Friday, 12 December 2014

Scholarship Question 3

3. I took this photograph outside the Theatre this morning. I was facing north. In the early hours of this morning we had wind speeds in excess of 75kph. We also had over 2.5cm of rainfall.

a) Which direction was the wind blowing?  (1 mark)

b) Give two pieces of evidence from the photograph to support your answer. (2 marks)

c) Why does the wind so often blow from this direction in the UK? (4 marks)

d) Which type of rainfall do you think caused this morning's downpour? (1 mark)

e) Describe how the shape of the land can cause rain. (7 marks)

f) Look at the bottom left corner of the photograph: there is standing water there.
   How can changes in land cover cause flooding? (10 marks)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Y8 Holiday Work Part 1

Common Entrance Candidates

I am not setting work for CE candidates this holiday, although one or two did have recommendations in your reports to go over your Dynamic Earth or Economic Activities notes. Do not forget that you will need to learn the case studies. In particular ...
Focus on the Iron and Steel industry Case Study inside the Economic Activities booklet.


As promised here are some questions for you to chose from. Email me your answers and I will mark them and get them back to you ASAP.
They should all take about half an hour and are all worth 25 marks.

1. Look at the diagram below.

a.  Define and give an example for each of the following:
     i) Primary Activities
    ii) Secondary Activities
   iii) Tertiary Activities
   iv)  Quaternary Activities      (8 marks)

b. Describe how Primary, Secondary and Tertiary employment has changed in the UK over the last 200 years. (6 marks)

c.  Explain why these changes have happened in Primary and Secondary activities . (4 marks)

d. Suggest reasons for the sudden growth of Tertiary activities in the last 40 years.   (3 marks)

e. Referring to a Secondary Activity that you have studied, explain how the ideal location for an activity can change over time. (4 marks)

2. Look at the picture below which shows Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland erupting in 2010.

a.  Name two types of volcanic hazard.  (2 marks)

b. On what type of plate boundary is Iceland located
    (conservative, constructive, collision or destructive)? (1 mark)

c. Explain why volcanoes and earthquakes are frequent in Iceland. (5 marks)

c. What impacts might this eruption have had on ...

    i) local people?
   ii) people living outside Iceland?        (10 Marks)

d. Why do people frequently live so close to volcanoes? (7 marks)

I will get some more up soon ... don't forget the Cryptic Crossword and keep an eye on the news ... in particular the weather in the Philippines and be on the watch for any more tectonic events.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cryptic Crossword 2014

Yes ... it's here ... and it's bigger than ever before!

This year Mr Miller's Christmas Cryptic Crossword has 190 clues!

This crossword is designed to be a bit of cerebral fun to fill the post-Christmas lunch apathy period, when garandparents are starting to snooze and uncles and aunts are eyeing the brandy bottle hopefully! The aim is that the whole family work together, using technology and a lot of sideways thinking to complete this fiendish puzzle.

All of the answers are place names and this time I think that they are all in the real world ...

Please feel free to download this puzzle and try it out on your pupils, families and friends.

In the words of the Cirius Cybernetics Marketing Department ...

"Share and Enjoy"



Friday, 28 November 2014

Geography Photograph Competition 2014

Over the Summer Holidays I set the Brambletye pupils a task of taking a 'Geography Photograph'. I split the shildren into four age groups and gave them a theme to follow.

Well, there were plenty of entrants and Steve Backshall, yes, he of Deadly 60 and now Strictly fame, judged the photographs for us. He chose a winner and two runners-up in each age group.

The winning images in each category were ...
Years 1 & 2: "Natural Colours"
Candy Floss Sky
by I. Sully (Y1)

Years 3 & 4: "Human Impact"
Time to Talk
by L. Garbers (Y4)
 Years 5 & 6: "A Different point of View"
Cattle Horns
by K. Colville (Y6)
 Years 7 & 8: "Transport in the Landscape"
The End of Their Travelling
by F. Colville (Y8)
To see all of the winners and runners up with Steve Backshall's comments click here.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Transport Map

I've just come across this beautiful map to use as a duscussion point in your transport topic.

