GCSE Geography AQA - Rocks

These are revision cards for GCSE geography AQA, I'm making ones for restless earth, the coastal zone, rocks, tourism, population and urban. In some parts its hard to describe processes without pictures, so just try to imagine it! These include case studies :)

THE ROCK TIMESCALE & ROCK CYCLE ARE NOT ON THIS, I couldn't find any good pictures!

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Types of Rock


  • formed by cooling of molten rock, either underground or on surface
  • Intrusive - magma rises to surface but doesn't break through, solidifies
  • Extrusive - magma erupts on surface as lava, solidifies
  • Characteristics - interlocking crystals - crystalline; intrusive - cools slower, crystals larger; extrusive - cools faster, crystals smaller; hard, resistant to erosion, form upland areas e.g. Granite (intrusive) & Basalt (extrusive)


  • compaction of sediments, deposited in sea
  • Organic - chalk, limestone; skeletions of sea creatures made of calcium carbonate
  • Inorganic - acculumation & compression of other sediments, e.g. mud & sand
  • Characterisitics - layers called strata, fossils, weaker than igneous, some soluble e.g. chalk, limestone & clay
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Types of Rock, Distribution of Rocks


  • alternation of pre-existing igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rocks by heat/pressure
  • Characteristics - crystalline, very hard, resistant to erosion e.g. slate & marble

Distribution of rocks in Britain:

Granite - widespread over Cornwall/Devon, Ireland & Scotland

Chalk - long bands forming North & South Downs, Chiltern Hills - south-east England

Clay - long bands forming London Basic etc - south-east England

Carboniferous Limestone - much of Ireland & North England

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Mechanical Weathering

Freeze-thaw weathering:

  • water fills cracks/joints in rock
  • water freezes & cracks expand
  • repeated cycles increase size, until block of rock breaks off
  • loose rocks called scree
  • needs plenty of water, fluctuating temperatures,  repeated cycles


  • happens on boulders, outer layer expands in the heat
  • contracts at night, causes cracks at right angles on surface
  • slabs fall off
  • needs fluctuating temps like in deserts, repeated cycles
  • onion-skin
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Chemical & Biological Weathering

Solution - dissolving rocks/minerals by rainwater


  • weathering of limestone/chalk by acidic rainwater
  • some minerals dissolved in rainwater & removed by solution
  • pure water little effect on limestone, rainwater absorbs CO2, & forms weak carbonic acid
  • calcium carbonate in limestone dissolves & forms calcium bicarbonate
  • forms cracks - grikes & clints - limestone pavement

Biological weathering:

  • roots expand & grow in cracks - move them apart
  • animals burrow into weaker rocks - undermine structure
  • organic acids released by vegetatiom & speed up biological weathering
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Granite, Chalk & Clay

Granite - 

Characteristics - minerals are grey-coloured quartz, black mica, pink feldspar (subsequent to chemical weathering); vertical joints formed when it cools & contracted; horizontal joints formed by pressure release as overlying rocks are removed by erosion; joints make granite vulnerable to freeze-thaw & some exfoliation

Tors - formed by weaker overlying rocks being eroded & all that is left is a granite outcrop

Chalk - harder; permeable; escarpments of 200m+; dry valleys; thin, infertile soil; economic uses - horseracing, quarries, sheep rearing; land use - horseracing, paragliding, sheep rearing etc

Clay - weaker, impermeable, clay vales, wet & marshy, fertile soil, economic uses - brick laying, pottery; land use - clay pits, cattle farming, arable farming

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Carboniferous Limestone

Surface features: 

  • Limestone pavements - exposed limestone, grikes & clints, carbonation
  • Swallow holes - streams dissolve limestone, joints become enlarged by carbonation & river erosion
  • Dry valleys - old river valleys in Ice Age, ground frozen & ground saturated
  • Gorges - roof of cave system collapses, steep sided, rock outcrops
  • Resurgence - streams disappear down swallow hole, flow underground, water meets impermeable rock, flows over till it reaches surface - resurgence stream

Underground features:

  • Underground caverns - water flows underground & dissolves limestone
  • Stalactites - water drips from roof, evaporates leaving hard minerals
  • Stalagmites - water drips on floor, water evaporates
  • Pillars - when stalactite & stalagmites join - rare
  • Curtain - water flows over a surface, many stalactites joined
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Environmental Damage:

