There is a wide variety of rock types and geological formations in the British Isles. The type of underlying rock in a particular area determines the region’s physical appearance, as well as its economic activities.
Case study: granite in Dartmoor
- Dartmoor is a National Park and is the top of an exposed batholith.
- Flat-topped moorland.
- High drainage density due to impermeablenature of the granite.
- Over 150 rock outcrops called tors, formed by a combination of freeze-thaw weathering and hydrolysis.
- Contains areas of standing water and peat bogs, due to the combination of high rainfall and impermeable rock.
- V-shaped river valleys formed by the numerous surface streams. Valley sides are steep due to the resistant nature of the granite.
- Contour lines are found close together on a map.
- The land is at a higher altitude than the surrounding area due to the resistant nature of the granite.
- Most of the large settlements – eg Tavistock, and Ashburton – are found near the outskirts of Dartmoor.
- The area is a popular tourist location.
Human activity in Dartmoor
An abandoned tin mine at Botallack on the West Penwith coast of Cornwall
- Extraction of china clay. Kaolin, also known as china clay, is a product of hydrolysis and is used in ceramics and paper-making. The industry is very important for the local economy and employment.
- Quarrying. Granite blocks were used for dry-stone walling, buildings and road stone. Many quarries are now abandoned.
- Tourism. Dartmoor is a National Park, popular for walking, camping and pony trekking. Over 10 million people visit the area each year.
- Farming. The soils are poor and acidic, and frequently used for sheep farming rather than growing crops.
- Mining. Copper and tin mining used to be common in the area. The metals were found in thin veins within the granite.
Totnes in Devon
- Quarrying, mining and china clay extraction can leave scars on the landscape, making it less attractive for both tourists and local people.
- Tourism causes pollution and congestion on the roads. Tourist activities can sometimes lead to conflict with local people.
- Tourists buy second homes, pushing up property prices so that locals cannot afford to buy. Rural poverty is becoming a problem in areas such as Dartmoor.