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Nottingham was built near a crossing point on the River Trent in the East Midlands of England. Initially, the city developed on a low sandstone hill close to the north bank of the river, which provided a secure, well-drained location above the marshes that bordered the river. Geologically, Nottingham stands at the boundary between Palaeozoic rocks to the north and west, and Mesozoic and Cenozoic strata to the south and east. The area is underlain by coal-bearing Carboniferous Coal Measures, Permian dolomitic limestones, Permo-Triassic mudstones and weak sandstones, Jurassic clays and Quaternary glacial and alluvial deposits. Artificial deposits, resulting from the social, industrial and mineral extraction activities of the past, cover the natural deposits over much of the area. This geological environment has underpinned the economic development of the area through the mining of coal (now largely ceased), oil extraction that was important during World War II, brickmaking from clays, alluvial sand and gravel extraction from the Trent Valley, and gypsum extraction from the Permo-Triassic mudstones. The Permo-Triassic sandstone is a nationally important aquifer, and has also been exploited at the surface and from shallow mines for sand. However, this history of the use and exploitation of mineral deposits has created a number of environmental problems, including rising groundwater levels, abandoned mine shafts and mining subsidence, and, within the city itself, the occasional collapse of artificial cavities in the sandstone and contaminated land left by industrial activities. Natural constraints on development include gypsum dissolution, landslides, rockfalls, swell–shrink problems in Jurassic clays and flooding. Occasional minor earthquakes are attributed to movements related to coal mining or natural, deep geological structures. Thus, Nottingham's geological context remains an important consideration when planning its future regeneration and development.

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