Blogs

2017

June

Mel carefully collecting sea water samples for carbon measurements.

The start of a major new research project (ORCHESTRA): Part 2... by Carol Arrowsmith.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a major partner in a scientific programme called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and carbon Sequestration and Transport) which has been running for over a year. The project aims to improve our ability to understand and predict the role of the Southern Ocean currents to modulate global climate. The BGS’s contribution to this research is to analyse the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of the ocean waters from the World’s oceans over a 5 year period. In particular the carbon data will be used to investigate where carbon is ether absorbed by the ocean or expelled into the atmosphere. This is particularly important as the oceans regulate atmospheric CO2.

May

Welcome to EGU! Hosted at the Vienna International Centre, Austria

The European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna... by Jack Lacey, Melanie Leng, & Andi Smith
In April, 14,496 scientists from 107 countries participated in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. Over the course of the five-day conference there were an astounding 4,849 oral and 11,312 poster presentations, with several authored by staff from the British Geological Survey. The BGS Stable Isotope Facility was represented by Jack Lacey, Melanie Leng, and Andi Smith. In this blog they report on their week at EGU and tell us about the work they presented on lake and speleothem records...

The DeepCHALLA UK party at the BGS plus International lead 
 investigator Dirk Verschuren (Ghent University)

First meeting of the UK consortium of the DeepCHALLA project... by Heather Moorhouse
We held the first meeting of UK scientists working on the International Continental scientific Drilling Programme’s DeepCHALLA project at a very rainy BGS Keyworth. This NERC funded consortium of scientists is part of a large, international team that will investigate over 214 metres of lake sediment cores dating back to ~250,000 years, to understand climate change in equatorial east Africa.

Savannah presenting preliminary PhD research

The Past Global Changes Open Science Meeting, Zaragoza... by PhD student Savannah Worne
"The PAGES (Past Global Changes) project is an international effort to coordinate and promote past global change research. The primary objective is to improve our understanding of past changes in the Earth system in order to improve projections of future climate and environment, and inform strategies for sustainability." (www.pages-osm.org, Accessed May 2017).

Boring through lake ice

Lakes and the Arctic Carbon Cycle... by Suzanne McGowan
A blog at the start of the NERC Standard grant: "Ecological effects of glacial dust deposition on remote Arctic lakes". This grant (headed by Suzanne at Nottingham and Michael Watts at BGS) brings together a dynamic team with complementary skills and experience, notably in dust dynamics, Arctic limnology (in particular, experimental limnology, algal ecology and nutrient dynamics) and geochemistry. The proposal builds on these four complementary research strands to allow an integrated analysis of dust particle size and deposition rates, its chemical composition and its ecological effects in nutrient–limited lakes.

March

 Andi Smith

An exciting new development in soil phosphate oxygen isotope analysis... by Andi Smith
In early February, Andi Smith (Stable Isotope Facility) and Sammi Coyle (PhD student joint with The University of Nottingham and Scotland's Rural College) visited collaborators at Rothamsted Research (North Wyke, Devon), to learn more about one of our most exciting stable isotope techniques developments...

James Williams standing on the front helideck of the ship in the North Atlantic

Starting my PhD with the British Geological Survey... by James Williams
Hello, my name is James and I have recently started my PhD at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University and the British Geological Survey...

February

Jonathan Dean

Bye Bye to Jonathan Dean... by Jonathan Dean
At the end of February, Jonathan Dean will bid farewell to the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey to start a lectureship at the University of Hull, here he looks back on his time in Keyworth...

The field team made up of researchers from University of Adelaide, the Queensland government and Melanie Leng  (BGS/University of Nottingham) and Andy Henderson (Newcastle).

Investigating Climate and Environmental Change in Eastern Australia (Part 2)... by Melanie Leng
In May 2016 Melanie blogged about her role in a project led by Dr John Tibby and Dr Cameron Barr (from University of Adelaide) on understanding climate change in eastern Australia...

January

Geochemistry Networking Event

Geochemistry Networking Event held in December 2016... by Ginnie Panizzo
On the 16th December 2016 the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG) held a Networking event between key female geoscience researchers the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the University of Nottingham (UoN)...

Victoria Falls

Geochemistry in Africa... by Michael Watts, Elliott Hamilton, Belinda Kaninga, Kenneth Maseka and Godfrey Sakala
Michael Watts and Elliott Hamilton returned to Africa to undertake two main tasks; (1) find a conference venue for the Society for Environmental Geochemistry 2018 international conference to be hosted in Victoria Falls, and (2) undertake fieldwork in the Zambian copperbelt as part of the Royal Society-DFID project...

