News stories about BGS

A selection of recent news, that includes mentions of the British Geological Survey, reported in online news websites. Click on a heading link to read the full article.

According to Dr Vanessa Banks, Team Leader Shallow Geohazards and Risks and the British Geological Survey, the ground across Kent is comprised of a layer of sand above a layer of chalk. The layer of sand is thinning to the west, and thicker to the east. Sinkholes can occur for a number of reasons, but the cause of sinkholes in Kent is generally where a thin covering of loose superficial material - sand - covers soluble rock - chalk - beneath. The sandy material will tend to gradually slump into the fissures, slowly creating a sinkhole over time - a process that can be sped up by the presence of water.

Deneholes are caused by man-made structures. In Kent, these are often medieval chalk extraction pits - characteristically comprised of a narrow shaft with a number of chambers radiating from the base. The depth of the features reflects the depth of the underlying chalk bedrock. The shaft width is commonly in the order of 2 or 3 m, widening out into galleries at depth.

24 March 2015

The 5BIO scheme, part of a £60m government Energy Research Accelerator project announced today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, will allow the UK to develop stronger access to the alternative energy market. The projected global annual market for renewable chemicals could reach £360 billion by 2025, with £12billion in the UK alone. For transport fuels the current global market is £1,000 billion per year and £50 billion a year in the UK*. 5BIO is set up to tackle the ‘grand challenges’ of developing low carbon energy, combatting climate change, and creating new businesses and jobs in the Midlands and new exports for the UK. It will increase Aston University’s research and its industrial collaborations across the low carbon sector and help bring new bioenergy products to market. This will include developing useful low carbon bio-products and fuels developed from renewable organic matter, which can benefit the future of automotive, aerospace, energy and rail manufacturing industries and in-turn help achieve climate change goals. Based at the University’s European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), the Research Accelerator will stimulate innovation and knowledge transfer between businesses, scientists and chemical engineers across renewable biomass, biorefining, bioenergy, biofuels and bio-products.

The Aston University project is part of the £60m Energy Research Accelerator scheme which will build upon the expertise of six leading midland universities. The project involves the universities of Aston; Birmingham; Nottingham; Leicester; Loughborough and Warwick working with the British Geological Survey and multiple industry partners from across the Midlands region.

23 March 2015

The new map has been digitised and made available online in time for the start of celebrations of the map’s 200th anniversary, beginning with an unveiling of a plaque at Smith’s former residence by Sir David Attenborough1. The map, the first geological map of a nation ever produced, shows the geological strata of England, Wales and part of Scotland. The newly discovered copy is thought to have been one of the first ten produced by William Smith (1769-1839), who went on to produce an estimated 370 hand-coloured copies of the map in his lifetime.

A number of organisations, including the Geological Society, the Natural History Museum, the British Geological Survey and National Museum Wales, are joining together throughout 2015 to celebrate the bicentennial of William Smith’s map through a range of events.

23 March 2015

In the years since it was exhumed, the King's skeleton has given up plenty of secrets -- and research continues to find out more.

Scientists at the British Geological Survey measured the levels of isotopes including oxygen, strontium, nitrogen and carbon in Richard III's remains, revealing clues to what he ate and drank. They spotted a dramatic change in the last few years of his life -- suggesting his dietary habits became markedly richer once he became King. "Obviously, Richard was a nobleman beforehand, and so his diet would be reasonably rich already," explained isotope geochemist Angela Lamb, who led the study. "But once he became king we would expect him to be wining and dining more, banqueting more. "We have the menu from his coronation banquet and it was very elaborate -- lots of wildfowl, including real 'delicacies' such as peacock and swan, and fish -- carp, pike and so on."

22 March 2015

Universities from across the East and West Midlands are set to work together with Nottinghamshire-based British Geological Survey (BGS) and the "wider industrial base" to create a £60m Energy Research Accelerator. The move, which was announced in George Osborne's Budget, will develop new ways to reduce energy costs in manufacturing and will catalyse new research to secure the UK’s international lead in new energy technologies. The BGS will work with six Universities: the University of Warwick; the University of Birmingham; the University of Nottingham, Loughborough University, Aston University and Leicester University. George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “The Midlands is an engine of manufacturing growth so we are today giving the go ahead to the £60 million investment in the new Energy Research Accelerator that they have sought.”