I know it is quite old but there is a lot of discussion points to be raised about which modes of transport are used in different parts of the country.

The original map is here: 

Friday, 14 November 2014


At the SATIPs conference at the RGS this week Dr Andrew Lee introduced the delegates to this excellent BBC Four video featuring Hans Rosling.

The clip makes an excellent starting point to a lesson on development and it brings up so many social and economic issues:

  • Social and economic disparities
  • Impacts of war and disease on life expectency (watch Belarus, Ukraine and Russia c1940)
  • Uneven development within countries
  • Resource-rich countries (Follow the green dots)
  • Convergent economies

If you wish to manipulate the graph yourself in a lesson then go to whic will let you move backwards and forwards along the time line, identify the countries and also track their progress.

I particularly like this clip as a useful tool to help teach 'Good Geography': you can see patterns and then have to investigate the processes that caused them. There is also extrapolation or application, when Hans looks to the pattern in 2050 ...

Share and enjoy!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Year 8 Half Term Holiday work

Common Entrance:

Year CE candidates please look over the Global Location list ... You need to know the names of all of the physical features and major cities AND be able to draw them on a map: the map could be a map of the world, or a continent or even the British Isles. 
Blank maps and the list of Location Knowledge required for CE can be found on the left hand side of this page.


As requested, here are two essay questions for you. Do at least one of them, please.

Question 1.
Read the extract from the Daily Telegraph from 10/04/2012:

This month marks the second anniversary of the eruption of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull that left millions stranded across Europe, and cost airlines an estimated €150 million a day for six days. But alarmingly, there are signs of high activity beneath the much larger, neighbouring Katla caldera in Iceland – a possible sign of an impending eruption. This should prompt extensive high-level contingency planning across Europe, as Katla has the potential to be much more damaging than Eyjafjallaj√∂kull.

a: i) What type of plate boundary is Iceland on? (1)
ii) Why are volcanoes often found on this type of plate margin? (3)
b: i) Approximately how much did the eruption cost the airlines? (1)
   ii) Why was the cost of the eruption so great? (2)
  iii) How might the eruption have affected ....
     1: local people (2)
     2: people outside Europe (3)
c: Why do people live near volcanoes? (4)
d: Why might the effects of this eruption have been different had it happened in a poorer country? (9)
Total 25 Marks
Question 2.
Look at the two photographs taken of Alvor in the Algarve, Portugal.
A typical street in Alvor

The Pestana Beach Club in Alvor


"Tourism is good for an area". Discuss. You should use evidence from these photographs and other examples that you have studied.  
25 marks

Saturday, 18 October 2014

An undersea world of peaks, canyons and volcanoes

The search for the missing Air Malaysia flight MH370 which disappeared about 6 months ago has led to an ocean floor topographical (relief) map being made. This has been done so that the scientists can 'fly' a cable close to ocean floor in order to get a map with enough detail to be able spot the wreckage of the plane. They need to know what is down there before they start dragging expensive equipment through the ocean.

The little 'bumps' on this image are about the size of Ben Nevis! The big mountains are huge!

We know very little about the deep ocean floor. It is too remote and hostile for humans to visit it regularly, let alone survey it.

Interesting article in the Telegraph brought to my attention my father-in-law.  Read the article.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Live Volcano and Earthquake Map

Just stumbled across this excellent resource.

It is a world map with live feeds of erupting volcanoes and recent earthquakes. Click on the volcano and it will give you more information and live webcam images (if they are available). 

To go to the web page: click here.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Scary Moving Ice

Thank you to Mr Price from Charterhouse for this clip ...

This follows on from the glacial retreat shown by the time lapse on Google Earth a few days ago ...

To readthe whole Google Earth article click here.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Men, Maps and Minecraft

Although I am not an afficienado of Minecraft and am genuinely amazed at the hours and hours that children of various ages seemed to dedicate to creating their own blocky universes, I have to accept there is case to recommend it from a geographical viewpoint.

