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Windows 3.1/95. At least 486/33, 8MB RAM, VGA + 256 colours
by Bernard Dady
published in 1999 by Matrix Multimedia
£49 for single user and £79 for 10 user. Network compatible
This CD-ROM contains a multimedia guide to Iceland and its geography and would be of use to anyone who is interested in this beautiful and fascinating island, who is thinking of going on holiday there or more particularly people studying geography as part of the school curriculum at KS3 and GCSE. The production company sent a schoolteacher in the summer of 1998 to gather material related to Icelandic geography and that visit plus subsequent research has resulted in this CD ROM. It is therefore up to date. It makes use of a large number of resources, including maps and diagrams, an interactive map, photo images, video clips and animations where the text and photos can be copied but it is not possible to copy the videos or animations, although a screen grab can be taken using the Print Screen button.
It is split into a main menu with the following sections which are:
· Country Profile, which looks at climate, vegetation and physical features as well as a population and economic profile;
· Geology, which examines plate tectonics, the Earth's Crust, continental plates and drift as well as the surface features; Volcanic Activity, including several of the classic eruptions such as Heimaey (1973), Hekla (1991) and Vatnajökull (1996);
· Geothermal Activity, where geothermal energy, power generation and combined heat and power systems are considered;
· Glaciation, which examines several types of glaciers and their effects on the landscape, including the development of fjords, valley glaciers, glacial outwash and rather strangely in this section, frost shattering and the formation of stone polygons;
· The Work of Water, which looks at rivers, waterfalls, gorges and hydro-electric power;
· Coastal Features, which looks at the formation of, for example arches, stacks, spits and bars;
· Economic Activities, which provides information on Iceland's economy and the main industries, and finally, an Interactive Map.
It is aimed at KS3 and GCSE and is particularly relevant for Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Glaciation, Hostile Environments, Place and Case Studies at GCSE and Tectonic processes and Place Studies at KS3. It claims to be a whole learning environment with ten worksheets to allow students to learn the theory, test their knowledge and allow monitoring of their progress. Examples of these worksheets are as follows: Ice in Iceland. 'Can you organise a field trip to look at Iceland's glaciers?'; 'Write a journalistic account of the Vatnajökull eruption' and 'Can you explain the geology in Iceland?'.
The video clips should be useful to show volcanic eruptions, geysirs and subglacial floods but the quality is not good, many are too dark and it is difficult to get much from some of them. On the other hand the slides are generally good quality and the maps, diagrams and animated images are usually fine, although the animation of the freeze-thaw process does not give an accurate representation of the process.
Unfortunately there are many proof reading errors (at least 15) in the text which is inexcusable in such a production, but rather more serious are the factual errors in what is primarily an education tool. For example, the suggestion that stone polygons are found in subglacial areas; the terminal moraine shown as a medial moraine and the statement that it was the American and African plates that moved apart to create Iceland when it should be the American and Eurasian plates. The use of the Alpine glacial terms for the glacial phases when the North European terms are normally used is disconcerting.
Nevertheless, there is much good material in this CD-ROM as you would expect with the availability of such a rich dynamic geographical landscape but because of the factual and proof-reading errors I would think carefully about buying this current version. Perhaps a wait until a second edition when these have been eradicated would be sensible.
Liverpool John Moores University
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