Mrs S Swindlehurst

Geology is the study of planet Earth and Cumbria is an ideal place to do it. We have superb examples all around us of all the main types of earth materials – igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks – and a wide range of minerals and fossils. The landscape is the result of geological processes and provides us with an excellent outdoor laboratory in which to study them, from the high Pennine slopes via the Eden Valley to the magnificent scenery of the Lake District, where huge ancient volcanoes have been carved by rivers and glaciers into the hills and dales we see today.
By studying present environments such as the work of rivers or the action of the sea on the west coast we can build up a picture of the evidence we need to look for in ancient rocks, clues that can be used to understand how they were originally formed. This then tells a story of how our piece of continental crust is the result of a journey from the depths of the ocean, through tropical seas at the equator, hot dry deserts as we drifted north until we arrive at our present latitude, where repeated Ice Ages have so influenced the shape of modern Britain.
The fascinating history of our planet is just one part of studying geology. We also look at how important the subject has been, and still is, in ensuring human progress. Geologists are involved in finding the raw material without which we cannot survive. This includes water from underground formations, energy supplies that we will still need for the foreseeable future – oil, coal and gas, metals and chemicals for our industries, and building materials of every kind. Geological surveys and accurate mapping are essential for constructions of all types – towers, bridges, tunnels, roads – and for major excavations which may be used for waste disposal.
Vitally important work is involved with natural hazards. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides kill thousands of people and do enormous damage all around the world. Geological investigation is needed to predict, prevent if possible, and certainly to improve protection of the population.
At Queen Elizabeth Grammar School we have a well-equipped geology laboratory and a long history of geology teaching that has enabled students to become professionals in the subject or simply to learn more about the world around them, wherever they may go.