Emmanuel with 'A Practical Guide to ICP-MS'

Transitioning from Flame AAS to MP–AES: benefits and advantages... by Emmanuel Chidiwa Mbewe
My name is Emmanuel Chidiwa Mbewe from Lilongwe University Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi. I work as a Chief Technician in Soil Sciences within the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Currently I am undergoing a Commonwealth Professional Scholarship with the Inorganic Geochemistry team within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, during which I have experienced modern methods of laboratory analyses, systems of work, including quality assurance and overall management of tasks and data to demonstrate confidence in data output. I also attended a meeting in London for the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC) Fellows Connect 2016 which enabled me to meet other Fellows based around the UK, to share my experiences and celebrate my fellowship...

Shale samples from our core store

First Year of my PhD: Generating a better understanding of the UK’s shale gas... by Patrick Whitelaw
The shale industry is rapidly changing, with large developments such as the first fracking licenses being awarded since I started my research. However still relatively little is known about the UK's shale gas potential and how much focus should be placed the industry's development. With the research I am currently undertaking aiming to help shape and direct the government's legislation on a controversial industry...

2016

December

Students from the Geochemistry Group attending the conference

Poster presentation at the Royal Society of Chemistry... by Saeed Ahmad
Hi, my name is Saeed, I am a PhD student at the University of Nottingham in the School of Biosciences, and on the 14th of November I attended an Early Career Researchers Meeting on the Environmental Chemistry of Water, Sediment and Soil at the Royal Society of Chemistry...

November

Rowan in discussion at this poster about the Holocene 
paleoceanography in South Georgia (Southern Ocean)

The International Conference in Paleoceanography 2016... by Sonja Felder and Rowan Dejardin
It's us again, Sonja and Rowan, two BGS BUFI PhD students. Recently we took part in the twelfth International Conference in Paleoceanography, aka "ICP", in Utrecht, Netherlands. Held every three years, ICP is the biggest international paleoceanography conference, so it was unsurprising that some of the biggest names in the field turned up to present their work. This gave those of us new to the field a great opportunity to discuss our work and socialise with them at events like the conference dinner or the traditional "paleomusicology" concert...

Cape Town, South Africa

35th International Geological Congress 27 Aug – 4 Sept 2016, Cape Town, South Africa... by Sev Kender
In August 2016 I set off for the amazing Cape Town, South Africa, to attend the 35th International Geological Congress (http://www.35igc.org/). This is one of the largest and most important geoscience conferences in the world that takes place every 4 years. This prestigious meeting has taken place in the African subcontinent only once before, in its inaugural year 1929 in Pretoria, South Africa...

Key ICDP research themes (source: icdp-online.org)

Learning the fundamentals of continental scientific drilling with ICDP at GFZ, Potsdam.... by Jack Lacey
The International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) is a global initiative that provides financial and operational support for multinational research teams to drill the Earth’s continental crust, with the principle aim of better understanding our Earth system through cutting–edge transdisciplinary scientific research. ICDP has supported drilling projects across the world to investigate a broad range of science themes, including geological hazards, natural resources, and palaeoclimate (see the extensive list here). The program comprises 24 member countries, and the UK has been an active member since 2012 funded by the British Geological Survey (ICDP–UK)...

The shores of Lake Malawi

The first year of my PhD research: iodine geodynamics... by Olivier Humphrey Hi, my name is Olivier and I have just started the second year of my PhD at the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (University of Nottingham and the BGS). My research revolves around iodine geodynamics and plant availability. In this blog I will provide a brief update of some of the work I have been doing over the past year...

One hundred ICDP stakeholders from across the world and member countries met at GFZ in Potsdam to discuss ICDP into the future

The 20th year celebration of the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)... by Melanie Leng
This October the ICDP celebrated 20 years since its formation in 1996. During this time ICDP has contributed funding to around 50 deep drilling projects including drilling into the San Andreas Fault, taking sediment cores from some of the biggest and oldest lakes in the world, and most recently (this summer) drilling the "ring peak" of the Chicxulub impact crater. Here Melanie Leng talks about the 20th year celebration event of the ICDP...