  • loss of habitats
  • eye sore - ugly
  • pollution to rivers
  • loss of farmland
  • methane from waste tips
  • CO2
  • noise & dust
  • Damage to village roads

Uses of exhausted quarries:

  • restored to farmland by top soil replaced
  • motorcross/mountain biking
  • waste tips used as dry ski slopes
  • lakes - wildlife reserves, fishing, water sports
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Devon, south-west England; granite upland; rises to 612m; rugged moorlands; tors; marshes; rainfall high & granite impermeable

Land use: population density low; sheep farming on rough pasture; forestry; quarrying; reservoirs - impermeable nature & high rainfall; outdoor activities

How farmers help to conserve Dartmoor: Environmental Sensitive Area, farmers agreed to certain managements; reduce no. of livestock grazing sensitive areas, restrict use of fertilisers & pesticides; paid to maintain stone walls & hedgerows

Farmer's problems: cost of fuel, food & bedding for animals gone up; some farmers diversified into other areas, some can't; changes to payments from EU mean farmers get less money

Strategies: Dartmoor Hill Farm Project - support for farmers selling livestock directly to public; organises specialist sheep sales; set up apprenticeship scheme for hill farming

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North & South Downs

  • Chalk & clay landscapes, formed in bands, clay very common in UK
  • Clay vales - undulating lowland between 20 - 60m; many surface streams; farms
  • Dip slope of chalk escarpment - land slopes to south between 200m - 50m; lack of surface drainage; lack of settlements or communications
  • Chalk ridge - escarpment
  • Scarp slope of chalk escarpment - land rises steeply from north to south between 60 - 200m
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Malham, Yorkshire Dales

Landuse: settlements limited due to lack of water; thin soils & steep slopes - hill sheep farming; quarrying of limestone for buildings & chemical industry

Tourism: increasing importance, National parks, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in limestone areas, nature tourism - birds, wildflowers, walking etc

Benefits of tourism - brings money £478mn a year; employment opportunities for local people; 13% work of pop. work in tourism; local craft industries & farms benefit from tourists

Costs of tourism - traffic, pollution, litter, harm wildlife; farm gates left open; demand for holiday homes; footpath erosion; more efficient sewage system needed; loss of peace & solitude

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Hope Quarry, Castleton, Peak District


Economic - employment for rural areas; increase income; multiplier effect; Hope Quarry provides 182 jobs, don't need to commute; Hope Quarry Cement Works recieve 2mn tonnes of limestone from it, 1.3mn tonnes of cement a year; cheaper way of getting limestone

Environmental - modern technology minimises impacts, may be restored afterwards; Hope Quarry estimated enough resources for 30-50 more working years; if quarrying is in one area, effects are conc. on one area


Social - extracting & treating rock creates noise & dust; heavy lorry traffic; high transport cost

Environmental - habitats lost, agriculture impossible, Hope Quarry is a huge hole in the ground - visual effect on landscape; many associated buildings & waste tips; Hope Quarry produces 1mn tonnes of CO2 a year

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Drayton Quarries, West Sussex

Southeast of Chichester, West Sussex; original landuse - intensive arable farming & ecological surveys; Mineral Planning Authority & Tarmac plc agreed to restoration scheme; 30 ha; sand & gravel extraction

Restoration scheme - freshwater lake of 11.5 ha; reedbeds; shallow & deep ponds; gravel beachs & islands; 2.5ha of grassland - wetlands, scapes & shallow ponds; 1ha of woodland & scrub; tern rafts, bird nesting boxs & bat boxes

The lake - main feature, for wildlife - invertebrates, birds, plants etc, reedbeds planted on 20% of it, archeological interest

Grassland - mosaic of microhabitats - bare ground, short sward etc

Woodland - native trees - oak, ash etc

Aftercare period - 10 years, Tarmac plc to hold annual meetings, Mineral Planning Authority to inspect & review

Wildlife - black poplar, chaser dragonfly, great crested newt, song thrush, reed bunting, water vole, pipistrielle bat, otter

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Thank you :) i realy like your notes

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