Follow istudy_uk on Twitter
crossword resources link

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Aftershock: Small shocks/quakes/tremors after the main earthquake.

Ash & cinder volcano: A volcano made up of layers of ash and cinder from successive eruptions.

Caldera: The crater left after a volcano has collapsed in on itself.

Collision plate boundary: Two similar tectonic plates colliding and buckling up to form fold mountains.

Composite volcano: A classically shaped volcano created from alternate layers of lava & ash eruptions.

Conservative plate boundary: Two tectonic plates sliding past each other.

Constructive plate boundary: Two tectonic plates (oceanic) moving apart from each other.

Convection currents: Circular currents in the mantle created by the heat of the core.

Core: Iron & nickel centre of the earth.

Crust: The outer (& thinnest) layer of the earth.

Destructive plate boundary: The collision of a continental and an oceanic tectonic plate. The oceanic plate is sub ducted due to being denser. Creates Fold Mountains, volcanoes and ocean trenches.

Dome volcano: Steep sided volcano formed from eruptions of acid /basic lava.

Epicentre: The point on the earth’s surface directly above the focus.

Fissure volcano: A volcano that run along a constructive plate boundary (Mid-Atlantic ridge).

Focus: The actual point at which the earthquake occurred.

Fumaroles: Secondary vents or openings on a volcano.

Hot spot: A point of weakness in a tectonic plate where magma bursts to the surface (not on a plate boundary).

Lava: Molten rock on the earths surface.

Magma: Molten rock still underground.

Magma chamber: The storage of magma in or below the crust.

Mantle: The layer of molten rock below the crust.

Mercalli scale: A scale that measures the damage caused by an earthquake.

Pyroclastic flow: A very hot cloud of gas, ash and cinder that races down the side of a volcano.

Richter scale: A scale that measures the energy released (magnitude) of an earthquake.

Seismic waves: The shockwaves produced by an earthquake.

Seismograph: The graph drawn by a seismometer showing the magnitude of the vibrations.

Seismologist: A person who studies earthquakes.

Seismometer: A instrument that measures vibrations in the earth’s crust.

Shield volcano: A wide, gentle sloping volcano created through eruption of basaltic lava.

Subduction zone: At a destructive plate boundary the area where the oceanic plate has gone under the continental plate and is melting.

Tectonic plate: A section of the earth’s crust.

Tsunami: A tidal wave typically created by earthquakes under the ocean.

Vent: The passage through which magma travels to the surface of the crust.

Volcano: A mountain formed by eruptions of lava/ash.


Arch: The feature created in coastal headland when erosion wears a cave completely through the rock.

Backwash: The wave retreating back from the beach

Beach nourishment: Replenishing beaches with sand brought from other places.

Cave: Hollowed out feature formed in a cliff/headland by coastal erosion.

Constructive wave: A wave with a strong swash that deposits more material than it removes.

Destructive wave: A wave with a strong backwash which removes more material than it deposits.

Fault: A crack or line of weakness in the rock or cliff.

Fetch: The distance of ocean that has had the wind blowing on it.

Gabion: A wire cage filled with rocks that absorbs the waves energy and helps protect cliffs from further erosion.

Groyne: Wooden structures (small walls) constructed on beaches to reduce long shore drift.

Long shore drift: The movement of material along a coast line.

Riprap: Artificial rock made of concrete placed along coasts to absorb the waves energy & reduce erosion.

Seawall: A concrete wall built at the back of a beach to protect the cliffs or development there.

Spit: A strip of beach extending into the sea, created by deposition.

Stack: The feature left when the bridge of an arch collapses.

Stump: The feature left when a stack is eroded at the base and collapses.

Swash: The motion of the wave coming up the beach.


Rivers & Hydrological Cycle

Drainage basin: The total area of land drained by a river system.

Source: The start of a river.

Tributary: A smaller stream/river that joins a larger one.

Confluence: The meeting point of two rivers.

Waterfall: The point at which a river flows over a vertical drop.

Watershed: The outer limit of a drainage basin.

Floodplain: An area of deposited material in the lower course of the drainage basin along side the river that is naturally prone to flooding.

Gorge: Steep sided narrow river valley through rock.

Meander: Natural bends in river created by erosion.

Oxbow lake: A section of a river that is isolated when meanders joing up.

Levee: Barrier/wall built to protect against flooding.

Embankment: Man-made ridge (often earthen) to protect against flooding.

Delta: Area of deposition at the mouth of a river.

Discharge: velocity x volume, measured in cumecs (cubic metres/second).

Distributaries: Smaller rivers flowing from the main river, associated with deltas.

Evaporation: water turning into vapour due to heat.

Transpiration: water vapour given off by plants/trees.

Condensation: water vapour turning back into water due to cooling temperatures.

Precipitation: Water returning to earth from the atmosphere (rain, snow, hail, sleet).

Infiltration: Water soaking into the soil.

Percolation: Water soaking through the rocks below the soil.

Groundwater: Water stored in the rocks deep underground.

Through flow: Water flowing sideways through the soil layers.

Surface run-off: water flowing along the surface of the ground (not soaking in).

Interception: Precipitation that does not reach the ground due to obstacles (trees etc).

Evapotranspiration: The total water vapour released into the atmosphere (evaporation + transpiration).

Erosion: The wearing away of rocks and soil.

Abrasion: Stones and rocks scraping & wearing away material.

Hydraulic action: The physical force of the water wearing away the material.

Attrition: Stones/rocks carried in the water hitting & wearing away material.

Corrosion: Acid in the water dissolves rocks.

Transportation: The movement of material form one point to another.

Traction: The rolling of larger stones and rocks by the power of water in rivers.

