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NIGL research in the Media

August 2014 - Can isotopes help define the Anthropocene? By Dr Jonathan Dean

The Anthropocene is a term that is increasingly being used to refer to the current interval in geological time in which humans have become a dominant force of global environmental change. It was coined by Prof Eugene Stoermer, a biologist, in the 1980s and popularised in the early 2000s by Prof Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist…


The Economist cover from 2011: the term Anthropocene is increasingly being used in the media. Image from

July 2014 - Using carbon isotopes to study Lake Baikal... by Sarah Roberts

Today we're very pleased to share a guest post from Sarah Roberts, a Postgraduate Researcher at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham. Here she introduces her exciting collaborative work, to investigate changes in nutrient fluxes at Lake Baikal, Siberia, with the Baikal research team; Dr. George Swann, Prof. Anson Mackay, Dr. Suzanne McGowan and Dr. Virginia Panizzo (BGS Visiting Research Associates) and BGS staff...


Lake Baikal research expedition in March 2013 on the ice in the South basin.

July 2014 - The Ohrid Sequel: Cheshire Mere... by Jack Lacey

Jack Lacey is a familiar face to the blog. Over the last 16 months he's taken us along on amazing fieldwork adventures to Lake Ohrid, drilling through 3 million years of Earth's history and looking for the impacts of volcanic super eruptions using lake sediment records. But this was just phase 1 of his PhD research. Here Jack tells us what's in store for Phase 2 as he works within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the BGS...


Myself (left) and my collaborators on Rostherne Mere
 (Prof Melanie Leng, Dr Dave Ryves and Dr Chris Vane).

June 2014 - Chicken Project gets off the ground

A new research project has begun to examine the history of chickens, involving archaeological records to investigate the history of the world’s most widely established livestock species, originally descended from the wild jungle fowl of South East Asia. The project, entitled "Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions", was made possible with the help of a £1.94 million grant from the AHRC under the Science In Culture Awards Large Grants call. Researchers from Bournemouth University, as well as the Universities of Durham, Nottingham, Leicester, Roehampton and York, will be examining when and how rapidly domesticated chickens


spread across Europe and the history of their exploitation for meat and eggs. Research methods will include stable isotope analysis at the BGS Stable Isotope Facility, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham within The Centre for Environmental Geochemistry...

European Geosciences Union

May 2014 - The mass exodus of geoscientists to Vienna... by Prof Melanie Leng

Every year around this time a European Geosciences Union (EGU) is held in Vienna, Austria. The weeklong conference brings together geoscientists from all over the world to discuss their latest findings in earth, planetary and space sciences...


European Geosciences Union

April 2014 - Oxygen isotopes and lakes by Prof Melanie Leng and Dr Jonathan Dean

Lakes occur across the globe and are sensitive to climatic change. Analysing the sediments that have accumulated at the bottom of lakes over time can help us to reconstruct past environmental change...


Lake Tibetanus in northern Sweden

March 2014 - Geoblog on the new mass spectrometer at the BGS

The British Geological Survey (BGS) took delivery of a new mass spectrometer this month. This instrument, acquired with joint funding from the University of Nottingham, will provide the UK’s environmental geoscience community access to one of the most precise research equipment for use in environmental research. Melanie Leng tells us more...


Prof Mel Leng with the new mass spectrometer

February 2014 - Ancient Climate Secrets by Jonathan Dean

Jonathan Dean started working as a Stable Isotope Apprentice in NIGL this January after he finished his PhD research at the University of Nottingham. Here he tells us a little bit about his research into how lake sediments are revealing secrets of past climates...


Standing on the rock on which the first peace treaty in human history was signed between the Hittites and the Egyptians

February 2014 - Have Volcanic Super-Eruptions Impacted on the Course of Human History? By Prof Melanie Leng

Today Melanie Leng, an isotope geochemist and palaeoclimatologist at the BGS, tells us about the Toba super volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia, which has erupted on many occasions over geological time...