October

James Dinsley

Getting a Read on Radon: measurement of radon activity in groundwater samples from a proposed fracking site – a student project!... by James Dinsley
My name is James Dinsley, an Environmental Science student from the University of Nottingham and I am currently a quarter of the way through a one–year placement with the British Geological Survey, working in the Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratories in Keyworth, Nottingham. Over my year with the BGS, I have been supporting projects with Dr Charles Gowing and Dr Andy Marriott...

The edible oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, in Mere
 Sands Wood Nature Reserve, Lancashire

Examining the chemistry of mushrooms: a valuable tool for archaeology?... by Angela Lamb
Mushrooms are a common part of modern human diets, yet they are rarely considered from an archaeological perspective. As soft–bodied organisms they readily rot, so are very rarely found on archaeological sites...

Lake Ohrid SCOPSCO science team, photo courtesy of F. Wagner-Cremer.

Linking Geology & Biology in Europe’s oldest lake: a 1.3 million–year record of climate change and evolution from Lake Ohrid... by Jack Lacey and Melanie Leng
The Lake Ohrid drilling project has featured regularly on the BGS blog site (Geoblog) over past years, now reaching its final stages Jack Lacey and Melanie Leng travelled to the Netherlands to attend the 6th project workshop in Utrecht. Here they report on the meeting and provide a much overdue update on this ground-breaking interdisciplinary research...

Conference delegates getting ready for the start of the Aquatic
Transition session. Suzanne is far right, Keely is second right.

INTECOL International Wetlands conference in Changshu, China... by Suzanne McGowan and Keely Mills
Staff from the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG), a collaboration between the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham, Suzanne McGowan and Keely Mills, travelled to Changshu in China to attend the 10th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference which took place on 19–24th September 2016. Here they tell us a bit about the conference...

September

Fiona feeding lemurs

Zoo elephants help their wild counterparts in Kruger National Park... by Fiona Sach
Eight zoo elephants from Knowsley Safari Park and Twycross Zoo have been contributing to work that is being carried out to reduce Human–Elephant Conflict surrounding the Kruger National Park...

July

The training school

INTIMATE: a Research and Training School in Palaeoclimate... by Stefan Engels
The INTIMATE network aims to better understand the mechanisms and impact of climate change by bringing together scientists working to reconstruct and model palaeoclimate through the INTegration of Ice core, MArine, and TErrestrial palaeoclimate records...

June

The ICDP Executive Committee on Jeju Island

Continental Drilling and South Korea... by Melanie Leng
In early June each year the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committee meets to assess applications for drilling deep holes in the Earth. This year the meeting was held on Jeju Island (off South Korea). Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience community involvement and her trip to South Korea...

Prof Melanie Leng

A blog by Prof Melanie Leng on her career as a geochemist on the "Girls Into Geoscience" website... by Melanie Leng
Melanie Leng is the director of the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey and a Professor of Isotope Geoscience at Nottingham University. In the following blog Mel tells us why she decided to pursue a career in geoscience, what she enjoys about her current roles and offers some advice to those who may be interested in a similar career path...

May

Wild African elephants

Are land-use decisions by African elephants influenced by environmental geochemistry?... by Michael Watts, Lisa Yon and Stephen Cunningham
This is a unique, interdisciplinary project involving environmental geochemistry, plant science, and animal health between a range of partners, including BGS and the University of Nottingham (UoN) to address research questions which have important and practical implications for wildlife health and conservation. In the first phase of the project, mineral levels in a range of biological samples (serum, hair, nails) from elephants at five UK zoos will be measured to validate their use as possible biomarkers of mineral status in wild elephants. The mineral content of food, soil and water consumed by these elephants will be determined...

Charly Briddon on Tasik Chini undertaking a diatom habitat survey

More on our project investigating human impact on Malaysian wetlands... this time by Masters student Charly Briddon
Hi, my name is Charly Briddon and I am Keele University student currently undertaking research for my MSc in Geoscience. For my international placement I have joined a collaborative project within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey) involving supervisors at Keele University (Dr Antonia Law), University of Nottingham (Dr Suzanne McGowan) and the British Geological Survey (Dr Keely Mills). This has given me the opportunity to spend six months at the University of Nottingham Campus in Malaysia investigating how human activities within the lake catchment of a really special wetland system (Tasik Chini) has changed the lake ecology over time...

