelspravide a
source of coarse and .fjnea~regate together anddmbe used
as a combined mix or can be sorted into the two main factions.
.[ 6-g
cE' ',sa
~ 40
oL_ _...i.-_---".....,;:;:=---"---.L-------15
Cement raw materials
P>ttlcl. Siu I_I
Figure 9. Revised grading limits fo,. general purpose
brick mortars (851200. 1984).
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Portland Cement, so named because when compact it reSembles Portland Stone, fsthe result of flring and subsequentlY
grinding a carefully blended mix of rocks and/or minerals.
silicate )
Ca 3 5105
Figure lOa. Ternary
diagram for the system
CaO-AI1 0 3-SiO,.
showing tlie are.a of
Ordinary Portland
Cement composition.
Main Constituents of Cement Clinker
Chelllic41 Name
Dicalcium silicate
Tricalcium aluminate
Calcium aluminoferrite
Empirical Formula
Ca)A1 2 0 6
Oxide Formula
)CaO.Si0 2
)CaO. A1 203
4cao.Al20). Fe 203
Short Forumula
C2 S
Figure lOb. The main constituents of cement clinker. From Jefferson '978.
What is paramount in the soureing of raw materials for the
manufacture of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) is to get the
mix of chemical compounds right. The Romans made an
excellent Cement by their mixing burnt lime (CaO) with
Pozzolana (Volcanic Ash), sand and water. Naturally occur·
ring or artificial materials which react with lime and water to
form compounds with cementitious properties are still known
as Po:tz.elans .. The process used today was patented by John
Aspdin in 1834. According to British Standards (BS 12: 1970),
"Portland Cement is manufactured by ultimately mixing together cakareous or other lime·bearing material with, if required, argUlaceous and/or other silica, alumina or iron oxide
bearing materials, burning them at clinkering temperature and
grinding the resulting clinker so as to produce a cement."
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Jefferson (1983) stated that wortd production of cement is in
the order of 875 million tonnes, utilising about 1,400 million
tonnes (dry basis) of raw materials. The U.K. production is
about 14 million tonnes per annum requiring 24 million tonnes
of raw material; Modern Cement works have an output of
about 4,000 tonnes of cement per day from 6,000 tonnes of
raw materials manufactured in a continuous process within a
closed system. The raw materials must be thoroughly proven
to guarantee a supply of material of consistent quality, free
from impurities because in a modern closed plant they cannot
escape, resulting in an accumulation of harmful substances.
As shown in Fig. 10 Portland Cement is a mixture ofCakium
Silicates and Caleium Aluminates each of which brings its
partICular qualities to the cement in regard to strength and .
rate· of ·setting. These compounds are entirely de~endent
.upon thechem1calcomposjtion of the raw material and ideally
. in themanut'actur'ing process the elements present in the raw
rnate!i;dare ·transformed.bychemi~al reactions from one set
ofcotnpounds to another. The only loss to the system is CO2
and moisture.
Hence oin the. identification of cement raw materials it is
nec.essary to get the chemistry right. It does not matter what
is used providing the compounds aICe present in the right mix.
The requirements are for large quantities· of a uniform source
of calcium. sltita.aluminium. andiron. Since consistency and
uniformity are required it is essential to know the variation in
a deposit so that blending can take place ;lndthis highly skilled
task is.thejob of the cement chemist. In. addition the minor
constituents in the rocks must be known particularly if they
are deleterious and of theseMgO and Sare so harmful that
they are limited by national standards: Mg04% max. and
Sulphur3%max. according to BS 12: 1970. Some magnesia will
combine to form silicates but some can remain asperidase
which hydrates. slowly and expansively causing disrup~ion and
possiMe failure of the hardened concrete.. Some sulphur is
necessary to prevent "flash setting" (almost immediate hard·
eningwhich can result;n a solid mass before it can be worked)
and hence iithe raw material isdefident in sulphur, gypsum is
added. However, too much sulphur 'Can cause low strength
and high expansion of concrete. High alkali levels (~O and
Na 0) in the cement can cause· alkali-silica reactions .If used
with reactive aggregates. Manganese, phosphorus, chlorides
and·fluorides can also cause problems in all but the smaUest
Some examples of identification and clever blending of raw
materials: The. Bahamas, where there is a plentiful supply of
coral limestone, imports Bauxite .from Jamaica, Silica Sand
from·Florida.lron Ores from N. Can!lda and Gypsum from
Nova Scotia. In Perth W. Australia coastal dUne sand which
contains. Ca and Si02 has added to it a low grade ferruginous
bauxite (AI and Fe) The resultin both cases is OPC which
meets national standards.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Low· grad.· ""'Ierlal•
korlhflut (x.nt)
WovidhO.m (Eun}
NOrmClt1 (CQmbridonh~)
'Hotbor-o.u(}h (Kent)
StWrch-Om (Svnu)
Wc-stbury , {Witt-shit~}
Hurnb4t (Yorktwn)
()dord <Odon:fshirt)
AbU1hQW (Glol"l\Oqlao)
Rho-ost (Glornorq-o.n)
Hop< (D<rby$hn)
C'ouldon, (OubYShirt.}
E;OokSIQWl'l, (Norlhvn· tr«tOM)
Dunbar (East L9thiOh)
CIiU1*r04! {la.r.caSlwlif}
Wc.ardol« {Ou"hom}
It is possible for a single raw material to have a composition
suitable for Portland Cement manufacture such as some ofthe
Lower Chalk of the Chiltern Hills and where this occurs it is
referred to as a one component mix. The majorityofcement
works;n Britain use a two component mix. In the South this
is mainly based on the Cha.lk as the primary component of the
mix with days from the Jurassicto Tertiary as the secondary
component.· In the north.Carbonjferous Limestone provides
the main component and CarbQniferous Shales the other.
(Fig. I I).
A useful c1assexerdse could. be to try to identify suitable
materials· for. Cement Manufacture in different locations. Remember it is the chemistry that has to be right and little else
matters. A blend of Caldum Silica Aluminium and Iron must
be achieved. Pupil~ could even set about trying to identify why
dolomitlsed limestones are IiOt suitable, Also why was .it
important to site a ceme.nt works near a coalfieM- Answer is
energy to drive the system. In Britain4mtof Coal (orOH and
Gas equivaleJ1t) is reqUired annuafly. Thfsis less important
now with there being more oil and .gas fired plants in the
country. More plants are going on to a dry system of productionWher'eas in the past wet or semi-wet processeswefe
used. Why~ Answer is energy costs -It is expensive to drive
off water ·added during manufacture'so don't add it.
Ctmcnt Works
Ptyrmtock· fD<von)
Figure 11. Horl%ol1S ex,plo/ted by selected U(fited
Kingdom cement works. Ftom Jefferson 1978.
6. Brick Clays
The role of bricks .in. constructionhas·.chaflged ~ramatically
over the past 30 years with an attendantr~~uctionin the
number of brickworks in Britain. Aericl«Oe¥elopment
AssociationslJrvey Iists 800 separate bric.kworks in the year
1966 producing facing· and/or common bricks; at the end of
1992 there were 157 brickworks in. Britain of 'whichapproximatelyl30 were day, 22 concrete and the remainder calcium
silicate; today the tQta~ numberhasfaUefl·toaboutSO, A major
factor which contributed .to the decline in the production of
bricks was the advent of the concrete block for the load
bearing structure in.b~i1djngs. This resulted inthealmost total
demise of the production of common bricks which were
previously used for this purpose.
Over the thousands of years that clays, muds and shales have
been transformed into bricks the over-riding important criterion for a brick-making material was its strength to do the job
Brick-making is recorded in the Bible in
required of it.
Genesis Chapter II in the context of the building of the
Tower of Babel "And they said to one another, Go to and let us
make bricks, and bum them thoroughly." This gives a remarkable
insight into the skills of these people because they knew that
the clay had to be burned thoroughly before it would make a
strong brick ~ at least strong enough to build a tower that was
to reach to the Heavens!
That may have been adequate for those people but the sop histicated.consumer of the late 20th Century requires a brick to
be aesthetically pleasing as well as strong and durable. Since
bricks are used today primarily as a cladding on walls the
choice of brick used is largely determined by the current
fashion of architects. A successful brick-producer will have a
wide.range of products with a variety of colours and surface
textures to satisfy the range of market demand. Hence,
.modern bricks should have a constant size, shape and colour
to meet the demands of the architects and planners in any
single project - of course colour will vary from project to
project because each architect has a pre-conceived idea of
what will look right. In addition, since the cladding will be
exposed to wind and rain the bricks should have a low
percentage water absorption and good frost resistance as well
as a high compressive strength. The skill of the geologist in the
brick industry is to identify and evaluate a deposit that will
produce marketable bricks and when in production to ensure
that a feed of constant quality leaves. the clay pit for the
brickworks. It is on this basis that the factory is designed to
manufacture bricks.
~ _ _ _ M9'Fe
The Nature of Brick Clay
Each naturally occurring clay deposit can be considered as an
individual blend of chemically different (or in some cases
chemically Similar) minerals assembled in a characteristic
pattern of particle sizes. It conJ;ains clay minerals from one or
more of the cI<tY mineral groups, mixed by its unique geological
history with a variety of other minerals (mainly quartz) in the
form of unweathered or partly weathered rock fragments.
Although the mineralogy may seen initially to be simple - day,
quartz and about 10 other constituents it is the variety of
these.changeable associations of minerals that controls many
aspects of the brick-making process and the character of the
finished brick product.
Clay minerals are very numerous and their identification has
been made possible by X-Ray diffractometry (XRD) which
identifies their different crystal lattice structures and the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) which makes .it possible to
observe their individual structural morphologies. In brickmaking raw-materials clays of the Kaolinite, IIlite,
Montmorillonite (Smectite) and Chlorite groups are of dominant importance and Simplified structures of these are shown
in Fig. 12.
It is best to consider the composition of mud rocks from the
standpOint of which minerals are useful or essential to the
production of a good brick and those minerals Which cause
Useful minerals
I. Kaolinite AI 2Si10s(OH)4' This may be ordered Kaolinite
TeaChing Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
The arrows show the penetration of the Crystal Lattice by other flletal ions.
The various metal ions have different sizes. The effect is a bit like building
a wall with Metric and Imperial bricks - the structure is weakened, Such
clays are more easily broken .down into small particles and the. material is
more plastic and stronger because of its smaller particle size.
Figure 12. Structure of Clay minerals.
where the individual plates are regularly stacked or disordered Kaolinite where there is distortion of the stack.
Most Kaolinite in China Clay deposits is ordered whereas
the Kaolinite which has been transported to be incorporated in sedimentary rocks is disordered. On firing in a kiln
Kaolinite gives rise to Mullite (AI~Si20'3} which gives the
strength and durability to the briCk.
2. lIIite Ky AI,2(Si1_y) 0lo(OH)2' During blending of the crushed
rock and miXing with water lllite helps develop suitable
degrees of plasticity so that extrusions or mOUldings can be
formed. Since it contributes to a denser packing structure
of the unfired day body it promotes a dense impermeable
product and hence a better quality brick. It also acts as a
fluxing agent, helping the reactions in the kiln and hence its
presence may lead to a saving of energy.
3. Muscovite K AI 3Si 30,o(OH)2 when present can act as a
f1uxing agent.
4. Quartz Si02, A rock with only clay minerals present and a
few accessories is difficult to work in the production
process and is often referred to in the industry as. "too
fatty". The presence of quartz reduces the plasticity of a
day unsuitable forbf'ickmakingbut it does testthe skills of
clay and lessens the. shrinkage of the brick during drying .
the engineers and plant designers.
and firing... Without quartz there would beex.cessive
development of Mullite and glass during firing which would
result lna weak. product. Quartz sand may need to be
4. decompose
Carbo.t1.,a.te.s. onheatingto~O°C
•. )' M&.C. q.~,c.a.•..M
.••• giving
. . . 0. 3Ott~arboA
'. F.e. C.O
.• ,...3.•. .•• The
•. s. e
Diox-'added to aclayifthe original level!) of quartz are too Jow.
The .balance of quartz and clay must be right since,too
~=~::cti)a:ig~ehind a reactive oxide.> For example
much quartz on the other hand can affect the colour of the
fired product or reduce its strength.
Coarse particlesofthisreactive oxi.de¥ihicl1survive the
firing cantater react. with moisture in thea~m9Sphl:lreand
5. Iron Oxides. These give colour to the brick and if a clay is
deficient in them they may need to be added during
as it changes from9uickUme(CaO)t~ slaked lime (C\l(OH)?,
it produces an expansion which can causesln\lUpiecesot
blending to produce a. marketable product. ·If fired under
the face· of bricks to .f1y. off.. Thisiskngwnasfime p.opping
oxJdlsingconditions bricks which eangeneraUy be termed
and can cause in time disintegration of thebrtck.
red are formed but under reducing conditions and high
temperature firing (which not an days are capable of taking
without excess vitriflcation) they produce blue bricks. A
The loss of C02during firing may give rise to .a higher
porosity product than expected•. The resu/tis.a. prodt;lct
top quality engineering brick. the Staffordshire Blue,prownich is .not as strong. absorbs more moistul'eand 'It(iII
ducedfrom the Etruria Marl, is fired in part under redUcing
therefore disintegrate under freete-thaw .cofl~itiOns; Figure 14 iflustrates this point well since the Keuper. Mad has
a much higher CaCoJcorrtent(approx. 11 %) than does the
6. RutHe Ti0 2 If present can give a purple colouration to the
end product. Should that colour be required by anarchiWealdClay.
tect and the rock is deficient in it, artificial Ti02 can be
added during blending.
Whilst iA general it is true to state that high levels of
Carbonate in a raw material may·render it unsuitable for
brick manufact.urethisisnotuniversallythe case~. The
B. Problem minerals
Upper EtruriaMarl.ofNorthStaffordshire has large particlJ;!sizecaldum 9rbonate andh:e.cause of thisit iiS not used
I. MontmorHlonite (Smectite) AI2 SiPIO (OH)2' The pure
to produce bricks. On the other hand the Gault Clay of
material is not found in naturJ;! liecau~e some of the silicon
SE England ca~haveJ 1%C\lC03 butbeeauset.Oe,partide
has been replaced by Aluminium and some Aluminium. by
size of the. carbqnate. is so small, it does notrea~ttothe
Manganese and fron. These .substitutions leave the layers
same degree and will produce a marketahleiJricK. . It is
negativefycharged and so metal ions With positive charges
technically possible to reduce the grain size of the~rbon­
are attracted tothesunace·ofthe clay particles and to the
at.e in the Upper EtruriaMarl,as rsdone bYisome tile
spaces between the layers~ The result is a complex and
manufacturers, or even beneficate themateri;,dthrou8h
disordered structure of smalt p\lrticlesizeand high plasticremoval of the calcite nodules, but the costs are prohibiity. An interesting characteristic of MontmoritJonite is its
ability to absorb water between the silicate sheets with
simultaneous uni-directionallntracrystalline swelling per- 5. Iron Sulphide FeS. This ca.n be present.~s. Pyrite or
pendicular to the sheets.. Such days are difficult to work
Marcasite. This. give~ rise to the 'deveiPP01eitt of black
and from a brickmakingperspective their presence in any
cO;res in the firedpl'oduc;:t (thoughsoM~~I;rFhit:eets n9W
quantity would. render the deposit unsuitable for
tend to favour smallblac.k spots)~\lnde"orescencevyhen
brickmaking. The days would swell .exceSSively during
exposed to dampconditioAs. There is also the problem of
bfendingand mixing and would shrink withattendantdissulphur pollution during manufacture:
tortion d\;n~ing drying with the result that a mis-shaped
product wOllld result, not to mention the chaos caused in
the kiln by theinstabllity of stacked unfired(orgreen)
C. Other tnQterials
bricks. which would •probably.·. topple. A c011apsedor
toppled stack in a kiln would block the movement of the
I. CarbaceousContent: This can sometimes aid firing ofthe
bricks through the kiln or rip out the insulation material on
product and hence reduced the energy required to prothe side and it would take a week to put right~· stop firing
ducethe bricks. A dassic(lase ~. energyeffjcieAcyis with
and cooling (3 days), removal ( J day) re-stacking and firing
the FlettonBric.ks llearPeterborqugb,Therormerclay
to the correct ~emperature· (2-3 days). The cost of gas
pitsinthe Lower OxfordClaywere dev:efopeq\lslandfill
at9ne . tc> re-fire a kiln to th.e correct temperature is .about
sites. and these. produced methane'frol1l~e' waste: .Tflis
£40,090. That is expensivel However, Montmorillonite
methane was piped into the bricKworksvvnE![eitvvas used
has its uses since cat-litter is produced from it as are
to start the firing of the bricks ..... Becli\useo( ij,e high
drilling muds for the oil and gas i~dustry.
organic (Carbonaceous) . contentofthe,L()VVerPxford
Clay the bricks themselves aidedintheirownseff..uring
when ignition temperature ofthecarbon~ceous material
2.. Chlorite.(Mg,Fe). Al (AfSi 3) 010 (OH)s' This may.swell,
was reached.
though not as extremely as montmorillonitet to cause
cracking of the product body. High Chlorite rocks are not
suitable for brickmaking.
DIstribution and Relative Importance of
3. Common Salts KCf and NaCl. These are vigorous fluxes
and· will. be removed by dissolving·· into the glassy melt
durIng firing. Unless destroyed by firing both wiHcause
efflorescence (a WRite fllm).on the surface· of·the brick
when it is weathered. Theirpresence doesnot render a
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Brici<making .clay resources. in Britain.
The accompanying diagram (Fig.J 3) provides an indication of
the relative importance of brlckmakingclays assQciated with
different geological periods in Britain. This diagram is a few
[ Clay with flints
Till, glacial clay, alluvium and other
London Clay, Reading Beds etc.
GaUlt Clay
Weald Clav
Hastings Beds
Lias clays
'Keuper Marl'
Etruria and Ruabon Mads
~imE1~i:::!liii~i:£~a' Measures and Millstone Grit
Devonian marls
Llandovery slates
Ordovician slates
Percent extraction
Figure 13. Relative importance of U.K. geological formations in brick pipe and tile manufacture.
years old and recently there have been minor changes particularly in regard to the Jurassic where production from the
Lower Oxford Clay has decreased.
Most of the pre-Carboniferous rocks have been compressed
to such an extent as to render them unsuitable for brickmaking. In the Carboniferous the Coal Measure Shales have
been used .extensively to manufacture bricks. pipes and tiles.
However. thick Coal Measure Shales capable of producing a
consistent high quality brick are not common. One such is the
Accrington Mudstone. a formation which today has to be
sought under increasing thickness of overburden. The fireclays
(seatearths) found below the coal seams are dominantly composed of kaolinite and their high al,umina content makes them
valuable both for the production of white to buff coloured
facing bri~s (whi<;h can command top prices because of their
fashicmabJe demand) aAd for the production of sanitaryware
and (19W grade) refractory products. The Upper Carboniferous Etruria. Marl of N. Staffordshire is arguably the best brickmaking day.in the country. The Mercia Mudstone Group of
the Triassic is stillreferred to as the 'Keuper Marl' in the Brick
Industry and is an important producer in the English Midlands.
The L9wer Oxford Clay is of great importance to the brick
industry but although this deposit is widespread. extraction
for brick-making is mainly confined to the counties of Northampton. Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire where it is found
to be remarkably uniform in thickness and properties.
The Weald Clay accounts for most of the production in South
East England and it is a very important clay fonhe manufacture
of Engineering and Facing Bricks. It produces strong bricks
with a high firing temperature and a close structure (Fig 14).
The Gault Clay produces bricks ranging in colour from creamy
white, through pink to light red with some scarce bands
producing a buff.firing brick, The variation in colour is due
Teaching Eorth Sciences: vol, 23, pt, 3 (1998)
essentially to the lime content. the highest lime percentage
(CaO = 18 - 26%) producing white bricks and the lowest (CaO
< I%) producing red. The white Gault bricks have low bulk
densities due to their unusually high porosities.