Take this world below ...
Zelda: Twighlight Princess map created in Minecraft by Kezsonaj 
It has been created in Minecraft and is a faithful recreation (or so I am told in the blurb that accompanies it) of the lands created in the game Zelda: Twilight Princess.  When you zoom in the landscape is created in fine detail such as this palace below.

Although it is clearly uberadictive and for some people who fear daylight, it has become a way of life, it is useful to help teach children how to visualise in 3D cartographic 2D information. It is a sort of virtual Lego.
A long time ago I extolled the virtues of games such as Doom and Wolfenstein, for once you ignored the gratuitous violence and spurious plot, playing them involved a sort of virtual orienteering: you had to find objects or locations on a map and then find them in the virtual reality of the game. Even better, if you could take your bulky PC around to your friends house you could connect your computers with a serial cable (the days before USB and indeed wireless connectivity) and spend many happy hours chasing each other around the mazes with a rocket launcher: such fun!

Level 1 of Doom: Remember to shoot the exploding barrels ...
These games, especially Doom, took this to the next level as 'creator' software was spawned that enable you to create your own mazes and hide objects, monsters and secret doors all over the place.
Minecraft is an illogical development from here but it shows that perhaps human nature is more interested with the creative than the destructive and violent. People all over the world are spending thousands of hours creating virtual environments that would have made Slartibartfast proud. 
Slartibartfast breaking the news to Arthur Dent in the Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy that he designed Norway on the original Earth ... (Original BBC TV Series)
However harmless this passtime may seem, there is part of me that thinks that these people ought to not just look outside their window, but open their door and walk around and find out how extraordinary the real world is ...
Picture by Dave Morrow: Most Amazing Landscapes (go to his page and see more images)
... the advantage of the real world is that you can smell it and feel it.

Time Lapse Google Earth

Now that satellite imagary has been around for a while, we can start to track how th esurface of our planet has changed over time: since about 1984 to be exact.

This article in Time online shows timelapse video footage taken from Google Earth as well as a couple of examples which you can explore in Google Earth. They include urban development in Dubai, rainforest deforestation in the Amazon and rapidly retreating glaciers in Canada. 

Technology can be a wonderful thing ...

Click here to read whole article.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Capricious Volcanoes

Whose fault was the Japanese volcanic disaster? We do like apportioning blame these days, so could it have been avoided and who can we sue?

Although the science of vulcanology is much more advanced these days, the very recent disaster in Japan shows that we are still a long way from fully understanding when and how volcanoes will erupt.

We are rarely caught out by the location of volcanic eruptions, but the magnitude and nature if the eruption is dependent upon so many factors that we cannot accurately predict the when and how?

Ash covered Mount Ontake

This eruption was sudden and a huge volume of dense toxic ash was spewed out from the stratovolcano. Within minutes there was a thick layer of ash on the ground and there were probably plumes of gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide which can suffocate in minutes. There would have been little time for the tourists near to the summit to escape.

Japan has one of the most advanced seismic monitoring systems in the world and yet even this could not predict the size and speed of this eruption.

Read the article:

See the pictures: 

Why do people live near volcanoes? 
Mount Ontake ( is a popular beauty spot and is visited by many tourists.

Tourists need accommodation and other services so ironically the volcano has lured the people around it and towards there demise: more of a 'honey trap' than a 'honeypot'? 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Weird Map

Take a look at this map and see if you can work out quickly what is wrong ..

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Typhoon hits Japan

Read this article (link below) and compare the calmness with which this monster storm is dealt with. The population were warned and they knew what to do. Compare this to what happens when a storm such as this, generating 14m waves and 200mph winds, strikes a Less Industrialised Country.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

What is inside the Earth?

This is a great little video clip which demonstrates that we really do not know what is going on inside the mantle, but we are beginning to get an idea ... and crystals in igneous rock are, more importantly, very pretty!