Stefan with field assistant Charlotte (a Masters student from Keele University) collecting plant samples

Reconstructing the pollution history of southeast Asian wetlands... by Stefan Engels
How time flies! It has only been about 4 months since I started my new job as a research fellow with Melanie Leng and Suzanne McGowan within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. The main aim of my research project is to reconstruct the pollution history of southeast Asian wetland systems, and one of the first locations that we selected as a study–site was Tasik Chini on the Malaysian peninsula, here I tell you about progress to date...

Cameron Barr sampling leaves from the paperbark tree on Fraser Island, Queensland

Investigating Climate Change in Eastern Australia... by Melanie Leng
In the stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological survey we spend most of our time collaborating with UK universities and research institutes. However, every now and again we get an opportunity that's too good to be true… One such opportunity came a few of years ago when an email popped into my inbox from Australia. Dr John Tibby and Dr Cameron Barr (from the University of Adelaide) explained that in Australia they have a particular problem in that there are relatively few geological archives of climate change, so researchers into past climate tend to rely on short timescale corals (which can be related to seawater salinity and temperatures) or tree rings (a proxy for rainfall amount). However, both corals and trees tend to only live for a few hundred years, so they were keen to develop new records of Australian climate...

April

Fallow deer

Dama: the deer that walked the world... by Naomi Sykes
Back in 2011 we began an international research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to explore the natural and cultural history of the European Fallow Deer (Dama dama dama). Over the last four years we have been working with (in alphabetical order!) anthropologists, archaeologists, (art) historians, deer stalkers, geochemists, geneticists, museum curators and zoologists to gather all available information that might help us to understand better the timing and circumstances by which this elegant and beautiful deer spread around the world.

March

Stefan Engels in the field

From ice age insects to the tropics: an introduction to new postdoctoral researcher... by Stefan Engels
Hello, my name is Stefan Engels and I’ve just started a 3-year postdoctoral research project within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, between the School of Geography (University of Nottingham) and the BGS. I am a Dutch guy who’s lived most of his life in Utrecht. The Netherlands. I completed my PhD research at the Free University of Amsterdam, where I studied subfossil chironomid remains (insect jaws!) found in lake sediment records that were dated to the last glacial period around 50,000 years ago. I used the fossil insects of lakes to reconstruct past ecosystem development and to quantitatively infer past summer temperatures. My results showed that summer temperatures were probably as high as today across large parts of Europe during the middle of the last glacial, which was quite a surprise!

February

Rural Cornwall, where many residents use private water supplies

The importance of water quality and water treatment for private water supply users... by Louise Ander and Rebecca Close
Joint research from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Public Health England (PHE) has provided new information on the incidence rate of private water supply users using drinking water with high concentrations of some naturally occurring chemicals in Cornwall, UK.

January

Fieldwork in Malawi

Mapping Hidden Hunger in Malawi... by Edward Joy and Louise Ander
Edward Joy and Louise Ander describe how recently created maps of Malawi predict spatial variation in the dietary supply of seven essential elements (calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc). These maps combine information on soil and crop properties, household dietary choices and socio-economic factors. This information can help to identify key controls on mineral micronutrient dietary deficiencies – also known as "hidden hunger" – and identify research priorities for the development of appropriate and feasible interventions to reduce population-wide hidden hunger.

Savannah Worne

A new PhD researching the effects of variation in the orbit of the Earth around the sun... by Savannah Worne
Hello, my name is Savannah and I have just started my PhD within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, between the University of Nottingham School of Geography and the BGS. I recently graduated from the university with a BSc Geography, completing my dissertation research using the sediments to investigate environmental change over the last hundred years in Maloe More, Lake Baikal, Siberia. From my studies, I became very interested in palaeoenvironmental change and was keen to pursue a career in research, leading me to apply for this PhD.

Leslie Bode

From tiny seeds grow... by PhD student Leslie Bode
Hi, my name is Leslie Bode, and I am exploring new applications of archaeobotanical isotopic research. I am currently a 3rd year PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham and am co-supervised between Archaeology (Dr Alexandra Livarda) and Geography (Dr Matthew Jones). I also receive a lot of extra isotope guidance from Dr Angela Lamb at the British Geological Survey... Thanks to a NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility grant, I am using a combination of archaeobotanical and stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis of charred (carbonized) seed remains from Kharaneh IV (a ca. 20,000 year old archaeological site in the Azraq Basin in Eastern Jordan) to test whether the plants living during this period and, by extension, the hunter–gatherers using this ancient site experienced water stress. I’m especially interested in whether water stress increased leading up to the site’s abandonment almost 20,000 years ago: did a lack of water contribute to collapse?

