|Examination training on
The Isle of Man @ Ballakermeen
AQA A2 Geography
01. Figure 1a and 1b show information relating to Japan and the Tohoku earthquake 2011. Describe the tectonic setting shown in Figure 1(a) and relate the intensity of the Tohoku earthquake shown in Figure 1(b) to that setting. (7 marks)
Level 2 (5-7 marks) (mid point 6)
Some sophistication of description and statement of relationship. Clear interpretation and/or description/reasoning, together with evidence of geographical thinking.
Japan sits on two continental plates - the northern part of the country lies on the North American plate, whilst the south is on the Eurasian plate. To the east of Japan are two oceanic plates - in the north is the Pacific plate, and to the south lies the Philippine plate. The two oceanic plates are both moving in a generally westward direction at a rate of a few centimetres per year. The zones at which the plates collide lie on the seabed to the east of Japan (Figure 1a) and are marked by deep ocean trenches. At this point the oceanic plates are being forced under the continental plates - subduction - and earthquakes take place along such a tectonic boundary.
The earthquake off Sendai in Tohoku in 2011 occurred on the fault that marks the boundary between the Pacific plate to the east and the North American plate to the west - 130km to the east of the port of Sendai. The impact of the earthquake, as measured by the MMI scale on Figure 1b, was greatest all along the 400km east coastline of Tohoku in a thin band parallel to the coast, north and south of Sendai. The intensity then reduced inland and to the west in a fairly uniform manner, and it also decreased to the south west. There is therefore a strong relation of the intensity of the earthquake to the tectonic setting. This may be due to the fact that a major tsunami was generated by the earthquake, though I am not sure if this is measured by the Mercalli scale.
02. Describe the characteristics of, and explain the formation of, deep sea trenches and island arcs. (8 marks)
Level 2 (5-8 marks) (mid point 6)
Detailed statements of characteristics and reasoning, possibly with some use of supportive material. Full mark answers show breadth of knowledge and some balance between landforms.
An ocean trench is a narrow, deep depression in the ocean floor which corresponds with the subduction zone associated with convergent margins or destructive plate boundaries. The Marianas Trench, on the western margin of the Pacific Ocean, extends to depths below 11000 metres. They are typically arc-shaped and correlate with the location of deep focus earthquakes, although intermediate and shallow earthquakes are also formed. These form on the margin of the trench towards the line of volcanic islands which form the island arc. Examples include the Chile-Peru Trench where the Nazca Plate (oceanic) subducts beneath the South American Plate (continental) and the Japan Trench where the Pacific Plate (oceanic) subducts beneath the Eurasian Plate (continental).
In oceans where subduction takes place, the convergence of the plates takes place below sea level. The sinking lithosphere is much colder than the asthenosphere and it is brittle. As stresses increase the sudden failure of the lithosphere triggers earthquakes along the line of the subducting plate. This zone of subduction, of varying angle, is called the Benioff Zone. When the upper surface of the sinking lithosphere has reached a depth in the asthenosphere where the temperature is about 1400OC, the rocks making up the lithosphere begin to soften and melt. As these are of lower density than the surrounding asthenosphere, as they melt they rise towards the surface as plutons of magma. These produce volcanoes on the surface of the non-subducting plate, fed by the material from the subducting lithosphere. The rising magma consists of andesitic lava from the melting plate. It creates complex, composite, explosive volcanoes.
An island arc is a chain of such volcanic islands located on the continental side of an ocean trench. This situation can be found in the western Pacific Ocean where the islands which make up the Aleutians, Japan and the Philippines are island arcs.
This island arc of volcanic activity is parallel with the line of the plate boundary and the subduction zone. The displacement of the island arc from the line of subduction depends upon the angle of the Benioff Zone; the steeper the angle the closer the island arc to the line of subduction. A convergence rate of 30mm/yr appears to be required to produce the whole range of these features.
03. Discuss the evidence for tectonic plate movement. (10 marks)
(03) With reference to two volcanic events that you have studied from contrasting areas of the world, compare the ways in which volcanoes and their impacts have been managed. (10 marks)
Level 2 (5-8): specific statements of management strategies which can be clearly attributed to named areas and/or volcanoes access this level. Comparison is clear and purposeful.
Level 3 (9-10): a fully developed answer, with good elaboration of the management strategy of two volcanic events. A rounded answer with a full comparison of the two events.
