Geology and man, Northern England

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From: Stone, P, Millward, D, Young, B, Merritt, J W, Clarke, S M, McCormac, M and Lawrence, D J D. 2010. British regional geology: Northern England.
Fifth edition. Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey.


This chapter reviews the relationship between geology and human activity in northern England, an association that can be traced back to the Neolithic stone axe industry of Langdale, in the Lake District, which utilised a volcaniclastic siltstone from the Seathwaite Fell Formation, Borrowdale Volcanic Group. Of particular importance in modern times are water and mineral resources: major coalfields lie on either sides of the Pennines, whilst a range of metal ores and a variety of industrial and bulk minerals have all been extracted. The legacy of mineral extraction exerts a profound influence on land use and development, aspects that are also constrained by the natural characteristics of the region’s geology. Landscape conservation is a significant issue in a region that includes two national parks (and part of a third) and three areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Fuel and energy

  • Coal
  • Peat
  • Oil and gas
  • Coalbed and mine-gas methane
  • Geothernal energy

Industrial minerals

  • Limestone and dolomite-rock
  • Cement raw materials
  • Gypsum and anhydrite
  • Halite
  • Sand and gravel
  • Igneous rock
  • Clay and shale
  • Fireclay
  • Sandstone
  • Diatomite
  • Graphite

Metalliferous and associated minerals

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Lead and zinc
  • Silver
  • Minor metal production
  • Fluospar
  • Barytes
  • Witherite
  • Future prospects

Building stone

Ground engineering

  • Bedrock
  • Superficial deposits
  • Artificial deposits, waste disposal and landfilling

Geological hazards

  • Seismicity
  • Landslides
  • Limestone and gypsum dissolution
  • Mining subsidence and fault reactivation
  • Minewater discharges
  • Natural and mine gas emissions

Hydrogeology and water supply

  • Lower Palaeozoic rocks
  • Carboniferous rocks
  • Permian and Triassic rocks
  • Quaternary and Holocene deposits


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