Jonathan Dean

Millions of years of lake sediment: looking at the links between climate change and human evolution... by Dr Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant working at the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey, and here he gives us an update on the research project he is involved with, investigating climate changes and human evolution...

2015

December

The CTD equipment

Going south part 3: Doing some science! ...by PhD student Rowan Dejardin
As described in my previous blogs, I'm travelling south with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to collect samples from the South Georgia shelf, as part of my PhD (jointly funded by the BGS and the University of Nottingham, and within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry). Having dropped off a team of scientists and technical staff on the remote island of Signy we started heading north in the general direction of South Georgia. After a day of slow sailing through the brash ice we head in to open waters. Whilst we're going to miss the ice behind, with its attendant penguins and seals, the entry into open water means it will now be possible to undertake some science! Also, a gigantic tabular iceberg, that fills the horizon at times, is soon sighted and keeps us company for much of the day, with other smaller bergs.

November

Rowan Dejardin

Going South Part 2: Signy Relief ... by Rowan Dejardin
As described in my previous blog, I'm travelling south with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to collect samples from the South Georgia shelf, as part of my PhD (jointly funded by the BGS and the University of Nottingham, and within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry)… A couple of hold-ups (to fuel the ship – important, and to get a replacement chef – very important!) meant that we were a couple of days late leaving the Falklands to head south. Whilst this was a bit frustrating it did mean we had a couple more days to explore the Falklands and see some more penguins. It also meant that we missed a big storm in the Drake Passage that had looked like it was going to make the crossing interesting, therefore our trip through some of the roughest seas in the world turned out to be quite peaceful!

Rowan Dejardin

Going South Part 1: How to get to the Falkland Islands... by Rowan Dejardin
My PhD project (jointly funded by BGS and the University of Nottingham and within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry) is focussed on trying to reconstruct changes in ocean conditions through the last 15000 years around the Subantarctic island of South Georgia. The marine sediment cores that I’m working on were collected in 2012 by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) ship, the RRS James Clark Ross (JCR), that sails south every year to conduct a range of science projects in addition to providing logistical support to British Antarctic bases. Earlier this year I successfully applied for funding from the Collaborative Gearing Scheme to join a BAS scientific cruise sailing from the Falkland Islands in November, so that I could collect sediment samples that will allow me to calibrate the proxies I am using to reconstruct past conditions...

October

Patrick Whitelaw

A PhD on understanding the properties of shale rocks and their ability to hold gases... by Patrick Whitelaw
Hello, my name is Patrick and I have just started my PhD within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, between BGS and the University of Nottingham Faculty of Engineering. My research focuses on understanding the properties of shale rocks and their ability to hold gases specifically methane. Due to the commercial success of the US shale gas industry the UK has become increasingly interested in trying to understand how much gas is generated and stored within our shale reservoirs. I will be comparing shale rocks matured under high pressure water pyrolysis conditions in the laboratory to natural shale rocks matured under geological conditions to understand gas storage as a function of maturity over geological timescales...

Olivier Humphrey

The start of my PhD research into iodine deficiency... by Olivier Humphrey
Hi, my name is Olivier and I have just started my PhD within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (University of Nottingham and the BGS). My research revolves around iodine geodynamics and plant uptake. This is an important and worthwhile research project because iodine deficiency affects around 2 billion people worldwide. Iodine deficiency diseases (IDD) have a range of effects including goitre, growth impairment and mental retardation. My work will help to inform practical strategies to tackle iodine deficiency, such as correct land management and biofortification of iodine into crops. Parent material contributes very little to iodine concentrations is soils. Soil-iodine is predominately derived from volatilized methylated forms in seawater, which enter the soil-plant system via rainfall and dry deposition. Whilst coastal-proximity is an important factor in iodine concentrations, many other soil characteristics contribute to its mobility and availability once deposited in soils...

Delegates attending RS-DFID network-training event in Harare

Soil Geochemistry for agriculture and health... by Michael Watts & Martin Broadley
In September we launched our Royal Society-Department for International Development (RS-DFID) doctoral training programme, Soil geochemistry for agriculture and health, in Harare. The programme runs from 2015-2020 and is being co-ordinated by the joint University of Nottingham (UoN) / British Geological Survey (BGS) Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG)...