Volcanoes can be managed in three ways: through reducing vulnerability of potential victims; through modifying the severity of the event and through reducing the losses suffered by people and the areas affected. The eruption of Mount St Helens is a good example of how management has succeeded in these areas. The comparable eruption of Nevada del Ruiz is the opposite.
Vulnerability modification was exceptionally efficient in the USA before Mt St Helens. USGS scientists acknowledged the likelihood of an eruption as earthquakes increased and the water table level began to fall. They distributed warnings to the authorities who organised and evacuation to 20 km in all directions. This ‘exclusion zone’ reduced the death toll from a potential hundreds to just 57. It was also aided in that locals were aware of volcanic threats because of a good education system and people trusted the scientists and government in their decision.
Nevada de Ruiz did not receive sufficient or comparable vulnerability modification. Although US scientists warned both the locals in the town of Armero and officials in the local government that an eruption was imminent, locals refused to believe that their mountain could hurt them and officials dismissed advice as attempts to lower property prices. Consequently 23000 people died in the eruption as no evacuation was undertaken. The lack of education of the locals and official xenophobia and distrust meant catastrophic damage took place.
Even modification in both cases was minimal because the most severe effects of a volcanic eruption, pyroclastic flows and lahars are almost impossible to stop with current building materials and diversion techniques. Nevertheless, had the buildings in Armero been better built, some may have withstood the lahar.
Loss modification through aid (short term and longer term) was also far more efficient at Mt St Helens. The US government provided a package of $631 million to go to the rebuilding and sustaining of businesses that were hit by the eruption. This virtually covered the economic damages of the eruption. The National Guard were also quick to arrive rescuing the stranded by air. Indeed the recovery though swift was aided by the initial precautions taken.
At Nevada del Ruiz no government bailout was provided and authorities took up to 3 days to arrive. In this time looters and kidnappers took advantage of the local chaos. On arrival relief was slowed by broken equipment and poor coordination. This has meant that the area has not yet fully recovered even now. Evidently the USA handled its eruption far better than Colombia and this was due to both government efficiency and public education, both of which were aided by the USA’s super wealth.
10. Figure 4 shows information on the Lower Marsh Regeneration Project in Lambeth, south London. Comment on the information shown. (7 marks)
Level 2 (5-7 marks)
Comments that go beyond the information in the figure, ie there is some intellectual processing on what lies behind, or can be extrapolated from, the information given, or some attempt to categorise.
Regeneration is carried out in an area in order to improve present and build new housing and other buildings which will encourage the moving of both businesses and people into the area which will in turn stimulate economic growth. The environment will also be improved in order to promote a pleasant atmosphere to live and work in.
The regeneration project in Lambeth in south London will encourage greater economic development by creating 21 large market pitches. This will allow local tradesmen to sell and trade their goods whilst also encouraging local residents to buy locally sourced goods and support independent retailers rather that large chain supermarkets. By improving the local environment the partnership scheme will encourage a better living and shopping environment which in turn will encourage more to visit the area. By creating pedestrianised areas emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere will be reduced whilst also improving the air quality of the local area. Safety will be improved by a reduced number of vehicles in the centre as well as the addition of street lighting which will offer the perceived sense of increased safety whilst deterring criminals, drug dealers and prostitutes at night, all contributing to a more pleasant environment.
Finally Figure 4 does not show any plans to redevelop the station (Waterloo) itself, which is a flaw in my opinion as the train station is likely to be the largest reason why consumers enter the area however no efforts are being made to develop it despite the involvement of Network rail and Transport for London. Therefore from Figure 4 I believe the scheme is flawed by not having relevant data.
(11) Outline characteristic strategies of waste management in urban areas. (8 marks)
Level 1 (1-4): simple generalised statements of management with no depth or detail, and not attributed to any named area. One strategy only – max L1
Level 2 (5-8): more specific and sophisticated statements of management which may be attributed to a named area, or demonstrate greater depth of understanding and/or knowledge.
There are many strategies for waste management in urban areas and these can be understood using examples. In Sheffield residents are provided with a black bin for household waste which is collected every week and a blue bin for bottles and a blue box for paper which is collected fortnightly. These are recycled. This immediately encourages residents to recycle and separate their waste. Some of the household rubbish is dumped at several landfill sites dotted around the outskirts of the city. These are very harmful to the environment and are quite an eyesore to any passer-by.