Of the recent deposits particular note shOUld be .made of the
"Brick Earth", This deposit 9f generally sandy-coloured loam,
normally only 2 metres thick, occurs principally in North Kent
and South Essex, The Si«ingbourne area was the centre of the
thriving North Kent brickearth industry of Victoria times
when barges of the City of London's 'dust-bin' waste (containing a high proportion of semi-burned coal and putrescibles
(both with good heat value) were taken down the Thames by
sailing barge. After being screened it was mixed with Brickearth
and used to fire primitive kilns to produce the yellow 'London
Stocks' (called stocks because they were hand-thrown ana
wooden bench called a 'stock'). These were then sbipped
back to London on the same barges that brought the dust-bin
rubbish down. These bricks featured dominantly as the main
building brick used for construction during the inner London
building-boom of the Victorian Era: a very early example of
profitable waste-recycling! Today, virtually all the Brickearth
deposits in this area have been exhausted or sterilised by
building development.
It should be noted that there are a number of clay horizons
which have not been exploited for the manufacture of bricks.
The Jurassic Fuller's Earth is a Montmorillonite Clay and he.nce
is unsuitable for brick manufacture. though it is a valuable
commodity in its own right. The relative uniform lithology of
the London Clay is accompanied by an almost consistent clay
mineralogy. montmorillonite. and illite being the major components. The London Clay has never been greatly favoured as a
brick-making clay largely because it is highly plastic. with an
unusual capacity for absorbing water. A high drying shrinkage
results and can cause excessive damage during the drying stage
of brick production.
Figure 14. Scqnning Electron Micrograj>hs ofbricks j>roduced (ramal Keuj>erN!qrland b) Weafd Clay fired at
I fOO"C. Note the larger and greater number of pore spaces in the Keuper Mori Brick.
7. Overview
One over-riding factor that should be appreciated from the
preceding sections is the role. of quality control. and the
meeting of national standards. 0 return to a .comment m~d.e
in the introduction the term Common Clay and Shale IS
totally misleading since. high qualit.y. brick days are not th~t
common. Admittedly there are millions of tonnes of rock In
Britain that could make bricks bUt. they will not meet the
quality criteria required or. more precisely, the final fired
colour demanded by the architects.
There are masses of limestones in Britain but dolomitization
would render them unsl,Iitable for cement manufacture though
they may make good aggregates. Conversely the Chalk is a
suitable material for cemet;\tbut in Engl;1od it lacks the strength
to be used as an aggregate•. though in Northern Ireland baking
by Tertiary Volcanicity has made much of the Chalk there a
hard strong rock of aggregate quality.
Sands are Widespread but not all have interchangeable end
usage and furthermore they may not be in the :ight place. For
example large quantities of sand are produced tnCornwall as a
result of China Clay extraction, well in excess of the d.emands
of the local area. The surplus has to be put to waste since the
transport costs to distribute it to other parts of the country
are prohibitive.
Appropriate examples of the importance of quality control for
construction rawm;lterialsaremany and perhaps next time, as
teachers. you take iparty of budding geologists to a quarry ask
yourselves and them a few questions such as:i) Why is this quarry here? You can be sure t~at it was not
excavated to provide an exposure of a partIcular feature
for generations of .students to observe.
ii) What was the end use of the raw material? Obviously you
cannot undertake full· tests in the field but a few simple
ones may help. On a recent .1 st. year UniVet'~ity field
course toPal'k Hall Quarries neat' St()ke~on~Trent where
the Sherwood Conglomerate (forlllerlythe Bunter Pebble
Beds) are pverlain by Sherwood Sandstof\e (formerly the
Bunter Sandstone) I posed the follOWing questions (amongst
others) to the students: a) which of the rocks was the
Teaching forth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (7998)
commercially valuable material?· Answer:- The conglomerate because of the durable nature of the dasts. b) Why
was the sandstone dumped in the quarry? • Answer it is not
strong enough due to itS weak ,ce~ent, w~1I sorted n~ture
and rounded grains cQvered With Iron OXide. As a Simple
test I built a small pile of fist sized samples of sandstone and
asked a student to stand on it. The result was immediate
collapse and disintegration into a pile of sand. The pOint
about strength Was made.
Hi) If the quarry is disused ask why operations ceased. There
could be many ansWers such as termination of the. commercial rock at the limit of. the quarry by a geological
feature su~h as a. fault; too much overburden and hence it
became too expensive to extract; drop in demand fonne
raw material; limit of planning consent and many others.
iv) Why are the quarry sides the shape they are? The answer
to that is proVided in Mr. Steve Beauchamp's paper to the
conference - The Rocks come tumbling down.
v) Can you suggest an after use for this quarry? If you can. try
to establish What geological factors have to be evaluated
before that
be put. into effect. .If, for example, the
quat'ryis to be.developed intoa.'eisu:e facility with ,:,:ater.
one of the first aspects to jnv~tlgate IS the permeability of
the rock. Whatever theose, the safety. o·f people in the.
quarry has to be paramount alld students ..could be asked
to investigate pc;>ssibre geplogical dangers SUCD as unstable
faces and suggest ramediaton;
The possibilities of studies involVing construction raw. materi~
als are vast and it will start to make stadents appre(nate that
commercial geology is as rigOrous a taskasp~reacademic
geology and certainly of more. benefit to the nanon.
References and Suggested Reading
Archer A.A., 1972. Sand and Gravel a~ Aggt'egate; Mineral
Resources Consultative Committee, Mineral .Dossier NoA.
29pp. HMSO. London.
Beauchamp, S. J. 1998. The rocks come tumbltng down or
why do excavations in rock fail? Teaching Earth Sciences, 23(2),
Hardey, A. 1970. The influence of geologiCal factors on the
mechanical properties of road surfacing aggregates (with particular reference to British conditions and practice). Proceedings 21st Symposium Highway Geology, University of Kansas.
Jefferson, D.P. 1978. Geology and the Cement Industry. In Knill,
J.K. (Ed) Industrial Geology, pp I96-223, OUP. Oxford.
Jefferson, D. P. 1983. Determination and proving of cement raw
materials. A Prospecting & Evaluation of non-metallic rocks
and minerals. Ed. by K. Atkinson and Rick Brassington,
Institution of Geologists, pp 189-209.
Manning, D.A.C. 1995. Industrial Minerals. Chapman & Hall,
Prentice, J.E. 1990. Geology of Construction Materials. Chap man
& Hall, 202pp.
Ridgeway. j.M. 1982. Common Clay and Shale. Mineral Re-
To advertise in
this journal
Andy Dickinson
on 015 1-424-9358
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
sources Consultative Committee. Mineral Dossier No.22.,
164pp., HMSO London.
Road Research Laboratory 1959. Roadstone data presented
in tabular form. Road Note 24. London 9pp.
Roberts, D. E. 1998. Elephant Country: the search for Mineral
Deposits. Teaching Earth Sciences, 23(1), 19-28.
Savery. S. 1991. Aggregates: The need for realism. Quarry
Management, January 1991.
Smith. M.R. and Coli is L. 1993. Aggregates. Geological Society.
Engineering Geology Special Publication No.9. 399pp.
David E. Roberts
Staffordshire University
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Rushton Close. Widnes, Cheshire. WAS :2ZF. Cheques
payable to Earth Science Teachers' Association.
Alastair Fleming
The Nature of the Evidence
As most readers will be aware, the National Curriculum for
Science in England and Wales (ScNC) contains a relatively
.small Earth Sciences component. Most of this is buried within
Attainment Target 3 (Sc3), most of which in turn relates to
Chemistry. Sections of Sc3 for Key Stage 3 (I 1-14 year olds)
and Key Stage 4 (14..:16 year olds) headed 'Geological Changes'
probably account for no more than 10% of Sc3, Other aspects
of Earth Sciences occur outside these sections, some in the
()hysics and biology attainment targets, but also within Sc3
Evidence for the evolution of the atmosphere comes from a
range of sources. Essentially these are:
However there is another Earth Sciences section in Sc3 which
should. be regarded as an essential part of science education
for 11-16 year olds. 'Changes to the Atmosphere' contains
two statements:
'Pupils should be taught
• how the atmosphere and oceans evolved to their present
• how the carbon cycle helps to maintain atmospheric composition'
The likely a,im of this section is to provide a sufficient basis for
understanding the depate on the effect of human activities on
the atmosphere, and possible effects on global climate. If so, it
is important that it should be 1:<lught effectively, and it should
also retain its place in the coming revision of the Science
National Curriculum.
I. The present compositions of:
• the Earth's atmosphere and oceans
• the atmospheres of other planets
• the Sun
• gases trapped in meteorites
• gases emitted in volcanic activity
• rocks on the Earth and other planets
2. The physics and chemistry of these components
3. The structure and biochemistry of various living organisms,
past and present.
From the chemist's viewpoint, the atmosphere and hydrosphere are essentially molecular in structure (oxygen, nitrogen, water, etc), with free ions (separate ions in solution) in
the oceans, while the lithosphere is composed of gIant lattices
with both ionic and covalent bonding. The biosphere draws
from both to create mixtures of large and small molecules,
with free ions, sometimes supported on frameworks of giant
lattices such as shells and bone. But essentiaUythe molecular
environments and the .giant lattice envl:ronmentsare immiscible with each other, .and hence these separate layers. Within
the Earth the various layers .again refled the immiscibility of
different types of structure. This needs to be borne in mind as
we discuss different possibilities for the origin of the atmosphere.
It is surprisingly difficult for teachers to find any discussion in
texts readily available in schools about our understanding of
the evolution of the atmosphere. Busy teachers in schools do
not have the time, or even convenient access to academic
·Iibraries, that is needed to research an unfamiliar topic - they
rely. on the texts available in school, supplemented by their
own personal libraries. Many such texts make passing references to stories that are at best vastly over-Simplified, and in
some cases quite simply inc.orrect. Even using a university
library it proved difficult for the authpr to find up-to-date
information outside research journals. However several Open
University course units are particularly useful for the scope,
depth and accuracy of the information given; the new course
units forS269, 'Earth and Life', should more than satisfy the
needs of teachers for background knowledge, though they are
unlikely to be readily accessible to the average secondary
science teacher in a school.
AS'planets were formed by accretion.from the primitive solar
nebula; hydrogen, helium and .traees. Qfother gase.s would
form, primary atmospheres around the new. planets, with
composition similar to the Sun. The Qu~rplanets have
probably largely retained these primary atmospheres,given
their larger masses and low temperatures. The present
atmospheres of these planets are very simil"r to .each· other, .
but quite different to those of the inner pl.anets.
The purpose of this article is to provide science teachers with
a summary of the present understanding about the evoIution
of the Earth's atmosphere on which they can base their
teaching schemes for the topic. ThIS is a topic in which current
research js producing rapid advances, and this summary will
almost certainly be out of date in one or more respects by the
time it appears in print!
Hydrogen andheUum molec;:ules are toolignt to be permanently retained by the Earth's gravitational MId., so the present
atmosphere might be derivec:tfrom the other gases. However
mis-matches in the proportions •of crucIal. cbmponents indicate that the present atmospheres of the Jnnerplanets are not
derived from these gases. These crucial components include
non-radiogenic isotopes of various noble gases other than
Teaching Earth Sciences: vof. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
The Origin of the Atmosphere
First hypothesis: the Earth was formed with an atmosphere - a
primary atmosphere - that proceeded to evolve to its present
AUTUMN 1998, Issue 23
Published by the Earth Science Teachers' Association
Registered Charity No. 1005331
KSl Geography
Places Pos 5c. Effects of weather on people
and their surroundings.
KS2 Geography
Thematic Studies Pos 7 Rivers
Thematic Studies Pos 8 Weather
New Science Vocabulary:
Evaporate, Precipitate
KS2 Pos 3
Materials and their properties
Changing materials
Pos 2e The water cycle
The water cycle plays an important part in the curriculum and is specifically referred to in Science
Materials and Properties 2e "Pupils should be taught about the water cycle and the part played by
evaporation and condensation." Important ideas to stress include.
• Water was the first recycled material that people used. (You could be drinking the water that
Henry VII washed in)
• Water is a very plentiful resource but it is finite and clean water is limited by how we look
after it.
In the new curriculum, with its emphasis on language and maths, it can also be a stimulus for
problem solving, data handling, poetry, creative writing, or drama.
Poems about water.
Drama - Try a class assembly based on the water cycle.
Recording and handling weather data. Recording experimental data.
Use the Internet to find out about rainfall in different areas.
Record weather data on a database.
Write records, poetry or descriptions about parts of the water cycle.
The Water Cycle
You can start from anywhere but it is a good idea to start at the point the children know best. Talk
about rain. Rain falls down and makes puddles, or runs down the drain, or sinks into the ground.
Children of all ages can see and experience this and understand it. The topic caI1 be opened from
the questions. Where does the rain come from and where does it go.
As the Sun heats the water in the ocean, evaporation takes place. The water vapour rises with the
warm air and condenses in the upper cooler air to form clouds. When these tiny droplets of water
join together they fall back to earth as precipitation (rain, snow, sleet or hail, depending on the
temperature). This brings us round to the puddles again.
As children widen their experience we can talk about bigger puddles, the rivers and seas.
Groundwater and man's influence on the water cycle will be looked at in later issues of PEST.
Demonstrating Evaporation
Put some water into a saucer and leave it on the windowsill. In time the water will disappear,
ask the children where it has gone.
A damp paper towel on the radiator will demonstrate the effect more quickly. Does blowing
on the paper towel make any difference to the speed at which the water disappe~rs?
Try mixing salt with the water. Does it disappear more or less quickly. Is anything left
Looking at puddles
Mark out a grid with string in the playground and a matching one on paper. Children measure
and draw the puddle at regular intervals. This can be linked with weather recording to show the
links between rate of evaporation and wind and temperature.
Demonstrating Condensation
Take a plastic tray and put water into it (using warm water to start with will help speed the
process along). Place the tray into a plastic bag and place it on the windowsill or on a radiator. As
the water warms up it will start to evaporate, remove the tray to a colder place for the night.
Next morning you should see water droplets condensed on to the inside of the plastic bag. Filled
seed trays with clear plastic covers give a more realistic demonstration, (even better if growing
plants are included), showing how water vapour comes from the soil and will condense on the
colder surface.
Other examples of condensed water in the children's environment include steamed-up windows in
home or car, steamed-up spectacles when entering a warm room from a cold one, dew on the grass
after a cold night.
[PEST. in the National Curriculum
Issue 1. Fossils
Issue 2. Introducing
Issue 3. Soil
Issue 4. Mountain
Issue 5. Using Rocks
Issue 6. Water and the
Issue7. Weathering and
Issue 8. The Moon
Issue 9 Minerals
Issue 10 Out and About L
Around School
Issue 11 The Seasons.
Issue 12 Out and About IL
Holes in the Ground
Issue 13 Fossil Fuels I
Issue 14 Planning
Progression in Earth
Science Teachinjl
Issue 15 Fossil Fuels n Oil
Issue 16 Rivers
Issue 17 Using Your Local
Issue 18 Edible Earth
Issue 19 Early Year
Issue 20 Out and About
M&p· M&P
Experimental and Investigative
3. Materials and Their Properties
4. Physical Processes
Some activities may need to be
adapted for use in one or other of the
Key Stages.
The chart shows the main links with
the Science National Curriculwn.
Life Procesess and Living
IPEST. in the National·Curriculum
Key Stage 2
Issue 1. ,Fossils
Issue 2. Introducing
Issue 3. Soil
Issue 4. Mountain
Issue 5. Using Rocks
abc I b;
Issue 6. Water and the
abel abc
Issue7. Weathering and
abel abd
Issue 8. The Moon
.i·,;"IX!Li~l.· be
:';1 <..a;..;. .. !, :b
Issue 9 Minerals
Issue 10 Out and About L
...... ;. "1'
l·';__ i';;·:~
Aro~d School
' ...........
'...:. <
. .'J:.;,~''::>::~~::'::'':
. . . .~.\;..;.'. ...........
"""' ,.,' . .',.... .... '"-.
Issue 11 The Seasons.
..".~ .._~ . . ,~·i:t
Issue 12 Out and About n.
Holes in the Ground
<'~t;labc J abce
Issue 13 Fossil Fuels I
Issue 14 Planning
Progression in Earth
Science Teaching
Issue 15 Fossil Fuels n Oil
Issue 16 Rivers
Issue 17 Using Your Local
. • -.....
.·.·.1'····· .
Issue 18 Edible Earth
Issue 19 Early Year
Issue 20 Out and About m
bee ',/'b
Coastal Exposures.
.· . · .' ·:.·l.•· .
IM&P I ,Map I pp I pp I pp I pp
;1 I
I2 I3 I4
I I I I I.
Experimental and
Investigative Science.
2. Life Processes and
Living Things
3. Materials and Their
4. Physical Processes
.r· .'
i '
The chart shows the'mam
links with the Science
National CmTicu1um.
Some activities may need
to be adapted for use in
one or other of the Key
.. CC:A·.··'f.··,'.'
'. . '.,";"'.' :'~'~,::
"1, 'a
[PEST. in the National Curriculum
KEY Stage 1
1 131
Issue 1. Fossils
Issue 2. Introducing
Issue 3. Soil
Issue 4. Mountain
Issue 5. Using Rocks
6 I
:4-3 Geographical Skills
I a
a ·;· .•1
4-5 Places
Issue? Weathering and
Issue 8. The Moon
Geography Attainment
6 Thematic Studies
The chart shows the main links with the
Geography National Cwriculwn.
Issue 12 Out and About n.
Holes in the Ground
~o:~ 13 Fossil Fuels I
Issue 14 Planning
Progression in Earth
Seienee Teaching
Issue 15 Fossil Fuels n Oil I
Issue 16 Rivers
Issue 17 Using Your Local
Issue 18 Edible Earth
Issue 19 Early Year
a 1·"R.lal
I ab I
I abc
f -
~7r* I
Some activities may need to be adapted for use
in one or other of the Key Stages.
[ PEST. in the National Curriculum
KEY Stage 2
'Issue 1. Fossils
Issue 2. Introducing
Issue. 3. Soil
Issue 4. Mountain
Issue 5. Using Roeks
Issue 6. Water and the
Issue7. Weathering and
Issue 8. The Moon
Issue 9 Minerals
Issue 10 Out and About L
Around School
Issue 11 The Seasons.
Issue 12 Out and About n.
Holes in the Ground
Issue 13 Fossil Fuels I
Issue 14 Planning
Progression in Earth
Science Teaching
Issue 15 Fossil Fuels Oil
Issue 16 Rivers
Issue 17 Using Your Local
Issue 18 Edible Earth
Issue 19 Early Year
Issue 20 Out and About
Coastal ExPOSures.
2-3 Geographical Skills
-4-5 Places
6 Thematic Studies
Geography Attainment
7. Rivers
8. Weather
9. Settlement
lOEnvironmental Change
The chart shows the main links with the
Geography National Cwriculwn.
Some activities may need to be adapted for use
in one or other of the Key Stages.
Disc. 1
Mak~ Yout Own Water Cycle
Disc. 2
Enlarge Page to required
size (suggest 200%).
Copy or stick onto card.
Cut around circles and cut
out windows in second
Plasce disc lover disc 2 and
push brass paper fastener
through ~oth.
Open up fastener at back.
Front disc should revolve
aroUIld with window~
showing the stages of the
water cycle.
Work with clouds
Mark a frame on the classroom window with paint or paper, observ~ and draw the clouds seen
through it at regular intervals through the day or at the same time each day. Use reference books
to find what the different Cloud shapes are called. Cold days offer an opportunity to produce
clouds by breathing out.
Precipitation is difficult to demonstrate in the classroom, but this problem is easily overcome in
this country by the abundance of opportunity to observe rain in th'e playground.
Make a rain gauge from a plastic lemonade bottle (or use a commercial one) and keep records of
rainfall in your area. Are certain areas in the school grounds protected from rain? If they are how
is this done? What difference does this make to plants growing there?
Water Cycle Wheel
On page 3 is a cut-out to make a model demonstrating the water cycle. Enlarge it to an appropriate size and copy onto card or glue onto card.
Cut out the two windows in disc 2.
Place disc) over disc 2 and push a paper fastener through both discs open it up at the back.