Accreditation certificate

Quality Accreditation in Inorganic Geochemistry... by Charles Gowing

The Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratories in Nottingham successfully achieved re-accreditation to the Quality Standard ISO 17025 (competence of testing and calibration laboratories) and the Environment Agency's Monitoring Certification Scheme (MCERTS) for soils.

The laboratories have held accreditation to ISO 17025 since 1998. Maintenance of this accreditation is by re-accreditation every four years and ongoing competence is assessed annually via external audit by independent experts from the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). Accreditation for laboratory data output demonstrates a standard for the quality of analyses against an internationally recognised standard, namely ISO 17025.

The Joides Resolution (JR), the IODP’s flagship vessel (courtesy of UK-IODP)

The International Ocean Discovery Program (UK) Student Conference 2015... by Rowan Dejardin
In late September 2015 29 PhD students from across the UK headed to Northumberland to learn about the scientific work carried out by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). After registering at the University of Newcastle the group were taken by coach to Allendale, in the beautiful North Pennines AONB, and the conference got off to an excellent start with a hearty meal! This was followed by a talk from Kate Littler, from the University of Exeter, describing a typical day in the life aboard the Joides Resolution (JR), the IODP’s flagship vessel, and an exciting live Skype tour of the JR.

USSP Field Trip

The Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology... by PhD students Hennie Detlef and Amy Sparkes
From 15th July to 1st August, 71 students from all over the world came together in the small town of Urbino, Italy to attend the 12th Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology (USSP). After several long hours spent travelling, at times asking ourselves why anyone would choose such a small, relatively remote town for a summer school, we finally arrived and the reason instantly became clear. Urbino, a World Heritage Site set in the spectacular hills of the Marche region, has retained most of its beautiful old town with the university and accommodation situated right in the centre!

Mousumi Chatterjee - University of Calcutta / University of Reading

Working together to combat environmental pollutants and inform agricultural strategies... by Michael Watts
My team at the British Geological Survey has hosted four Commonwealth Professional Fellowships from Pakistan, India, Malawi and Zimbabwe since 2012. The scheme funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Council UK (CSCUK) provides support for professionals in the Commonwealth to undertake training at a host institute in the UK. Here a few of the Fellows give an account of their experience and opportunities arising from such a Fellowship in the UK...

Drilling platform on Lake Prespa

Learning to drill... by Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean from the Stable Isotope Lab at the British Geological Survey has just returned from a lake drilling training course in the Republic of Macedonia. Here he discusses what he learnt...

Sev Kender at his microscope

How do deep ocean trenches form?... by Sev Kender
One of the biggest questions remaining to be answered in plate tectonics is how subduction zones start, or 'initiate'. Plate tectonics and seafloor spreading was a ground-breaking theory discovered in the mid-20th-Century that explained much of geology, and started our modern discipline. Before it there was no single accepted theory of why oceans and mountains formed, why continents look like they used to be linked together, and why animals of different continents appeared to have long-lost common ancestors. Here Sev Kender tells us about some recent advances in the science...

September

Symposium group photo outside the Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge

20th QRA Annual International Postgraduate Symposium... by Jack Lacey
In early September, the Quaternary Research Association (QRA) hosted their annual symposium exclusively for postgraduate (PhD and MSc) students at the University of Cambridge. Over 45 delegates from 24 universities presented and discussed their diverse research on the Quaternary (the most recent period of geological time covering the last 2.6 million years) from sites around the world covering ice, land and sea...

August

Daniel Middleton, PhD student, The University of Manchester and British Geological Survey

A blog about investigating geogenic arsenic exposure from private drinking wells in Cornwall... by Daniel Middleton
The interaction of the natural environment and our human health is an idea which fascinated me given that so many negative environmental health outcomes are perceived as anthropogenic in nature. Following completion of my degree I had the opportunity to apply for a PhD studentship investigating geogenic arsenic exposure from private drinking wells in Cornwall, UK, and here I am...

Suzanne McGowan, Melanie Leng and Ginni Pannizo (left to right taking cores of sediment from Tasik Chini

Fieldwork to investigate human induced changes on important Asian wetlands... by Prof Melanie Leng
Exponential population growth, urban expansion and climate change are changing the quality of freshwaters around the World. In countries such as Malaysia which aims to become a "fully developed" nation by 2020 rapid deforestation, urban development and resource exploitation have put drainage basins under unprecedented pressures. A team from the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (BGS and the University of Nottingham) went on a site investigation to look at one of Malaysia's premier wetlands, the famous Tasik Chini site in central Pahang to investigate the current and past water quality status using information preserved in the sediments that have accumulated on the bottom of the lake. Here Melanie Leng tells us more...