The ancient Toba caldera (a basin left by the volcano after eruption) from space is now occupied by a huge lake (©NASA)

January 2014 – BGS GeoBlog - The Quaternary Research Associations 50th Anniversary Conference by Prof Melanie Leng

The new year traditionally brings with it not only resolutions, gym memberships and fad diets but for our scientists a round of exciting geological conferences...


The audience at the QRA’s Quaternary Revolutions meeting (©Tim Lane)

January 2014 - Using “proxy” data to tell us about past climate change by Melanie Leng

One of the highlights of 2013 was publication of our research, in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey and various UK Universities, on past climates along the Antarctic Peninsula, here Professor Melanie Leng tells us how climate change from 11,000 years ago to the last few decades has affected the Antarctic from 'proxy data'…


Prof Melanie Leng with Dr Robert Mulvany (British Antarctic Survey) examining ice from the Antarctic Peninsula

November 2013 - The Thrill to Drill (over the next 10 years) by Prof Melanie Leng

Last week the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) Science Conference was held in the historic Telegrafenberg in Potsdam, Germany. The aim of the conference was to debate and map ICDP’s way forward over the next 5 – 10 years and develop a science plan for continental deep drilling. Here Melanie Leng gives us a brief overview:


The 160 participants of the ICDP Science Conference

July 2013 – BBC on-line article - Neolithic farmers used manure on crops.....
by Melissa Hogenboom, Science reporter, BBC News

September 2013 – The TW:eed core arrives at the National Core Repository in Keyworth..... by Dr Andrea Snelling

Andrea Snelling has just joined the TW:eed team. Her speciality within TW:eed is to use stable isotope composition of the rocks to help interpret palaeoenvironment around the time of tetrapod evolution...


Professor Sarah Davies, Dr Andrea Snelling and Dr Carys Bennett examining the Tweed Basin core

September 2013 – Stepping out of my comfort zone into soil science..... by Dr Sarah Bennett

On my arrival at Lancaster train station, the tell-tale sign of a poster tube bobbing along in the distance indicated I was in the right place...


Me [Nick Roberts] on top of Åreskutan, Sweden

September 2013 – Drilling an ancient orogen..... by Nick Roberts

The UK has recently become a member of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)...


Me [Nick Roberts] on top of Åreskutan, Sweden

September 2013 – QRA Post Graduate Symposium blog..... by Mel Leng

In the last week of August the Quaternary Research Association held their annual post graduate symposium. The symposium, held at the University of Southampton, was a meeting arranged by- and for only PhD and MSc students studying climate and environmental change over the last 2.6 million years...


Students attending the Quaternary Research Association annual post graduate symposium

August 2013 – Reflections on the first year of my PhD..... by Jack Lacey

As a PhD student of the British Geological Survey and University of Leicester Jack aims to use lake sediments to reconstruct N Hemisphere/Mediterranean climate change over the past 2 million years...


Mel in Japan

July 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - The International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) funding process – part 2..... by Melanie Leng

The UK became a member of the ICDP in 2012, this enables us (UK geoscientists) to apply for funding for deep scientific drilling projects, as well as having representatives on the three committees that oversee ICDP funding allocations. Melanie Leng sits on the Executive Committee and here explains her first experience of the panel which met in Sendai, Japan, last week...


Mel in Japan

June 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Flights and Funding for ICDP - part 1..... by Melanie Leng

9 hours ago I touched down in Tokyo, Japan. I'm on my way to Sendai to represent the UK geoscience community on the ICDP Executive Committee. Here I fill you in on what I have learned so far about the ICDP funding process...


The drill tool showing bit and core catcher

June 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Spot the Geologist - the start of my PhD..... by Leah Nolan

Leah starts her PhD research, in Geology at Leicester University and in association with the BGS, in October. Here she describes her first field visit to the picturesque Lathkill Dale in the Peak District where famous Lower Carboniferous limestones out crop...