Disc 1 should now revolve freely, the windows showing stages in the cycle with simple explana~~
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To reproduce original material from P.E.S.T. in other publications permission must be sought from the Earth Science
Primary working'group via: Jennifer Claringbold, 99 Otley Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 OAG
This issue was written by Stewart Taylor and many of the ideas were tested by staff and pupils arWren's Nest Primary
School, Dudley, W.Mids.
Edited by Graham Kitts.
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helium in which the atmospheres of inner planets are considerably depleted. It is also highly unlikely that such a primary
atmosphere for the Earth would have survived the intense
solar wind emanating from the early Sun. All the inner planets
are too dose to the Sun in this respect, and only the outer
planets are likely to have retained such primary atmospheres.
Conclusion: Earth's primary atmosphere, ifit did exist, was lost at
a very early stage.
Second hypothesis: the Earth's present atmosphere originated
from out--gassing from the planet itself, during accretion and formation of the core, which produced a secondary atmosphere.
As material accreted to form the. planets. small molecules
wer:e trapped and then released gradually during the early
evolution of the planet. Evidence for the presence of volatiles
(gases and volatile liqUids, all of which are composed of small
molecules) trapped inside such material comes from the type
Present composition of Earth's atmosphere·
Carbon dioxide
Dinitrogen monoxide
variable < 1%
Typical composition of volcanic gases
Carbon dioxide
Water vapour
Sulphur oxides
Table I. Composition of the Earth's atmosphere, and of
volcanic gases.
Teaching forth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Modern volcanic out-gassing produces all the components of
the present atmosphere except oxygen, as well as water and
some other important components of the oceans. The rate of
out-gaSSing has probably decreased steadily over time from a
very intensive early stage. Outgassing processes themselves
probably involve high temperature chemical reactions within
the magma, rather than just gases escaping from solution.
Conclusion: ifit can be shown how known processes can result in
a change from such a composition to that of the present atmosphere, then this second hypotheSiS looks promising.
Hydrogen sulphide, SUlphur
oxides, carbon monoxide,
Most of these trapped gases were probably released to form
the early atmosphere in the first billion years of our planet, but
present-day volcanic emissions show that out-gassing is still
happening. Indeed it may well have been necessary in the early
stages of planetary formation for the accreting material to
have melted to form a magma before the trapped volatiles
could be released. Present day volcanic gas emissions may
therefore represent a continuation of the same process, and
thus give us valuable information about the possible composition of the original atm9sphere. It is useful to compare the
present atmospheric composition with that of a typical volcanic emission from active Hawaiian volcanoes (Table I).
This hypothesis is capable of extension to explain the formation of atmospheres for all the inner planets, with differences
in the compositions of their present atmospheres being the
result of different processes under different conditions.
Water vapour
of meteorites called carbonaceous chondrites. These contain
volatiles, including the non-radiogenic isotopes of the noble
gases in similar proportions to those found in atmospheres of
the inner planets.
Third hypothesiS: Earth acquired a secondary atmosphere as a
result of bombardment by meteorites and cometary material bringing volati/es with them.
This could be anything from a minor supplementary contribution of volatiles, to a major contribution in its own right.
Recent claims, based on interesting sightings of incoming
objects, that the Earth is being bombarded by large 'snowballs',
which could be responsible for much of the water on the
planet, have been greeted with some scepticism; Until more
evidence is established, this has to be regarded as the'oddball'
hypothesis - but such hypotheses have in the past turned out
to be successful in the end.
Conclusion: let's keep an open mind on this one, but it doesn't
look to be a strong contender at the moment
Where did the oxygen come from?
Let us take the second hypothesiS above as our working
hypothesis. So how did free oxygen come to be formed?
From a thermodynamic point of view, the creation of an
atmosphere containing 20% free oxygen seems a most unlikely
event, so the explanation had better be good!
First hypothesis: free oxygen was formed as a result of chemical
processes acting on the origihal components of the atmosphere.
By analogy with the composition of volcanic gases the original
out-gassed atmosphere would have contained mainly carbon
dioxide, water vapour and nitrogen. What possible chemical
processes acting on this mixture could produce free oxygen?
I.. Mosf of the water vapour would have condensed as the
atmospJ,ere and planet.cooled, producing the first oceans, but
therewoufcr always be some in the atmosphere. With no
oZOne layer, ultra-violet radiation from the early Sun entering
the atmosphere would be intense. Ultra-violet radiation of
Wavelengths below 200 nm is a,bscirbed by water molecules
leading tcj the breaking of hydrogen,:oxygen bonds to form
hyqrogen. OH radicals and even atrac:e offree oxygen. Most
of these would rapidly reconibine to form Water, but some
hydrogen wiU.escapefrom the atmosphere. and eventually a
tiny equ~ibrium concentration of oxygen would be achieved.
The maximum partial pressure of oxygen due to this process is
estimated at about 5 x I 0-9 bar. (Rothery, 1994)
2. Sedimentary rocks older than about 2.5 bUlion years contain
readify oxidised miheralssuch as pyrite, FeS2, and uraninite,
Ups. The thermodynamics of their oxidation set an upper
limit of 2.x 10-4 bar on thepartiaf pressure of oxygen while
significant amounts of these minerals remain in contact with
theq.tmosphere in the rock cycle.
The same sedimentary rocks also contain magnetite,. Fe,O4'
whose formation requires the presence of free oxygen, esti~
mated to require a partial pressure of at least 10- 11 bar.
So the partial pressure of free oxygen. must have been between 10·1[ bar and 2 x 10-4 bar around 2.5 billion years ago.
(Rothery, 1994)
There would thus have been a balance between the production of, free oxygen by photo-dissociation and its removal by
reducing gases and minerak
• ancestors of the. modern cyanobacteria (sometimes .cal.led
the blue-green algae) which are able to pootosyntnesise in
the usual way.
4. From toe fossil record of the Archaea, the~e organisms were
probably the first to evolve the proc:essofphotosynthesis
some 3.5 billion years ago; ancestorsofthe s.utphurbacteria
may even have been the first living organisms.
5. The eukaryotes, in which the cells contain their DNA in a
nucleus, appear in the fOSSil record about 2billiC)tl YE*lrsago; in
order to function, they re<juire a partial pressure of oxygen
above 10-3 001" (Rothery, 1994).
6. Soft bodied metazoan animals (such as jellyfish); Which
absorb oxygen from solution in water through theIr exposed
surfaces, appear in the fossil record about 600 million years
ago; for this prQcess they require a partial pressure of oxygen
above 2 x 10-2 bar (Rothery, 1994).
7. Land plants appear in .the fossil record about 450 million
years ago.
S. Land animals appear in the fossil record about 4()() million
years ago; for air breathing, they require atmospheric oxygen
levels about the present value.
9. Luxuriant forests flourished around 300 million· years ago,
and there is eVidence· for. frequent forest fires thq.t indicate
higher oxygen levels than the present value.
10. The level of atmospheric oxygen has probably varied
around its present value since about 200 million years ago
(Nunn, I 99S).
Condu$iQn: the early atmosphere probably did contain free
oxygen in trace amounts, but the chemio:aJ process.es taking place
c:ould neyer haye made it a major component. Indeed this mechanism is the likely source of the traces of free oxygen found in the
atmosphere of Mars.
Second:. hypothesis: the proportion of free oxygen in the present
atmosphere is the result of biochemical p1'Ocesses oaing on the
original components of the atmosphere.
Now we do have problems, for we need information about
the,.ev<>.lution of the· biochemistry of different types of organism, many of them now extinct. S.uch evidence for the earliest
organisms is distinctly limited, but we wiU try to assemble a
coherent story.
L The earliest organisms known from the fossil record belong
to the Archaea, and date from around 3.5 billion years ago.
Indirect evidence suggests Jiving organisms were present 3.8
billion years ago.
2. Archaeaarethe most ancient life forms; they are prokaryotes
- that is,. they have no cell nucleus to contain their DNA,
sharing this characteristic with the Eubaaeria.
3..Members of the· Archaea known from the fossil record
• ancestors of the modern purple and green sulphur bacteria
whiCh Jive around hot springs, fumaroles .and hydrothermal
ventsati:emperatures around IOO<>C; these photosynthesise
using hydrogen sulphide as the source of hydrogen, rather
than water. and hence produce sulphur instead of oxygen;
TeaChing Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Plotting this data as a graph. we obtain a broad picture (Figure
I) of the progressive. evolution of the oxygen content of our
atmosphere asa result ohhe evolution of biochemical processes. (For a more detailed picture over the past 600 mrllion
years, see NUM, 1998.)
Yet why was there a delay of more than 2 billion years before
this dramatic increase to present levels in the last 600 million
Evidence from the fossil record - and biology
With no ozone layer to protect early ~fe forms fromu[traviolet radiation, which causes radiation damage to, DNA, life at
the Earth's suria<::ewas impossible, The onlyproteUion from
radiation would have been in water deep.enolilghto.absorb
this radiation - esSentially a few me.tresdepth. eut n~t so deep
as to prevent the evolution of photosynthesis.
Throughout the period, Archaea remain the only common life
forms, and it is probably relevant that Archaea·areitoday the
most resistant of all organisms to s.uch radiation damage. The
build-up of the ozone shield probably required about 0.5%
oxygen in the atmosphere.
Evidence from the rock record
Certain elements in the rocks act as 'oxygen indicators', as
they are readily oxidised or reduced according to conditions in particular iron, sulphur and uranium compounds.
Age of Earth/billions of years
Figure I. Evolution of the level of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Iron is a major component of most rocks, and in the presence
of water and oxygen is readily oxidised from Fe(II) to Fe(III).
Common rock-forming minerals containing Fe(lI) are usually
dull and dark in colour, while minerals containing Fe(III),
particularly oxides, range in colour through yellow, orange and
red. Basaltic igneous rocks in particular contain Fe(lI) minerals, which in the absence of oxygen weather to form sediments
which are also dark in colour. But if oxygen is present during
the weathering process, Fe(lIl) compounds are formed and
yellow/red sediments are produced.
The first red beds appeared 2.2 billion years ago. Before this.
the small amounts of oxygen being produced by photosynthesis were removed by oxidation of a small part of this iron. Red
beds become more common very slowly, and only when a high
proportion of the iron in the rock cycle exposed to the
atmosphere was present as Fe(llI) could a rapid bUild-up of
oxygen levels begin. This is assumed to have happened about
0.6 billion years ago.
Where did the carbon dioxide go to?
From an estimated 80% of the original atmosphere to 0.034%
of the present atmosphere; that's a lot of carbon dioxide 'gone
There are two possible sinks:
• dissolution in sea-water
• photosynthesis
and these are inter-related. The essential chemistry can be
described by two equilibria:
C~(g) +
aq lE
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Hydrogencarbonate ions can then be removed by two processes
• formation of insoluble carbonates, e.g. CaC0 3(s), both by
inorganic precipitation and by organisms forming calcareous shells.
• photosynthesis by aquatic organisms to form organic compounds, which after death may oxidise back to atmospheric
CO 2, or form organic deposits (coal and oil) thus transferring the carbon to the lithosphere.
Carbonate rocks, in particular limestones. are known from 3
billion years ago, but only became common about 2 billion
years ago. They become increasingly abundant from 0.6 billion
years ago, which suggests that biological processes have been
more important than inorganic chemical processes inremoving CO 2 from thea~moSPhere.
The net result was a gradual decrease in CO2 level until 2
billion years ago. then a rapid decrease to present level as
photosynthesis produced a rapid increase in oxygen level.
And how about the nitrogen content.?
At first glance this would appear to have an obvious answer,
yet it is difficult to find any reference to consideration of the
evolution of the nitrogen content, if only to support the
obvious hypothesis that it just stayed there aU the time while
the other gases got on with their more reactive life-styles.
Perhaps someone reading this article might care to work
through the calculations to estimate the rate of removal of
nitrogen from the atmosphere into the biosphere (and to
some extent to the· hydrosphere and lithosphere),ahd thUs
work back to an estimate of the pre-biotic quanti~ofnitrogen
in the atmosphere. But then nitrogen is a major component of
present volcanic out-gassing, so we also need to estimate the
likely increase in atmospheric nitrogen over time from this
Perhaps there is a degree of re.-cyding of nitrogen (and other
atll1ospherlccomponents) throughpJate tectonic processes,
andsQrne of the nitrogen presently being outgassed has been
round 9nce before. Again, netice the stdphur 'Oxides in
'folcanicgases, which presumably dissolve in the oceans as
slllphateiOJ;lsj a similar set 'Of questions must arise fer sulphur.
.And how about argon? Notice the ratios ofargon to nitrogen
in the present atmosphere (about I:80) and·!n volcanic gases
(about I:23)- very different. yet both are essentiarly chemically
inett.. Perhaps the high argo:n .content ofthe volcarlic gases is
due to argon produced by ntdioactive. decay of potassium-40
irlthe Utho:sphereand mantle. Many intriguing questioris come
to the mind of the interested teacher trying to gaiQ.a coherent
insight into the evolution of our atmosphere - an insight
sufficient. to: form the basis of a coherent story on which to
base informed teaching of this statement in the Science National Curriculum.
This artidedidnot setoutto propose a teaching approach for
this topic, butto bring the attentiorl of teachers ofKey Stage 4
Science to our present understahdlngof atmosphericevolution. How this topic might be taught to 16 year aIds is another
matter,but wha.tever is taught should be ·informed by a more
substantial understanding than that given in most books accessible to science teachers. However those who wish· to go
more fully into this story should ~oto the excellent texts for
the Open University courseS269, in particular 'Origins of
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (7998)
Earth and Life' and 'Atmosphere, Earth and Life'.
Note that the Science National Currh:ulumstaternentalso
concerns the evolution of the oceans, and this has. only received thebriefest of mentions in this arti:ele. HQweve,-thatJs
another story,andafascil1atingone in its ownrighl
Further Reading
Francis, .P., and Dise. N. 1997. Atmosphere, Earthqnd Life.
Milton Keynes, Open llniversity.(ISBN 0 7492.81841)
Gilmour.l., Wright.l..andWright,J. 1997, Origi(1s 9(Earth and
life. Milton Keynes, Open University: (ISBN 0]492 81820.)
Nunn. J. F. 1998. Evolution of the Atmosphere, .Proceedings af
the Geofogists' Association, I 09,1-/3 (This also gives a good
range of recent research references)
Rothery, D. 1994. Atmospheres of Terrestrial PI~!",ets. to: The
Planets: Block 20fC9urse 52St, Astronomy and Planetary
Science; Milton Keynes. Open University.
Alastair Fleming
I)epattmentof Education.
Staffs ST55BG
'Science of the Earth' - past and present
Chris King and Peter Kennett
The Idea
In the 1980s there was very little published material available
to help science teachers to teach Earth science, apart from
some GCSE and 'A' level geology textbooks that usually gave
little emphasis to practical laboratory work. The few 'pupilfriendly' books that were available which did include practical
approaches (eg. Atherton and Robinson's 'Study the Earth'
series, Norman Dutton's 'Darlaston Geology Project' and
Peter Whithead's 'Reading, the Rocks' booklet) did not have
wide markets. It Was at this time that the Association for
Science Educ~tion (ASE) had begun publishing its Science ,and
Technology in Society (SATIS) series in, what became a successful attempt to bring relevant science to school classrooms.
Their model of pupil worksheets with teacher notes that could
be 'taken off the shelf easily by science teachers and incorporated into their schemes of work was a novel but attractive
Having seen" these SATIS units, Peter Kennett (PK) had the
idea that ESTA should use the ,same approach to bring practical, relevant and 'pupil-friendly' Earth science in 'off the shelf
booklets to science teachers. When he discussed this with
Chris King (CK), they realised that if ESTA was going to do
this, then they had to take the lead.
A new venture for ESTA
For ESTA to take on a new venture, funding was required and
so one of the early tasks was to write bids for funding to
various organisations. Over the years, funding has been
provided by a number of sources and organisations, to whom
we are most grateful. They are listed in Figures [ and 2 below.
The funding allowed ESTA to do the follOWing:
• to enable the two teachers (PK, CK) who had prepared the
successful bids tobecome the coordinators of the 'Science
of the Earth' initiative;
• to run a working weekend at the start of each new 'Science
of the Earth' project. This allowed a group of ESTA members to meet from a Friday night to a Sunday lunchtime to
write first drafts of the new 'Science of the Earth' materials;
later, to release the two teachers (PK, CK) from school for
one day per week to become co-editors, joined in the final
stages by Peter York;
• to pay for the draWing of diagrams, purchase of photographs, design of the publications, and setting and printing
of a thousand copies of each title.
The 'Science of the Earth' approach
Since the tradition in UK schools has been to teach science
through laboratory-based activities, the approach we chose
was to develop a series of new practical activities that could be
,used as the basis for lessons, since we felt that science
teachers would be comfortable with such a practical-based
approach. We were well aware that most science teachers
knew no Earth science and so we tried to make their job as
Teaching Earth SCiences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
simple as possible by presenting the activities in a series of
worksheets, written for pupils. Through a series of teacher
notes, the teachers were given considerable guidance on how
to conduct the lessons and the answers to any questions
posed. We hoped that teachers would take these ready made
lessons 'off the shelf and be able to slot them easily into their
own teaching schemes.
The result has been the series of thirty s,even publications
shown in Figure I. Some of these have now been translated
into Spanish and Welsh.
Evolution of the project
The Table in Figure I shows that our publication ideas evolved
through the following phases.
Early 'Science of the Earth' units comprised a series of pupil
worksheets on a single topic, with teacher notes. .They
were written as the first and second versions 0.£ the
National Curriculum were developed.
The activities would take about three hours to complete
and could be divided up into a series of lessons. SQlne of
these units have been very successful but others were
considered too long or too specialised by many science
teachers. Also, if all had been taught, theyw.oulo have
occupied much more time than ~s available: for the
teaching of Earth science in the curriculum, and would have
been expensive to buy.
The 'Science of the Earth II - 14' series has been.produced
as booklets, each containing pupil worksheets for three
free-standing one hour lessons on each topic. Eadllesson
also has teacher notes. They were mainly written to match
the 1992 version of the Nati.onal Curriculum, but are still
appropriate for the current (1?95) version. Whilstmany
science teachers like the ideas, they say that the W'orksheets
are not appropriate for their pupils for various reasons
(such as tbe reading levels or the length of time needed to
cover the full activity). They can become rather overwhelmed by the large number of lessons contained in all
the units (thirty six) to be fitted into the small time
available for teaching Earth science and by the cost of
buying all thirteen booklets (now reduced to £25 total).
The 'Investigating the Science of the Earth' series. has been
written for teachers. Each covers a large topic area in the
current National Curriculum (1995 version), and cO':!tains
ten sections with one or more activities on a particular
sub-topic. The ideas are intended to be taken by teachers
and reworked in a suitable way for their own pupils. This
provides flexibility and allows many ideas and activities to
be published at low cost (£8.85 for all three booklets).
'Routeway' represents the sole venture into writing for
older students. In spite of· being accompanied by five free
copies of a specially designed colour photo poster, the unit
remains under-used. It is however, now proving highly
appropriate for teaching the engineering geology aspects of
some current A Level syllabuses and is remarkably good
value at £4.95.
Devisor af Unit
cation pages
'science ·ofthe Earth' $erleScfor 14 ~ 1$ year aids ~ .ch. cont;aininQa $eriesofsi)fwotl(.beet:~ lessons
o 9501'03.1 28 1990 . 74 .·:£7. 0,0
Ohlts1"';' 5 Combined volume
1.WilJmy gravestone I8Sf
Peter Kellliett
Peter Brannlund
.2.tIilrtf:tq1.lttk8S: danger
.~ath our ff#it
3 .. Flu(jnspar: is it worth. mining? Peter Kellnett
4~ BUltdihg sedimentary
SfroctuteS: in ,the lab and
millions .of years 'ago
Ken Bland
5 .. Waste qnd the. hole in the
o 9501(}317 9 1991
UmlS 6 ,.. 10Comblned volume
June Warren
~. Nuclear waste: the way
Frank. Spode
7.. M:ighbourhoOJ;f stone watch
8. Mrilfjngground
Slmori Elsy
'9,·GrotJfJawafer supplies: a
Adrian Cook
mode.m Jack and Jiff story
10. Astrpgeology anQ the clues Peter Brannlund
on the moon .
