Discovering Geology

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Discovering Geology introduces a range of geoscience topics to school-age students and learners of all ages. Explore these pages to discover the fascinating processes and properties that shape our dynamic planet.

The Earth has been cooling down since it formed 4.6 billion years ago. Over that time, its surface has changed constantly, driven by the movement of magma deep within the planet and aided by the processes of erosion, deposition and weathering. New oceans have appeared as tectonic plates move apart, great mountain ranges have formed as tectonic plates crash together, valleys have been created as glaciers move and the wind has carried sediment particles over great distances to form new landscapes.

Discovering Geology explores the processes that have shaped current and past landscapes and how our planet’s diverse range of rocks and minerals formed. We also investigate how rocks and fossils can be used to explain the changing climates of the past and why learning from the past is the key to understanding our sustainable future.

Throughout Discovering Geology, we link topics with the scientific research and monitoring work that we carry out at the BGS. From investigating natural earth hazards to understanding past environments, our research aims to offer geoscientific solutions for a safer, more sustainable and prosperous planet.

Start discovering geology!

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Climate change

Climate is the pattern of weather of an area averaged over many years. We can only show whether climate change has occurred after decades of careful measurements and analysis.

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Rocks and minerals

Find out more about the differences between rocks and minerals and how they are formed.

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A waterfall in Iceland

Geological processes

Planet Earth is dynamic with a surface that is always changing. Find out about the processes that cause these changes.

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lava flow - Pexels / Pixabay

Earth hazards

The Earth beneath our feet is constantly shifting and moving, and violently with catastrophic and immediate results. Find out more about earth hazards.

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Climate change

Our climate is intimately connected to the evolution of life, to the erosion and formation of rocks, and even to the generation of mountains.

Thawing permafrost in Herschel Island, 2013. Source: Boris Radosavljevic.

The carbon story

The carbon cycle describes the process in which carbon atoms continually travel from the atmosphere into the Earth, then released back into the atmosphere.

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The greenhouse effect: some of the infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere, but most is absorbed and re-emitted in all directions by greenhouse gas molecules and clouds. The effect of this is to warm the Earth's surface and the lower atmosphere.

The greenhouse effect

Gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act as an insulating blanket around the planet, trapping more of the Sun’s heat.

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Skaftafellsjökull Glacier

What causes the Earth’s climate to change?

Geological records demonstrate that there have been a number of large variations in Earth’s climate in the past.

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Earth hazards

A white, four storey building in Izmit, Turkey, leans at a dangerous angle due to an earthquake. There is a road next to it with other buildings that are not affected.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are among the most deadly natural hazards. They strike without warning and many earthquake zones coincide with areas of high population density.

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Plymouth, Montserrat. Mud flow deposits at clocktower.

Volcanoes

We have a team of volcanologists that works on various research projects in locations around the world to help governments and local people to understand volcano behaviour.

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Debris flow on A83

Understanding landslides

What is a landslide? Why do landslides happen? How to classify a landslide. Landslides in the UK and around the world.

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Rocks and minerals

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Rocks and minerals

Find out more about the differences between rocks and minerals and how they are formed.

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Landforms and processes

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Landforms

Landforms are features on the Earth’s surface that make up the terrain.

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Aerial view of the meander of the River Forth outside Stirling.

Erosion

Erosion involves the movement of rock fragments through gravity, wind, rain, rivers, oceans and glaciers.

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Deposition

Deposition is the laying down of sediment carried by wind, water, or ice.

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Fossils and geological time

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