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Geology of the Derbyshire Peak District around Castleton

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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Around Castleton, craggy wooded dales and cliff-edged moorlands meet. Here the underlying geology records a legacy from Carboniferous times of tropical limestone reefs which became buried by grit deltas. Later, fluids entered the limestones forming metallic ores and the famous mineral ‘Blue John’. Here also occurs Britain’s deepest cave shaft and the landslide-prone Mam Tor, the ‘Shivering Mountain’. Working quarries and natural exposures will be examined. No prior knowledge of geology or the area will be assumed.

Please note that you will need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements, with meetings times and places to be confirmed.

Topics to be covered:

An appreciation of the rocks of the Castleton area and the often striking landforms these have given rise to.

The geological history of the area, following a major episode of tectonic plate collision (the ‘Caledonian Orogeny’) during Silurian times (444 – 419 million years ago) and continuing up to the present day. It will be shown that that part of the earth’s crust which is now the British Isles, was located in tropical and equatorial latitudes when the rocks of the Castleton area were formed during the Carboniferous period (359 – 259 million years ago).  In the Early part of the Period, the crust of northern England was being stretched in a N-S direction, causing it to break into a mosaic of active rift basins with less-subsiding areas between, and to become flooded by sea water; the contrasting sedimentary deposits laid down in this setting will be described and examined, notably the shallow water limestone (including reef) deposits and their fringing boulder beds. In Late Carboniferous times, the crustal rifting stabilised and was replaced by more uniform subsidence; this time was characterised by the advance of deltas into the marine environment from the north and east, filling in the sea, and eventually producing land characterised by rivers and swamps, in which coal deposits were laid down. These deltaic deposits will be studied on the course.

At the end of Carboniferous times, another major tectonic plate collision affected Britain: in the Castleton area, crustal movements on geological faults released pressures allowing mineralising fluids to rise up into the limestones and form deposits chiefly of lead and fluorspar; these will be examined in opencasts where the latter mineral continues to be extracted for industrial uses today.

The effect of geologically-recent ice ages on the landforms of the Castleton area were dramatic, particularly the creation of large-scale landslides. We will examine one of these at Mam Tor near Castleton, notably its continuing movement, causing the abandonment of a main road in 1979.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Anyone enrolling on this course will need to provide their own PPE, as specified below.

Who is this course for?

Anyone who has, or wishes, to develop an interest in practical geology.

Learning and Teaching

Fieldtrips spread across four days with an emphasis on practical observation and recognition of significant features. 20 contact hours.

Students will be taught the basics of geological science, and the geology (including landforms) of the study area firstly through background reading of the handout forwarded to them in advance of the course (includes text, maps and descriptive annotated sketches); they will then be shown many of the aspects described in the handout in the field, having the handout available at all times for reference. Field skills will be taught during the course, including how to observe and record, how to sample good reference specimens, and to be aware of and act on, key aspects of geological conservation and safety.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions



Please note that it is not essential that attendees on this course read any of the publications listed in order to complete the course successfully.

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on

(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.