Units 11 -15 Combjm~d
09501031 60
11. The.
cycle: a natural
ree'fl#iiJg· P{OOfJ!ts
Roger Trend
1time. scale
;<f.4;'Who'sfOF.8 hot· tight
Oavid Thompson
15.·Rock poweri Geothermal
Adrian Cook
~q~ejninner st:Ja<;er
eneFflY, r$OUttes
Unit~,16 - 20 Combined
1S.Earth's 'patchwork crust:
,SP introoucfion to plate
'.17...CooIc· it!:./iquid ~gma to
.solid··rock .
18;~ ofthe Earth.
19, The day the eqtth erupted:
2t1. S;,():S.- save our sites:
fiaJth science conservation in
Philip Lee
GA, Nee
J,ohn Collins
Teachers' Group
Oavid Leather
Dunesn Hawl:ey
Figure I. The development of ESTA 'Science fo the Earth' publications. 1990 - 1998
Teaching farth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
'Science of the Earth 11- 14' series for 11 -14 year ords - each containing three worksheet-based lessons
Groundwork - introducing Earth
Life from the past - introducing
Hidden changes in the Earth introducing metamorphic
Peter Kennett
Peter Kennelt
Chris King
Philip lee; Peter Kennett;
Margaret Pemberton
1873266,01 4
·09501031 X
Power from the past - coal
Magma - introducing igneous
Secondhand rocksintroducing sedimentary
Bulk constructional materials
Steps towards the rock face introducing ·fieldwork
Earth's ·surface features
Power source: oil and energy
Water overground and
Moulding. Earth's surface weathering, erosion and
Teachers' Guide to 'ScienCe of
the Earth 11 - 14'
Frank Spode; Peter
Cotterel!; John Reynolds;
Nick Smith
Chris King; Margaret
Fordham; Robert Smith;
Peter Kennett; Adrian
Maggie Jarman; Julie
Warren; Peter Kennett;
CMs King
Margaret Pemberton;
Peter Kennett; Roger
Juiie Warren; Peter York;
Margaret Pemberton
Philip Lee; John
Reynolds; Peter Kennett
Eddie Fogg; Colin Ross;
Maggie Williams
Adrian Cook; Chris King;
Nigel Roberts
Dee Edwards; Alan
Rhodes; Keith Pointon
The Editors
1873266 03 0
1873266 04 9
187326 073
'Scien~eof the Earth - applied Earth science'·for 14 - 19 year olds - containing three worksheet-based lessons
Laurie Doyle;. Peter
18732609 X
constructional problems
Kennett; Julie Warren
'liwestigating the Science of the Earth' written for teachers of 14to 16 year old students,
10 activities that can be used as a basis for lessons
SoE1 Changes to the
Dave Turner; Peter York;
Chris King; Alastair
Fleming ; loe Fleming;
Peter Kennett
John Reynolds; Maggie
18732612 X
SoE2 Geological changes Earth's structure and plate
Williams; Peter Kennett;
Chris King; Peter York
Chris King; Peter Kennett;
SoE3 Geological changes rock formation and deformation Keith Harvey; Steve
each containing a set of
'Science of the Earth' series editors: Peter Kennett and Chris King.
'Science of the Earth' publications are available from: Geo Supplies Ltd., 16 Station Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield,
S35 3XH, UK. Tel 0114 2455746. Fax. 01142403405.
figure I continued
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Source of Funding
ThE! Geologist's Association Fund
Natur:e Con:servan<::y Council
Project Earth - a joinUnifiative by ESTA, the Department of Earth Sciences and the Centre fprScience
Education oHM OPen University, sponsored at different times by:
Amerada Hess
British Coal Deep Mihes
British Coal Opencast
Chevron Oil
English China Clays (ECC)
Mineral, Industry Manpower and Careers Unit (MIMCU)
Nationwide Geology Club,
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Nuffield Foundii1iol1
Hertfordshire Science Teaching SCholarship
RMCGroup PLC ".
Shell Education Service, .Shell UK
DennisCurry . Charitable Trust
RMC ..
Figute 2. Sources of 'Science of the E.arth' funding
Thefatest 'Science of the Earth' publicat.ons
(i.e. the 'Investigating the Science of the
Earth" series)
This latest series of publications seems to have been most
successful in terms of cost and flexibility, and the activities
covered by them are shown in Figure 3.
All the publications have their photocopy rights, waived for
classroom teachers to allow photocopying and use of the
materials in schools.
A successful conclusion
Overall, the sales "of Science of the Earth materials have not
been huge. , But since publication was paid for by the, charity
funding. they have provided a srnallbut steady income to ESTA
over the years. One of the problems has been that. while the
materials were being prepared for publication, the National
Science> Curriculum was being rewritten, so that sometimes,
when they appeared,. they were not·.dire~ly relevant to the
new version of the Curriculum. However, overan they have
been vetyimpottant, because many of. the ideas have been
taken and rewritten to appear in science textbooks for I I - 16
year olds (usually unacknowledged) and so have become widely
The ideas have also formed the basis of many In.S~rvice
Education and Training (INSET) sessions provided by .ESTA
members. ;tUowinga good number o(individual teachers to be
helped with their Earth science teaching.
No further 'Science of the Earth' publications at secondary
level currently are planned. However, there remains considerable mileage.in most of the .later units. If you haven't seen
diem, do. investigate. them. If they do not apply: to your own
teaching, they can be shown to colleagues in Science and
possibly Geography Departments within your school. In the
editors'experience, a few ready made lessons such as these,
with technical support from the geology expert are well
received, and will be taught.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Many ESTA members and others have. helped us In. the
checking, production.anddistribution of the units. and. by
providing.generalsupportand wewot.iJd like to th~nk them all.
Witho.ut their help the publication of 'Science of the Earth' .
would not have been possible.
They include:
all the authors (already listed);
our technical readers and advisors:
Lloyd Boardman' {BNtlshCoa\, deep mines); Reg' 8radshaw;
Mike Brooks; .Tim Colema.n (British Geological Survey, BGS);
Anabel Curry (DermisCutry Charitable Trust); .Trevor.~ord;
A1an Forster(BGS);.G.Jones; GlyrtnJones;MikeHarley:
(Nature. COrlservancyCouf)cil); John Holman {Editor of Science and Technology in SOCiety, SATlS); Dayid Higf1ley:(BGS);
Sir John KnHI; RQger Mason; Prof. John Mather {Royal
Ho/loway); John McClatchey (Royal MeteorologiG:aISociety);
Richard Myerscough; Don Mackean; A. McKirdy (Nature Conservancy Council); Geoffrey.· Nowell; .Kevin . Pickup· (British
Coal Opencast . Executive); Riehard Porter; EricRQbinson
(Geologists' Associa,tion): C.Stevens (NatureConseM.ncy
Council); Brian Taylor(BGS};.Peter Toctan; Suzanna .van
Rose; David Walker (Association for SciElnCe . Education);
Chris VValmsley (Brl~ishCoal Opencast Executive); Dave
Williams; Chris WHson.
our artists and those who drafted diagrams
for us:
C. T. Bass; Anna Brace; Alan Birchall; HetenBusteed;Sue
Churchman; DominkGreenall; leWis Jones; Sharron Knight:
Sandra Thompson; lan Waiters;
and those involved in production and
Geoff Nicholson; Colin Ross;.Makolm Fry; Ray Balmer; Fran
Stratton; Jeff Kay; Paul TQwnsend; the G~oSuppliesteam Chris Darmon; Len Sims and Kath Grant.
SoE2: Geological changes SoE3: Geological changes - Rock
Earth's structure and plate
formation and deformation
The ten activities in each booklet, each with a range of ideas and suggestions for use in lessons
\Mly is it hot at the equator and
Weathering - rocks under attack
Model Earth - a simulation of
density contrasts in the Earth's
cold at the poles - the radiant
heating of a sloping surface
The great energy filter - Earth's
Sedimentary structures - clues to
Earthquakes - the slinky simulation
the past
Water cycle workout
Earthquakes - waves in the Earth
Porosity - and fluids in rocks
Sun, sand and sea - radiant heat
Earthquake shadow zones
Oil trap - modelling deformation in
and temperature changes in solids
and liquids
Circulation in a shoeboxClues to sea floor spreading from
Magma - from buried batholith to
investigating air circulation
the magnetic ocean floor - a
violent volcano
Atmosphere and ocean in motion Rockforce - investigating pressures' Metamorphism - transformations
how do fluid flows interact?
on the rocks beneath your feet
Balancing the carbon dioxide - where Plates in motion
The rock cycle - how rocks. are
does it come from; where does it
made from other rocks
The global carbon cycle
Plate tectonics - the earthquake and The record of the rocks - sorting. out
volcano evidence
the seqlJence
Creating the atmosphere
Drifting continents
Geological time - an immense scale
Britain's changing location Earth's changing climate - the ice
How to date a rock
core evidence
evidence from the rocks
SoE': Changes to the atmosphere
Figure 3. The content of the latest 'Science of the Earth' publications
Atherton, M and R. Robinson. 1980, 1981. 1982. 'Study the
Earth': 'Rocks and Earth History; Air and Earth; Water at Work;
Useful Materials from the Earth. Hodder and Stoughton.
Dutton, N. W. 1979, The Oarlaston Geology Project'. Darlaston
Comprehensive School.
Whitehead, P.S. 1989.
'Reading the rocks'.
Rocky Rex
Chris King
Department of Education
Keele University
Peter Kennett
142 Knowle Lane
Sit 9SJ
Teaching Eorth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
John Knill
The Lisan Peninsula isa protuberance from the eastern.
shore of the Dead Sea. ThePeninsu/a formerly
separated the small Southern Basinfrom the main. northern
body of the Dead Sea.. However, natural sedimentation and
the construction of brine evaporation pqnds in both Israel and
Jordan have now. infilled the Basin which is divided by a flood
channelwhich defines the Truce line.
The geology
The Peninsula is located within the Dead Sea-Jordan Rift
System which developed in thE! early Miocene as sea floor
spreading commenced in the Red .Sea and the Gulf of Suez.
La:teral fault movement resulted In the formation of pul/"apart
grabenswhich resulted in a succession of lakes. and in which
thick clastic and chemical sedimentsaccumulated.
The bulk of the Peninsula is formed by a Jevel-tdPped, triangular in plan. hill of the Usan .Formationwhich was deposited
between 80.000 and 11,000 years BPin a lake which stretched
from the Sea of GalileeIn the north to 20 km south of the
Southern Basin. The maximum elevation of this Lake Usan was
- lOOm (remember we are below ocean sea level and the
current Dead Sea level is about -4/00"1) and the softlyweathering Usan Formation forms spect<tcular e}(.posuresmantling the sides of the Jordan valley. Geophysical evidence
suggests that part of the Peninsula is underlain by a salt dome,
the dome occurring nearby at Mount Sedom in Israel being
visible across the Sea.
Why is this my favourite exposure?
sequence of aragonite-calcite clays, silt. and. sands.... Althollgh
the Jnineral. partides are chemical in. origin, theSuc.e;ession
contains abundant shallow-water sedimentarystructures.T~re
Is Spectacl1larintra-fQrmational foldjngascribedas the product
ofsubaqueouslandsHding triggered either by earthquakes or
sediment ·overloading. Samples recovered· from . below the
water table are "qulck"; being qwte solid in the.. hand but
turning to liquid once moulded by finger pressure.
The Usan foreshore is covered. by a variety .ofsedimE!ntary
facies including superb stromatplites (Photograpb2). different
varieties of salt crust, .sandsheets, beach ridges and springdeposited saline·deposits. The stromatolites atecommollly
mounded on, and interbedded with, prganic material; fossil
logs lying on the beach are encased in algal layers.
The activity ofthe geological environment is overwhelmjng~ A
recent. fault crosses the western foreshore and displac:es the
sttomatolites by about·' to 1.5 m creating a step· tnthe beach
profile. The lineofthefauftis locally associated with small
mud volcanoes (Photograph· 3) induced by.seismic pumping.
Evidence for res::ent activedispJacement can also be seen
inland on the top of the Peninsula.. Sinkholesoccur both On
the foreshore and elsewhere {Photograph 4). In one small
area over 300 such sinkholes have been counted forming an
intense clustering of ~raters ~long a narrow linear feature for
about. a kilometre; .Srine. springs, with extensive associated
salt deposits,occut. above Dead Sea level demonstrating the
presence of active groundwater. movement. The western
foreshore is occasionally inundated by fresh water duriog the
floods which now northwards along the TruceCharmel. This
results in rapid solution-induced erosion ofthe salt crust and
the triggering of sinkholecollapse which b:reakupthroughthe
overlying, flood-deposited cover of vegetation (Photograph 4).
I have never met so much interesting geology in so small an
What is its teaching potential?
The Usan sediments are superblyexp.osed (Photograph I)
along the sides of the Peninsula being composed of a laminated
The potential is enormous though it is doubtfulthatanyone
has used it for that purpose.. Until a few years ago access to
the area carried risks and even now. it is necessary to watch
Photograph I
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
Photograph 2
tive tectonics. All this can be readily observed within the
regional context of the evolution of the Jordan valley. .The
sediments (including the stromatolites) are weak and can be
readily excavated enabling the three-dimensional structure to
be observed.
Good book....
The Bible, standard fare for desert islanders, would be brought
alive because many biblical· sites are so close. I would,of
course, avoid Sodom which was reputedly located in what is
now the inlet at the southern end of the Dead Sea on the
eastern side of thelisan Peninsula. My daily view would
include Masada stormed by the Romans, ahd Karak of Crusader fame.
Photograph 3
My book would be Oman's multi-volume History of the
Peninsular War together with the best sets of geological and
topographic maps of Spain and Portugal available, and full air
photograph cover.
Geological lUxury
The most sophisticated earthquake monitoring system available, and connected to geophones located throughout the
region. In addition, very user friendly hard and software which
would enable me to quickly analyse the data which I would
acquire daily. The problem would be the requisite electricity
supply although solar panels and batteries might provide a
As if I had not enough to do already I would request the
indulgence of the Editor to take with me the largest selection
of the world's teas available in order to continue my researches on the influence of water that boils at over IOO'C on
the flavour of tea.
Photograph 4
out for mines on the foreshore which floated in when the
Dead Sea Was higher.
It provides a quite exceptional opportunity to study the geological processes of sedimentation of clastic and chemical
sediments, beach environments, sinkhole formation, and ac-
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
John Knill, the past-President of ESTA, earns his living as a
freelance engineering geologist working in the Middle and
Far East. After several years of visiting projects in jordan. his
favourite desert island exposure was found on an assignment to look at the site for a brine evaporation pan.
The View from My Attic: Notes from your Prom ofion s Convenor
Geoff Nicholson
The tlt/eof this occasional piece isa.bit of whimsy- because
there isn't one. A view that is.ldo have an attic or at feast a
loft. but '/(ithout a view. The only thing yQU can see when you
stc:tnd hunched at the top of the ladder is ESTA Stuff - the rag
bag of paraphenaliaandephemeratrhat comprises the Earth
ScienceTeachers' Association Promotional Material.
Regular Conference visitors will already know the full extent
of our' range of 'stuff but· not all our members are regular
Conference goers. or indeed goers at all, and others may have
missed the odd gem. This essay is then a cunning plan to swell
the Associati9n's coffers by highHghting a few.items of stock
that are new, less well kn9wn or particularly worthy of praise.
I have just taken .deJivery of another Joad. of Buildin~ Stones
postcards. I think these are wonderfullAmongthe cognoscenti
of course they are popular hence the neEid t9 restock. They
are produced by the DepartmentofGeologyatthe University
9fManchester ancl were designed as part of their distc:tncelearning cours~in Earth and Environmental Science. The set
consistrs of 16 postcard sized· prints of photographs, natural
size, of commonly used building and facing stones. If you read
down the list you .will probably not recognise all that many.
Penrith Sanclstone and Crinoidal Umes1:one will be familiar but
who knows what Verde Issorie and Rapakivi arerOonotfret.
On a ramble round the sh9ps, ban~ and building societies of
Hull city centre I reckon I can. find most 9fth~mandyou
should too in most towns. or at least cities. The Blue Pearl and
Emerald Pearl are the iridescent larvikite (orsyenite I believe)
typical of building society frontrs and Rapakivi or Baltic Brown
is that granite with big rounded orthoclasecrystals. much
beloved by Woolworth's to my recollection, and anyway
pretty ubiquitous.
These cards are a must for every rookie geology student who
should be sent offwith a small flip-up ci1bul11of the pictures and
a clipboard of appropriate questions to research their local
commercial centre even if only at thE! "sedimentary. metamorphic origneous?"level. I imagine a student holding a card up to
the '/(all - ..that's the one, noW for the hand lens -crystals or
rounded grains?"''' The Portland limestone is particularly well
reproduced; it almost feels right. Each card has a good
description on the back .leaving plelity of writing space should
you wish to use tnemas real postcards - although the Emerald
Pearl should be sent to someone you are glad is not there ora
geologist with a. sensebf humour (I know. they all have).
Thesacards area snip at £3..50 a set and if you get a class set
(10 or more) I will throw~nagrairt size sca/e with each pack to
really set y~)Ur students up (but do remind me!).
On theslIbiect of urban geology I have some copies of Peter
Kennett's fittle.gem The General Cemetery. Sharrow, Sheffield. ··ldon't inclUde this in the general Promotions advert
because it is of very focal interest but a boon to those who live
in the Sheffield area (arguably the only one apart from the Peak
District). The trail has been written with the general user in
mind but includes some educational guidance. In the 14 A5
pages the guide gives 16 sites on a walk round the graveyard
and points out rock types used on gravestones and weathering
features. and includes how to get permiSSion to visit this
fascinating cemetery, all for 751'.
Teaching Earth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Also. of local Interest or those planning ab?ll#aY<l,mqng the
tomatoes there is Mlck cla Pomeraiand Ancf;yR.qbjf}son·~
clearly Written an iUustratoo gUiderheRQc;ks(JiJd>S<;~~ry~f
Guernsey. There are 8 ttinerarieswithdetailed; /11aps.~~etches
and very cOl11plete descriptiQns ()f th~I?"'a1:i?f1Sand:the'r
geologkalsetting.This boo~letis. weft produ~f!d~ndincludes
a useful glossary! 72· pagesla~dscape AS for £4.80•.
Next the return of an. oldfavGurite. We used tostockTarr's
SeIsmicity Map In 1990 and J find my aged copy .inv~lu~bf~.1
hope that its fall from stock was not because everyone had got
one. Even so yours must be as well .used as mille so. I have
obtained some more and anyway it is a good time to be
.im.port.in.g. th.i.I1.I.gs. fr. . o. . m ..th.e. S.ta.te.s ..co. ns. ideringthe.... s.trength of
the pound and all such as that (as they say in these parts).
Strictly this is theWorfdSeismlcity Map prepared by the U. S.
Geqlogical Survey originaUycompiled by Arthur C. Tarr. in
1973 so it does no:tcontaill the latest major earthq:uakesllut it
is a. injneofu~efulinformation. ltdearly shqwsth~ linear
nature of ear1:hquak~acti~ity~t thesimplestlevelle~ditlgonto
to the idea of the. existence of phltes. TheBiggesteartn~akes,
ofmagnitude greater thata~ arema.rked withdrdesand
others: abo¥e4.S withdo~.~oitiseasy to ide:ntifywhere
earthquakes are mostcomlllon and where the m()st<lestructive have been. Sh<lllowiQcusearthquakes. (lessthanIOkm)
are shown in .red, In:-be~een in!jlue. and.deep focus. 'bel()w
300km,in blue enablillgs.tude:ntsto Jelentifythe Benioffzones; .
The size is 120cmx 9Qcm Oust under 3ft)( 4ftfor; those who
have not been metricated) and it will cost £5.QOforllrolled
map. which is. less thal1 it was in 1990 so be sure to ten your
physicist colleagues.