The drill tool showing bit and core catcher

May 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Lake Ohrid borehole hits 568m by Jack Lacey

I arrived in Macedonia just over a week ago and travelled to Lake Ohrid in the south west of the Former Yugoslavian Republic…


The drill tool showing bit and core catcher

April 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Being an apprentice at NIGL by Dr Jonathan Lewis

I began my isotope apprenticeship with NERC Isotopes GeosciencesLaboratory (part of the British Geological Survey) in September 2011…


The drilling barge on Lake Ohrid preparing to collect 500m of sediment!

April 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Lake Ohrid deep drilling, first hole success!! by Mel Leng

Jack Lacey, a BGS-University of Leicester PhD student, wrote a blog about the Lake Ohrid project project back in March…


The drilling barge on Lake Ohrid preparing to collect 500m of sediment!

April 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Final steps of our South Georgia expedition by Mel Leng

I am back on board the Polarstern after an amazing few weeks on South Georgia. Today we visited the old whaling station of Grytviken next to the British Antarctic Survey’s research base at King Edward Point…


The ANT-XXIX/4 cruise “terrestrial” team

April 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Sightseeing in South Georgia by Melanie Leng

II have finally arrived on the Falkland Islands after an epic field trip to South Georgia. We have been dropped off by the Polarstern and this is the final step before we leave for the UK in a few days…


South Georgia Seals

April 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - The End of the South Georgia expedition

A BGS blog by Melanie Leng: We are almost at the end of our expedition to South Georgia. Worsening weather around the South Sandwich Islands has meant that the Polarstern has had to abandon some of it’s seabed surveying…


South Georgia Seals

March 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - My first sight of South Georgia by Melanie Leng

A BGS blog by Melanie Leng: After 6 days of sailing on the Polarstern we saw our first glimpse of the island of South Georgia today rising through the fog…


South Georgia Seals

March 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Analysis fit for a King - Richard III gets the NIGL treatment

On February 4th 2013, the University of Leicester announced that the human remains uncovered beneath a Leicester car park in August last year are ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ those of King Richard III…


The skull of King Richard III

March 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Preparing for an expedition to South Georgia

A BGS blog by Melanie Leng: In a few days I'll be following in the footsteps of James Cook (1775) and Ernest Shackleton (1916) and embarking on an adventure in the South Atlantic. I'm bound for fieldwork on South Georgia, a remote and inhospitable island with no permanent inhabitants, approximately 200km SE of the Falkland Islands…


Mel Leng

March 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Drilling through 3 million years of Earth’s history in the Mediterranean by PhD student Jack Lacey

Meet Jack….a PhD student from University of Leicester looking into 3 million years of the Earths history. His BGS/NIGL sponsored PhD is part of a multi-million dollar campaign to investigate the evolution and climate of Lake Ohrid through the drilling and recovery of a 750 meter-long sediment core. Amazingly that's the length of 90 double decker buses or 37 cricket pitches!! Here Jack introduces the project and explains what he'll be up to over the next few months (and years)…


Jack Lacey

March 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Can clam shells explain the demise of a civilisation?

A BGS blog by Melanie Leng: Clam shells used for food, jewellery and in the wall covering of shelters found at the world famous Çatalhöyük UNESCO archaeological site in Central Turkey between 8-9,000 years ago give a unique insight into the demise of a short lived civilisation…


An Antarctic diatom skeleton

WalesOnline (Western Mail) – Evidence of continued climate change for thousands of years – January 2013

As Wales continues to endure freezing temperatures after a year of extreme weather a study by a Welsh university has revealed continued patterns of climate change over the past 12,000 years… Read more: Wales Online


Antarctic icebergs melting

January 2013 – BGS GeoBlog - Tiny fossils reveal evidence for climate change and melting of Antarctica

A BGS blog by Melanie Leng: The Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet is one of the most rapidly warming areas of the planet. This is causing concern as it contains enough water to raise global sea levels by 5m. By analysing the chemistry of microscopic marine algae that lived in the ocean surrounding Antarctica, scientists have created a record of the amount of melting of the ice sheet that stretches back 12,000 years. This window through time has already unlocked hidden patterns in our past climate…


An Antarctic diatom skeleton

January 2013 - News on the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program by Prof Melanie Leng



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