Jack, Jonathan and Melanie in downtown Reno

Limnogeology and the biggest little city in the world... by Jack Lacey
In June, scientists from around the world gathered in Reno, Nevada (USA) for the 6thInternational Limnogeology Congress (ILIC6) to present and discuss their multi-disciplinary research on lake sediment records. Centre for Environmental Geochemistry PhD student Jack Lacey reports on the meeting and tells us about his experience...

Scientists from the UK, Germany and the US are involved in the project

Planning the analysis of half a kilometre of African lake mud... by Jonathan Dean
In the end of June, around 20 scientists from the UK, Germany and the US met at the University of Cologne to discuss our new project: the analysis of half a kilometre of sediments taken from Lake Chew Bahir in Ethiopia. We aim to use the sediments to reconstruct how the environment of east Africa has changed over the last 500,000 years...

Preparing for a day down at the allotment, Dale allotments in Sneinton, Nottingham

Hidden landscapes in the city: the world of urban gardens and allotments... by Jon Stubberfield
The demand for urban gardens and allotments is on the rise as is the pressure for space in our towns and cities. But is it possible to re-invent urban spaces for use as gardens and allotments or should we look elsewhere? Are urban soils suitable for the everyday gardener's needs and is gardening as healthy an activity as everyone says it is?

Grace Manzeke

Combatting malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa... by Grace Manzeke
Smallholder rain-fed agriculture supports livelihoods of more than 60% of the Zimbabwean population. Like any system, it faces various challenges that include poor soils, poor crop yields and climate change and variability among others...

June

Melanie Leng in Minneapolis

Continental drilling and a trip to Minneapolis ... by Prof Melanie Leng
In early June the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committees met to assess deep drilling of the Earth applications for 2015. The meeting was held at the world famous LacCore (National Lacustrine Core Facility) in Minneapolis. Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience community involvement, and her trip to Minneapolis...

Angela Lamb introducing the day's agenda

Science-Based Archaeology within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry… by Dr Angela Lamb and Dr Holly Miller
On 1st June BGS hosted a workshop with the aim to bring together scientists from BGS and the University of Nottingham to facilitate more collaboration between the institutes on the theme of Science-Based Archaeology. Here Angela Lamb (BGS) and Holly Miller (University of Nottingham) tell us about the workshop...

May

Elliott Hamilton (right) sampling with partners from CBU and ZARI

Chromium in crops... by Elliott Hamilton
Chromium, the 22nd most abundant element in our Earth's crust, takes many different forms. Some of these forms, or 'species', pose a risk to human health so it's important to know where they're created and how they move through the soil into crops. Elliott Hamilton's fieldwork in Africa is focused on the mechanics of agricultural practices and the knock-on impact of soil-crop transfer of harmful Chromium species...

CSCUK fellows collecting field samples in Devon, Salome Mkandawire (left) and Grace Manzeke (right)

Managing Malawi's spatial data ... by Carl Watson
Salome Mkandawire, a GIS expert from the Malawi government Surveys Department, has just spent a busy month training with Carl Watson, a Systems Developer &Analyst at the BGS. Their aim was to share good data practice and information management experience as well as research international standards for spatial metadata. Carl explains why BGS is a leader in these fields and asks Salome how this CSCUK Professional Fellowship is helping the National Spatial Data Centre in Malawi...

Our home for a week, 6 stories underground, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis

Ancient links between climate and vegetation... by Jonathan Dean
Dr Jonathan Dean is part of a new multi-million pound project that hopes to shed new light on the possible links between environmental change and the emergence of our species...

Henrieka Detlef

Sea Shells on the Sea Bed... by Henrieka Detlef
Henrieka Detlef is using shells which are over a million years old to reconstruct the different climatic components of the Bering Sea. She's a 1st year PhD student at Cardiff University and a BUFI CASE student at the British Geological Survey studying Paleoclimatology and Marine Geology. Find out from Henrieka why she's so interested in investigating climate systems of the past and how marine sediment cores will unlock the answers...