18 March 2015

Increased solar activity is set to combine with the Earth's magnetic field to create one of the most beautiful natural phenomena, the aurora borealis (more commonly known as the northern lights). The Met Office says: "As the UK becomes dark tonight there is an increased chance of the aurora being visible as far south as the Midlands. "The best chance of clear skies is to the west of high ground." The greatest chance of seeing the lights is likely to be in the north of the county. You can check cloud cover for Worcestershire tonight here. Look for a spot away from street lights. The borealis will usually (but not always) be to the north. The best time to see it is from 10pm until 2am. Areas such as the northern tip of Northern Ireland, the Western Isles and parts of North Wales probably stand the best chance of seeing the aurora. The aurora happens when a charged particle from the sun collides with a molecule in the atmosphere. The molecule is unstable and will give up its extra energy by emitting light, according to the British Geological Survey. . Related links •Met Office blog •British Geological Survey . Like a sodium street light which gives off an orange light, the oxygen, nitrogen and other gases in the atmosphere have their own particular colours resulting in the range of blues, greens, yellows and reds observed in the aurora.

17 March 2015

Tuesday's amber alert suggests the Northern Lights is likely to be visible from Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland - if the sky is clear. British Geological Survey said a geomagnetic storm, the cause of the aurora, was "currently in progress". It could mean a hat-trick of big astronomical events following a meteor on Sunday and solar eclipse on Friday. A spectacular meteor was photographed from the shores of Loch Ness on Sunday by tourist guide John Alasdair Macdonald. The same event, or other meteors, was seen from other parts of the UK, including the Western Isles and Cumbria. The aurora borealis is caused by the interaction of the solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun - and Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. From the ground in the Scotland, the Northern and Western isles, the Highlands and north east Scotland offer some of the best places to observe the Northern Lights at night.

17 March 2015

The 7.9m RV Tonn, will map areas of seabed around Ireland and follows on from two similar specification Cheetahs developed for the Port of London Authority and the British Geological Survey. Archie Donovan, Principal Geologist & joint INFOMAR project manager, said: “The RV Tonn is a proven shallow water survey boat, that has been built to the Cheetah Marine 7.9m specification for the Geological Survey of Ireland's inshore Irish mapping programme. We in the GSI, look forward to continued collaboration with Cheetah Marine, on our future survey boats

11 March 2015

A report soon to be released by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction will provide a detailed look at global volcanic risk and reveal the world’s deadliest volcanoes, in an attempt to save lives through prevention and response measures. “For the first time, we really have a shared understanding of volcanic activity at the global scale,” said co-author Jean-Christophe Komorowski, a volcanologist at the Institute of Earth Physics in Paris, according to Nature. “This is a major turning point.” Researchers of the study analyzed a database of roughly 9,500 eruptions over the last 10,000 years kept by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., observing frequency of eruption for each volcano and the kind of physical hazards each posed. They then determined the number of people living within 10, 30, and 100 kilometers of each volcano to find those with the highest risk, complete with a list of countries ranked by the number of residents in harm’s way.

The team – composed of a UK-led international network of institutions known as the Global Volcano Model, with the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior – is set to release the report on Mar. 4. Nature reports that all over the world, 800 million people live within 100 kilometers of a volcano that could erupt. The hazards differ from place to place, however, and the report will attempt to quantify the exact risks posed and who might be affected next. “Volcanoes are extremely attractive areas to live,” said co-author Jenni Barclay, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. According to the statement, a hazardous volcano with enough scientific monitoring equipment on it, in addition to a well-organized local response, can reduce the risk to human life. “We want to showcase what volcanologists around the world are doing,” said co-author Sue Loughlin, a volcanologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

4 March 2015

Swept away by mudslides, entombed in lava or suffocated under ash, nearly 280,000 people have died in volcanic eruptions during the past four centuries, but only now has humanity managed to quantify the risk posed by these fiery phenomena. The first detailed assessment of global volcanic risk — part of a larger international hazard assessment released on 4 March by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction — aims to save lives by providing better information for risk planners and by showcasing effective response measures.

“We want to showcase what volcanologists around the world are doing,” says Sue Loughlin, a volcanologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh and another leader of the survey. In Ecuador, around the Tungurahua volcano, local volunteers serve as a network of vigías or ‘volcano watchers’. They watch for changes in the mountain and radio in to the nearby volcano observatory every evening with their reports (J. Stone et al. J. Appl. Volcanol. 3, 11; 2014). Such initiatives could translate to other volcanically active regions, says Barclay. “We can learn much more by bringing all this knowledge together.”

3 March 2015