Geological Conservation Review

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The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) is produced by the UK's Joint Nature Conservation Committee and is designed to identify those sites of national and international importance needed to show all the key scientific elements of the geological and geomorphological features of Britain. These sites display sediments, rocks, minerals, fossils, and features of the landscape that make a special contribution to an understanding and appreciation of Earth science and the geological history of Britain, which stretches back more than three billion years. The intention of the project, which was devised in 1974 by George Black and William Wimbledon working for the Governmental advisory agency, the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), was activated in 1977. It aimed to provide the scientific rationale and information base for the conservation of geological SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest, protected under British law (latterly the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended 1995). The NCC and country conservation agencies were established in 1990 when JNCC became established (Environmental Protection Act 1990) and took over responsibility for managing the GCR site assessment process, and publishing accounts of accepted sites.


By the year 2000, over 3000 localities had been identified as qualifying for GCR standard (SSSI standard). NCC and later JNCC, have published detailed site descriptions of the GCR localities. For part of the GCR Series of books, commercial publishers were involved, principally Chapman & Hall. To date 36 of the planned 45 volumes have been published, with volumes 15 to 36 being published by JNCC directly, and available for sale through the Natural History Book Service, Totnes.

GCR blocks

The GCR is broken down into 107 'blocks' whereby sites with a similarly themed interest are collected together and described in one of the published volumes described above. A block may contain anything from 2 to 140 sites: [1]

Precambrian and Structural Geology

Igneous and Mineralogy

Palaeozoic Stratigraphy

Mesozoic-Tertiary Stratigraphy


Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology


Related Research Articles

Geology of the Appalachians

The geology of the Appalachians dates back to more than 480 million years ago. A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian Mountains reveals elongate belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor – strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision. The birth of the Appalachian ranges marks the first of several mountain building plate collisions that culminated in the construction of the supercontinent Pangaea with the Appalachians and neighboring Little Atlas near the center. These mountain ranges likely once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before they were eroded.

Geology of Australia overview about the geology of Australia

The geology of Australia includes virtually all known rock types and from all geological time periods spanning over 3.8 billion years of the Earth's history. Australia is a continent situated on the Indo-Australian Plate.

The geology of Wales is complex and varied; its study has been of considerable historical significance in the development of geology as a science. All geological periods from the Cryogenian to the Jurassic are represented at outcrops, whilst younger sedimentary rocks occur beneath the seas immediately off the Welsh coast. The effects of two mountain-building episodes have left their mark in the faulting and folding of much of the Palaeozoic rock sequence. Superficial deposits and landforms created during the present Quaternary period by water and ice are also plentiful and contribute to a remarkably diverse landscape of mountains, hills and coastal plains.

Geology of Norway

The geology of Norway encompasses the history of earth that can be interpreted by rock types found in Norway, and the associated sedimentological history of soils and rock types.

Geology of Orkney

The geology of the Orkney islands in northern Scotland is dominated by the Devonian age Old Red Sandstone (ORS). In the southwestern part of Mainland, this sequence can be seen to rest unconformably on a Moinian type metamorphic basement.

Geology of Iran

The main points that are discussed in the geology of Iran include the study of the geological and structural units or zones; stratigraphy; magmatism and igneous rocks; ophiolite series and ultramafic rocks; and orogenic events in Iran.

Geology of the southern North Sea

The North Sea basin is located in northern Europe and lies between the United Kingdom, and Norway just north of The Netherlands and can be divided into many sub-basins. The Southern North Sea basin is the largest gas producing basin in the UK continental shelf, with production coming from the lower Permian sandstones which are sealed by the upper Zechstein salt. The evolution of the North Sea basin occurred through multiple stages throughout the geologic timeline. First the creation of the Sub-Cambrian peneplain, followed by the Caledonian Orogeny in the late Silurian and early Devonian. Rift phases occurred in the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic which allowed the opening of the northeastern Atlantic. Differential uplift occurred in the late Paleogene and Neogene. The geology of the Southern North Sea basin has a complex history of basinal subsidence that had occurred in the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic. Uplift events occurred which were then followed by crustal extension which allowed rocks to become folded and faulted late in the Paleozoic. Tectonic movements allowed for halokinesis to occur with more uplift in the Mesozoic followed by a major phase of inversion occurred in the Cenozoic affecting many basins in northwestern Europe. The overall saucer-shaped geometry of the southern North Sea Basin indicates that the major faults have not been actively controlling sediment distribution.

The geology of Northumberland in northeast England includes a mix of sedimentary, intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks from the Palaeozoic and Cenozoic eras. Devonian age volcanic rocks and a granite pluton form the Cheviot massif. The geology of the rest of the county is characterised largely by a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks of Carboniferous age. These are intruded by both Permian and Palaeogene dykes and sills and the whole is overlain by unconsolidated sediments from the last ice age and the post-glacial period. The Whin Sill makes a significant impact on Northumberland's character and the former working of the Northumberland Coalfield significantly influenced the development of the county's economy. The county's geology contributes to a series of significant landscape features around which the Northumberland National Park was designated.