April

Dr Jonathan Dean

Why learn good Science Communication?... by Dr Jonathan Dean
Our scientists never stop striving to improve their understanding of the world around them. Equally they never stop learning new ways to better communicate their work and discoveries to the wider world. One such scientist is Jonathan Dean, a Postdoctoral Research Assistant (at BGS within the CEG), who's just back from a 2 day public engagement course run by NERC. Here Jonathan reflects on the importance of good science communication and the skills learnt on the NERC Engaging the Public with your Research training course...

March

Tanzania

Is there an environmental link to esophageal cancer in Tanzania?... by Dr Michael Watts
Scientists from the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry are helping health organisations understand why esophageal cancer is localised within specific areas of the African Rift Valley. Whilst various causal factors are now under investigation, such as high-strength ‘kill me quick’ alcohol consumption or hot tea drinking, it is difficult to fully explain the localised nature of the burden. Here Dr Michael Watts outlines why soil around Mount Kilimanjaro could unearth some answers...

Dr Clement Uguna at work in the laboratory

How much shale gas lies beneath our feet... by Dr Clement Uguna
Most people these days will have heard of shale gas. It’s the unconventional gas stored within fine grained mud rocks and its extraction has been hitting the UK headlines over the last couple of years. Dr Clement Uguna, a new Research Fellow at the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham, is pioneering research into answering questions about how much gas lies beneath our feet...

February

Murray (left) getting some local help

Random variables and field sampling... by Dr Murray Lark
It's not just geologists that travel to far away landscapes unearthing knowledge and understanding about the planet we live on! Each research trip needs it's own unique fieldwork team, a special blend of disciplines and expertise. In one trip to central Africa Murray Lark, an environmental statistician, accompanied two environmental geochemists, Michael Watts and Elliott Hamilton, on a search to understand the health implications of trace elements in the soil. Here Murray tells us why his role before-during-after hands-on fieldwork is so essential...

Scientists from the University of Nottingham arriving for the workshop

Viva the Viva! ... by Darren Beriro
Darren, an Environmental Chemist, has just completed his PhD at the University of Nottingham while working for the last year at the BGS, here he tells us about his PhD experience...

January

Scientists from the University of Nottingham arriving for the workshop

Environmental Change Exchange... by Prof Melanie Leng
Last week a group of environmental change scientists from the BGS and the University of Nottingham met up at a networking event aimed at fostering collaboration between the two premiere environmental research organisations in the Midlands. Here Prof Melanie Leng tells us about the aims and achievements of the day...

Rob Ward (left)

Potential impacts of shale gas exploitation on groundwater... by Mark Stevenson
Rob Ward is our newly appointed honorary Professor and Science Director for Groundwater. On the 20th January he presented ‘Potential impacts of shale gas exploitation on groundwater’at a seminar hosted by the University of Nottingham and BGS. Here, Mark Stevenson (a PhD student from the University of Nottingham) reports on how it went...

Ginnie and Patrick Frings (Lund University) talking Si cycling in coastal environments with Claudia Ehlert at the "Biogeochemical Cycling of Silicon and Isotopes in Biogenic Silica" poster session

Talking Isotopes, state side... by Ginnie Panizzo
Every year, for a whole week in December, 20000 geoscientists descend on San Francisco for one of the biggest Geoscience conferences in the world: the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. Can you imagine what its like?! Certainly there are fleece wearing, poster-tube-wielding geologists everywhere. Last month the number of delegates reached an all time high at 24,000 people, there were 3,000 talks and posters presented each day, here Ginnie Panizzo and Sarah Roberts to tell us about their American adventure...

Sampling team in the Zambian Copperbelt region, BGS, ZARI and CBU

Geochemistry brings societal benefits to sub-Saharan Africa... by Dr Michael Watts
Dr Michael Watts, Head of Inorganic Geochemistry at the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, outlines how BGS and University of Nottingham are bringing big societal benefits to sub-Saharan Africa by supporting earth science researchers and academic networks...

Disko island lake number 2 (of many thousands), I am on the right and my field assistant Joe Bailey on the left.

Ancient carbon beneath frozen Arctic lakes...by Mark Stevenson
During my PhD research I had the opportunity to visit the remote and beautiful island of Qeqertarsuaq (Greenlandic) or Disko Island as it is more widely known. The visit involved taking cores of sediment that had accumulated at the bottom of the lakes (over the last 10,000 years) for various geochemical analysis of the carbon in the sediments...