Ice Age landforms and sediments

Context

Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites are selected for, and grouped according to, GCR blocks, which are site-selection categories for nationally important Earth science sites.  There are around 100 'blocks' and about 3,000 GCR sites in Britain.  Each 'block' represents a particular geological age or Earth science theme, such as Marine Permian Stratigraphy, Jurassic–Cretaceous Reptilia, Caledonian Igneous Rocks and Quaternary of Scotland.
 
The landforms and sediments blocks are classified on a regional basis, although the sub-division of time (usually stratigraphical age) is an important factor.  Sites were selected to represent the stratigraphy of Quaternary successions and the development of landforms.
 
During the Quaternary Period northern Britain was covered by a succession of ice sheets, while southernmost Britain was not glaciated, although frozen ground conditions were experienced.  The wide variation of ice-age sediments and geomorphological features across Britain, and the large number of sites available for study, have required the use of three principal themes for the basis of the Geological Conservation Review Quaternary site selection:
 
1.  Environmental history and change based on the stratigraphy at different localities, their age and fossil content, e.g. glacial-interglacial history, sea-level change;
2.  Processes and patterns of landscape evolution, e.g. glaciation, periglaciation;
3.  The history and development of the flora and fauna, e.g. vegetation history, evolution of vertebrates.
 
In choosing GCR sites, comparisons were made between the regional Quaternary blocks to ensure that certain categories of site were not over-represented.
 

Summary statistics

  A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 88% 88%
Main monitoring coverage E, S, NI  
Reported assessments 410 410
Completeness of assessments approx.75%  
Distribution of features   UK
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SSSI/ASSI
England 282
Scotland 111
Wales 0
Northern Ireland 17
United Kingdom 410
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Holocene peat and related stratigraphy Holocene peat and related stratigraphy 5
Holocene sea level changes Holocene sea level changes 13
Pleistocene Landforms 1
Pleistocene Lough Fea complex - part 2
Pleistocene Pleistocene 6
Pollen stratigraphy of England Pollen stratigraphy of England 10
Quaternary of Cumbria Quaternary of Cumbria 14
Quaternary of East Anglia Quaternary of East Anglia 52
Quaternary of East England - North Quaternary of East England - North 13
Quaternary of East England - South Quaternary of East England - South 5
Quaternary of Midlands - Avon Quaternary of Midlands - Avon 19
Quaternary of North-East England Quaternary of North-East England 8
Quaternary of Scotland Quaternary of Scotland 111
Quaternary of Somerset Quaternary of Somerset 20
Quaternary of South Central England Quaternary of South Central England 15
Quaternary of South-East England Quaternary of South-East England 17
Quaternary of South-West England Quaternary of South-West England 35
Quaternary of the Pennines and Adjacent Areas Quaternary of the Pennines and Adjacent Areas 15
Quaternary of the Thames Quaternary of the Thames 46
Sealevel history Sealevel history 3
 
This list has not been fully standardised at a UK level yet. It is intended to show the principal constituent "feature types" for this reporting category.
 

Maps - distribution

UK distibution of reported interest features

Distribution of reported interest features.

Map showing the locations of the 10km squares in which at least one condition assessment has been reported. It does not show features that have not yet been assessed.

 

Maps - SSSI

Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features
Distribution of SSSI/ASSI features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

SSSI map legend - Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Condition summary

Reporting category condition summary on SSSI/ASSI sites

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features within the SSSI series. Note that we are unable to estimate the total number of SSSI/ASSI features because we do not have an overall list of notified interest features for these designations.

 

NB favourable unclassified and unfavourable unclassified have been used in this first six year cycle to get around difficulties in identifying trends in condition as common standards monitoring is implemented. It is expected that these categories will not be used for subsequent assessments of a feature.

 

Condition assessment - SSSI features

The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Adverse activities

The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature
The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature. More than one adverse activity may be reported for each feature.
 

Management measures

The measures summary bar chart lists the management measures relevant to the reporting category
For each "measure" the chart shows the number of interest features where that measure has been taken on a site to improve or maintain the condition of an interest feature. More than one measure may be reported for each feature assessed.
 

Interpretation

About 75% sites with Quaternary features are accounted for, of which 88% are reported in favourable condition.  This is about the average for geological features and well above the average for all features combined.  3% of features reported are unfavourable-recovering. 
 
The main reasons for unfavourable condition are that the geology or landscape is obscured in some way.