But the rest is taken to a large incinerator run by Veolia in the centre of the city – close to the Park Hill flats in fact – to be burnt and used to generate electricity. The thousands of tonnes of waste that pass through the incinerator each day provides electricity for many prominent buildings in Sheffield such as the Town Hall and Ponds Forge swimming pool. This is a very effective way of managing waste as there is no left over materials.
Curitiba also has a clever strategy for waste management. They offer a system know as the Green Exchange where recycled waste is exchanged for bus tickets or fruit. This is offered to the poorer residents of the city. Once a week a dustbin lorry will park and residents then queue to exchange the materials they have recycled into separate sections for bus tickets or fruit which ever they feel is important to them. This gives the poorer residents a sense of satisfaction. The sorted materials are then recycled and turned into new products. This makes for a very sustainable waste management strategy. (8)
(12) Evaluate the success of one or more partnership scheme(s) in the regeneration of urban areas. (10 marks)
Level 2 (5-8): specific descriptive statements of a partnership scheme(s), some of which can be clearly attributed to a named example. Assessment is tentative and implicit.
Level 3 (9-10): a fully developed answer, with good elaboration and clear detail of the partnership scheme(s). Assessment is explicit.
One partnership scheme I have studied is the regeneration of Sheffield city centre. The scheme was set up by Creative Sheffield, Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire Forward and English Heritage all with the same goal to improve the appearance of the city centre. Many areas such as Sheaf Square, Tudor Square, the Winter Gardens and the Peace Gardens were all regenerated to give the city a more modern look. One of the more successful areas completed is outside the railway station. A water fountain feature and a long steel blade fountain were built which creates a great first impression for people coming to the city by the train. Several thousand pounds were provided by Yorkshire Forward to complete the square and it was opened in 2009.
Another success was the creation of the Gold Route. This is a walk from the railway station to the end of Division Street that allows visitors to see all the newly generated areas of the centre. The walk is lit and has CCTV cameras making it safe to walk both day and night. The scheme has received many awards and good reviews and has helped visitor numbers to the city to increase. Another better known partnership is that of the Park Hill flats which overlook the city centre. These council flats are the largest Grade 2 listed building in the country and over the past few years had become very rundown. Urban Splash, Creative Sheffield and Yorkshire Forward (YF) again partnered together to regenerate the flats into modern and stylish looking apartments to attract a range of residents. Glass lifts and colourful walls make for a pleasing exterior. YF granted over £200000 to complete the work and currently over 100 of the flats are available to buy. They range from £80000 to over £110000 showing that Urban Splash are confident they will sell. Park Hill flats have had a great deal of interest from people wanting to buy and rent showing that the partnership scheme is a success. Once the regenerated flats have been bought more can be revamped until all of the blocks have been completed.
16. Study Figure 6 which shows an area in a conflict zone. Describe and comment on the area shown. (7 marks)
Level 2 (5-7 marks) (mid point 6)
More detailed comment with appropriate description.
The area in the photograph shows a semi-arid area with a village made of straw huts and compounds around them. The area is semi-desert as you can see that the majority of the land is very barren and sandy, and yet there are quite a few trees around. This must be an area where water occurs close to the surface allowing the trees to grow.
However in the village one set of houses and the compound are ablaze. This could be a natural fire, but it is more likely to have been caused deliberately, especially as it is a conflict zone. As this is a conflict zone, it would be reasonable to suggest that some guerrillas have set this area on fire to take control of the area by possibly burning the house of the leader of the community. There are few if any people around, so I can suggest that the people have moved out either by be kidnapped as happened recently in northern Nigeria - hundreds of girls were abducted by a group called Boko Haram - or they have fled out of fear.
You can see tracks both behind and in front of the compound on fire. These are the tracks that rebels or guerrillas will have used when they came to the village on 4x4 trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. This could have been people like the Janjaweed in Darfur in Sudan. It is likely that they will have killed people and taken away any animals in the village.
(17) Outline processes by which conflict resolution can take place. (8 marks)
Level 2 (5-8): detailed, specific and/or sophisticated processes that clearly apply to conflict resolution. A greater range of processes will move the answer up the level, as will recognition of the complexity of the topic.