Geology of Hainan Island

Hainan Island, located in the South China Sea off the Chinese coast and separated from mainland China by the Qiongzhou Strait, has a complex geological history that it has experienced multiple stages of metamorphism, volcanic and intrusive activities, tectonic drifting and more. The oldest rocks, the Proterozoic metamorphic basement, are not widely exposed, but mostly found in the western part of the Island.

Sub-Mesozoic hilly peneplains A landscape in Scandinavia of undulating hills and joint valleys

The Sub-Mesozoic hilly peneplains or Sub-Mesozoic hilly relief is a landscape in Scandinavia made up of undulating hills and joint valleys and occasional kaolinized bedrock in valley bottoms. The landscape formed in the Mesozoic Era and was eventually drowned by the sea during the Campanian transgression and covered by a thick cover of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. Later erosion of the cover rocks partly re-exposed this landscape. During the Quaternary epoch the re-exposed Mesozoic hilly relief escaped major glacier erosion being only surficially scoured in parts.

The geology of Libya formed on top of deep and poorly understood Precambrian igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rock. Most of the country is intra-craton basins, filled with thick layers of sediment. The region experienced long-running subsidence and terrestrial sedimentation during the Paleozoic, followed by phases of volcanism and intense folding in some areas, and widespread flooding in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic due to a long marine transgression. Libya has the largest hydrocarbon reserves in Africa, as well as deposits of evaporites.

The geology of Ukraine is the regional study of rocks, minerals, tectonics, natural resources and groundwater in the country. The oldest rocks in the region are part of the Ukrainian Shield and formed more than 2.5 billion years ago in the Archean eon of the Precambrian. Extensive tectonic evolution and numerous orogeny mountain building events fractured the crust into numerous block, horsts, grabens and depressions and Ukraine was intermittently flooded as the crust downwarped during much of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and early Cenozoic, before the formation of the Alps and Carpathians defined much of its current topography and tectonics. Ukraine was impacted by the Pleistocene glaciations within the last several hundred thousand years. The country has numerous metal deposits as well as minerals, building stone and high-quality industrial sands.

The geology of Belgium encompasses rocks, minerals and tectonic events stretching back more than 500 million years. Belgium covers an area of about 30507 square kilometers and was very instrumental in the development of geology. For instance, the extensive outcrops in Belgium became the standard reference points in stratigraphy in as early as the mid-19th century. Some of them are internationally recognized features related to the Carboniferous and the Devonian. These rocks were folded by two orogeny mountain building events --the Hercynian orogeny, and Caledonian Orogeny. Paleozoic basement rocks cover much of the country and are overlain by Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments.

The geology of Bulgaria consists of two major structural features. The Rhodope Massif in southern Bulgaria is made up of Archean, Proterozoic and Cambrian rocks and is a sub-province of the Thracian-Anatolian polymetallic province. It has dropped down, faulted basins filled with Cenozoic sediments and volcanic rocks. The Moesian Platform to the north extends into Romania and has Paleozoic rocks covered by rocks from the Mesozoic, typically buried by thick Danube River valley Quaternary sediments. In places, the Moesian Platform has small oil and gas fields. Bulgaria is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east.

The geology of Croatia includes Precambrian rocks, covered over by younger sedimentary rocks and deformed or superimposed by tectonic activity.

The geology of Brazil includes very ancient craton basement rock from the Precambrian overlain by sedimentary rocks and intruded by igneous activity, as well as impacted by the rifting of the Atlantic Ocean.

Junggar Basin

Junggar Basin is one of the largest sedimentary basins in Northwest China. It is located in Xinjiang, and enclosed by the Tarbagata mountains of Kazakhstan on the northwest side, the Altai mountains of Mongolia in the northeast, and the Heavenly mountains in the South.

The geology of national parks in Britain strongly influences the landscape character of each of the fifteen such areas which have been designated. There are ten national parks in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. Ten of these were established in England and Wales in the 1950s under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. With one exception, all of these first ten, together with the two Scottish parks were centred on upland or coastal areas formed from Palaeozoic rocks. The exception is the North York Moors National Park which is formed from sedimentary rocks of Jurassic age.

The geology of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park in the southwestern part of the Scottish Highlands consists largely of Neoproterozoic and Palaeozoic bedrock faulted and folded and subjected to low grade metamorphism during the Caledonian orogeny. These older rocks, assigned to the Dalradian Supergroup, lie to the northwest of the northeast – southwest aligned Highland Boundary Fault which defines the southern edge of the Highlands. A part of this mountainous park extends south of this major geological divide into an area characterised by younger Devonian rocks which are assigned to the Old Red Sandstone.


  1. JNCC List of GCR blocks in the UK