Cross section through igneous rock crystals
John Maclennan from the University of Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences explains all clearly in this slideshow with a commentry from the Beeb.

Move every mountain ...

This is landscaping on a massive scale! 
Satellite images of western Shiyan between 2010 (Left) and 2012 (Right) show that several peaks have been flattened

In simple terms the Chinese government have decided that they need more flat land to build new cities for their continuously increasing population. So they will take the tops off the mountains and use the rock to fill the valleys. Simple, logical but perhaps not very environmentally friendly.
Owing to the size of their population, China have to do things on a massive scale. The Three Gorges Dam was enormous and the huge impact that it had on local villagers and the environment, was deemed a necessary sacrifice for the electricity and water that the dam promised.
But is this landscaping a step too far? These works will impact upon the hydrology as well as a huge variety of ecosystems. Are there any alternatives?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Google Car and Geography

Now I don't want to seem negative but ...  I am not overjoyed by the thought of the new Google car, for a whole variety of reasons including the impact that it could have on teaching geography.

Despite the obvious question raised by my children: "where do we sit?"; this is another step along the way to Googletopia, a world where people's freedom to think and make there own decisions are managed to the point of exclusion. Yes, the car is very clever and it could increase traffic flow and improve the efficiency of our road network; but can they not see that it it just, well, wrong? 
Is it not far away from the vision of a future shown in Disney's Wall-E. Here the obese population are ferried around on the floating armchairs to wherever the computer decides.

I know that this is a bit of a diatribe and but we know about Google's clever marketing algorithms: will the route be the fastest, or will it only take you to locations sponsored by Google? I am looking forward to Top Gear reviewing the car and I am sure that Clarkson is already salivating with the thought of all of the witty bilious scorn that he can pour upon it on behalf of the people who actually enjoy driving. 
I suppose that this car is just a natural development from the bliinkered followers of SatNavs: people do not really know where they are going and their mental map of the world is turning into a topological map comprising useful places and their distance apart. As a geographer, this is worrying as it is continuing the erosion of spatial knowledge and understanding that TomTom and friends started a decade ago. It will take away people's curiosity about their world and reduce the opportunities available to explore and ask key geographical questions. The computer-car will obviate the need to look up from our tablets and smartphones and convert our world into a series of 'nodes' where we work, shop, play and live. Geography is about where places are and why. We are interested in the gaps between these nodes and there is a real danger that the majority of our countryside will turn into white space on the computer-car's map: not important; not interesting. How wrong can you get? This is where all of the fun and exciting stuff happens. Do we want to just be parcels carried our road network like bits of unthinking information in a circuit board? 
Nice try Google but I prefer the real world to your virtual motorised bubble. 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Coastal Revision

Here I am walking along the coast in Porthcawl, South Wales ...
To the left we have wave-cut platform exposed by the low tide.
I am walking along a sea wall with a curved top and beneath it there is a concrete 'beach' to break the waves and give the locals and holiday makers something to play on .... A coastal protection scheme. Looking from the other end of the beach ...

Scholars: Mapping the human body

I like this map. Beck would have approved of this application of his concept. As soon as you reduce reality down into a series of nodes (points) and connections then you can map pretty much anything.
Scholars, what else could we create a similar map for?

Friday, 9 May 2014

Strong Earthquake hits Mexico ... again

Mexico lies on a destructive boundary and has a history of srious earthquakes. There are actually three tectonic plates meeting under Mexico. A stronger quake happened earlier this year in April.

The quake was quite a long way from Mexico City,
one of the biggest cities in the world.
To find out more about this quake and the primary and secondary effects, follow the links below.

When you read these news stories, you should think about the usual questions that we ask when we look at a case study:Why? Where? When? What? etc.

Also, you should think about how prepared the people were: How did they react? Were the emergency services prepared? What planning had gone ahead before the quake happened?


