The GA, or Geographical Association, runs a series of lectures during the winter term designed to support students studying AS and A2 geography.

On 25th September, 2012, a group of students from Year 14 Geography class, along with Mrs Stewart, attended a lecture at Queen’s university. The lecture was given by Dr. Alastair Russell from QUB, and the title was ‘Tectonic activity, prediction and mitigation’.

We thought we would make a night of it and went out to Nandos for dinner, before walking round to meet Mrs Stewart at the Geography building of Queen’s. 

Dr. Ruffell did a quick revision of plate tectonics with some good map animations. He then looked at volcanoes; explaining to us the different aspects of volcanoes that actually cause harm to humans including acidic ash and lahars that are mud rivers as well as the commonly known tsunami.  We then considered some of the new ways of predicting volcanoes including the use of lasers and measuring gas emissions but we also discussed animal behaviours that could be linked to volcanic activity as it is believed that some animals can sense impeding disaster.  However he reminded us that there are also benefits to volcanoes including the fact that it makes the soil more fertile and that they are archaeologists best friends because the ash preserves things just as they were which is why Pompeii is so famous. 

The highlight of the night was his demonstration of how the rock in the earth’s mantle behaves.  He used a Refresher bar to illustrate the mantle because when you gently apply pressure it will move and is malleable but when it is moved suddenly then it snaps and the lecturer conveyed this by smashing the refresher bar on a table and it shattered everywhere.  He then threw a few refresher bars into the audience and Maia had to duck out of the way of the flying missile!!

It was an informative and entertaining evening!

By - Dale Walmsley Y14