Next fossils, well not real ones. These are the DivsrSityOfLife
Fossil Replica Set proeluc~ by the Ope? Uni",ersity sinCe they
toOk over Stewart .. Baldwin's fossil. reprodyction business.
These are .a set of twelve replicas coveringawide· range of
organisms, one plant arid ten animals, the twelfth!s a footprint.
The set is beautifully. presented in a transparent pox and
contains a fish and ashark~s tooth, a sea urchin. a sea-lily and a
coral. a trilobite and a shrimp. an ammonite and.tW'o more
teeth. one ·from an ichthyosaur the oth.er from a dinosaur.
Meanwhile on land • a reptile footprint and a seed. fern
complete thesst. Included for gUidance is a brief but useful
overview of how the set .couldbe usedjn the .COIl text of
Biology and Geography and how the organisms represented fit
into the geological time scale. The sheet also includes skErt;ches
of the spedmens and futl chapter .andverse.about their
sources. The Primary Committee reckon this isideat forKS2
and a copy .of PEST 1- Fossils is avaifab~e free with each set
(remind me if you want one!). It Is also an ideal starter set at
all levels and cheap at £ 16.00.
I am looking for the old Tuit catc:tlogueatthe moment since I
need to get a Round . one.! After that I. must update the
Promotions Advert for the Journal then I can view. the pigs
flying past my attk.
Geoff Nicholson
The local newspaper in Monmouth is infamous for its lack of
originality and content. It's hardly their fault as Monmouth is a
classic stick-in-the-mud town where nothing significant ever
happens. Council ludditesand SAGA commandos efficiently
stamp out any sign of twentieth century encroachment.
Monmouth has a website with a bulletin board. It is usually full
of grumbling e-mails from teenagers who are bored to death
with this town and its over-fifties stranglehold.
Apart from a report on another spectacular pile-up on the
bypass, readers tend to turn to the letters page for some
excitement. Several under-occupied middle-class 'Victor
Meldrews' regularly send incoherent ramblings to the paper.
Thanks to the dubious Welsh Assembly referendum lastest
offerings concern whether Monmouthshire is an English or
Welsh. (By the way, I'm commander of the WMLA, the Welsh
Marches liberation Army.) Anyway, the school staff room
rolls about with laughter as we read these letters and when we
think the fun is petering out we write something provocative
to the paper to rekindle the debate. If that fails, a fake report
of a hypermarket moving in to town usually gets the silly devils
reaching for their pens!
Recently, the spotlight moved to the twice-daily traffic jams
caused by the schools. The girls' school, quite rightly, came in
for a real panning. Their chaos envelopes over a mile of road
and begins building up as early as 8. a.m. By comparison, we
are real angels as most of our pupils catch a bus in. The girls
invariably arrive in a motorised division of expensive fourwheel drives. I reckon they suck an oil field dry every year. I
would like to see the driving age raised to nineteen.
Fun really starts at 8.25, when the buses start coming through.
In the lead, often by up to 5 minutes, is a 25. seater from
Newport. I've seen this thing on the dual carriageway and it is
probably capable of supersonic flight and the ability to shatter
windows as it breaks the sound barrier on the way out of the
suburbs. The .driver obViously fancies a driving job with
Richard Noble. This is not altogether surprising as some
Newport drivers have a real 'in your face' attitude to driving.
Many a user of the notorious Newport M4 motorway section
has been passed by a rust perforated Triumph Acclaim doing
100 mph. and belching out black smoke. Elsewhere in the
country, reports of such are likely to be treated as UFO
Back to Monmouth..... The main group of thirteen 53 seaters
treat the roa.d like a demolition derby track. Woe-betide
anyone whose car is in the way! There are a couple of reasons
for this; the drivers probably watch too many Mad Max films,
and they are desperate to disgorge their cargoes of brawling,
gesticulating, leering, ugly teenagers. As an ex-housemaster, I
am all too aware of the aggravation boiling over on the back
seat of every school bus. Sometimes it backfires on the
perpetrator. A fifth form bully landed a well-aimed punch on
the arm of a third former a few years back. He had forgotten
that his victim had a plaster cast under his jacket sleeve and
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
broke two fingers. Served him right.
Another infamous incident involved a school rugby team on
the way home from Tal,lOton. Somewhere near Filton. motorway drivers were 'entertained' by several hairy backs ides
pressed against the rear window of a coach. Unfortunately,
the idiots on the back seats have forgotten two. things, the
telephone number of the bus company was emblazoned just
inches below their window and the driver behind had a mobile
phone. We were waiting for the culprits as the coach drew up
at Monmouth: I love it when we outwit 'ern!
Well, it's the school holi~ay now and the Monmouth citizens
are enjoying the temporary peace while the bus drivers put
their feet up and watch police chase videos. As I write, the A
level results have finally arrived. Why does it take so long for
them to emerge? Universities would much prefer students to
have their results first and then apply for places afterwards.
I stay well out of the way on results day after an incident a few
years ago. While a majority of pupils were ecstatically downing the contents of several breweries at the local pubs there
was one drunken individual, who had missed his university
place by one grade. swaying about in Almshouse Street. He
had decided. as many teenagers do these days, that the fault lay
with the teacher rather than himself. I was treated to a
torrent of abuse that was audible to everyone for hundreds of
metres around. I was rescued by some· other sixth formers,
who bundled him back into the nearest pub. I never saw him
I need not have worried this year. We put 29 individuals
through 'A' level physics and all but one passed, with a majority
of grade 'A's and 'B's. The lone failure was a case of deliberate
self-destruction. Actually, I am amazed that we do .so well
because the entry .to sixth form physics is not selected and.
despite appearances to the contrary, nor is entry to the
Most of our charges will go off to do engineering courses
although the odd one does choose geology. The bottom line
is sponsorship and jobs. Geology doesn't really offer much of
either. Just this afternoon I saw an ex-pupil from several years
back: Jonathan Oavis works for Shlumberger in Stavanger.He
reminded me o.f the boom-bust employment policy in petroleum geology. After adopting several universities with the
intention of 'nurturing' potentially useful undergraduates,
Shlumberger look likely to do a 'U' turn in the light of
collapsing oil prices. Meanwhile. quite a few mud-loggers will
be collecting their final pay cheques.. .for the time being.
Although we are told that the pass-rate keeps rising there will
always be those pupils whose Bves are shattered bydisappointing results. Many must think that their last chance has
slipped them by but, having recently returned from Open
University summer school, I am always reminded that there
are other possibilities.
The OU has recently launched its new 'entry level' science What still makes. summer school a joy for me.is . the .. sheer
enthusiasm of the students·. for learnin&. lam .tl'equently
course, S I 03: Discovering Science. The course is very glossy
and features the •latest .in educational technology.. It is, how- . amaled by their dedication and only wish. th~tmy.tJsuaJ
charges were half as good. Howeverias rec,;ently.comrnented
ever. very demandi.ng on staff and Students, and therewas no
in a TES editorial. people are losing tOUch with~hat /Sreal and
way I coulcf fit it in with my full time work. Nevertheless, I was
what is. not. We. had the usu.albatch . ()ftl1a~cters who
kindly included in the staffing of the summer school and had a
claimed they could sense an aura emanatingf,.om~er1+\inrocks
. chance to see SI 03 in action.
(usually the moment they read that quartz waS apoosti),;yent).
The summer school should have a balance of physics, chemis- This year they were joined by acoupleofwornenwhodaimed
try, biofogyand earth science.enc;:apsulated in a number of they could feel the radiation from the radioaetive sources and
that the man-made caesium sOutcefelt badcofTlpared to the
multi-disciplinary activities. Inreafity,chemistry and biology
equally active, but naturally occurring, uranium ore.
have the lion's share. Earth science appears in two of the
activities; a laboratory based one, whfch I helped With, and a
"ve saved the besttHI last. I gave three tl1torials.ol) Newton's
field activity. Theonlyproblem(and a perennial one at that)
Laws .with the intentlpnof clearing up some of the I:t.onsense
was the lack of detent geology In the Readingarea. I've
surrounding them .. This seemed to work. buta.young. lady
mentioned this before but this year the summer school tuto.rs
approached me afterwards to ask .:lbout·.the·frictionJe~s . rnocoined a new term to describe the local terrain. M.A.M.B.A.
tion ofrotke!:$ in space\ i,e. stop the engines and they keep
country is not .snake infested grassland but an .ar;ronym for
moving. She asked Whether all this wor'kedin 1l11pulliespace or
MilesARdMilesofB-gg-rAII!Addthat one to your physical
warp space. Ahead, warp factor nine. Make it so number one!
geography notes. IneVitably, we fielded numerous questions
abOl1t flint and its origins, as we do eVery year. Has aRyone yet
Keith Moseley
come up with a definite story about these tl1 ings or are we still
Monmouth School
to tel! elaborate tales about sponge spicules and other will-oMonmouth
the-wisps? Please write if you know.
Te.achingEarth Sciences: VOl. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Geological Society of London A-level prizes
Each year the Society awards a book prize to the highest
scoring candidate in A-level geology in each examination board.
This year the status of the prize will be upgraded to include a
prize for the winning school and the winning candidate's
In addition to offering The Geology of England and Wales or The
Geology of Scotland to the winning candidate, the Society will be
donating both books to the winning school, and offer one
year's free Associate Membership to any winning candidate's
teacher who is not already a member of the SOciety.
Subduction starting off Portugal?
In a short article in Episodes (March 1998, vol.21, No. I), the
International Geoscience Newsmagazine of the International
Union of Geological Sciences, A. Ribiero, of the University of
Lisbon, suggests that a new subduction zone is being formed
off the coast of Portugal - the start of the conversion of the
eastern margin of the Atlantic Ocean from passive (Atlantic
type) to active (Pacific type), with the creation of a new plate
boundary. Three stages of the process can be observed along
the zone: crustal faulting, buckling of the lithosphere,and
whole lithosphere failure.
The article actually poses the question 'What triggers subduction?' Recent thought, by Ribiero and others, is that the
oceanic plate is 'soft~. due to the processes of seafloor metamorphism and serpentinization of the oceanic upper mantle.
These allow the oceanic plate to deform internally, with a
visco-plastiC rheology (in contrast to the elasto-plastic rheology of continental plates). Ribiero answers the question by
saying that 'increasing deformation in a viscoplastic oceanic
lithosphere . ultimately leads to its failure in the oldest and
heaviest segments near passive continental margins; and this
process is made easier by the presence of thick wedges of
sediments above the transition from continental to oceanic
Minerals '98
In association with the Minerals '98, the British Geological
Survey's publication Earthwise for June 1998 (Issue 12, £2.50) is
a special issue devoted to the theme of Minerals.
Yale College Wrexham
Please note that the College has now shifted from its previous
Gipsy Lane site to a a new town centre campus at Yale College
Grove Park Road, Wrexham LLl2 7AA.
Mary Anning and her Times: The Discovery of British
Palaeontology, 1820·1850
A bicentennial celebration in honour of the first woman
palaeontologist will take place at the Lyme RegiS Philpot
Museum from June 2-4, 1999. Mary Anning was born at the
end of the 18th Century and lived until the middle of the 19th.
In those years, beginning as a young woman collecting fossils,
she worked with the leading scientists of her day to assure
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
England's place in the developing field of palaeontology. Nearly
150 years after her death, her life is still largely shrouded in
mystery and misrepresentation;. her discoveries helped to
form the foundations of palaeontology, and she was quite
possibly the first profeSSional fossil collector, as well as being
widely considered the first woman palaeontologist. The true
importance of her work and contributions is not yet adequately recognised. This symposium aims tobdng together
specialists in palaeontology, history and sociology of science to
create a picture of Mary Anning's life, work, and times.
Keynote lectures in the symposium will be given by Stephen
Jay Gould; Hugh Torrens, an expert on Mary Anning and
former president of the British Society for the History of
Science; Sir Crispin Tickell; and John Fowles. A reception
hosted by John Fowles is planned for symposium participants.
A geolOgical walk in the environs of Lyme RegiS'S spectacular
Mesozoic horizons is also planned.
For those wishing to attend the symposium as participants or
members of the audience, further information oncosts and
available hOUSing in Lyme will be sent totho.se who answer the
first circular. Details from the Lyme Regis Museum; Lyme
Regis, Dorset, UK DT7 3QA; phone 01297-443370.
This magazine is definately closing, the August 1999 issue being
the last - the publishers KalmbachPress have announced on
their web site (www.earthmag~com). The August issue itself
gives no hint of this, and indeed was a very good issue, with 78
pages. Articles included the origin of limbs, the flooding of the
Black Sea by salt water from the Mediterranean, the deep
structure of the San Andreas Fault, the invasion of America by
Asian dinosaurs, and the quarries that supplied the building
stones of Egypt and Rome.
A Clue to the Origin of Life
Astronomers using the Anglo-Australian Telescope have found
a possible explanation for why life on earth almost exclusively
uses left-handed amino acids and right-handed sugars as the
building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids - a mystery that
has puzzled scientists for t 50 years.
They believe the asymmetry was imprinted in organic molecules in interstellar space before the formation of the Solar
System. These molecules then found their way onto the Earth
via the impacts of comets and meteorites to provide the
starting material for the origin of life. This is revealed in a
paper in the international journal Science by Dr Jeremy Bailey,
from the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and his colleagues.
In 1948, Louis Pasteur discovered that some molecules can
exist in two mirror image forms, right-handed or left handed.
In living organisms, molecules tend to be all one form. not a
mixture of both. Amino acids for example, the building blocks
of protein, are always left-handed. whereas· sugars (including
deoxyribose, an important component of DNA) are always
right-handed. When these molecules are synthesised in a
laboratory, equal numbers of right and left are formed. The
reason for the imbalance puzzled scientists for decades.
In 1930, scientists discovered away of destroying molecules of
one-handedness, providing a partial solution to the problem.
They used circularly polarised light. But this was only part of
the story. When life began on earth, there was no source of
circularly polarised light.
Last year. scientists at Arizona Stat~ University discovered an
excess of left-handed amino acids in the Murchison meteorite
(The Murchison metorite fell .in 1969 near Murchison in
Victoria, Australia and has been found to contain an extraordinary variety of organic molecules.) This remarkable discovery
shows that the asymmetry alreadyexisted before life began on
Earth, and may well have been present in the material from
which the Solar System formed.
DrBaileyand his colleagues used the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Mountain near Coonabarabran to
shQW how the asymmetry might have been generated. "We
detected circularly polarized light in a region of the Great
Nebula in Orion called Orion Mol.ecular Cloud LWe know
that new stars are being formed here, and we also know that
organic molecules are present," Dr Bailey said. "This region
may well be similar to the region in which our own solar
system formed".
The circularly polarized light in such a region could imprint a
preferred handedl'less on any organic molecules in the region,
including those in a. cloud beginning to collapse to form a star
and its planets.
"We know that ultraviolet circularly polarised light is needed
to select handedness in molecules sueh as amino acids. hut
unfortunately thick dust clouds prohibited observations. at
these wavelengths," Dr BaiJey saki.. "So we made the observations at infrared wavelengths. .Our calculations however.
show that circular polarisation is present at all wavelengths.
from infrared to ultraviolet." he added.
Many scientists believe that a preferred handedness in molecules must have been present in .order for the origin of life to
be possible. These re.sults therefore suggest that the suitability of our planet for life may be as. much Cl consequence of the
environment in which our solar s.ystem formed as of the local
conditions on the early Earth.
NOTE: Images supporting this release are available at
Conference attende.es wilf have ample opportunity to examine
some of the geology of Australia. Pra-conference .excurs.ions
will include the Great Barrier Reef (3;.4 Days)! Uluru. Kakadu.
and the Australian des~rt (5 days) .. During the conference one
day field trips will take in the majE!stic blue mouhtalns.tne
wonderful Sydney harbour. the golden beaches of Australia
and Jenolan Caves focusing on the links betweengeosc;ience
and tourism and modern processes in ancielltrocks. 'Field
excursions fiJI/owing the conference wil1 jncludeRiversl~igh,a
world renowned fosslllocality (4 days), and The Active Earth a field excursion to New Zealand (7 days),
A group of international co-ordinators. is. reqUired to cover
the USA, Canada. the UK. European COUntries. India~ Asia,
African countries, and New Zealand, in terms ofspreadingth ta
word of GeoSciEdlll. All volunteers for this role should
contact the Conference Administration ASAP.
For more information send your name, address. phone, fax
and email details to Gary Lewis at [email protected] or
[email protected]::!;com or through the mail to Geoscience
Awareness, GPO Box 378, Canberra ACT 2601, AUSTRALIA
The first and only Conference Circular is to be distributed
world-wide in August/September 1998: cOntact the Conference Administration if you want to be on the mailing list.
Careers For Geoscientists
An American video, produced by the American GeQloglca.1
Institute: Careers for Gel,Jscientists introduces the breadth of
scope of the geosciencesi induditlg atmosphere,. oceans~ and
the solid-Earth. Through interviews with indi.vidual practicjng
geoscientists discussing current projects, the nature ota career working in thegeQsciencesis revealed. A discussion of
the opportunities and adventures of travel, wprkihg outdoors,
and using state-of:"the-.art technology is presented through this
rare glimpse into tile work-a-day wQrld of geoscientistS. Although produced in NTSC format (for the USA). it could be
copied for use elsewhere. It can be ordered from: Robert
Tiffey at the AmeriCan Geological Institute. ·Phone: 00.1-703379-2480 (from Britain. E-mail: [email protected] TheAmerican price is $14.95 ,.(AGI. Member Society Memb~Price:
$12.15). These prices inc\udeShipping and Handlfilg in the
USA, and it can be ordered using a Visa or Mastercard.
"Dedicated to Teaching. and Learning"
16.- 20 January 2000. University of New South Wales. Sydney.
Features of this conference include: A modern active city
venue and lots of. low cost on-campus modernaccommodation; Extended (4 page) abstracts; 15 minute oralpresenta~
dons; poster sessions; and. workshops on computer aided
t«t(:hing and learning. innovations in teaching aids, how to run
field exc;ursions. the electronic classroom, and school syllabuses.
Sessions wit! be arranged to cater to all aspects of geoscience
teaching including primary and secondary school, and tertiary
level. Social· activities during conference wifl include a real
Auzzie BBQ (with not a shrimp in sight) and some local
cultural and historical attractions.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Joint Nature Conservation CommIttee: Annual Report 97 ..98
The CountrySide Council for Wales. English Nature. Scottish
Natural Heritage. and the Environment and Heritage Service
(Northern Ireland) have just isSOedtheiranl'lual report. Under the heading of Earth Sciences, they state that they have
been working on a system to disseminate Geological Conservation Review and earth science SSSI information to a wider
audience. using c.omputer software. .The JNCChas also
prepared a paper on the c.onservation issl,les associated with
the international trade in fossil specimens - this will be sent to
interested parties during the roming year•. Th.eGeological
Conservation Review (GCR) has3lsQ madesigliificantprogress.
This comprehensive list of sites of national importance for
earth heritage conserva.tion. which will run to 42 volumes. is
scheduled for completion by the end of the year>lOOO. This
year has seen the publication of the 13th vollfme in the series
- on fluvial geomorpholQgy- and writing contracts have been
issued for alt but four of the remaining volumes.
The report is issued by the JNCC, Monkstone House, City
Road, Peterborough PEI IJY, ISBN 1-86107-452-2.
An educational literature database for the
The British Education Index (BEl) is the authoritative
index to the contents of UK education journals, published by
the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. It is
available in print, on CR-Rom, on-line and on the Internet.
Education-line is an indexed, full text, electronic archive of
conference and working papers, reports. policy and discussion
documents and early research results in the field of education
and training. It is freely available on on the World Wide Web
Note: as all Internet addresses start with: http://. we will not
be including this in addresses. But it should be added when
seeking sites.
If you want information on Chemistry, try the Italian Chemistry Site
It has, of course, .information in Italian, but also links to 3579
sites, ordered by: Directories, Search Engines, FTP Servers for
Chemistry,. Gopher Servers for Chemistry, Data Sheets &
Periodical Tables and various other Sites.
