|Geology is a well established A level subject at Eltham College. It's links with the Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering and Geography are consistently highlighted and many students taking Geology at A level have been extremely successful in examinations. A good number develop such a passion for the subject and many go on to study the subject or a linked subject at University.
What is Geology?
Geology is a science that relies upon careful field observation and interpretation. Fieldwork in Geology is extremely varied and can involve solving problems about rock structure, rock identification and linking both to the environments in which the rocks have formed. It can be about fossils and geologic time, weathering and erosion or visiting localities where a society has utilised the natural geological environment in an economic sense, such as mining or geothermal energy plants, to name just a couple.
People's perception of the subject varies immensely, with most focussing on volcanoes, earthquakes and dinosaurs, on one hand, or plain ol' rocks, on the other. In reality, Geology (or 'Earth Science' as some people prefer to call it) is the greatest unifying science of all. Let me elaborate! Rocks may be 'stones' but they all have stories to tell. Clues can be found in rocks that indicate the ancient environments in which they form and rock sequences often display evidence of climate change; that sounds like Geography to me. Some rocks contain fossils, evidence of past life and its evolution and extinction; obvious links with Biology are made. Rocks are coherent mixtures of minerals, and minerals are chemicals. Because different types of rocks form under different physical conditions, rocks can provide a means of studying a wide range of the principles of Chemistry.
Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Was it because of an asteroid impact? Geologists and astronomers can get together on this one. How do we know that Great Britain has drifted through the latitudes throughout geologic time? Palaeomagnetic evidence, with Physics providing the theoretical basis for the argument, provides the answer.
And many a geological investigation, in the laboratory or in the field, needs to be tested for validity using mathematical principles. In addition, the whole of civilisation's infrastructure is reliant on what our planet can provide, whether it is rocks for building stones, bricks and mortar, oil, natural gas and coal as fossil fuels, or metallic mineral exploitation to furnish us with strategic metals such as iron, aluminium and copper, to name just a few. The responsibility for the exploration of new reserves of these important earth materials is the domain of the geologist, the geochemist, and the geophysicist.
More and more, through the tragic news of large scale natural disasters, do engineers liaise with geologists concerning natural geological hazards and the impact they may have on building designs aimed at the maximum protection from future catastrophic events. So Geology is really a much bigger picture than just a pile of old rocks!
Lessons take place in a bright, modern, specialised laboratory which is fully equipped to meet all the needs of the student body. The department is self-contained and has a very impressive and in depth collection of rocks, minerals and fossils.
Trips and Enrichment
A level geologists will visit Iceland for a fieldtrip once in their two years, for which the department joins with Geography.
There is also a residential trip to Cornwall for geologists only in the intervening year.
Day trips to Folkestone to find Cretaceous fossils, and a study of the landslipping at The Warren also feature.
All Sixth Form geologists visit the Natural History Museum and are encouraged to join as student members.
There are a number of excellent lectures delivered by prominent geologists at varying London University Colleges and by The Geological Society.
The department is staffed by: