Earthquake Swarm In South West Iceland

Photo 24-02-2021, 13 11 01The last time I was able to visit Iceland (in pre-Covid times), there was quite a bit of earthquake activity in the south west of the Iceland. There has been similar activity in the same area of the Reykjanes peninsula during the last few days – and it has made for some really interesting map representations. I have included some of them in this blog entry.

210225_1850A strong earthquake shook the capital of Iceland on 24 February. The epicentre of the quake was located about 29 km from Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik, and was situated at the Reykjanes Volcanic Belt in the Reykjanes Peninsula. This is where the rift zone between the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate occurs. According to the Iceland Met Office (IMO) there have been earthquake swarms since last week totaling to more than 500 imperceptible quakes. However, at 10:05 am on the 24th, a 5.7 earthquake hit and caused several felt aftershocks within a span of an hour.

Earthquake activity on the Reykjanes peninsula over the last 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

earthquake-swarm-reykjanes-peninsula-february-24-2021-fSteam has been confirmed close the parking lot close to Keilir mountain on Reykjanes peninsula. This area did not have steam before the Mw5,7 earthquake yesterday (24-February). It is unclear that is going on in that location. There continues to be high risk for a earthquake with magnitude Mw6,0 to Mw6,8 on Reykjanes peninsula because of this earthquake activity.


Posted in Iceland, Physical World, School, Students, Teachers, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mary Anning Commemorative Coins


Mary Anning – image: Natural History Museum

A lot of people have worked hard recently to raise the profile of Dorset fossil collector, Mary Anning, whose achievements have been long overlooked.  It was nice to see this week that a series of new commemorative 50p coins have been released to celebrate her work.

The Royal Mint has collaborated with the Natural History Museum  for a second in a series of coins called ‘Tales of the Earth’. Last year the subject was dinosaurs, but this year it will feature Jurassic creatures discovered by Mary Anning.


The first coin released features the temnodontosaurus, a type of ichthyosaur. Up to 10 metres long, it had the largest eye of any animal, the size of a football, and would hunt in the ocean that once covered much of southern Britain. Anning, aged about 12, and her brother Joseph made the first discovery of a temnodontosaurus in 1810.

Other coins in the collection will highlight Anning’s discoveries of the plesiosaurus and the dimorphodon.

Photo 25-02-2021, 10 06 00

Image: The i digital newspaper

Mary was on the short list to be the face of the new £50 note coming this year, but missed out to Alan Turing. However, there is now a suite of rooms named after her at the Natural History Museum, and she is the main character in the film ‘Ammonite’, in which she is played by Kate Winslett, that should be on general release in the coming months.

Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Physical World, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yet More Infographics For The Classroom ….


I have written a number of blog entries recently about infographics – either making your own, or recommending examples that might be of use in the classroom. Here are a few more i came across recently – from the web site:

This is an excellent resource for teachers. It is regularly updated with new charts and images – great for anchoring worksheets, resources, classroom displays or digital presentations. Check it out!




Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Human World, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Pass the British Citizenship Test?

cropped-british-citizenship-testsIs the ‘Life in the UK’ test just a giant trivia pub quiz? it is has recently come under some criticism, and many want to see it changed to make it more fit for purpose.

To qualify for British citizenship, foreign nationals need to answer a series of multiple-choice questions designed to test their knowledge of the values, laws, history and traditions of their new country. The test costs £50 to take, and from a handbook of around 3,000 facts, applicants have to answer 18 out of 24 questions correctly.

But is it too difficult or too obscure? How well would you do in this test? How well would your students fare?

A research team from Essex University put the test to more than 270 people (nearly all UK citizens), and found that two thirds (66.4%) failed their home country’s citizenship test.

What sort of questions should we act in such an exercise? Could your classes design a ‘better’ test? Is the test a fair way to judge whether people are suitable to become British citizens anyway?

Here is a sample of some of the questions as shown in the ‘i’ newspaper last week:


There are plenty of sites offering sample test materials online that you could try in your classroom. 

Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Students, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New National Park Postage Stamps

Peak District

I recently received delivery of my set of the first special stamps issued by the Post Office for 2021. They mark 70 years since the national parks of the UK were founded. The stamps include images of ten of the UK’s most popular and visited landscapes.

The full list is as follows:

  • Peak District (1951)
  • Lake District (1951)
  • Snowdonia (1951)
  • Dartmoor (1951)
  • North York Moors (1951)
  • The Broads (1989)
  • New Forest (2005)
  • South Downs (2010)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast (1952)
  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (2022)


The stamps were on sale from January 14 and will be available at, by phone on 03457 641 641 and in Post Offices across the UK.

South Downs

Screenshot 2021-01-19 115120

Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Human World, Physical World, Students, Teachers, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Congested UK Cities Infographic

One of my guilty pleasures during lockdown has been taking time to trawl through most of the national newspapers. I have only recently started to read ‘The Independent’ and ‘The i’, and have found that the latter often has some useful infographics for geography teachers to use.

Last week, it included this one – showing the different rates of traffic congestion in UK cities:


Posted in Curriculum, Human World, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Aren’t We All Eating Insects?


Photo: Getty Images

I read an interesting article on the internet today about entomophagy. “What’s that?” I hear you say? Well, it is the practice of eating insects.

I have eaten a few insects in my time. Travelling through Asia, I have sampled everything they have to offer, including crickets in Cambodia and scorpions in China. But my introduction to insect food came on an earlier trip to Australia, when I spent a few days in the bush with an Aboriginal guide called Geoffrey. He taught me numerous lessons about surviving in the wild, and at night we cooked kangaroo tail and Witchetty grubs in the glowing red embers of a campfire. Witchetty grubs look like oversized maggots, and can be eaten raw. However, when lightly cooked, they develop a crunchy outside with a texture like mashed potato on the inside. The taste is meaty, and slightly nutty. In fact, quite pleasant.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I find now that insect cuisine has become a popular recent topic a bit closer to home, with many experts suggesting it might be the next sustainable food revolution in western countries. Compared with traditional livestock farming, insects farming has a number of advantages. It requires far fewer inputs (less water, less space, less feed) and produce little in the way of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the rearing of livestock accounts for 14.5% of global emissions.

The following graphics (from: demonstrate some interesting comparisons:











Although not traditionally part of a western diet, insects have been a staple part of food intake in other locations. Around 2 billion people across the world regularly eat insects as part of their diet. In the tropics, for instance, insects are more readily available, larger, and more nutritious than in more temperate zones, making them a better food source. Entomophagy could help to fight world hunger and reduce pollution. The world’s population is growing, so we need to produce more food to feed everyone – and there are lots of insects to go around.

Edible insects come in all shapes and sizes, and it is possible to feast on over 1,000 species of insects, including grasshoppers, ants, wasps, mealworms, beetles, crickets and cockroaches. Some ants burst with honey as you bite into them, giant hornet pupae melt like cream on your tongue, and beetle larvae leave a smoky taste in your mouth. African termites, freshly roasted after the first rains, have a distinct taste of bacon, while Mexican grasshoppers can be quite fruity and tangy.

These insects can be served in a variety of ways including fried, boiled, sautéed, roasted or baked with a bit of oil and salt. They can also be made into flour and used in breads, crackers and biscuits. Insects are filled with lots of good nutrients, including amino acids and protein. provide as much – if not more – protein than beef! And many insect species have less than 5g of fat per serving. 



Small-scale edible insect farms are becoming more and popular in the UK, producing mealworms and crickets for customers in the home market. These are ‘circular businesses’, taking surplus vegetables from local shops to be used for food for the insects. It is possible to access insect food from your nearest Asian supermarket, and last November, Sainsbury’s became the first major UK grocer to stock edible crickets, selling them as snacks in 250 of its stores. It is now also easy to source insect food online, and one of the best sellers (that also supply Sainsbury’s) is:

This site also includes some useful information about insect food, and some excellent graphics for use in the classroom. Many have been used to illustrate this article.