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Climate Change 'unreversible'

The recent meeting of Scientists and politicians in Japan have produced a report which has a bleak outlook for our future climate;

1. Our weather is set to be more extreme with flooding, droughts, heat waves and 'big freezes';
2. Global temperatures will continue to rise 
3. Permanent ice in glaciers and at the poles is melting 
4. Sea Levels will rise increasing flood risks for low lying areas such as Bangladesh
5. Crop yields will decrease whilst population continues to increase. This will lead to conflict in poorer countries and changes on crops in others: GM might be the answer.
6. There will be more wildfires in the US, the Mediterranean Coast and Australia

We have set in motion change for the next 30 years and we cannot undo it..we need to change the way in which we use our resources and our planet if we are to start healing the change after that.

Scholars: Air Pollution on the horizon

Read the story below (and watch the news video clip too). Then answers the questions beneath:

1. What are the main causes of today's air pollution? (3)

2. What warning has been issued by the government ... and what does it mean ? (5)

3. What steps can people take to avoid being affected by this pollution cloud? (2)

4. Winchester style question:
If harm is done by this pollution cloud, who should pay the compensation? (20)

Just as a thought, try to link this last one to the problems caused by the transnational impact of Acid Rain.

Chile Quake: Learning from the past

Huge Earthquake hits Chile: 8.2 on the Richter Scale

Tsunami evacuation route sign in Chile

During our nighttime there was a massive earthquake off the coast of Chile. When you read the story below you become aware that lessons have been learned from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2010 and the more recent disaster on Japan. 
The government were expecting a big quake on this destructive boundary and an evacuation plan was in place: people knew what to do. One of the photos shows a sign with an evacuation route on it. 
Admittedly the epicentre is quite a way from any major concentration  of population and the tsunami seems to have been small (<2.5m) compared to the disasters in Indonesia and Japan , BUT, had this quake happened 5 years ago would they have been so well prepared? Would the death toll have been higher?
Read the story and the background information from the BBC:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Scholars: US Landslide

Scholars should ensure that they read this story AND try to answer the questions below. The rest of the world does not have to answer the questions ... 

Read the story at the BBC:

Other useful links:

Why do mudslides happen?

Information on the Gansu landslide (2010)

So ... Now you know all about mudslides and are up to date with what is going on in Washington State ... Answer the following questions:

1. Firstly make some case study notes in the usual way by answering the following:

a) Where?
b) When?
c) What happened? Describe the event
d) Why did it happen? Explain it
e) How have people responded to the disaster? Could they have been better prepared?

2. a) List four possible causes of mudslides.
b) Explain why geology AND relief are important in predicting where mudslides are going to occur.

3. Read the information on Gansu (2010).
a) make brief notes using the same titles as in Q1
b) why do you think that the impact of Gansu disaster was so much greater than the landslide in the US?

Interesting note: if you type landslide in slightly wrong on the iPhone, it's autocorrect changes it to landladies!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Scholarship Question 2

Map showing the distribution of earthquakes in the last 12 months.

1. Describe the distribution of earthquakes. (6)

2. This map clearly shows the Ring of Fire. Where and what is the Ring of Fire? (4)

3. a) Name a place in the world where there is a destructive margin. (1)

b) Describe how earthquakes may be caused on a destructive margin. (6)

c) What other hazards might occur on a destructive margin? (3)

4. a) How might earthquakes be compared? (4)

b) "Comparing the quake in Kobe with that in Haiti is pointless: it is like comparing chalk and cheese!" 

To what extent do you agree with this statement. You should refer to examples of earthquakes that you have studied. (16)

Max marks 40

Scholarship Question 1

Look at the graph below.
1.  Describe how each sector has changed since 1800. (8)

2. Give an example of an activity in each sector. (4)

3. Why are quaternary activities a post industrial phenomenon? (2)

4. Referring to examples that you have studied, explain the pattern of change in Primary activities. (12)

5. a) Which are the three most important factors when locating a factory? (4)

b) Referring to examples that you have studied, how can the ideal site for a factory change? (10)

