BUFI research projects

Currently BUFI supports over 80 PhD studentships, these are funded via our Doctoral Training Partnerships or by direct collaboration with a university department. We do not fund applications from individuals. Available topics are advertised on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page. Listed here are all our current active research projects by BGS Science Area.

Active doctoral projects by BGS science area

Climate and Landscape Change
S149 The impact of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum on the distribution of sediments in the Central North Sea

Student: Rachel Jamieson

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: John Underhill, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

S158 Quantification of the impact of climate change on landscape evolution as mediated by plant community dynamics

Student: Sarah-Jane Phelan

BGS Supervisor: Mike Ellis

University Supervisor: Richard Jones, University of Exeter, Geography

S163 The role of the erosion of continental biomass on the Earth's thermostat

Student: Jo Smith

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye, Chris Vane

University Supervisor: A Galy, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S191 The role of the North Atlantic Oscillation in driving climatic variability during the Late

Student: Lisa Orme

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Barkwith

University Supervisor: Richard Jones, University of Exeter, Geography

This research will enhance our quantitative understanding of the spatial and temporal behaviour of the NAO over the past 3000 yrs. More importantly it will generate the first long-term record of storminess that can be directly related to NAO behaviour. These datasets will provide robust long-term climate records that encompass persistent extremes of climatic behaviour such as the Little Ice Age and can therefore be used to calibrate and test Global (and regional) Climate Models.

S205 Investigating organo-mineral suspended sediment dynamics as controls on phosphorus export from instrumented agricultural test catchments

Student: Richard Cooper

BGS Supervisor: Barry Rawlins

University Supervisor: Kevin Hiscock, University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences

This PhD studentship will investigate the following main project objectives/hypotheses: the organo-mineral composition of suspended sediment determines the intra- and inter-event dynamics of associated phosphorus, a simple mathematical model of suspended sediment phosphorus transport flux based on flow and organo-mineral composition can be developed for the test catchment (starting from Krueger et al., 2009 and forthcoming publications) and organic carbon:surface area ratios can be used to partition topsoil and subsoil contributions to stream bed sediments.

S207 Climatic cyclicity and environmental interactions in proximal continental basins: Implications for ground water flow

Student: Amy Gough

BGS Supervisor: Tony Milodowski

University Supervisor: Stu Clark, University of Keele, School of Earth Sciences and Geography

In many continental sedimentary basins the alluvial fan environment dominates sedimentation in proximal areas throughout the evolution of the basin. In more distal areas, contemporaneous sedimentation characterises a number of continental environments from arid aeolian systems, through to more humid fluvial and lacustrine settings reflecting changing climatic conditions throughout the evolution of the basin. The alluvial fan is influenced by the same regional climatic variation, but overprinted by strong short-lived localised cycles. The sedimentology of alluvial fans will vary spatially and interact with the distal systems. The distal depositional systems produce sedimentary bodies that can act as excellent ground water pathways through to excellent barriers, dependent on their environment of deposition. The alluvial fan represents a flow pathway of varying quality as a result of the interaction of long and short term climatic cycles with its depositional processes. It follows that the potential regional ground water pathways of distal systems are highly dependent on both the interaction between the alluvial fan and coeval varied distal environments, and the influence of climatic cyclicity on the alluvial fan itself. The fan sediments have the potential to connect spatially constrained aquifers in the distal parts of the basin. This has strong implications for both ground water flow and potential contaminant migration from areas of otherwise low dispersal potential.

S221 Millennial-scale variability in ice-ocean-climate interaction in the Sub-Antarctic SW Atlantic – a multi-proxy study of intermediate water production and Patagonian ice sheet variability over the last glacial

Student: Jenny Roberts

BGS Supervisor: Sev Kender

University Supervisor: Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S222 Palaeohydrology of a rapid climate change event at the Palaeocene-Eocene

Student: Alex Dawson

BGS Supervisor: Mike Ellis

University Supervisor: Stephen Grimes, University of Plymouth, Geography

This project tackles the possible existence of precursory signals in hydrological behaviour to the Earth’s most significant and essentially catastrophic climate change event at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The study will take advantage of multiple sections of a terrestrial to shallow marine PETM facies exposed across the southern and western Pyrenees. We will use Sr and D isotope ratios, and sedimentological analyses to constrain the hydrological behaviour of the fluvial system. The PhD project will be integrated with existing PETM investigations at the BGS, Plymouth University (home to the PhD studentship), and Liverpool University.

S227 The making of the modern world: Ocean evolution during the neogene, the last great warm interval

Student: Jamie Lakin

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Alan Haywood, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

This project will reconstruct the evolution of ocean surface temperature, salinity, nutrients, and ocean circulation via the development and application of a novel proxy, dinoflagellate cysts, throughout the Neogene Period (23-2.6 Ma). New proxies are essential since the usefulness of geochemical proxy techniques can be limited by, for example, diagenesis and the occurrence of suitable fossils in open and deep ocean settings. Palaeo-sea surface parameters (SSPs) will be examined in terms of our current understanding of climate and environmental evolution over the last 23 million years, and this will be used to evaluate simulations of ocean circulation and SSPs produced by coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, which are used to understand contemporary climate and to predict future climate change. The project will therefore yield unique insights into the evolution of the oceans in the recent geological past, as well as the predictive abilities of sophisticated numerical models currently utilised for future climate change prediction.

