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Geological Time
Can you imagine millions of years ago?

Geological Time

In order to understand landforms, it is useful if you know something about the rocks that lie under them - how they are formed, when they were formed and some of the forces that have shaped them. For your geography GCSE, you are required to know that geological time is on a different scale to human time scales, to know a simplified geological time scale and know the position of certain key rocks and the last ice age within the framework of this time scale.

Geological time is measured in millions of years and is almost impossible to imagine. If you assume that the average life span of a human being is about 75-80 years, it would take over 12,000 lifetimes to experience one million years. Think how long it has been since the end of the First World War - that is just over one average human lifetime ago.

What is the estimated age of the Earth?
4,500 years
45,000 years
4.5 million years
4.5 billion years
Billion here is used in the American sense - one billion is one thousand million. We will stick to that for the rest of the quiz
The oldest rocks that seem to contain fossils of microbes have been found in Australia. How long after the formation of the Earth were they thought to have been formed?
One billion years
One million years
One thousand years
They were formed at the same time as the Earth
The rocks have been dated as being about 3,500 million years old
The South Downs are made from chalk formed during the ...
quaternary period
cambrian period
carboniferous period
cretaceous period
The end of the cretaceous period is marked by the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs
The Cotswolds are partly formed from a type of limestone that formed during the ...
cambrian period
jurassic period
carboniferous period
neogene period
Limestone is formed in shallow warm seas
Another type of limestone is found in Britain, for example, in the Pennines. When was this formed?
Triassic period
Jurassic period
Carboniferous period
Palaeogene period
The carboniferous period lasted 60 million years (359-299 million years ago)
The last great ice age is said to have started about 120,000 years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago. This puts it in which era and period?
Cenozoic, cretaceous
Palaeozoic, devonian
Cenozoic, quaternary
Mesozoic, cambrian
When answering multiple choice questions, look at the alternatives closely. Two of these (the first and last) are completely wrong, they match up the era with a period from a different era, so that narrows down your choice to two, giving you a 50% chance if you have to take a guess
Granite is a very hard rock that is found in several places in Britain. There are significant outcrops in Scotland (formed about 400 million years ago) and the SW peninsula (formed about 280 million years ago). Which of the following combinations of periods is correct (Scottish granite first)?
Devonian and permian
Jurassic and triassic
Cambrian and permian
Ordovician and quaternary
Granite is an intrusive igneous rock that creates the landforms known as tors on the uplands of Devon and Cornwall
If you were able to travel back in time, to which of the following periods would you go to see a dinosaur?
Any of the above
Dinosaurs appeared in the triassic and became extinct at the end of the cretaceous
Imagine that you are a farmer and your farm is in an area where the main rock is carboniferous limestone. What would you be most likely to be farming?
Sheep and cows
Soils in carboniferous limestone areas are generally too poor to grow crops commercially
One analogy to help you visualise the scale of geological time is to compare it to London's tallest building, the Shard. If the height of the Shard represents all of geological time, which one of the following would represent human history?
The thickness of a triple decker cheese sandwich
Half of the height of the Shard
The thickness of a postage stamp
About the height of a double decker bus
We are newcomers to the planet but already have changed it more than any other species before us
Author:  Kev Woodward

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