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Senior: 11 & 12: Unit 3: Living on Earth

Topic 1: Non-renewable Earth Resources

Soil erosion is the removal of the top layer of the soil due to some physical forces.

University of California: Effects of resource extraction

Queensland Government: Impacts of soil erosion

Queensland Government: Preventing and managing erosion

Spray Grass Australia: Mine Site Rehabilitation

Land for Wildlife QLD: Revegetation Principles


Case Study: Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory

Australian Government: Ranger Uranium Mine

Australian Government: Environmental Monitoring

Research Paper: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF MINING - Erosion and Hydrology at Ranger Mine


Journal articles:

Restoration Ecology: Soil reconstruction after mining fails to restore soil function in an Australian arid woodland

Journal of Environmental Management: Evaluating the environmental and economic impact of mining for post-mined land restoration and land-use: A review

Ecological Engineering: Ecological methods and indicators for recovering and monitoring ecosystems after mining: A global literature review

Land Degradation & Development: Tropical surface gold mining: A review of ecological impacts and restoration strategies

Heliyon: Active revegetation after mining


Turbidity is the measurement of water clarity (i.e., transparency). Suspended particles – such as silt, algae, plankton, and sewage – can cause water to appear cloudy or murky. These particles scatter and absorb light rays rather than allowing light to be transmitted straight through the water.

A higher turbidity reading represents cloudier and ‘thicker’ water with more particles throughout. When water is clear, it has low turbidity levels.

Turbidity Management:

Queensland Heath: Turbidity and Critical limits for Water Management

Australian Government: Sediment basins

WSUD Engineering: Sediment basin design and principles

Turbid Water Solutions: Sediment Management on Construction Sites

Queensland Government: Sediment Ponds - Construction and Operation

Queensland Government: Treatment Wetlands - Planning and Design

Topic 2: Renewable Earth Resources

GeoScience Australia:

Solar power is generated when energy from the sun (sunlight) is converted into electricity or used to heat air, water, or other fluids. There are two main types of solar energy technologies:

  • Solar thermal is the conversion of solar radiation into thermal energy (heat). Thermal energy carried by air, water, or other fluid is commonly used directly, for space heating, or to generate electricity using steam and turbines. Solar thermal is commonly used for hot water systems. Solar thermal electricity, also known as concentrating solar power, is typically designed for large scale power generation.
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) converts sunlight directly into electricity using photovoltaic cells. PV systems can be installed on rooftops, integrated into building designs and vehicles, or scaled up to megawatt scale power plants. PV systems can also be used in conjunction with concentrating mirrors or lenses for large scale centralised power.

Solar thermal and PV technology can also be combined into a single system that generates both heat and electricity.

Useful websites:

Australian Academy of Science: From sunlight to electricity

QLD Government: Department of Energy and Climate

University of Houston: Solar harvesting system has potential to generate solar power 24/7

Clean Energy Council: Energy Storage


Journal articles:

Alhijazi, A. A. K., Almasri, R. A., & Alloush, A. F. (2023). A Hybrid Renewable Energy (Solar/Wind/Biomass) and Multi-Use System Principles, Types, and Applications: A Review. Sustainability, 15(24), NA.

Alanazi, A., & Alanazi, M. (2023). Multicriteria Decision-Making for Evaluating Solar Energy Source of Saudi Arabia. Sustainability, 15(13), NA.

Coban, H. H. (2023). Hydropower Planning in Combination with Batteries and Solar Energy. Sustainability, 15(13), NA.

Tan, D., Wu, Y., Zhang, Z., Jiao, Y., Zeng, L., & Meng, Y. (2023). Assessing the Life Cycle Sustainability of Solar Energy Production Systems: A Toolkit Review in the Context of Ensuring Environmental Performance Improvements. Sustainability, 15(15), NA.




Department of Energy and Climate:

We can efficiently use energy from the wind to create electricity, or wind energy. A wind farm is a collection of wind turbines that work together to generate electricity. This electricity is then transported into the grid or is stored in a large-scale battery. 

Wind energy is kinetic (motion) energy that rotates wind turbine blades, which are connected to an internal rotor. As the blades spin so does the rotor, creating mechanical energy that is converted into electricity. Wind turbines have come a long way in terms of efficiency. Both the height and shape of the blades are designed to maximise the wind each turbine harnesses. Each modern turbine converts around 50% of the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity.

The cost of wind energy has on average been decreasing over recent years. Today, wind energy is one of the most affordable electricity sources, often rivalling or even undercutting fossil fuels.

Useful websites:

Clean Energy Council: Wind Energy Facts

Department of Energy: How to Wind Turbines Work?

