Top 100 UK Geo-sites from the Geological Society

giant-causewayThe UK and Ireland feature some of the most diverse and beautiful geology in the world, spanning most of geological time, from the oldest Pre-Cambrian rocks to the youngest Quaternary sediments. As part of Earth Science Week 2014, The Geological Society and partner organisations celebrated this unique geo-heritage by launching a list of 100 Great Geosites across the UK and Ireland. Members of the public nominated their favourite geosites, including some classic geological sites as well as some surprises.

The web site above provides some excellent materials to use in the classroom, perhaps as a starter activity, to inspire pupils to be interested in the natural beauty of the UK. The images and maps can be used to open discussions on rock types, human use and human impact upon these areas.

A good research homework might get the students to draw up their own lists for their local area or the UK.


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Using Live River Flow Data to Investigate Storm Abigail

After following the progress of Storm Abigail – our first weather system to be given a name – track across the UK this weekend, I decided to take a closer look at some of the river systems in the north of England, to see how they have been affected.

Severn MapTo do this, I made use of the excellent Shoothill GaugeMap web site, winner of the Open Data Award for Innovation in 2014.

Cockermouth Kingfisher FlowThe site presents an interactive map and regularly updated data for river levels, river flows, and groundwater flow for a huge number of measuring stations on all of our major rivers – as well as many smaller rivers, streams and brooks. The data displayed on each of the stations on the map is recorded at 15 minute intervals by the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Montford Data 2It is really easy to home in on a river or stream of your choice – you can search for gauge stations by river name, river catchment, location, or even the station’s name if you happen to know it.

It is then possible to explore the different data sets available – choosing from river levels (in metres), downstream levels (where available, an additional graph will be displayed on a second tab on the screen), river flow (in cumecs), or groundwater levels. The data is clearly displayed in number form, as well as on really easy to follow colourful graphs.

Egremont FlowFavourite gauge stations can be saved (when you have created a GaugeMap account), and you can even follow particular stations on Twitter! It is also possible to embed a river level gauge onto a web site – great tool for displaying local rivers, or maybe focusing on fieldwork sites, or even selecting rivers for comparison case studies.

I found it fascinating watching the changing conditions in river systems as the storm passed over, and can see this site being used as a great tool in the classroom. It would be a great starter to any lesson on rivers and would be particularly helpful for any ‘floating topicality’ lessons looking at flooding in specific UK locations. The site presents a wealth of information in such an easily accessible way, students would be most comfortable in exploring the information themselves, and perhaps create their own enquiries. It is certainly going to be a valued addition to my ‘Geo Favourites Bar’ – why not check it out, and see what it tells you about your local river?

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Cartoons to Represent the Modern World


These fantastic cartoons carry strong messages about the modern world. Great starters for discussion on a number of topics.

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UK’s First Named Storm Is Here!

untitledBritain’s first official named storm – Abigail – will hit on Thursday bringing 80mph winds to the north of the UK as a deep low pressure system moves across the Atlantic.

It is a landmark for UK forecasting, representing the first time that a severe weather system has been given a name under the Met Office’s “Name Our Storms” project. Storms throughout autumn and winter 2015/16 will be named based on a list from A-Z chosen by members of the public.

Naming of storms and/or hurricanes is common in the US and across many parts of the globe. The practice started in 1953 – before that they were named arbitrarily. However, this is the first time the UK has named storms.

A storm will be named when it is deemed potentially able to cause “substantial” impact on the UK or Ireland. It is hoped that naming storms will help to raise awareness of severe weather and ensure greater safety of the public.

stream_imgThere is a name for each letter of the alphabet, excluding Q, U, X, Y and Z, which is the same naming convention as used in the US to help maintain consistency for North Atlantic storms.

To avoid any confusion over naming, the already established convention of naming remnants of a tropical storm or hurricane that has moved across the Atlantic will be kept.


Experts have found that attaching a name to a weather event makes it easier to follow its progress and simpler to reference on social media.

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New OS Map Symbols Confirmed

New OS SymbolsBack in the early summer, BBC’s ‘One Show’ ran a competition to select some new symbols for Ordnance Survey maps. Six new symbols have since been selected to be included in the forthcoming reprint of the ‘Tour Map’ series  – so can now be added to all of those symbols exercises in our classrooms.

IMG_3289-1024x768The Tour Maps are all being revised to include new covers, and won’t be hitting the shops until next February. Not all of the symbols will make it onto all of the maps,  the symbols shown vary by the scale of each map. In the case of the OS Tour Maps, four of the new symbols are being incorporated – for solar farms, art galleries, kite surfing and public toilets.

Apparently, the Devon map has the most solar farms with 26 shown, while the South Wales map has the most new toilet map symbols at 194 on the main map. Possibly unsurprisingly, Cornwall tops the maps when it comes to official kite surfing centres, with 4 on display.

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A Geo News Web Site To Add To Your Favourites

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 29 17.24

I retweeted an article from this web site last week, and have managed to find a bit of time today to explore the rest of the site. What a gem! The quality of the recent entries suggest that this is a site worth adding to any geography teachers favourites bar. It is being regularly updated, and includes great links to extra information on news items, in addition to links to classroom resources.

ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 29 17.24Recent articles have covered Tuesday’s eruption by Popcatelpetl volcano in Mexico, and the decision made in China to draw a close on the one baby policy. However, I must draw special attention to the article on Tuesday, 27th which includes a really powerful interactive map of asylum seekers migration in Europe. Worth logging on just for this! You can watch the flow of migrants across Europe as a whole, or hover over one country to see the pattern of migration for that one individual place – a great lesson starter, if nothing else!

‘Geographical news’ is the international version of the dutch website ‘The Geobronnen’, and my thanks to Gotze Kalsbeek and Mathijs Booden for their efforts – keep up the excellent work, guys!

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New Data On World Urbanisation


The profile of the world’s largest cities has changed dramatically over the past 60 years, as revealed in the charts in this article based on UN data.

The last six decades have been a period of rapid urbanisation. More than half of the world’s population now live in cities and towns, compared to just over a third in 1955.

Some stunning facts and useful graphics for the classroom:

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