Marine and Coastal Zone sites
Ocean 98 is designed to promota activities related to the Year
of the Ocean:
SeaWebis a project designed to raise awareness about the
ocean and the life within it. There is an on-line copy of Ocean
Update newsletter, as well as background articles:
The Great Barrier Reef Authority has a site at:
Coastal zone management sources are at:
Tsunami! .is a World-Wide Web site that has been developed
to provide general information about tsunamis. Tsunamis are
large water waves, typically generated by seismic activity, that
have historically caused significant damage to coastal
communities throughout the world. This site has been
developed with a broad audience in mind; consequently. it
contains extensive background information that is intended
primarily for the general public. including information about
the mechanisms of tsunami generation and propagation, the
impact of tsunamis on humankind, and the Tsunami Warning
System. This. site also contains more detailed information
about recent tsunami events that will be of interest to tsunami
and interdisciplinary researchers:
h ttp:/Jwww.geophys. washington. edu/tsunami/
The August issue of Earth lists the American Museum of
Natural History's site on Black Smokers. This is based on
current exploration of these hydrothermal vents, on the floor
of the Pacific Ocean at the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coasts of
Washington and Oregon. The site includes teaching ideas
based on this work.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vo'. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Another site listed is the US national site on Global Hydrology
and Climate. This again includes material of use in teaching,
and also gives details of a worldwide network - GLOBE- of
students, parents, teachers and scientists studying the
A site covering the Planet Mars:
This lists· educational programmes and activities, with downloadable pictures.
Palaeonto/ogia E/ectronica and Climate change
Palaeonto/ogia Electronica, is a new venture: an electronic journal
of paleontology published by Coquina Press. The principal
objective of the journal is to provide instant, free and global
access to the latest
developments in paleontology and related fields:
It presents a limited selection of climate change web sites
gleaned from government sources, advocacy groups, museums,
and independent researchers. Topics range from web pages
concerned with the potential impact of climate change, to
those which examine the geological evidence ··of .previous
climatic oscillations. Although not exhaustive. this annotated
listing provides a reasonable cross-section of our current
perception of climate change phenomena.
Search engine
Ask Jeeves is a very good search engine, which your Editor has
found to work more quickly that most of the other engines,
and with a good deal less jargon:
Solar Eclipse
Information on next year's solar eclipse is available at
Contrary to the British news media, you do not have to crowd
into southern Cornwall to see this. The track of the total
eclipse covers a band from south of Nova Scotia (iJ;l the
Atlantic Ocean), across northern France and Germany to
Turkey, Persia and peninsular India.
Geology of the Hamilton district.·I.B. Patterson, AD. McAdam
and. KAT. MacPherson. British· Geological Survey, 1998, 94pp.
Geological Survey memoirs are a mine of information but they
should iltuminate as well as inform. This volume· fulfils all of
these .aims admirably in descrlbingthe varied geology of the
Hamilton c:fistrictand placing it in th.ebroadercontext pf the
evolution ohhe Midland Valley of Scotland from the SlIurian to
the present day. The district covers the Scottish I: 50 000
sheet 23W and .extends from the fairly sparsely populated
Hagshaw Hills in the south to towns induding Hamilton,
MotherweU and East KHbddein the north: Theprosperrty of
the area in the 19tband much of the 20th centuries owes
much to. its geology, inparticu[ar to the coal, limestone and
sedimentary iron ores and the now largely extinct Lanarkshire
steeUndustrythatgrew from them. Opencast coal mining and
the extraction of sands and gravels and hard rock aggregate
are still important and. as the preface to the memo;r notes,
dealing with the environm.ental legacy of the exploitation of
geologicalresources requires an understanding of the geology
on which they were founded.
Chapter I provides an exemplary summary of the geological
history of the district· illustrated by cploured maps/showing
the physiography and simplified solid geology of the area..
Rathersubtle differences betweEan shades of green and Of
purple in the Silurian inliers make the geological map a little
difficult to .useat first sight. The suc;cessions in the lesmahagow
and Hagshaw Hills inliers are described and compared in
Chapter·2 and provide importantinsights into sedimentary
basin development along the southem margin .of the Midland
Valley during the . Silurian. Although not mentioned in .the
memo!r, these inliers contain several Sites of Special Scientific
Interest and are described by Rolfe in a field guide edited by j.
D.Llilwson &D. S. Weedon (1992, Geological e¥cursions around
Glasgow & Girvan. Geological SOciety of Glasgow). The
sandstones, conglomeratesand,locaUy, volcanic rocks ohhe
Lower Old Red Sandstone are described briefly JnChapter 3
followed by a lengthy chapter on the Carboniferous stratigraphy.
The Hamilton district incorporates parts of three c()alfields.
This, together with the other ~conomically important aspects
of the Carboniferous rocks, meansthat there is a great deal of
detailed information and historical stratigraphical terminology
whichrnight have resulted in a rather turgid account ohhis
part of the succession. Happily, the authors have provided a
very c.lear acco\jnt illustrated by correlation charts. locality
descriptions andcommef)ts on boreholes as appropriate. The
chapterc()ndudes with an interpretation ofsedirnentation and
vokanicactivityinthe wider context of the Midland Valley
basin. . The biostratigraphy which forms· the basis of the
correlation ofthe Carboniferous units is detaUed in Chapter
5. The district jncludes part ofthe only major Caledonian
pluton in the Midland Valley, the Dis.tinkhorn Complex, and
minprintrusions of Devonian, Carboniferous and Tertiary
age. These intrusions and their petrography are described in
Chapter 6.
Chapter .7 presents a brief but illUminating account of the
structural evolution of the district and its effects· on sedirnentationand magmatism close to the southern margin of the
Midland Valley from the Silurian to the Carboniferous. An
Teaching Earth Sciences: vo!. 23, pt. 3 (7998)
extensive cover of gladaLandpost-glaclal segllllents blankets
much. of the district and covers a: land· surface. wh 1chdevel·
oped during the Tertlaryand e..rfy Quaternary.. The area lay
in the region ofconfluence between the Highland and South·
ern Upland ice sheets; and the effects of their epfsodes:01
waxing and waning (,l.ndth.efinaldegiacj(,l.tion of west central
Scotland are described in Chapter 8. As with so many ofthe
chapters, this account of the Quaternary stands as a useful
case-studyiUustrath'lg how detailed observations, in . this in·
stance of sedlments and landscape, can be used to interpret
geological histori.es on a variety of scales.
The body .ofthe memoir ends with short accounts of the
economkgeotogy (Chapter 9), the re.sults of geophysical
surveys which have been und(!rtaken in the district (Chapter
I 0) andanextensiv~ reference list. One appendix lists data
sources and another provides a written log ofa borehofein
the upper Dinantian, the significance of which is not obvious.
The cover of this excellent memoirshowspartof the front~
age of Chatelherau[t, a hunting lodge built of an attractive
Upper Carboniferous sandstone in the northern part of the
district by the 5th Duke of Hamilton in the early 18th
Century. Shallow, stoop and room, .coal miningilithe latter
part of the 19th Century resulted. In differentialsubsid.ence
which affected parts of the buifding:· The. Dukesoft-l.a.milton
were so keen to extract as Inuchcoal as possible that
workings also exteryded tQo<='oseto· Hamilton. Pala~e, the
largest country house in Scotland. and it had to be demolished
in the 1920's.because 6hnining subsideflce. Thegeolo~of
the Hamilton district not Qnlybroughtprosperity (for some),
its careless exploitation also brought a.bol,lt ruin.
Divislon of Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow
RegionalgeochefTtistry of north..east.fngland• .... British
Geological Survey, K:eyworth, Nottipg/JamNG12
UJ<;., 1996.
viii· + 100 .·pp.; . ' :250,OOOscate folded. mapo( solt<! . geology.
Hardbound; ISBNO-8S2 72.255-9.£50.00..
Geochemical mapping was first in~roducedin t:h~ mineral
exploration ind\j$try as a. to~IJor [?cati~gO'ltneral deposits.
However. the publication of the Wolfsort G~ochemical Atlas
of England and Wales in 197~saw thefirstge~emical maps
which were produced fora rangE! of uses influding environ~
mental and pollution sturnes,agricultunfi1and. health issues
etc. Since the pubtkation of that first attasmanyother:shilve
beenprQducedinseveral countries. The current atlas is the
eleventh in the series. of British GeOlogifat ~llrv~y~eochemical
atlases .aimedat covering.th.e wholeof.Gl1eat.Brltain. This
atlas covers the region of NE EnglandfromS4"t05S" Nand
from the North Seacoastto 2"W. This is the fourth atlas in
the series based on digitalgeoenemicaHmagery.
While the majormedtum used .to.produce.themaps was
stream· sedimelits(over 4000 samples), in the SE part of the
area, underla.in by the Cretaceous Chalk.· there are fEaw
streams so that soils were used (about 60.0). m.ac;ldition,
stream water was analysed for uranium, fluoride and bicarbo-
nate together with acidity and conductivity. In this atlas there
are 44 colour maps, 5 geochemical maps based on stream
water data, 31 maps based on stream sediment and .soil data
and Sthree-component images each based on data for 3
elements in stream sediments and soils. The 3-component
images were generated by assigning each of the 3 elements
one of the colours, red, green and blue.
The. solid geology of this region is dominated by sedimentary
rocks ranging from Carboniferous to Cretaceous in age, with
the Carboniferous rocks outcropping in the west and underlying the whole of the area. Superficial Quaternary deposits of
glacial, glaciofluvial, aeolian and lacustrine origin occur over
much of the area. Within the area covered by this atfas there
has been extensive mineral extraction ranging through coal,
iron ore, base metals, baryte, f1uorite and evaporite minerals.
Additionally, within parts of the area there has been major
industrial and urban development.
Many of the geochemical maps for the differing elements
reflect the major anthropogenic influences in the area,particularly mineral extraction.· Thus the stream. water map for
fluoride shows highest values in the old f1uorite mining areas,
while the stream sediment/soil maps for barium, lead and zinc
amongst .others reflect. the strong influence of abandoned
baryte and base metal mine sites. Elements such as beryllium,
cobalt and vanadium, which are enriched in coal, and those
such as gallium and potassium, in the associated shales, are
generaliyelevated over the Coal Measures but their distributionis also strongly influenced by the dispersal of colliery spoil.
The distribution· of elements such as cobalt, nickel, tin and
vanadium is strongly influenced by urban and industrial contamination, while Cr, in particular, is extremely high in stream
sediment samples in the Darlington - Teeside area around a
chromite processing plant.
Despite the strong influence of anthropogenic activities some
element distribution maps strongly reflect variations inlithology. Thus the highest concentrations of boron occur over the
Triassic bedrocks and the overlying Quaternary depoSits as
well as overJurassic and Quaternary mudstones. The magnesium map picks out the Permo-Triassic sequence of the area
while Ca and SI' tend to delineate the limestone and carbonate-rich rocks of the area.
Overall this is perhaps the most interesting of the British
Geological Survey regional atlases produced to date. Given
that the area covered is one where there has been a long
history of a wide range of mineral extraction, industrial development and urbanization, it is not surprising that this is
reflected in many of the geochemical maps. However, what
perhaps is more surprising is that the strong influence of base
lithology. is· also very apparent. For these· reasons I would
suggest that this atfas will be of value to those interested in
environmental, geological and geochemical teaching. This
Atfas, in common with its predecessors is excellently produced, and the relatively low cost of £50 would seem to make
it a very attractive purchase.
Ron Fuge
I~stitute of Geography and Earth Sciences
University of Wales
Ceredigion SY23 30B
Teaching Earth Sciences: VD/. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
Groundwater - our hidden asset. Compiled by RA Downing
on behalfof the UK Groundwater Forum. British Geological Survey,
1998. 61 pp., ill (col). ISBN 0-85272-304-0) £6.50.
This book is a layman's guide to groundwater published as part
of the British Geological Survey's Earthwise Publication Series.
It has been compiled by. Dick Downing on behalf of the UK
Groundwater Forum, which is a lobbying group for groundwater
formed by major stakeholdersto promote an understanding
of groundwater issues. It is designed to be of interest to
politicians, administrators andenvironmentalists as well as engineers and scientists. involved in water affairs and to students
of science subjects at Key Stage 4 and above.
The book. is concise and lavishly illustrated in colour. It
discusses how and where groundwater occurs, how it is used
and how it is managed. Traditionally it was of very good
quality and threats· to it from agriculture and industry are
explained. The fact that groundwater maintains river flows
ahd preserves wetlands during the drier summer months is
According to the introduction the book attempts to demystify
the subject of groundwa~er - does it achieve this aim? It is
written at two levels. A general account printed in black is
provided under each main heading and can be read as a
continuous text. This is supplemented by more detailed
reviews of important issues, together with case studies Which
are printed in blue. The general text is well written and. will be
extremely useful to teachers of earth science asa cheap and
easy to read text for students at GCSE and A-level as well as a
text for first year university students.
However, there are some things which could have been done
better. The diagrams generally have too much colour and for
example the complex colour scheme used toaccen~uate the
outline ofthe UK in Figures on pages 7 and 34 is confusing to
say the least. On page Sitisdaimed that hydraulic conductivity has units of velocity. Hydraulic conductivity (K) has unitS of
volume per time per area and hydrogeologists usually express
it in terms of cubic metres per day per square metre. This
reduces to metres per day but does not mean that K has units
of velOcity.
Despite these problems the book will be a valuable resource
to all teachers of earth science both at schools and universities. At a cost of £6.50· it should be in every school and
university library.
J.O. Mather
Royal Holloway College
University of London
1:50,000 scale Sheet 7 The Causeway CoastfSoUd Geology] Exploring the landscape and rocks. Geological Survey of
Northern Ireland, published by the British GeolOgical Survey, Keyworth.
ISBN 0-7518-3213-8 (flat); 0-75/8-3213-6 (folded and cased).
The British Isles is. fortunate in the variety of its geo\ogy, and in
its excellence: particularly in coastal areas there are dramatic
examples of many facets of geology. Land's End. the Lizard.
Weymouth to Swanage, Siccar Point, the Pembrokeshire Coast,
South Stack all come to mind. The area of the Giant's
Causeway is one of· the most striking and important. The
region has MesozoiC sedimentary rocks, and a· variety of
Tertiary igneous rocks of wllich the .Giant's Causeway itself it
the most famous. The area also has a historical daitnto fame,
as in the early 19th century the Neptunists claimed that the
dolerite of the Ramore Head Sill in Portrush contained ammonites: proof of its aqueous origin.
The Causeway area was covered in the 1960's, in a sheet still
available from the BGS at £9,95, solid or drift, but this is a
revised third edition. Comparison of the two maps shows that
revision is mainly confined to redr:afting. the actual lines on the
map being the same. One curious reviSion, however, is that in
the extreme south-east of the 1968 sheet a small area shown
as Dalr:adian.has now become Triassic. Redrafting, and en·
largementto the I :50,000 scale, has resulted in a map whieh is
far easier to comprehend. The format· of this map is a new
venture: it combines a standard geological map, with horizontal and vertical sections, with explanatory matter written for
thenon-geologist: Thi.s includes a section on how to read the
map. photographs, more explanatory keys, an 1800 word
description of the geology, with block diagrams, and summaries in German and French.
The description of the geology - headed "Landscapes from
stone" - is a well written account which is easily understandable by the non-geologist. It makes .a point of setting the
geolo~ in a world context, l?y introducing the concepts of
geo{ogkal plates. continental drift and climate changes. Indeed
one of the iIIu~tratjons is·ofthe eruption of Kr:afla in Iceland in
19S0.The text starts with a brief mention of the legend of
Finn McCool, the giant who is supposed to have made the
Causeway. in an attempt to fight his. Scottish rival, and then
introduces the concept of plate tectonics, to set the scene.
The oldest rocks exposed at the surface are the early Jurassic
Waterloo Mudstones (long known here as the Lias Clays),
unconformably f0110wed by the ·Iate Cretaceous Hibernian
Greensands and Chalk (the Ulster White Limestone Formation). The bulk of the area is of course formed of the Tertiary
igneous rocks: the basalt lava flows, agglomerates. and tuffs.
intrusive plugs, sills and dykes~1 was surprised that the term
"plug" (the Sendoo Plug) was used without more explanation
(that it was the magma which cooled in the cylindrical feeder
pipe to a volcano). Tertiary faulting is not mentioned in the
text, but the Portbraddan Fault at Sallintoy is a good example
(this area makes a very good student exercise in mapping).
Finally, after the last glaciation, wave-cut platforms were cut:
one is mentioned as being present at the White Rocks (locality
2 and photograph): it is not obvioos. There a few errors in the
text, though none that cause serious misconceptions. The
plates are described as resting on the mantle - as though they
are simply crust - and the mantle is described as being "treaclelike". The plates are said to move because the mantle is hot
and viscous. Igneous sills spread along "lines" of weakness.
One m1nor complaint is that this text is set over a ghostly
image of the "the organ". This isan example of a modem
disease which is all too widespread: the image makes the text
more difficult to read, and is itself too faint and interrupted by
text and photographs to be understood. One is simply
infuriated at what seems to be mere gimmickry.
The block diagrams, with explanatory notes, attempt to show
the history of the Giant's Causeway itself. However, they are
misleading in two respects. Firstly, the middl~ one shows a
small volcano with slopes of up to 70 degrees: almost a
cartoon volcano. Secondly, the diagrams showing the origin of
Causeway columns are quite incorrect. As described in the
text, and shown both on the map and in the horizontal section,
during. the early part of the Interhasaltic (Port na Spaniagh
Member) a river valley was cut into the surface of the Lower
Basalts. This is indicated on the section as being about 150
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
metres deep at the Causeway. The first flow of th~ Causeway
.Tholeitic Member was. then ponded iothe valtey, and cooled
slowly to form the columns of ~e Cause
·itself {and the
inclined columns in the old cliff to the
However, the
middle diagram shows no erosion of the lower basalti, only a
gentle warping which appears to be making th.1! valley. Finally
the upper diagram shows a rather improb<iblearrayof columns at this point, which appear to project up. through "a
second ancient soil horaon". I am. not. clear whether this
refers to the the BaJlylagan Member,whkhls not exposed at
the Causeway, and is certainly not the weathered top of the
Causeway Flow, ortQ the top of the Causeway flow itself.
Note that. the Causeway Tholeitic Member. is .about 120
metres thick. to which should be added~he J 50 metres of the
valley at the Causew'!Y. and consists ofa number of flows (tw.o
of which can be seen in the photograph ofthe diffsabove Port
It is unfortunate that. the diagrams - at the heart of the map are so misleading, because the rest of the map. diagrams,
photographs and text are excellent. There is na doubt that
the interested layman will find that this will answer many
questions about the area, about geology in general, and may
lead to a further interest in the subject. It is good to see that
the price is only £5~this should attract sales (should every
household in Portrush have a copYn. presumably at the ex~
pense of sales of the second edition maps. I wquld hope .that
this format could be copied for some of the other areas
mentioned above. Indeed would this format increase sales of
all maps?
Denis Bates
tnstitute of Geography and Earth Sciences
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Whisky on the Rocks - Origins of the Water of Life.
Stephen and juUeCribb, with illustrations by Richard Bell. British
Geo/ogicaISurvey;.l6,50. ISBN 0-85272-290-7.
I was asked a few weeks ago to review this smaU paperback,
and decided not only to do that, but also to road test it on
what turned out to be a very wet few weeks in Scotland in July
1998. Thus, on a: da~p and midgey evening I settled into a
comfy armchair in the Morar Hotel, Talisker in hand, and
pulled Whisky on the Rocks from my rucksack.
Whisky on the Rocks is an informativeguide to tbe whisky and
geology ofScotiand,. which starts put by describing the process
of :whisky production. Then, for each. distiUery, the relationship between the geology of the area, the water ~.upply and the
final product is described. The Bushmills distiUeryJn Antrim is
also included. [Editor's note: this of course produces a'supe.
rior product to whisky, i.e. w.hiskey.B!Jshmilts is orithe Giants
Causeway geological map, the subject ofanother review in this
The authors assume you have no knowledge of geotogy,and
divide Scotland into a series of geological areas ol')the.basis~f
major structures, giving an outline of the overalt.evorution of
each area. They then take.the plunge and dest:ribe each area in
detail - the Argyll Islands, the Grampi~ Highlallcfs; the Far
North, the Deep South and the.Witd Wes~For e.3ch ar;ea,for
example Islay as part of the Argyllfslands section whioh merits
10 pages. the geology is reviewed on a.regioflal scale, and more
local detail is provided along with the specifics of each distillery
and some notes as to the character of each distillery's product.