CSIRO: Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap

Journal articles:

Cacciuttolo, C., Cano, D., Guardia, X., & Villicaña, E. (2024). Renewable Energy from Wind Farm Power Plants in Peru: Recent Advances, Challenges, and Future Perspectives. Sustainability, 16(4), NA.

Gauthier, P. (2018). The limits of renewable energy and the case for degrowthCanadian Dimension52(2), 18–43.

Tong, D., Farnham, D. J., Duan, L., Zhang, Q., Lewis, N. S., Caldeira, K., & Davis, S. J. (2021). Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power worldwideNature communications12(1), 6146.

Yin, X., & Lei, M. (2023). Jointly improving energy efficiency and smoothing power oscillations of integrated offshore wind and photovoltaic power: a deep reinforcement learning approach. Protection and Control of Modern Power Systems, 8(1), NA.

Yu, H., Yang, X., Chen, H., Lou, S., & Lin, Y. (2022). Energy Storage Capacity Planning Method for Improving Offshore Wind Power Consumption. Sustainability, 14(21), NA.

OneSearch Database Explorer

The ENTIRE collection of resources provided by the BBC Birtles Library can be searched on ONE single, powerful search platform, which retrieves print books, eBooks, database articles and websites. Click HERE for assistance.

Useful Databases

Useful Subscription Journals

Useful Science Websites

The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

An American website that aggregates press releases and publishes lightly edited press releases about science


Breaks down the stories behind the most interesting news and photos on the Internet.

Search for news articles which come from trusted news outlets, such as the Associated Press (AP) and The Atlantic, and other sources chosen for use in the classroom.


Regarded as a 'porthole' site, SciTech Daily offers the best intelligent, informed science and technology coverage and analysis you can find on a daily basis, sourcing a huge range of great writers and excellent research institutes.

Gateway to the best Science news sources.

A global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.

The world’s largest biomedical library.


Web-based medical and health news service.




Google Scholar's searches are set to cover scholarly material more often than 'regular' Google. Google Scholar's searches are set to cover scholarly material more often than 'regular' Google. It can be frustrating, as much of an article or book is missing or by purchase only. Read the article below on the advantages an disadvantages of using it.

TIP: To get PDFs only, type in 'filetype:pdf'. It's great!

Advantages / Disadvantages of Google Scholar 



How to use Google Books

Google Books can be very frustrating because often much of the book is missing and you are expected to purchase it to read the full content. So after you put in your search term you are interested in (eg biodiesel), and get some results up,  you should then go immediately to the search box (on the left - above 'About this box') undefined and type in a particular word or term you are interested in (eg CO2 emissions OR methanol) you should get a number of pages pop up. Choose one that looks useful - you should get some good results this way!

Advanced Web Searching Tips

1. Use 'Ctrl F' (Control + Find) to search for particular terms easily in a long document, whether from a website or a database article.
2.  Use a Boolean command - put double inverted commas around phrases to limit and improve your results eg "energy drinks cardiovascular problems children". 
3. Use a Google domain command eg site:edu OR site:gov to limit results to a CERTAIN DOMAIN such as education or government eg biodiesel site:edu
4. Use a Google command to limit results to the MOST RECENT: After you get your results, choose the Google Menu Bar, and choose 'Tools'. Then on the far left, at the drop-down menu next to 'Any Time', you can choose 'Within the last year' (or less, if you prefer), but generally, you can choose 'Custom Range' at the bottom, as often the last 3-4 years would be sufficient for a recent search.

Zotero - Online Referencing Tool

Zotero can be set to the same Harvard AGPS (Australia) style that CiteAce uses, called 'Melbourne Polytechnic - Harvard'. Please read the instructions carefully.

Any issues - see your Library Staff

Develop a Research Question from a Claim

Research Question is defined as ‘A question that directs the scientific inquiry activity. Its purpose is to focus the research investigation, inform the direction of the research, and guide all stages of inquiry, analysis, interpretation and evaluation’. It should:

1.3.1 Include measurable variables – the independent and dependent variables

1.3.2 Have a guiding word, such as what, why, would or will

1.3.3 Be phrased so that a definitive answer can be developed

1.3.4 Be able to link the guiding word to verbs such as identify, describe, compare, contrast, distinguish, analyse, evaluate or create so that a specific task can be determined


Should patients over the age of 80 years be permitted to undergo triple bypass operations? (Too broad)


Should triple bypass operations (independent variablebe offerered to patients over 80 (participant group) because of their poorer success rate regarding complications from pneumonia and stroke (measurable dependant variablecompared to patients under 80 (comparison/control)