This web site has a list of the top 50 edible insects – perhaps you turn this into a quiz for your class?

There is another aspect of insect food to consider which may be even more important in today’s world of a changing climate. Insects have traditionally been collected, prepared and sold by people who hold little economic or political power. Commoditising insects as food may help make a significant contribution to the livelihoods of some of the world’s most marginalised communities. Can we wealthy consumers contribute to a fairer world by promoting and purchasing edible insects?

Insects have been tipped to rival sushi as the fashionable food of the future, and a poll carried out in 2019 discovered that one third of people in the UK believe that edible insects will eventually become part of their diets. Anyone up for making a start?


Posted in General Geo, Human World, School, Students, Teachers, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Change Infographics For The Classroom

Back in July of last year, I wrote a blog entry about the use of the ‘Piktochart’ web tool to make infographics for the classroom. Check out my review of the web tool along with my first attempt at a visual – about tourism in Iceland – at:

I have tried to apply what I learnt from the first attempt to a new series of infographics based on one of my favourite books of last year – ”Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency” by Mark Lynas.


The book examines through separate chapters potential scenarios from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 degrees of temperature increase. I extracted some key information from each chapter to make a set of visuals. Here they are:








Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Human World, School, Students, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘What3Words’ Classroom Resources


I have written a number of blog entries before about ‘What3words’ (use the search tool to find them).

The team has now produced some excellent student learning activities, which can be downloaded from the link below:

There is a wide range of activities in a number of folders, and would be a great resource to have available to support mapwork lessons, and introducing the idea of ‘what3words’. Here is one of many as an example:

Screenshot 2021-01-13 181906

If you are not familiar with this geo referencing system, here is an extract from an earlier blog that explains how it works:

This award-winning location referencing system is a funky way to locate specific points on a map. It consists of a giant grid of the world made up of 57 trillion squares of 3 metres x 3 metres. Each square has been given a unique address comprised of 3 words from the dictionary. It’s far more accurate than a postal address and it’s much easier to remember, use & share than a set of GPS co-ordinates. 


Poor addressing might cost businesses billions of dollars, and around the world it hampers the growth and development of nations, ultimately costing lives. The founders of this new method of geo-location claim that around 75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated and poor addressing systems. This means that around 4 Billion people are invisible; unable to report crime, get deliveries, aid or simply have a name for where they live. It is their intention to give everyone in the world the ability to talk about a precise location as easily as possible. It is their mission to be the world’s address system, the universal standard for communicating location.


Each square’s address contains totally different words to its nearby squares – an example might be: Each w3w shortlink uses the w3w address in the link, such as: This can be embedded in a web site or blog, or e-mailed to a friend. By clicking on the link, you are taken to the specified location on a map on the w3w website.


If you want to check it out, try clicking on the links below to take you to my old school:

Slightly unfortunate combination of words – but easy to remember!

Why don’t you log on to the what3words web site, and check out a new form of address for your own home or school?

Posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Maps, School, Students, Teachers, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Most Visited Cities



Although Covid has pretty much put paid to global travel at the moment, I am always on the look-out for a good list, and here’s one for the top ten most visited cities in the world. I used to love using lists like this to illustrate lessons, to challenge students, and to use in part of class displays.

Could you correctly guess the top ten most visited cities before checking the data below? How close could you get to the number of annual visitors?

  1. Bangkok (22.78 million)
  2. Paris (19.1)
  3. London (19.09)
  4. Dubai (15.93)
  5. Singapore (14.67)
  6. Kuala Lumpur (13.79)
  7. New York (13.60)
  8. Istanbul (13.4)
  9. Tokyo (12.93)
  10. Antalya (12.41)

Antalya was the one that caught me out!

What would be the ‘bubbling under’ next five cities?

Posted in Human World, School, Students, Teachers, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment