QRA Outreach: Educational resources

This page has links to teaching and learning web resources and downloads.

Glacial outburst floods

Student resource

Case study: The Channeled Scablands


The largest and most spectacular glacial outburst floods in the world occurred as Glacial Lake Missoula repeatedly burst through its ice dam during episodes of glacial retreat during wastage of the Cordilleran ice sheet in western North America. This website explores these "megafloods" and how they carved the famous Channeled Scablands of Washington State.


Teaching resource

British Ice Sheet animations (Hubbard et al.)


This link to the BritIce Modelling Project (Hubbard, Patton, et al.) contains animations and Google Earth plugins of the advance and retreat of the British & Irish Ice Sheet between 38,000 and 10,000 years B.P (before present).

Teaching resource

BRITICE - Last British Ice Sheet map and database


This link provides details of the mapping of glacial landforms and features associated with the last British Ice Sheet. Maps can be viewed in pdf format and printed maps can be purchased through this link.

Teaching resource

Past climate and glaciation of the Drakensberg


This resource on the RGS-IBG website focuses on the research methods behind identifying and interpreting evidence for former glaciation. It looks at past glaciation of the Drakensberg Mountains drawing on the research of Stephanie Mills and Timothy Barrows. It's suitable for both A-level and introductory undergraduate level.

Glaciofluvial processes and landforms

Student resource

Case study: The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy


This online resource, sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage, provides an overview of one of Scotland's most striking relicts of glaciation: the "Parallel Roads" cutting across the hillsides of Glen Roy, Glen Gloy, and Glen Spean. These horizontal lines etched into the slopes mark the heights of ancient shorelines formed when glaciers blocked outflow from the valleys to create ice-dammed lakes.

Student resource

Case study: The Blakeney Esker, north Norfolk


Designed and written by Anna Harrison and Jonathan Lee (and funded by English Nature and Aggregates Levy Fund), this website offers an excellent overview for students and the general public of the Blakeney Esker and its context in the north Norfolk area.  It can serve as a valuable case study for both GCSE and A-level studies of glaciation, while also being useful as a local-scale example for studies of ecology, geology, climate, and human settlement and land-use.  The site contains maps, photos, downloadable documents and powerpoint presentations, as well as a virtual field trip.

Hominins and human prehistory

Teaching resource

Romney Marsh prehistory and history


In addition to being useful for teaching about reconstructing past environments, this website on Romney Marsh can also be used to teach about environmental archaeology and British prehistory. The main divisions of British prehistory (and associated environmental changes) are explained for Romney Marsh and for Britain more generally.

Teaching resource

Case study: salt industry, Seille Valley, France


This website, constructed by Naomi Riddiford (RHUL), presents an overview of archaeological investigations into one of Europe's most significant prehistoric salt industries. It provides a case study both of prehistoric salt production and of methods used to unravel the environmental history and human impacts in the area.

Teaching resource

Migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa


This website illustrates a time line of the migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa and the timing of arrival in different parts of the world. Key episodes during this process are also identified and explained.

Student resource

Peopling the Americas - New evidence


This article (April 2011) reviews the evidence for early (pre-Clovis) migration into the Americas.

Ice Age

Teaching resource

Introduction to the Ice Age Powerpoint


This concise and well illustrated Powerpoint presentation on the discovery and nature of the Ice Age is designed to be easily used by teachers. (It contains speaker notes to aid delivery.) It can be pitched at both GCSE and A level students, and can be used in the context of teaching about long-term climate change as well as methods of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. It was sponsored by the Geologists' Association and Shell as part of the Your Planet Earth outreach initiative.

Reconstructing past environments

Teaching resource

Ice core evidence


This is the website of the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen - one of the world's leading centres of ice core research.  This is the largest repository of ice cores in the world, and important cores, notably the Greenland cores of GRIP and NGRIP, are stored and analysed here.  The website contains information about the latest international ice core projects as well as an outreach section with questions and answers about how ice core studies inform our understanding of climate change.

Teaching resource

Ice core evidence


This scientific briefing from the British Antarctic Survey website gives an introduction into what ice cores can tell us about past climate and discusses current aims of ice core research in Antarctica.

Student resource

Frozen Annals


This is a pdf of a fascinating and highly readable account by Willi Dansgaard of Greenland Ice Cap research. Published in 2005 by the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen.

Teaching resource

Romney Marsh through time


This website is excellent for teaching methods of reconstructing past environments, and it could be used as an A-level case-study for environmental change as well as for coastal processes, sediments and landforms. The interactive pollen diagram from Pannel Bridge is particularly useful for teaching about pollen analysis.

Teaching resource

Beetles as evidence of past climates exercise


This exercise introduces the concept of the 'mutual climatic range' method of quantitative palaeoclimate reconstruction from Coleopteran evidence. It provides students with data and asks them to draw up their own MCR graphs to work out the climate overlap. The exercise was produced as part of the Your Planet Earth outreach initiative sponsored by the Geologists' Association and Shell.

Teaching resource

Case study: The Seille Valley, France


This website, constructed by Naomi Riddiford (RHUL), presents a case study of environmental archaeology conducted in the Seille Valley, which is of great importance as a site of Iron Age salt production. It is an excellent resource for teaching methods of reconstructing past environments, particularly for an introduction into sediment sections, pollen analysis, and dating techniques. Many of the images and site descriptions are interactive. The research section illustrates an hypothesis testing approach about past environmental impacts.

Teaching resource

Irish palaeoecology and environmental archaeology


At the bottom of the home page there are links to pages that explain different types of palaeoenvironmental evidence, some with suggested reading for following up the techniques. 

Teaching resource

Arctica islandica, longest-lived animal on Earth


This link gives background to the use of a clam called Arctica islandica (which can live up to 500 years) to reconstruct past water temperatures and aspects of past water chemistry. Similar to tree rings, the shells of Arctica islandica have annual growth bands that can be used to construct a year-by-year chronology and record of changes in the clam's marine environment. This link also contains downloadable games and interactives used in the 2010 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. The crossdating game (called chronology) is especially useful for understanding the principles behind constructing shell chronologies as well as tree ring chronologies.

Sea-level change

Teaching resource

Sea-level change animation


This link contains a downloadable, interactive 3D animation of sea-level change around the British Isles from the Last Glacial Maximum up to the present. It shows, for example, the formation of the North Sea and the English Channel during deglaciation. The animation is based on model outputs by Kurt Lambeck.

Outreach resource

Lepe Country Park, Visitors' Guide



Outreach resource

Sea Level and Ice Sheets Outreach


Ice sheets and oceans are fundamental parts of the Earth's system. In Durham University's Department of Geography we conduct research into how and why ice sheets, glaciers and sea level have changed over the past and the processes controlling them today. Better understanding of these elements of the Earth's natural system provides us with knowledge that can potentially improve predictions of what changes may occur in the future.

These pages provide material relating to this area of research for teachers, students, and the general public. Currently we have a series of teachers worksheets that cover the drivers of sea-level change, and how we can reconstruct past sea level using salt marsh sediments and microfossils. You can also meet some of the scientists that do this research. Relevant material will continue to be added to these pages over time.


Educational Downloads


Quaternary Quiz

» quaternary_quiz.doc

Test your knowledge of the quaternary with our quick quiz.


QRA A-level curriculum links

» QRA_curriculum_links_a_level.doc

Aspects of Quaternary science that appear in geography and geology A-level specifications (first teaching from 2008) and Scottish Highers.


Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, Teachers' Worksheet

» H_QRA_Lepe_school_worksheet.pdf

This worksheet, by Becky Briant, provides instructions for two fieldwork activities that can be conducted at Lepe by school groups with equipment borrowed from the park office. These activities support techniques components of A-level specifications, e.g. Geog Edexcel AS Unit 1 on researching evidence of climate change. See the QRA A-level curriculum links download for more information.


Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, Rock Identification Sheet

» H_QRA_Lepe_rock_identification.pdf

This guide to the types of rocks found along the shore at Lepe supports the Lepe Country Park Visitors' Guide and Teachers' Worksheet.


Lepe Country Park, Hampshire, Visitors' Guide

» H_QRA_Lepe_visitor_guide.pdf

This guide, by Becky Briant, introduces and explains the evidence for past changes in sea level and environment found at Lepe, Hampshire. It can be used as a geography or geology A-level case-study for studies of coasts and of long-term climate/environmental change - e.g. Geog AQA AS Unit 1 (Coasts) and Geog Edexcel A2 Unit 4 (Cold Environments). See the QRA A-level curriculum links download for more information about specification links.

Ice Age

Ice Age of the East Midlands and Norfolk

» H_QRA_East_Mids_Norfolk_webpage.pdf

This document, which was produced as part of the National Ice Age Network project funded by English Heritage and English Nature, contains information and photographs of some of the classic Quaternary sites, sections, and finds of the East Midlands and Norfolk.

Reconstructing past environments

Crossdating game

» Arctica_QRA_chronology.swf

Try matching the annual growth bands of shells of the clam Arctica islandica. The principle is just the same with matching tree ring records from different trees of different ages.

Reconstructing past environments

Longevity of different plants and animals

» Arctica_QRA_longevity.swf

This interactive is a guessing game - see how much you know about how old different kinds of plants and animals can get.

Reconstructing past environments

Past sea temperature and chemistry from clam shells

» Arctica_QRA_isotopes.swf

This interactive shows how past sea temperature and sea chemistry can be reconstructed from the shells of the clam Arctica islandica.


Quaternary environmental responses

» Schreve_amp

This diagram, produced by Schreve and Branch in PGA (2010) vol 121 is an excellent summary titled Environmental Responses to Quaternary Climate Change which includes climate changes, Pleistocene animal extinctions, and human cultural changes.

Quaternary sites of geodiversity value

Tendring, Essex Quaternary changes and geodiversity

» Tendring_Essex_Geodiversity_poster.pdf

This poster summarises environmental changes that have taken place at Tendring, Essex, and the evidence. It includes information on Quaternary changes and early human occupation.