Conflict resolution can take place in many different ways depending on the scale of the conflict. Local conflicts tend to be over the use of local resources and land use and the UK government have a planning permission scheme to try and minimise conflict. Plans for development in an area such as Derry Hill in Menston where constructors hope to create 40 new homes are displayed for an area and local people are encouraged to give their views on the matter. All the individual views will be weighed up and assessed by an inspector before planning permission is granted or declined. If planning permission is granted but there is still strong opposition to the plans the government can call in the application and send it to a tribunal whose job it is to assess whether the benefits of the plans outweigh the losses or not. In some cases, such as Whinash wind farm in the Lake District where plans were submitted for 4 new turbines, the plan may be rejected by the tribunal though planning permission was earlier granted.
On an international scale larger conflicts may require international intervention by groups such as the UN or NATO to be resolved. The groups may send peacekeepers into war torn areas to try and instigate peace or may have to take a harder line on the conflict for example in 2012 when NATO officiated air strikes on Libya in an attempt to help rebels in the country overthrow Colonel Gaddafi and the country’s regime. On a slightly smaller scale countries may ally with each other over a conflict such as when Russia allied with South Ossetia to help it gain independence from Georgia following a short war in 2008. (8)
(18) With reference to one recent major international conflict, discuss the impact of the conflict on the environment of the area affected. (10 marks)
04. Figure 2 shows the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), a measure of the intensity of tropical revolving storms, in the North Atlantic Ocean area between 1940 and 2010. Describe and comment on the information shown. (7 marks)
Level 2 (5-7 marks) (mid point 6)
Good description of overall trends (which may include use of data to support such as manipulation and anomalies) with appropriate comment.
Although the data shown has a very weak correlation in terms of the average Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), it does appear to be a slight positive correlation in terms of energy increasing over the years with some troughs signalling periods of low energy. For example the average ACE in 1940 was about 60 ACE in comparison to 2010 when it was about 115 ACE, an increase of about 90% in energy. This could roughly be due to the increase in sea temperatures as a result of global warming as greenhouse gases are increasing preventing outgoing long wave infrared radiation leaving the atmosphere so are re-emitted back to the earth’s surface increasing the global temperatures by about 0.7C over the last century.
However there are peaks and troughs that do not fit with this argument. For example, 2005 saw the greatest ACE with about 245 with 1950 the second largest at about 240. The year with the lowest ACE was 1981 with about an average of 20 ACE. This could be due to significantly lower than average sea temperatures as a result in an unusual dip in the jet stream causing it to be pulled further south in the northern hemisphere and further north in the southern hemisphere bringing with it the influence of polar maritime and arctic maritime air masses bringing much cool conditions to areas that experience cyclonic weather conditions.
Although this is a very weak correlation between an increasing amount of ACE as the years increase, there are anomalies suggesting that tropical revolving storms cannot be predicted in terms of the amount of energy they produce due to high fluctuations annually.
06. Discuss the responses to one case study of a storm event in the British Isles you have studied. (10 marks)
Level 1 (1-4 marks) (mid point 3)
Simple statements of responses which could apply to any storm event. No specific detail provided. No attempt at discussion
Level 2 (5-8 marks) (mid point 6)
Specific statements of responses which can be clearly attributed to named areas access this level. Elements of discussion.
Level 3 (9-10 marks) (mid point 9)
A fully developed answer, with good discussion and elaboration of responses. May categorise or assess effectiveness.
Britain was affected by a very strong depression on the night between the 14th and 15th October 1987. This was known as the Great Storm of 1987. The depression developed on the 13th in the Bay of Biscay with a central pressure of 968mb. It reached Britain and Brittany on the 14th. The impact was devastating – 22 people were killed, 4 in France, 18 in the UK – mainly by falling trees, roof tiles and coastal flooding. The low pressure created a sea surge which hit the south coast, strong waves rose over sea defences flooding some houses.
In response the government advised via the BBC that people do not travel to work that day and stay at home helping the clear up operation in their local area. This had secondary consequences on the UK economy which actually caused a fall in global share prices, felt in Tokyo and New York because of the huge economic importance of London as a world city. In the longer term many trees have now been replanted, with for example Toys Hill in Kent completely reforested and many trees at Kew Gardens were saved by tree surgeons. Shanklin pier on the Isle of Wight, which was destroyed, was never rebuilt, a monument was built instead at the entrance of the old pier to stand as a commemoration of the events of that day.
Elsewhere, environmentalists and volunteers helped to replant some of the trees lost in national forests. Also concrete storage facilities were built to store the timber trees to allow timber markets to stabilise before releasing them for sale.
