01 5 / 2013
I can’t believe my first year of uni is over! I sat my last exam yesterday and it was bloody awful. Fortunately I didn’t care because it was a beautiful sunny day in Liverpool and I was just happy to have finished the year.
So what now?
I have like 4 months of uni, whey! I shall be spending them working because I finally got a job. It looks like I’m going to be working 5 days a week but only for 3 hours a day. That’s easy enough (she said). I’m happy to be earning money and I know I’d only get bored sitting around the house. And by working only 3 hours it means I get the rest of the day to myself.
Blogging? Yes, I shall. Geography related stuff? Well what else did you expect?! I’ll surprise you with a range of topics but if you have an suggestions then let me know.
23 4 / 2013
Okay, here’s the break down.
Fundamentals of Scientific Research - So far I have a 2:1 and I submitted by final assignment on Friday so I have high hopes for a 1st overall.
Earth; a Geographial Perspective - I hate this module. I’m suppose to be getting feedback on a field report today. I have an exam in it next Tuesday which I’m worried about.
Natural Resources and Hazards - So far I have a 2:2 and my exam for this is on Thursday. I just realised it is two essay questions so I am well and truly fucked.
Introduction to Physical Geography - Passed with a 1st.
Environment, Society and Sustainability - Passed with a 1st.
I hate exams!!! Fortunately I don’t have to stay over night in Liverpool as I’m getting lifts in for each exam. Whey!
I hope I get a 1st overall this year. I’ve worked so hard. I just hate exams with a passion. They’re just memory tests, and my memory is like a sieve.
Once the exams are over and done with I shall be taking a break from geography until September. However, I might post a few more “Made Simple” blogs to help you to understand some complicated stuff relating to geography.
15 4 / 2013
Coal - a combustible sedimentary rock. It is largely made of carbon but also contains hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur and nitrogen.
Coal is organic rich.
Organic - contains carbon.
Coal is formed through the burial of peat.
Peat - an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation.
Rank - classification of coal in terms of its chemical and physical properties.
As burial depth increases, temperature and pressure increase, and so does the rank of the coal.
- Lignite (brown coal)
- Sub-bituminous coal
- Bituminous coal
Hilt’s law - suggests that the deeper the coal the higher its rank.
At higher temperatures you are left with graphite. This is often referred to as the highest rank of coal. However, it is not normally used as a fuel because it is difficult to ignite.
With an increase in rank there is a decrease in oxygen and volatiles, and an increase in carbon.
Higher rank coals give off more heat when they burn than lower rank coals.
Anthracite burns with a clean, smokeless flame while lower rank coals burn with a smoky flame.
The quality of coal depends on certain factors:
- Rank - controls smokiness and volatile content (45% for lignite and less than 10% for anthracite.
- Ash content - amount of waste.
- Sulphur content - amount of pollution.
Coal is layered and forms light and dark bands. There are 4 types of lithotypes:
- Vitrain - bright
- Clarain - bright
- Durain - dull
- Fusain - dull
The lithotype depends on the conditions present during the formation of the peat and the composition of material within the peat.
Mire - a wetland terrain.They are the most common source of peat.
There are two types of mires:
- Rheotrophic - below the water table and fed by flowing water. They tend to be high in ash and sulphur. E.g. coastal swamps or fens.
- Ombrotrophic - above the water table. Depend on atmospheric sources (mainly precipitation) for a supply of water. They are low in ash and sulphur. They are thought to have formed away from the coast instead of coastal swamps. E.g. blanket bogs or raised bogs.
The formation of blanket bogs is usually a response to climate cooling a higher levels of rainfall.
Coal is found all over the world and it ranges greatly in age. No coal is pre Devonian as there were no land plants present before this period of time.
No plants mean no coal!
It is a myth that coal only forms in tropical swamps.
When the global climate was cooler, when glaciation was occurring, British Carboniferous coals formed near the equator.
The highest ranking coal (Anthracite) in the UK can be found in South Wales.
Deep mining is expensive in comparison to opencast mining, but opencast can only be used when the source is close to the surface. Opencast mining is also safer than deep mining. Methane and carbon monoxide are particularly dangerous gases involved with deep mining that can lead to explosions and poisoning, respectively. Many miners suffer from pneumoconiosis which is a type of lung diseases caused by the inhalation of dust.
Thick seams are cheaper than thick ones.
Coal is still a major fossil fuel (over 150 years of reserves) and coal-fired power stations are still being built every week. Coal produces a lot of pollution so clean-burn or carbon capture technology may be able to help reduce this pollution in the future.
14 4 / 2013
Porosity - a measure of the amount of spaces between particles.
Permeability - how easily water can move through pores.
Aquifer - underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock. Store fresh water. Have good porosity and high permeability. May be confined or unconfined.
Unconfined aquifer - rock and sediment above the stored water are permeable.
Confined aquifer (or artesian aquifers) - layers of rock or sediment filled with water that have an impermeable layer above them.
Water does not easily infiltrate down to a confined aquifer as it cannot pass through impermeable layers. Water enters a confined aquifer by flowing horizontally though other permeable rocks.
The pressure of the water trapped between two impermeable layers may cause the water to be forced upwards against the force of gravity (artesian water).
Aquiclude - an impermeable body of rock.
Rocks that are fractured can also act as aquifers even if the rock is an aquiclude.
Water abstraction - taking water from any source.
When abstracting groundwater it is important to know:
- The permeability of the aquifer
- the recharge capacity of the water
Recharge capacity - the ability of the soils and underlying materials to allow precipitation and runoff to infiltrate and reach the zone of saturation.
Zone of saturation - area in an aquifer below the water table in which all pores are filled with water.
There is a need to consider how much rainfall there is and how long this will take to replenish the aquifer.
Drawdown - lowering of the water table. Occurs around pumped wells.
As the water table gets lower, the usefulness of the aquifer decreases.
Groundwater can become contaminated:
- In coastal zones there maybe an influx of seawater (saline intrusion). Sea water barriers can prevent this (see more information here).
- There maybe naturally high levels of pollutants (e.g. Boreholes in Bangladesh)
- There is also man-made pollution of aquifers from agricultural runoff, sewage in the water course and leaching from landfill or industrial sites.
Over-extraction leads to subsidence in some unconsolidated aquifers.
Unconsolidated aquifer - composed of material that is loosely arranged and particles are not fixed together.
Reduction in abstraction can lead to a rising water table. Pumping systems are then required to lower the water table back to its normal level.
Irrigation - artificial application of water to land or soil.
Irrigation can lead to a build up of salts in the soil. This makes agriculture impossible. Evaporation leads to an increase in salinity.
Dripfeed irrigation uses less water. This means that there is less evaporation.
Over-exploitation of water is occurring in many areas of the world. There is plenty of water but many people do not have access to safe drinking water. Boreholes are not always safe (e.g. Bangladesh). The availability of water can cause conflict between countries.
Desalination - removing salt from water.
Desalination would make water safe to drink but desalination plants are expensive.
Water grids move water from an area of high rainfall to an area of low rainfall when water is high demand.
07 4 / 2013
29 3 / 2013