Saltation: The bouncing of stones and rocks by the power of water in rivers.

Suspension: Smaller material in rivers that is carried along in the flow.

Solution: The dissolved material that rivers transport.

Deposition: The material that is left behind by water/ice/wind after it has been transported.


Birth rate: Number of births in a country in a year per 1000 of population.

Death rate: No of deaths in a country in a year per 1000 of population.

Demographic transition model: A model showing the expected changes in birth rate, death rate and population growth as a country develops.

Demography: The study of population.

Dependency ratio Ratio: between the economically active population (16-45) & the dependent population.

Dependent population: The non economically active sectors of the population (under 16 & 65+).

Emigration: People leaving the country to live in another one.

Immigration: People moving into a country to live.

Infant mortality: average number of deaths of children under 1 year old per 1000 births.

Life expectancy: Average age a person could be expected to reach in a country.

Literacy rate: % of population able to read & write.

Migration: The movement of people/animals on a medium to long term basis.

Old dependent: Sector of population over 65 years old.

Population pyramid: A pyramid graph that shows the age and sex make up of a countries population.

Pull factor: Reasons why people move to a place (attractions).

Push factor: Reasons why people leave a place (bad aspects).

Rural-urban migration: Movement of people from the countryside to towns & cities to live.

Young dependent: Sector of population under 16 years old.



Aid: Help given to poorer countries or those in need after a disaster.

Bilateral aid: Aid between 2 countries.

Brownfield site: Land that has previously been built on.

Employment structure: The proportion of primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in an economy.

GDP: Gross Domestic Product. The total value of all the goods & services produced in a country.

Globalisation: The increasingly worldwide nature of travel, communication and trade.

GNP: Gross National Product. GDP + foreign earnings.

Infrastructure: The basic man made facilities that allow countries to function effectively (communication, transportation, power, clean water).

LEDC: Less Economically Developed Country

Long term aid: Aid intended to improve living conditions and quality of life such as training/education.

MEDC: More Economically Developed Country

Multi lateral aid: Aid given by a number of countries (e.g. through the world bank).

NGO: Non Governmental Organisation.

NIC: Newly Industrialised Country.

Primary industry: The extraction or collection of natural resources.

Quaternary industry: Industries that are based on research and development.

Secondary industry: Manufacturing or construction.

Short term aid: Aid intended to deal with an emergency such as food, water and medical supplies.

Tertiary industry: Industries that provide a service.

Tied aid: Aid that has conditions attached to it.

TNC Trans National Company: A company with branches in more that one country.


Weather & Climate

Anemometer: Instrument for measuring the wind speed. Reading given in miles of km/hour.

Anticyclone: A high pressure weather system associated with stable sunny conditions.

Barometer: Instrument for measuring the air pressure. Reading given in milibars.

Climate: The average longer term weather conditions of a place.

Convectional rainfall: Rain caused by the sun heating the ground which heats the air causing it to rise & condense.

Depression: A low pressure weather system associated with rainy, windy weather.

Frontal rainfall: Rain caused by two air masses of differing temperatures meeting & the warmer air rising over the cooler air.

Hurricane: Low pressure extreme weather system with high winds and significant rainfall.

Hygrometer: Instrument for measuring humidity.

Micro-climate: Localised climate that is affected by environmental features such as buildings.

Rain Guage: Instrument used to collect and measure rainfall. Reading given in mm.

Relief rainfall: Rain caused by air masses having to rise above an obstacle such as a mountain range.

Thermometer: Instrument for measuring the temperature. Reading given in oC or oF.

Weather: The short term conditions of the atmosphere around us.

Weather Vane: Instrument for measuring the wind direction.


Arable farming: The growing of crops.

Commercial farming: Farming to sell produce.

Diversification: Branching into new economic activities to supplement original farming.

Extensive farming: Farming on a large area of low value land that requires few inputs.

Fertiliser: Nutritional additive for soil to improve crops.

Green revolution: Use of cereal & rice HYVs (high yield varieties) to improve yields and better resist drought & disease.

Intensive farming: Farming on a small area of land that requires a lot of inputs to maximise the output.

Irrigation: Watering system for crops/arable farming.

Market gardening: Growing of fruit and vegetables, usually in an intensive fashion.

Mixed farming: A combination of arable and pastoral.

Pastoral farming: Caring for animals/livestock.

Subsistence farming: Farming for own needs, with nothing (or very little) left for selling.


Brownfield site: Land that has previously been built on.

CBD: Central Business District: The central area of an urban area that hosts the commercial sector.

Commuter: Person who travels to reach place of work.

Counter-urbanisation: The movement of people out of urban areas to the countryside to live.

Detached house: Houses that are completely seperated from the next house.

Dispersed settlement: Scattered and isolated dwellings, farm houses.

Favela: see shanty town.

Greenbelt: Area of land surrounding major urban areas in which development is severly restricted.

Greenfield site: Land that has not previously been developed, still agricultural or wild.

Informal job sector: Jobs which are not officially recognised, pay no tax and have no security such as shoe shine.

Inner city: The area surroundng the CBD, consisting of terraced housing, old industry and high rise housing.

Linear settlement: Settlement built in a line, often along a transport route.

Nucleated settlement: Settlement that is clustered, often around the junction of transport routes.

Rural-urban fringe: The area at which the city edges meet the countryside.

Semi-detached house: Houses joined to another house only on one side.

Shanty town: illegal squatter settlement with limited (if any) infrastructure.

Site: The actual area on which a settlement or building is located.

Situation: The area/environment surrounding the site.

Suburbs: Area surrounding the inner city, often more affluent.

Terraced housing: Rows of houses with no gaps between the houses.

Urbanisation: An increase in the % of people living in urban areas.