There was also an investigation into why the storm hadn’t been picked up by the weather reporters (such as the infamous Michael Fish) and weather systems at the Met Office. As a result new monitoring equipment was stationed on the south coast and improved satellite information covering the North Atlantic was supplied to the Met Office. Also the government set up a new system whereby emergency services such as hospitals, fire crews and the police would be alerted by pagers if a storm event was coming. This allows for emergency services to be prepared by having more staff available to respond to the impacts of a storm and essentially save more lives.
07. Figure 3 shows a map of Roundhay Park on the north-eastern rural/urban fringe of Leeds, West Yorkshire. Comment on the activities shown. (7 marks)
Level 2 (5-7 marks) (mid point 6)
Comments which go beyond the information in the figure - evidence of intellectual processing. May include some attempt to categorise.
Roundhay Park clearly provides a large area of open air recreation for the people of Leeds. These areas of greenery in urban areas are very important. Towards the north of the park is a golf course just over 500m tall and wide and will be a medium sized golf course. The course is separated from the other areas of the park using deciduous trees. These also separate it from the noise pollution of the ring road. The golf course has very little woodland on it. However parking is on the other side of Upper Lake but park entrances are conveniently close.
There are a lot of paths around the park and this provides a good space for leisure activities such as walking and running which help to keep the population active. The large upper lake and Waterloo Lake are likely to have ducks and maybe fish that people may wish to feed. Waterloo Lake has a boat house suggesting that people could use model boats on the lake or maybe a larger range of activities. There is a lakeside cafe positioned by the lake where people could relax and enjoy a beverage.
The Arena is separated from other places of activity as a result of trees being positioned along the paths. There is a very large range of activities that take place at the park all of which have limited damage to ecosystems although will reduce succession.
09. Discuss the impact on ecosystems of the planned and unplanned introduction of new species into urban areas. (10 marks)
Level 2 (5-8 marks)
Specific or detailed statements of description/impact of planned and unplanned introduction of new species; may be still an imbalance of aspects. Both elements of the question covered.
Level 3 (9-10 marks)
A fully developed answer, with good discussion of a range of impacts, with both elements reaching a Level 2 response. The answer demonstrates both breadth and depth of understanding.
Gardens (both private and public), parks, cemeteries, playing fields and school properties are all areas where the vegetation is managed in a planned way. Gardeners, both domestic and local authority, introduce new species, many of which are from overseas. Species of this nature include imported trees and bushes such as the sycamore, rhododendron and buddleia and are designed to decorate or enhance the quality of gardens. Others have been introduced but have spread beyond where they were intended, and have become a nuisance. Some of these are the buddleia again, and the Michaelmas daisy, Oxford Ragwort and the Japanese knotweed.
Playing fields are areas where people try to plan the amount and nature of the species present by mowing, weeding and the application of chemicals such as fertilisers or herbicides. Most professional football grounds now have very carefully managed turfs, and they are often changed several times in a season to maintain the high quality for the teams. Local authority playing fields are less well-maintained and they will have more evidence of clover, daisies and other weeds such as dandelions.
On the other hand, some environments in urban areas are unplanned. Many primary schools for example have ‘wild’ areas to encourage a wide range of plants to develop naturally in order to increase the number of wild flowers and hence encourage insects. The same can be said for some road verges in towns where areas are not mowed to encourage more native species. Although these are not new in the sense of they are already native to the UK, they may be ‘new’ to the area having not been there for a while.
The same idea could be used for some animals which are also ‘new’ to the urban environment in which they live. In these cases - the urban fox, the grey squirrel and the parakeets of the London suburbs - their original habitat is not an urban area, and their unplanned introduction has caused some concern for some urban residents. Urban foxes have been seen working their way through waste bins, and some have been charged with attacking small children in their beds in the London area. The grey squirrel is also a foreign species - from the USA - so it has been both introduced, and unplanned.
One of the most famous examples of a negative impact by an unplanned species is that of the Japanese knotweed. This spreads easily via rhizomes and cut stems or crowns. It is now listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as a plant that is not to be planted or otherwise introduced into the wild. It causes extensive damage to paving, concrete and tarmac-ed areas, and is extremely expensive and difficult to treat and remove. Perhaps its major ‘crime’ is that it shades out native species and therefore reduces biodiversity in a visually unattractive way.
Thus it can be seen that there is a variety of impacts of planned and unplanned introduction of plant and animal species into urban areas.