For a book of limited size, there is a wealth of detail on not
only the geology, but on the local area and the history of each
distillerY. In addition, the book is lavishly illustrated, with over
a hundred attractive ink and water-colour paintings. These
include sketches of distilleries, views, maps - both geological
and location, geological cross sections plus a few satellite
images of each area. An index and a small geological glossary at
the back complete the story. To this end, this book provides
the geologist with an acc;ouht of the location and basic geology
and hydrology of each distillery; for the whisky drinker it
provides a readable and basic account of the g!ilology of
Scotland. It should thus widen the appreciation of how
important geology is in governing something as seemingly far
removed as distilling.
Sadly, there are two things I have to have a minor gripe about.
The water-colour paintings are very attractive and beautifully
capture the atmosphere of the Scottish scenery and of the
distilleries ~llongto be able to paint like this: The illustrations
of. the fossils. and the fish of the Far North, too. look fine.
Unfortunately however. the sketches of some of the rocks
require more thana little imagination to interpret. The
stromatolites of Bunnahabhainn don't really look like .that
(page 13) and the samples of Insch Gabbro (page 29) could be
mistaken for a host of other rock types - from the sketch my
first reaction was the pseudoleucite syenite of Loch Borolan
and a colleague suggested an amygdaloidal or porphyritic lava.
Sketches like this ire not informative. and will do nothing to
help non-geologists identify rocks as they wander the hills in
search of a. dram. My second problem concerns the final
productionofthe book. Driving down the A9 from Dalwhinnie.
it was impossible to follow from the map (straddling pages 24
and 25) whichdjstiUeries were flashing past. The binding was
so tight. that we appeared to be passing BLAIR L. CHRY and
ABY (Blair Athol, Pitlochry and Aberfeldy if you were wondering). A great section of this map was lost in the crease
between pages. and the· same was true for virtually every
other map printed across two pages - a most irritating fault
which could have been remedied easily in production.
Whisky on the Rocks is Widely available in Scotland and was
spotted adorning shelves in bookshops and Tourist Information offices throughout the north-west highlands and islands.
It is an entertainingread, and an informative one. 1f you enjoy
your whisky•. it wilt provide you.with a wealth of information
on how that water of life· comes about. What is· more, you do
not need t6be a geologist to learn from this book, although as
a geologist it will give you food for thought. When you
consider Whisky on the Rocks is about the price of two
distillery toUrs, or three malts in a bar, or a quarter the price
of a bottle, it is good value and will long outlast its liquid
hamesake.Granted, it may not smell or taste as good, but it
wont leave you with a headache in the morning!
Nicholas J.G. Pearce
Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences
University of Wales Aberystwyth
SY23 3DB
Helping Eartli Sciences Students to Develop Key Skills: A
Portfolio of Curriculum Exercises. The UK Earth Sciences
Personal and Career Development Network.. Available from: Dr
Neil Thomas, Scho01 of Geological Sciences, Kingston University,
Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT I 2E£ (e-mail
[email protected]) or Dr Helen King, School of Ocean and
Earth Science, Southampton Oceanography Centre, European Way,
Southampton SO 14 3ZH (e-mail [email protected]). £20.
Is there any earth sciences department in the country that
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
does not now incorporate careers, communication skills, team
skills and the various other key skills (whatever happened to
transferableskillsl}in its curriculum? I suspect not. The
Enterprise in Higher Education programme has been an undoubted success. Students leaving university. now not only
have a subject-specific degree, but also have had the opportunity to develop those skUls most desired by their prospective
employers. Degree courses have been modified to incorporate exciting new teaching and <j.ssessment methods. Both
staff and students have been stimulated and have benefited.
On this basis, this new portfolio of earth sciences-based key
skills activities is most likely to be used to tweak existing
departmental programmes. It is certainly not, as it would have
been perhaps a decade ago, a revolutionary. proselytising
The Portfolio is divided into four main .sections: Induction,
T I,ltorial Exercises, Long Exercises and Career Management.
Each section begins with an introduction and is followed by a
series of exercises, each with tutors' notes explaining the
objectives of the exercise, the time that should be allowf!dfor
its completion, methods of assessment (where appropriate)
and advice on stimulating reflection/discussion by students
during feedback sessions. If you've been involved in developing or delivering key skills-based material, many of .the exercises wilL seem familiar. However, with more than 40 ex,ercises in the portfolio, it's very likely that you'll find something
new here to use or to adapt. Many of the exercise$ are
suitable for use in tutorials, whilst others are conSiderably
longer, the excellent 'Mineral Exploration and Exploitation'
exercise, for example, haVing been designed to runover eight
weeks. If your skills course contains formal assessment, some
of the schemes presented in the portfolio may prove very
useful. I was particularly impressed by the 'Seminar Presenta~
tion Feedback and Rating Form' and will certainly be using it in
my tutorials.
The Career Management section is very good indeed and for
any department yet to incorporate careers within its undergraduate course this section could form thenudeus to an
excellent second year short course or major component c>f a
skills-based unit. For those having such courses alreadyestablished, there may be some fresh i~eas for exercises on action
planning (always a tricky topic to teach), CVs, interviews, etc.
The portfoliq ends with a single-page summary sheet, a list of
references and a (much too) short bibliography.
In the foreword to the portfolio, Professor Michael Brooks,
the Geological Society'S Education and Training Officer, states:
'As the·national professional body forgeosdence,·the Geological SOciety... commends the portfolio to the HE geoscience
community. The Society expects the use of these Network
resources to contribute to the enhancemeht of quality of HE
geoscience teaching programmes in the UK.ltalsoexpects
that their use will feature in many ofthe geoscience degree
cOurses that it accredits.' Of this,quite rightly, there can be
little doubt. Having said this, how could the portfolio be
improved in future editions?
Remove the square smudge from the bottom left or right
corner of most· of the pages. Whilst for me evoking
pleasant memories of a childhood visit to the Tate Gallery,
the smudge otherwise detracts and distrac~ on every
page that it appears.
Add page numbers. This is important for two reasons.
First, I'm sure that users are going to wish to remove (ahd
then replace) pages from the portfolio from time to time.
Second, therrngflle has a tendency to bors.t open (a habit
that wtll presomablyincrease with ose)~ Although some
pages can ,be replaced easily enough byreco",rse to the
COt\tents page; considerabtetime would be saved simply
by adding pagenombers;
3, Increase the font size. of the text, shorten paragraphs and
indent new paragraphs. The portfolio does not alwa.ys
make easy reading (see 7 belowl. This is not helped by.the
small font size and overabundance of dense blocks of text.
Given that only one side of each pi.ece of p<iper. is used
(why is this?), the reaSOn cannot be to save space.
4. In Case Study 3 in ·the Degree Management Case Studies
remove:the suggestion that alcohoUs drunk at lunchtimes
On field trips: 'He enjoyed going on fieldwork because it
was a chance to have a good day out and a pub lunch'.
S. Remove any text that might be construed as sexist. In the
exercise 'Writing a Popular Science Report' it is suggested
that each student should 'Ask your friends outside the
subject, non-scientlsts,your mum (especialty if she is not a
scientist) and other members of your family.'
6. Include all relevant materlal in the portfolio. In the
'Teamworking exercises' section one is referred to an
assessment strategy 'given on the UK Geoscience Education Consortium web site'. Why couldn't this assessment
strategy have been included in· the text? Similarly, on the
second page of the 'Structured Series of Tutorials' SeC.tion
and in the exercise 'Team analYSis and oral presentation'
one is instructed to <see Guidelines forGiVing a Truly
Terrible Talk'.
Where is one to find these? Presumably in The Complete
Student by D. Saunders listed as a reference at the bottom
of the page, but this is not made dear and is not very
helpful if you don't have Saunders' book to hand.
Make sure that in a text which emphaSises the importance
of written communication skins that these are' demonstrated to a high level within the portfolio. The portfolio
getS off to a bad start in thiS respect: 'Modern employers
require graduates to have evidence (curriculum-based and
extra curricula) of well-developed key skllls and are able
to take control of their own career development' (second
page of 'Introduction'). Similarly, in the 'Background'
section to the exercise 'Kingston OU' one reads: 'Time is
of the essence to Kingston Oil because the company
wants to get into thebuJlding within a week because the
delay is losing money.' This IS on one of the sheetS
designed to be given to students! Elsewhere, the portfolio
is not always a model of clarity and I found mySelf having to
reread many sentences to grasp their meaning.
There are also innumerable examples of missing or misplaced
punctuation marks and other min.or typographical and grammatical misdemeanours. I would like to have a pound for
every sentence in the portfoliO to which I would insert the
word 'that'. 'Extra-curricular' is misspelt throughout as 'extra
curricula'and I was very surprised to see 'practice' used as a
verb in the exercises 'Geological Puzzles', 'Team Analysis and
Oral Pres.entation', '~ingstoh Oil', 'Geology and Man', 'Mineral
Exploration and Exploitation' and 'Seminar Presentati.on'. Finally; and· most remarkably, as the heading to the foreword
written by Professor Brooks exhorting us to use this portfolio,
'foreword' is spelt 'foreward'!
Were this portfolio the academic work of a student it would
have been returned With a fair sprinkling of red pen annotations.Were it part of the application material for a job
requiring good written communication skills the apparent
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
absence of careful proof reading could well have cost
applicant their chance of an interview!
Oavid K. Loydell ' .
. . . ..
School of Earth. EnVironmental and Physical ScienCE
University ofP01'tsm.outh
Burnaby BuildiQg
Burnaby Road
Portsmo.uth PO I 3QL
United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 1997, Statistical dat
to 1996• . Compiled byJAHi/Jierand I), E. Highfey 1998. Briti~
Geological Survey, 87pp. £.35 softback.
This is the latest in the annual publication of U.K. minera
statistics and. deals With all. aspects of mineral production an
consumption within the UK both on a national and region
basis. It is in essence a c:ompilationof tabtes, graphs and maf
relating for the most part to the previous 10 years thou~
sOinerelate to a longer' timescale with a few show.ing th
changes over a,[QO year period. In addition there areovel
view summaries commenting on recent actMty and trends.
The first section is an overview of minerals in the Nation
Economy and this is an up-to-date review and comment eve
though the actual statistics presented are two~years old.. Th
time-Jag is inevitable since BGS draws heavily on the statiSti<
produced by indiv:idual·bodies·within the minerals industriE
and it takes time.toactumulate and produce the. data. In th
context the overview is invaluable since some trends show
by the statistics up to 1996 may be showing. signs of chan~
and comments. on these trends and on government poliCy ar
This section shows the staggering contribution made to th
British Economy by the minerals industry, some £18.06
million or 2.8% of G[)P, but 1()]% of the GDP of all produc
tion industries in 1996 . However, there is a big dark c.lo.ud 0
thehorizon~for the Extractive Industries in the form ofa
aggregate or quarrymgtax currently under consideration t
the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This could render mal1
operations (including opencast coal) less . competitive wit
other options sl,lch ~s imports of crushed rock <)r secondar
aggregates as proposed by the Verney Commlssion though th
quality of secondary aggregates is inferior to primary materia
Two ofthe most valuable tables areproduced.in this sectiOI
namely the apprOXimate value of minerals produced in th
United Kingdom I98W 1996 and lhlited Kingdomproductio
of minerals 1991-1997. These show the dominant roleplaye
py the fuels, now mainly oil and gas; in terms ..of value. but i
terms of quantity the aggregates·indlJStryisth~·I<\rgest sectol
However, a revealing factor shown by the.sefi~res is th
significant size oLsome of the less obvious sectors of th
industry. The day industry generated' in theord~r. of £30
million of wealth.in each of the last 5 years, though the bulk (
this was earned by the production of China Clay. Potas
extraction is. valued at £93 million, Silica Sand at£S7miniol
Gypsum and Anhydriteat £22 milliooanti Rock Sa:lta stagger
ing £ Ias million for 1996. There i~ no <other source. (
information in Britain where such data' can be so readil
assimilated and the indusion of pie graphs to show thestati!
tics in diagram form improves the presentation of data.
The volume then addresses the Energy. Minerals with a
excellent review of the current state of the industry an
explorat1on activity. The graph of United Kingdom production and consumption of primary fuels 1950- 1996 summarises a lot of the statistics shown in the tables and reveals some
very interesting trends in the industry. Britain's total primary
fuel consumption has become fairly constant since the mid
I970s after continued increase since 1950. Since 1980 total
primary fuel production has been in excess of consumption
and the latest trend shows the gap to be widening. Since the
late I950s the production of coal has been in steady decline,
and interestingly the miners' strike of 1984, although showing
a drop of over 50% of production in relation to 1983, has had
no lasting effect on the overall trend. 1992 saw Natural Gas
production overtake coal and if the downward trend continues the contribution of coal to the nation's energy supply will
be no more than that of Hydro and Nuclear electricity production.Economists often state that the figures of a few years
in isolation· can be mislea.ding and this is certainly true if one
looks at the graph of oil production The figures for 1988 and
1989 showed a steep drop after a peak of about 140 mt oil in
1986/1987 and .at that time it would have been very easy to
state that oil production in the N.Sea had passed its peak.
However, the early 1990s showed a recovery with the 1996
productionabQve the peak of 1986/1987. One should always
look for reasons for these changes and the gap between the
exhaustion of old fields before production was achieved from
developing·· fields can easily account for these· swings in
production. The success story of recent years must be
Natural Gas which doubled in production from 1990-1996.
Much can be learned from these tables and graphs and when
the map of the hydrocarbon energy resources is also viewed it
adds to the overall picture.
The largest section of the book is devoted to the Construction
and Industrial Minerals with a similar pattern to the other
sections, starting· with an overview. The tables are more
detailed than those in other sections in that the production of
construction materials as well as shOWing the national picture
also show the respective role of the regions. For example the
E. Midlands, the South West Scotland and Wales are the
dominant producers of crushed rock aggregate whereas the
South East is by far the largest producer of sand and gravel.
What is obvious from the graphs is the steady state of the
industry for the first half of this century and the post-war
demand for construction raw materials started a sharp· rise
which continued until the I970s after which rapid fluctuations
in the order of 10s of millions of tonnes per annum are
The graphs and in more detail the tables, show the relative
importance of Land and Marine production of sand and gravel;
the relative importance of sandstone, igneous rock and limestone (by. far the largest); and also the end use of their
The book concludes with a very short section on metals and a
section on commodities and trade which brings· out our
dependence on other countries for our metals and many
specialist minerals.
As it stands it is a valuable reference book but a few additional
features would improve it. For example maps similar to that
showing the oil and gas fields of the N. Sea for many of the
other minerals would be useful including offshore sands and
gravels. Admittedly it would not be possible to show individual quarries· on a map of that scale but dominant areas of
production could be shown.
The main draw-back of this book for anyone considering
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
purchase is its very short shelf life. Within 10 months of my
writing this review the next edition will be available with more
up-to-date figures. This must be a deterrent for individuals
and even for some librar.iesthat operate on a small budget.
Teachers of geology will find this to be of use and arecommendation to the school or local public library for the purchase of a reference copy couldbe a way forward. Perhaps a
copy now and an up-dated version in a few years time ma.y be
adequate. There is a wealth of data in this book and much use
could be made of it outside geology, such as geography,
economics and of course. statistics.
D.E. Roberts
Staffordshire University
College Road
World Mineral Statistics 1992-96 Production; Exports;
Imports. Compiled by LE Stockwelland others. British Geological
Survey, f998. 296p. £ 80.
This book is exactly what its title states -280 pages of
statistical tables with no an.alysis or appraisal of the data. Some
70 commodities are listed, the major ones in alphabetical
order with some 12 of the others. though not al~ areo! minor
importance since the list includes uranium, at the end. Also
included are world maps showing the production of 10 commodities and graphs of world production 1981-96 of 20
The statistical tables are. for the five years from 1992..96 and
all follow a similar format for which the tables for Copper can
serve as an example: mine production from 46 countries;
smelter production from 38.Countries; productionofrefined
copper for 43 countries; exportS ofcopper (4 pages); imports
of Copper (4 pages). Not every commodity has the same list
of tables, diamonds for example being listed as exports and
imports only whereas iron has additional 'tables on steel and
The book is comprehenSive and contains a wealth of data, but
it is raw data and to gain some meaning out of .trends in
production and consumption one really needs a good knowledge of the international minerals industry.. The maps do not
help much other than to show at a glance that South Africa is
the largest producer of gold and that China is the . largest
producer of iron ore. Russia is shown as thelargElst producer
of natural gas but the country is so large in comparison with
most others and includes shield areas as well as gas producing
areas that one has no idea from the map where production is
taking place. It is not5urprising that those countries with large
surface areas dominate the rankings - they have more land
If one had the time to produce graphs important pictures
would emerge. Take the mining production of gold as an
example: South Africa dominates but shows adrop of almost
127 tonnes from 619 - 492 tonnes gold metal between 1993
and 1996; the USA is more or less steady, at about 32.0-330
tonnes as is Canada (147-1 66 tonnes) with small annual changes
but Australia records an increase of 46 tonnes to approx. 160
tonnes. Russian production dropped from 150 tonnes to 127
tonnes. Figures are shown for 80. countries from the very
small producers to the giants listed above. However, it is only
those with an insight into the gold mining industry who realise
the significance of the changes and trends shown .. The book
would be of more value if some comment on the causes of the
changes listed had been made and some pointers for the future
There. are other publications available w~kh give statistical
datcl,on mineral and metal production though it would be
difficult to find it all in one volume. The United States Bureau
of· Mines •. Mineral Commodity· Surveys. give a we;rlth of data
together with an interpre$tion of the current situation but
many of these are very much out of date now and they are not
in one volume. The Minerals.Handbook.by Phillp Crowson
covers much the same ground as does WprfdMlnerals Statistics but that has additional graphs showing annual production
of metals as well as prices over the same period in constant US
dollars: However. the data is not as extensive or as compre.,.
hensive as World Mineral Statistics; Those who require some
insi~t and guidance through the tables would probably find
the other publications to be of more use even If a little .dated
and less comprehensive.
It is unlikely that this publication will be of great interest to
teachers of geology, particularly at a price of £80. It also has a
shoft period of value since. it is already 2 years out of date
which is inevitable in view of the time required to compile and
publish the data. Furthermore. it will be up-dated in a year or
so time. Its main readership must be commodIty dealers
metals traders and those Who specialise in this field. It is a
necessary text for the libraries of mining companies and other
related industries but it would be difficult to justify the expense in the schools environment.
D.E.. R,oberts
Stafforctshire University
College Road
Horse. Forelimb Evolution Model. Available from Pangea UK,
185 Oxford Road, Ca/ne, Wiltshire SNII BAL, £34.70 (incl. delivery
plus VAT.).
The rise (literally!) of horses from the Eocene to the Recent is
one of the most· fascinating of all evolutionary stories and is
probably taught in a very large number ofschools and high~
education establisnments·throughout tQe 'HQrld; ·Yery feW.l
these establishments, I imagine, have acOlllplectt; set of skeIet
remains of all the taxa, and therefore pl\1stet.castscan repn
sent an invaluable teaching aid.
Five taxa are represented in the set: Hyract.rtlierium.Me$ohippu
Anchitherium, Merychippus and £.quus .. Of these,·Aotfiithffrlum
often depicted as a Mio(:ene evolutionary sfd~line andperhaF
the set. would have been moreuseful.witn thlsgj!nus replaCE
by Parahippus or PliQhiPPus (or both). Art the casts are made (
a material described as high impact moulding plaster, rh
£qvus model arrived. in PortsmoUth ins~vera/.. pieces, whic
hi~[ights the problem with all large plaster casts: they ar
easily broken.
