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GCSE Geology

GCSE Geology – 2 Year Course Summary

Year 10

Minerals: their characteristics and how they form

Rocks: the three types:

  • Igneous,
  • Sedimentary, and,
  • Metamorphic
  • Their structures and formation

Dating of Rocks:

  • Uniformitarianism
  • Relative dating
  • Radioactive decay
  • Fossils

Fossils: how they form and what they can tell us about the environments they lived in

 Surface Processes:

  • Weathering
  • Erosion
  • Transport of sediments

 Landforms and the influence of their:

  • Mode of formation
  • Geological structures
  • Coastal landforms

 How human activities, linked to the local geology can modify the landscape:

  • Quarries
  • Mines
  • Cuttings

Restoration of the landscape – SSSIs and RIGs

 The sequence and processes of The Rock Cycle and their importance in:

  • Stratigraphic principles underpinning Uniformitarianism “The present is the key to the past”.
  •  The differing rate of rock cycle processes varies:
  • The ‘seconds’ of catastrophism’, compared to
  • The ‘millions of years’ of gradualism

 The theory of ‘Plate Tectonics’ the contributions made to the history of its development through time:

  • The structure of the Earth
  • The different types of crust
  • Plate movements driven by convection in the mantle
  • Plate boundary/margin types, their processes and typical features

 Global temperatures and sea level changes:

  • Evidence – contemporary – atmosphere and ice cores
  • Positive and negative controls on global warming
  • How ice sheets and sea levels are responding to global warming
  • Past evidence of atmospheric and sea level changes


Year 11

The origin and development of life:

  • Black smokers/hydrothermal pools 3.5 mya
  • The evolution of life from simple to complex
  • Major extinction events

 The geological history of the British Isles: the rocks of the BI provide evidence of climate and latitude changes through:

The Lower Palaeozoic – BI south of the Equator – evidence such as the Caledonian Orogeny and associated rocks/structure

The Upper Palaeozoic – BI on the Equator – evidence such as limestones, swamps and deserts

The Mesozoic – BI 30º north of the Equator – evidence such as oolitic limestones and chalk formation

The Cenozoic – BI 50/60º north of the Equator – evidence of the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, flood basalts in NW BI and glaciation

Earth Hazards:

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Mass movements
  • Tsunami
  • Factors affecting risks to life and property
  • Prediction and its level of accuracy
  • Risk management strategies

 The human impacts on climate change:

  • The contributions of volcanoes and fossil fuels
  • Strategies for reducing CO2 emissions
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Changes in future climate: frequency and intensity

 Planning, quarrying and landfill:

  • Local planning/environmental issues – extraction of: limestone/aggregates and clay/bricks
  • Domestic waste disposal impacts on groundwater quality/contamination
  • Domestic waste production of methane gas
  • Oil and Gas exploration:
  • Prospecting, mapping and geophysical techniques
  • The formation of oil and gas
  • The structural formations of oil and gas reservoirs
  • The problems and management of extraction and environmental processes/issues

 Mining – mineral prospecting – geologists prospecting for valuable materials:

Seek anomalies in background data – e.g. magnetic anomalies, using magnetic and geochemical methods such as soil sampling and river sediment analysis

 Hydrogeology: geoscientists study

How geological factors affect the siting of reservoirs and dams

Underground water supplies from aquifers

 Environmental Geoscientists study:

  • The planning for and monitoring of waste disposal
  • The monitoring of potentially polluted waters
  • The restoration of polluted soils

 Geotechnical work: geologists investigate the stability and strength of slopes in the context of:

  • Foundations for buildings
  • The siting of dams
  • The stability of tunnels and cuttings

 Academic Research Geologists:

  • Tackle geological questions/hypotheses
  • See evidence
  • Develop conclusions
  • Review the work of peers
  • Publish results
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