Unearthing the Connection: How Geography and Geology Work Hand in Hand14 November 2023
November 13th marks the start of Geography Awareness Week, an annual event that celebrates the importance of geography and its impact on our lives.
To mark this important week, Saskia Elliott, a Geoenvironmental Consultant, delves into the ways Geography and Geology intersect, offering a deeper understanding of the intricate processes of our planet and the contributions of humans to its conservation and sustainable progress.
Geology and geography are closely intertwined disciplines that offer invaluable insights into our Earth - and therefore can aid us when we intend to interact with it. In our ever-changing world and climate, it is important to have an understanding of our planet and our impacts upon it.
So where does geology and geography come in? Put simply, geology is the study of the Earth's physical structure and the processes that have shaped it over time. Geology provides the bedrock (no pun intended) upon which geography then explains how these features impact humans, our climate and our ecosystem.
Landforms, for example, are a direct product of geological forces and the rocks themselves. Mountains, valleys, plateaus, and coastlines are the result of tectonic activity, weathering, and erosion. Understanding these landforms is largely the purpose of the "physical" side of geography, and in fact, it was physical geography lessons in school that introduced me to geology in the first place! The “human” side of geography then allows us to understand how these landforms have provided humans with livelihoods, as well as areas for early settlements throughout time and into the modern day.
I personally grew up along England's Jurassic Coast, the UNESCO World Heritage site in the south of England. I think as locations go, it perfectly demonstrates the need to understand both geology and geography. You may be familiar with the large landslides that frequently occur on the turbulent coastline, and in fact, it is a combination of both the underlying geology and the modern weathering processes that cause this. With an understanding of what causes a geohazard, in this case, large landslides, geography then allows us to understand how to mitigate the risk to humans and introduce safety measures or educate the people using the area.
The Earth's geology also plays a pivotal role in determining the distribution of vital natural resources. Geological surveys and studies are integral to identifying areas with mineral deposits, fossil fuels, and groundwater reservoirs. Geography comes into play as it examines how these resources influence human activities, from settlement patterns to economic development.
For example, where coal measures are present in the UK as a result of tropical forests over 300 million years ago, the subsequent extraction and utilisation of these resources have had profound economic and environmental impacts, on regions where these are found. Many of these we deal with at Delta-Simons, whether that be understanding foundations required for modern buildings over backfilled quarries, ground gas hazards or potential contamination associated with the former land use.
As we continue to face pressing global challenges, from climate change to resource management, the collaboration between these two disciplines becomes increasingly crucial. By unearthing the connection between geology and geography, we gain a deeper appreciation of our planet's intricate workings and the role humans play in its preservation and sustainable development.
About The Author
Saskia joined Delta-Simons at the beginning of 2022 as a graduate, undertaking various site work and reporting responsibilities relating to ground investigations. Working on all stages of site/ground investigations with Delta-Simons Ltd, part of the Lucion Group, Saskia is progressing towards achieving Chartered status with the Geological Society of London.
Saskia takes a vested interest in geoscience communication to the wider public. Utilising social media to post short, often humourous geoscience-related videos, Saskia aims to inspire the next generation of earth scientists and improve public perception of geology. To date Saskia has made appearances on a Samsung Ad with Fearne Cotton, multiple BBC Radio interviews and has been a guest on the Ground Investigation Podcast.
T: +44 (0)1522 882 555
Linkedin: Saskia Elliott
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Issue 2 May 2023
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