The casts, which . are of good quality, show the forelimb i
different states of completeness: the Mesohipptts an
Anchitherium casts possess phalanges. metacarpals and carpal
whilst the other threemodets possess phalanges and (incorT
plate) metacarpals onJy. The casts are acc90'lpanied .by
diagram illustrating the foreUmbs·and the age of the taxa frOI
which they originate, and a sheet of text .entftfedTeachin
Notes'. In the diagram, none of the generic orspecifj~ names
italicised. specific names are given an initial capital, AnthitheriUl
is misspelt,'T odar~ is used instead cif Recent and Metychippt
is shown as oflate Pliocene age (it is a Mfocene genus). Onth
Teaching Notes, againgen~ric namt}sare notjtaticised, meal
urements are given only in i(lches. Mesobippus .is described <I
living 150 million years later than HyracothefjlJm .and Anthitheriur
is again misspelt. If you do buy this set. therefore. be vet
cautious in the use of the material that accompanies it.
.David K. Loydell
. .
School of Earth,Eovironmental aod Physical Science
Univ.ersity of Ports
.. mouth
Burnaby Road
Portsmouth PO I lQl
We welcome the following new members to the Association:
Mr Martin Allbutt, Church Stretton. Shropshire.
MI" Colin Armstrong, Sherburn High School, Leeds.
Mr David A. Bishop, Altrincham.<:heshire.
Miss ChristineBlake, Hengoed, Mid Glam.
Miss JoanneBowen. Winsford. Cheshire.
Mr. A. Brown. Haverhilt. Suffolk.
Ms Chris .Brown; Broadstone. Dorset.
MrsAlysoun Fenn. St Ives. Cambridge.
Mr Roger Freeman, Blue Sch:ool~Wells. Somerset.
Mr ChrisGlover. Stourbridge.
Mr Oarren Harvey. Witham, Essex.
Or DavId Harrisofl, Chester.
Mrs]. Hayden. Stockport. Cheshire.
Mr Graham HoHand, Liverpool.
Miss ChantalJohnson. Romiley, Cheshire.
Mr John Kar. Grange-over-sands. Lancs.
Or Heleri King, University of Southampton.
Mr>Petet Mason. Wakefield Grammar School.
Mr Andrew Mathieson, Portishead; Bristol.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (1998)
Mr Andrew Magnay, Hallow. WQrcs.
Professor Bm McGuire, University College London.
Miss Louise Moir. Skegness Grammar School.
MrReay Morrison, Bury, Lancs.
MrRuss Needs. Milton Keynes. .
Ms Chrissie Nienaber-Roberts,Yancouver. Canada.
Mr Graham Oxhotrow, Bishops Stortford, Herts.
Or H.M. Pedley. University of Hull.
Miss Louise Pownall, Swindon. Wilts.
The. President, Geograp,hicatAssociation, Sheffi·eld.
Mr Ashley Ross, Westdiff·orHea.Essex.
Dr Oavid Spencer. University of Maine, USA
Mr N.J. Taylqr.Abergavenny..
Mr Stewart Tayior,Oklbury. West Mld/ands.
Dr Johanna Thomas, British Geological Survey,Keyworth
Mrs. Lucy Thomas, Mobi:!erley. Cheshire.
Mr Alan Thompson, Beechen Cliff School, Bath.
Mrs Margaret Yernon, National Mining Museum.
Mr John Whitehead, Cleethorpes.
Mr I. Winterford, Arnold School, Blackpool.
SHOPFLOOR: Measuring the Earth's circumference with a yardstick (the
easy way)
Gene G. Byrd
In "The Universe in the Classroom" in the March/June 1974
issue of Mercury, O. Richard Norton described a possible
modern-day re-enactment of Eratosthenes' measurement of
the circumference of the earth. In teaching elementary astronomy laboratory courses in the Universities of Texas and
Alabama, I have used a variant of this experiment that overcomes some of the problems of carrying out the measurement.
The principle is exactly the. same as in Eratosthenes' measurement except that the star Polaris is used instead of the sun.
Polaris is so far away that its light rays are parallel. Since it is
the pole star, it stays very nearly at rest as the earth rotates on
its axis and revolves about the sun. Thus, any north or south
movement of an observer causes the altitude or angle of
Polaris above. the northern horizon to change by an amount
which is the same fraction of 360" as the distance moved is of
the circumference of the carts. For example, if one goes from
Austin, Texas to Dallas, Texas (200 miles), Polaris moves
about 3° higher in the sky. The relationship:
3°/360 =200 miles/circumference of the earth in miles
gives the circumference of the earth. [Metres can be equally
Of course. to take this measurement, one needs to have an
instrument for measuring the altitude of Polaris. For northsouth distances around ISO miles or larger, a simple device
using a metre rule. a sheet of polar graph paper, cardboard,
drawing pins, tape, thread, and a penny (or a small weight) will
be sufficient. The construction ana use uf this device (a crude
quadrant) are shown in the illustration (Figure I).
correctly. The out-of-town student then goes home and
hopes for a clear night. Since Polaris is not exactly at the north
celestial pole, the observation should be made at about the
same time of night as the previous observation. If the experiment is rained off, the student has at least learned to find
Polaris, measured his latitude. and learned about the problem
of weather in observational astronomy. Depending oh how
large the north-south distance between observing points is,
the student can even go home some succeeding weekend to
try for a second measurement.
Alternatively, two schools sufficiently far apart latitudinally
could co-operate in the experiment, though here there would
be no chance to check readings between the two.
It is better to use the same instrument in exactly the same
manner for both measurents. The errors in construction and
use tend to cancel out and better accuracy is obtained. A road
map or even auto odometer readings can be used to estimate
the north-south distance travelled. Values within a few thousand miles of the earth's true circumference can easily be
obtained by students travelling 150 to 200 miles north·south.
Using Polaris is more convenient than using the sun because
Polaris does not require two measurements at apparent noon
made Simultaneously (or one day apart).
Gene Byrd
University of Alabama
Many students in university classes are from out of the area,
and go home over weekends or holidays. In doing the experiment. local students can work as partners with out-of-town
students. The altitude of Polaris is preferably measured some
weeknight before the student leaves so the partners can check
their value with the instructor to see whether the star used is
indeed Polaris and whether the instrument is being used
Polar Graph Paper
Pasted To
Label Angles
As Shown
Drawing Pins
Read Altitude
Figure ,. A simple instrument for measuring the
altitude of Polaris.
Teaching Earth Sciences: vol. 23, pt. 3 (/998)
Eafrth Science Teachers'Associatio:n
A walk: through the city of Oxford is likened to vi~iting an open-air
museum. Attention is drawn to the variety of building materials both
ancient and modem, used in the fabric, of the city. Discussion of their
suitability, durability, susceptibility to. pollution and weathering, maintenanceand periodic replacement is raised.
44 pages. 22 illustrations,lSBN 0948444 09 6 Thematic Trails (1988)
'Strawberry Water to Marsland Mouth', 'Prawle Peninsula lqndscape Trail'
and 'Burrator Dartmoor Landform .Trail'
10 pages, to illustrations Thematic Trails (1993 edition)
Ch-:-is Corn(ord & Alan Childs
In ashon ellfMoot walk along the beac~ at Hartland Quay, visitors arE!
provlt!e~ with a straightforward explanation of the local rocks and their
history. Alternative pages provide a deeper commentary on aspects of
the geo~ and in particular provides reference notes for examining the
variety of structures exhibited in this dramatic location.
40 pages, 47 illustrations, ISBN 094844412. 6 Thematic Trails (1989)
MALVERN HILLS; a student's guide to the geology of t}le .Malvems.
D. W.Bullard (1989)
The booklet includes' detailed description of 21 geological sites of interest
in the area.
73 pages, 31 illustrations, ISBN 086139 548 4 (NCC)
Peter Keene
Interpreting the shapes of coastal landfarms is. introduced as a method of
understanding something of the environmental history of this dramatic
cPasta~ landsCape. A short walk following the coastal path to the south of
Hartland Quay puts this strategy into practice.
40 pages, 24 illustrations, ISBN 0948444053 Thematic Trails (1990)
A short cliff-top walk between the small but spectacular coastal coombes
of W~come Mouth and MarslandexpTalns what beaches, streams and
valley sides can tell us of the history of this eoastallandscape.
40 pages, 24 illustrations, ISBN 0948444 06 I Thematic Trails (1990)
Peter Keene & Brian Pearce
The drama of the valley is ~Iored both by offering explanation for the
spectacular scenery and by recalling its theatrical setting as seen through
tile eyes of those who have vi$ited the valley in the past.
44 pages, 35 illustrations, ISBN 0 948444 25 8 Thematic Trails ( (990)
Peter Keene & Chris Cornford
In a short cliff-foot walk along the beach at Saunton. visitors are provided
with an explanation for the local rocks that make up the cliff and the .
shore. Alternative' pages Pl70vide a deeper cQn1mentary on aspects of the
gElOIOgy and a chance on the return walk ~'reconstruct the more recent
history of this coast by a practical examination of the cliff face.
+4 pages. 30 iUustrations. ISBN 0948444 24 X Thematic Trails (May
Peter Keene
A field interpretation guide for beginners.. A fSimpleteaching model using
an adapted' graphic log sheet. Of wide general educational application,
but designed for use with the fol~wing trails: 'Westward Ho! Coastal
landscape Trail', 'valley of Rocks,lynton'; 'The Cliffs of Saunton',
MEN DIPS .New Sites for Old; a student's guide to the geology of the
east Mendips. This guide gives a detailed deScription of 39 ·sare. accessible
sites chosen for their educational potential.
192 pages, 46 illustrations,lSBN 086139 319 8 (Nee (985)
WENLOCK EDGE;. geology teaching trail
M. J. Harley (1988)
Six sites suitable for· educationalfteldworkare described and suitable
exercises outUned.
22 pages, 15 illustrations. ISBN 086139 403 8 (NeC)
Pe~r Keene& Mike Harley (lg81)
An interactive Circular ~ mile walk exploring the evolution 01 tor and valley
scenery on Dartmq.or.
21 pages, 12 Ulustrations, ISBN 086[39 385.6 (NeC)
THE ICE AGE IN CWMIDWALThe.lce Age inves~Cwm Idwat
with a IaOdscape whpse combination 9f ;Iaciological. geqlogicaland: florist/c.
elements is unsurpa;Sse<l itrmollntitln .Britain~Cwm Idwat ~re;ldily
accessible on good gatbswithln a few minutes walk oft/l&moclemA5
route through Snowdonia.
22 pages, f6 illustrations, ISBN 0 9511175 48
Addison landscape Publications (1988)
~e:laSt main glaciation in Wales Carved the glacial highway of Nartt
ffrancon throUgh the heart of SnQwdon~ so boldly tOel)$Ute its place
amongst the best koownnaturallandma;rks In Brititln. ~pnenomena is
explained ina way that is attractlveto both specialist mid visitor alike.
30 pages. 20 illustrations, ISBN 0 9511115 1 X
Addison landscape Publications (1988)
(TheCit}') Adds to the well-known'evsneraccOunts Qf.thebul~ings Of
~e City of London by oft'ering comment upOn tile roel< types used in
familiar City streets. Maps set out the route clearly. No previous
knowledge of geology is: assumed.
98 pages, 98photograpns, 14 maps, ISBN () 7073 0350 8
Geologists' Assodatl9n (1984)
(The West End) A wide ran~ of exotic rock types are found In the
shop fronts· of Piccadilly. T ottenham 4urt Road and the office blocks of
Centrallondon•. Again no previous know(etlge of geolOgy ill aSsumed.
142 pages'I28phQtOs, 16 maps, ISBN.O 7073 04164
GElOlogists' AssoCiation (1985)
ORDERS TO: Geoff Nicholson. 28 Harthill Ave., Leconfield. Beverley, East Yorkshire HU17 7LN •
• Official orders will be invoiced. • Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to ESTA •
Science of the Earth I 1-14 Units have been devised to introduce
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Curriculum studies in Science and Geography.
Each Unit occupies about one double period of teaching time and the
Units are sold as J-Unit packs. Units that are available now are:i l GW:
Groundwork - Introducing Earth Science
GW I - Found in the Ground
GW2 - Be a Mineral Expert
GWJ - Be a Rock Detective
Life from the Past - Introducing Fossils
LP I - Remains to be seen
LP2 - A well-preserved specimen
LPJ - A fate worse than death - fossilization!
Moulding Earth's Surface - Weathering, Erosion and
ME I - Breaking up rocks
ME2 - Rain. rain and rain again
MEJ - Landshaping
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with this Unit for a p & P charge of £ 1.1 5 (inc. VAT) please
indicate if you do not require this.
PP I - Coal swamp
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PP3 - 'Unspoiling' the countryside
Hidden changes in the Earth: introduction to
HC I - Overheated
HC2 - Under Pressure
HCJ - Under Heat and Pressure
Magma - introducing igneous processes
M I - Lava in the lab.
M2 - Lava landscapes
MJ - Crystallising magma
Second hand rocks: Introducing sedimentary processes
SR I - In the stream
SR2 - Blowing hot and cold
SRJ - Sediment to rock, rock to sediment
Bulk constructional minerals
BM I - What is our town made of?
BM2 - From source to site
BMJ - Dig it - or not?
Steps towards the rock face - introducing fieldwork
FW I - Thinking it through
FW2 - Rocks from the big screen
FWJ - Rock trail
Earth's surface features
ES I - Patterns on the Earth
ES2 '- Is the Earth cracking upl
ESJ - Earth's moving surface
Power source: oil and energy
El - Crisis in Kiama - which energy source nowl
E2 - Black gold - oil from the depths
EJ - Trap - oil and gas caught underground
Water overground and underground
WG I - Oasis on a desert island-the permeability problem
WG2 - Out of sight, out of mindl - waste disposal and ground
water pollution
WGJ - The dam that failed
i l LP:
i l ME:
i l PP:
i l M:
i l FW:
~ £2.00 each (post free)
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Key Stage 4
Science of the Earth Units are designed to introduce
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in Science in the National Curriculum. mainly Attainment
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The following are available only as 5-unit, bound sets.
il Unit I:
Unit 2:
Unit 3:
Unit 4:
Unit 5:
Will my gravestone last?
Earthquakes - danger beneath our feet
Fluorspar - is it worth mining?
Building sedimentary structures - in the lab and
millions of years ago
Waste - and the hole-in-the-ground problem
Unit 7:
Unit 8:
Unit 9:
Unit 10:
Nuclear Waste - The way forward?
Neighbourhood stone watch
Moving ground
Ground water supplies: A modern Jack & JiII story
Astrogeology - and the clues on the Moon
The Water Cycle
Which roadstone?
The geological time scale
Temperatures and pressures in the earth
Rock Power! - Geothermal energy resources
11 :
il Unit 16:
Unit 17:
Unit 18:
Unit 19:
Unit 20"
Earth's patchwork crust - an introduction to plate
Cool It!: liqUid magma to solid rock
Salts of the Earth
The day the Earth erupted - volcanoes
5.0.5. - Save our sites: Earth Science Conservation in Action
£5.00 per set (post free)
Routeway - solving planning and technical problems of building a major
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geology and associated environmental problems. Science and Geography
courses at Key Stage 4. Also applicable to problem-solving modules in
'A' level or GNVQ Science or Geology courses.
Price: £4.95
SoE I: Changes to the atmosphere
SoE2: Geological Changes Earth's Structure and Plate Tectonics
SoE3: Geological Changes Rock Formation and Deformation
Investigating the Sdence of the Earth. Practical and investigative
activities for Key Stage 4 and beyond.
Price £2.95(Per Unit)
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• Official orders will be invoiced .• Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to Geo Supplies Ltd.
I...Iri1ated cards specially printed for ESTA
(6x 9 an credit card size). They show grains
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lOp each
lOp each for 20 to 99 copies
100 copies or more £ 15
1000 copies £ I00
unmounted scrips)
24 ....... 1howInc IMCImOI'phIc .......... rocks and photomIcroaraph
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.... tIICtIOnIcs • vt.w.cI from space. The noc. that ICiCIOII'IpIIIY die
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3. LETS LOOK AT SAND, published by MIMCU.
Ai.- ",~ CGUId be used from primaty to A Ie¥eII
A CCIIIIf*Iian to"', IDGIt at China Clay-. k consIsa of
65 worbI..a, a pupa resource book and a teacher's aulde. RecIucecI to
HOW THE EARTH WORKS: Eanh Science at the National
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. . . . ecperdM. cWIvw ... Eanh Science compoI_1t of the National
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EXPLOIUNG EAIlTH SCIENCE: Eanh Science ActIvItIes for Key
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Boud . . 01 ten mInW'aIs ~tIte, ~ plena, pyrite. mica,
InII""'o calcite. halite, quartZ & feldspar), plus . . nail. copper cOin.
senile .... dropper boaer & onaanIfIer. EssentIal for use wIch acdvIdIs
In PEST 9· MINERALS (copy 1nducIed). Suitable for KS2/KS3. £15.00
Boud faaII ....... selected to IIIuscrate the ~ 01. _
poIoaIcaI doni (dinosaur tooth, triIobIc., ammonite, shark tooth,
IcIhJoIaur tooth, tsh. -1IO'd*I, coral, repdIe foocprInt. .... fern. . .
IIy 11 shrimp). Produc:ecI by GEOU (Open UniversIty Dept 01 Earth
Sciences) 11 Includes cIetaIIecI noc. and a copy 01 PEST I • FOSSILS.
SubbII for KSlIKS3IKS4. £ 16.00
3. ESTA ROCK KITS • ask for details
pubIIIhed bp .... ca.Io&IaI SocIetJ of"-'The dart consIsa oIa" colour tIICtDIIIc: .............. ...
~ ... and twwIty .... block .............. ...
...... scructww 0I1p8C111c ....... ($ID ........ I . x rT an).
a..st".,.,." dIM
pull ....... bp IIGS
~ far UnIt IS· R«i 10wer
ThIs coloured ct.n consIsa of
(scale 1:I.5OO.CIOO) ~ ...
pocheIlnaI JIC*IIdII 01 ... UK . . . wIdI •• IOGdoI. dIIa Mw ...
IIIIjor .... and praIects. sa. approx. 80 x 80 an.
U" ,.. ,.,." ...,
3. THE FLOOIl OF THE OCEAN ............ bp ....... TIwp
~ far UnIt 16· EId's".,.... QUIt - , . . . . . . , , ,.,.. UnIt ·
5pecIaIy ImporIIMI by ESTA from ... USA.
PrInt8d on .......... ..,.., a..,.rb 1IIIp . . . . . . . ....., . . . . .
01 ... oc.Iloor In.,aphlc . . . . " ..... , . . , . . , . . .
PublIshed by'" Fnnch ...... 01 GeoJocy and ............
AIMrJnI VoICInoes RIpInII PIrtc. ~ far ". ,.. ,.,.."..,..".
A foIdecI poIoaIcaIlIIIp 01 ... ,.... at I: 25.000 scale coIaurUy
........... volcanic ..... £9.00.
An ~'1'" 0116 posuards his be.! cut
Into 4-M sa.cI ..... for ............ . £5.00.
s.t of...,. MIll ....... S. THE GEOLOGICAL COLUMN'
PublIshed by ~ ..........
ThIs sbc peneI colour ..... cowrs plant and ..... MaIudon, ....
tectonic prcCII• •• oropnIc actMty and peIIeocIIl.... (1IIIInIy wIdI
. . . .a to ........) . well. ~ ...
cIuradon 01 ...
periods. s.-.ch rwwIsId edIdon 1992· £1.20.
PublIshed by OUIESSO wIIh help from ESTA. ~ oc.Iic crust
coIoIr coded by ... b.udIuI! 100an x ISO an. Price a.oo.
PubIshed by the LiYerpooI GeoJo&icaI Sociely from chIir .......
sheea.. A colour 6IcsIn6 01 dIk fInt poIoaIcaIlIIIp 01 &W-L
11 SOUIhem ScodInd reduced to a ............ (100 x
7Oan). AcIdIdonaI noIIeS 1CiCIOII'IpIIIY. 0.00 per rolled...,.

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