Max 40 marks

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pompeii under the weather

In AD79 Vesuvius erupted and buried the town of Pompeii in ash and pumice. Over the last few hundred years we have been digging it up to find out most of what we know about life in Roman times. But ... the recent bad weather has sped up processes that have been happening ever since we  to excavate the site: weathering and erosion. 
Will Pompeii survive?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Kobe Earthquake Film

Case Study: The Kobe Earthquake (1995)

The Collapsed Hanshin Expressway was one of the most iconic effects of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake 

Although this is quite an old case study now, the Kobe quake of 1995 is still a very useful case study for a couple of reasons:
  1. It was very well documented and it was the first time so much film footage captured by CCTV cameras.
  2. It demonstrated that an organised response to a disaster is needed: people need to know what they are doing and be educated about quakes and what to do when they happen.
  3. It showed that certain quake-proofing of buildings was possible: and that other building materials did not!
This documentary in four parts might be old (and quiet) but it is well-presented ...

Share and enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Rain in the distance

Matches today and a cloud drops it's load on the Ashdown Forest.
Remember it rains as the droplets get too big and heavy and then they fall. It is really clear here as the clouds have a good flat bottom ... the air is not too turbulent and the dew point where the moisture condenses is clear to see.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tree Watch

As we look at recent extreme trends in our weather, we begin to look at all of the contributing factors to climate change: not just the increasing levels of carbon dioxide, but also the rate of deforestation.

Scientists are beginning to try to get detailed information on global tree coverage and map it .... Live!!!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rain, rain go away ...

What is going on with the weather?

If you look at our weather archive you can see that we have had a lot of rainfall in the last three months...

Dec. 2013: 194.1 mm 
Jan. 2014: 173.5 mm
Feb. 2014: 153.9 mm       ... so far

Now 150 mm might not seem like a lot of rainfall but we have been working out how much water that really is ..

Firstly convert 150 mm into metres ... that is 0.15 m

Now, let us imagine that this amount fell over the whole of West Sussex which is 1,991 sq km ... or 1,991,000,000 sq metres.

So to find out ho many cubic metres fell we can multiply the area by the depth of rain water ... that makes ..

298,650,000 cubic metres of water

... or almost 300 million tonnes of water

... or the equivalent of almost 100 million Range Rovers falling from the sky!

Why is it raining all of the time?

It is no longer funny.  Matches are having to be cancelled as our pitches are becoming staurated and are looking more like padi fields! But why is it happening?  It is all to do with the Jet Stream, a current of fast flowing air in th eupper atmosphere ... it has moved south this year and as a result all of our weather has gone a bit off-piste!

This has led to depression after depression coming across the UK, bringing hurricane force winds and almost continuous rain.

This movement of the jet stream has had several unfortunate side effects and we have been on the brunt of most of them ..

  • The wettest January for 200 years!
  • Extensive river flooding due to extreme rainfall (Thames, Severn, etc.)
  • Coastal flooding due to storm surges and very high tides
  • Very high winds causing damage to property

Further afield there is more extreme weather happening:
  • Ice storms in the USA: some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded
  • Australian bush fires and drought
Is it all linked?  Is our climate changing?


The Met. Office are predicting winds in excess of 100mph hitting North Wales.

Click here to see the BBC webpage

When will it go away? 

Not for a while ... wrap up warm, keep dry and have a lovely, if slightly damp, half term!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Exam Revision

The Spring Exams are almost upon us ...

In order to help you revise there are some revision pages on the bottom left hand side of the Geography Pages blog...

If you cannot see them ... the notes for 7N are here. ... and the notes for Y8 are here.

Inside these pages you will find a link to a DropBox folder which has a set of my notes in just in case you have misplaced your folder or a set of notes have gone walkabouts.

Share and enjoy ...

Mr M.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

What if ...? An unusual map of the USA

What if you renamed all of the US states using countries with a similar GDP? 

More evidence of climate change?

Unpredictable changes in climate are having a major impact on the Magellanic Penguin population in Argentina.

So, 8S, is this useful evidence for your presentations?