S234 The last forests on Antarctica: Neogene (~12Ma) plant fossils and climates from Antarctica

Student: Rhian Rees-Owen

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Jane Frances, University of Leeds, School of Environment and Technology

This project will: Identify the fossil wood to determine the diversity of shrubs that survived on the tundra landscape. The composition of the tundra vegetation will be reconstructed, along with information from other plant remains. Growth rings, stem morphology, and cellular details will be used to reconstruct shrub habit and other adaptations to interglacial environments. Climate data will be interpreted from tree ring and cell dimension analysis. Analyses of isotopic composition of the organic matter in the wood will help reconstruct aspects of climate such as rainfall and seasonality. New information about the vegetation will help resolve current issues with the timing of the evolution of Antarctic biotas from molecular studies. The climate and palaeoenvironmental data will be compared to data from rock cores and outputs of computer models to contribute to the debate about the glacial history of Antarctica and global climate evolution.

S239 The Rock Record of the British Cretaceous

Student: Fiona Walker

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Newell

University Supervisor: Michael Benton, Bristol

A key underpinning of earth science is the assumption that the rock and fossil records provide reasonable information on the history of the Earth and of life. This project proposes to test this assumption using a twofold approach on the British Cretaceous, (1) to explore how knowledge about geology and palaeontology have accumulated through 200 years of research time; and (2) to explore linkages or redundancy between rock and fossil signals as a major contribution to current debates about quality of the fossil record. The research will be underpinned by BGS databases, digital map products and emerging 3D models and will generate high impact publications in a very active research field. A strong emphasis on 3D techniques and property modelling of rock volumes will not only produce totally new science but will feed directly into the BGS DREAM and FutureThames projects. The work has broader implications for evaluating geological uncertainty and in providing a measure of how well we understand the geology of a large part of southeast England: a densely populated region strongly dependant on water resources from Cretaceous aquifers.

S246 The Mid Jurassic Plankton Explosion

Student: Nick Wiggan

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

The Mid Jurassic is a critical interval in terms of evolution and hydrocarbon reserves. Plankton evolution at this time is poorly understood. The dinoflagellates are major primary producers and underwent an evolutionary explosion during the Mid Bajocian (~169 Ma). This event is poorly known, and is coincident with other phenomena such as the rise of the planktonic foraminifera. The project will document the dinoflagellate radiation from key successions, investigate synchronous geochemical changes, assess coeval biotic change and provide a holistic explanation of Mesozoic plankton evolution. This research is closely aligned to the BGS Strategy, e.g. Climate Change, Energy and Geology/Landscape.

S247 Equatorial sea surface temperature seasonality in the Mississippian (Carboniferous) derived from brachiopod shell carbonate

Student: Leah Nolan

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Melanie Leng, Leicester, Geology

The monsoon rainfall seasonality of the palaeoequatorial Mississippian (L Carboniferous) has been deduced from fossil plant morphology. However little is known about palaeoequatorial Mississippian sea surface temperature (SST) seasonality. In particular no numerical values are available for SST seasonality to feed into General Circulation Models (GCMs) of the Mississippian greenhouse to icehouse transition, a period of global climatic significance.

The main goal is to derive temperatures for palaeoequatorial Mississippian seawater seasonality through sclerocronology and isotope profiling of fossil shells. Little is known presently of SSTs in the Carboniferous and this type of interannual information is vital so that tie points can be placed within GCMs for wider estimates of SST seasonality. Preliminary data from one shell indicates SST seasonality of ~ 5-6 °C (over a 20 year period). This is 1-2°C greater than the seasonal temperature variation at the present day equator in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

A secondary goal is to investigate the possibility of a ‘vestigial signal' in altered brachiopod shell preserving the pattern of a primary signal if not primary values. If it is found that even after diagenesis primary variation is preserved, this has far-reaching effects for isotope proxy studies, since much material is diagenetically altered and therefore presently deemed unsuitable for palaeoclimate research.

In a pilot study a large brachiopod shell (Gigantoproductus) was sampled consecutively across annual growth bands (Angiolini et al., in press). δ18O and δ13C (interpreted as temperature and productivity) was found to correlate with growth as an annual rhythm (winter-summer). The same periodicity is also preserved superimposed on diagenetic values of δ18O and δ13C as a ‘vestigial signal' within an altered part of the shell. The project aims to sample further shells to:

  • test correlation between growth lines and geochemical periodicity
  • derive values for SST seasonality (winter minima and summer maxima)
  • and investigate further the phenomenon of the 'vestigial signal'.
S253 Palaeobiology of phosphatized Ediacaran microfossils from Norway

Student: Peter Adamson

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S255 Colloidal copper and lead sulphide dynamics in an alluvial floodplain soil and their impact on trace metal mobility

Student: Suzanne Schwarz

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: Wolfgang Wilcke, University of Berne, Switzerland

Earth Hazards & Observatories
S145.2 Climate Change on Mars: Remote Sensing Constraints on the Origin of Layered Sediments

Student: Stuart Turner

BGS Supervisor: Stephen Grebby

University Supervisor: John Bridges, University of Leicester, National Space Centre

Aim: To characterise climate variation on Mars from its 'Warm and Wet' ancient past to its cold and dry current landscape by characterising sedimentary terrains of different ages and origins. Objectives: To identify the distribution of sediments on Mars and use high resolution and spectral information.Compile HRSC digital elevation models of selected sedimentary terrains. Identify cyclicity within the Mars sedimentary record and correlate with known current orbital characteristics e.g. the ratio of current precession and obliquity cycles. Determine ages of sedimentary terrain surfaces using recent crater counting models. Compare sediments to terrestrial analogues and other Mars terrains (e.g. the recent north polar layered deposits) to constrain environments of deposition.Fieldwork visits to potential terrestrial analogue sites of the cyclic Mars sediments.Use range of high resolution orbital data and knowledge to identify and characterise landing sites for upcoming Mars missions consistent with their mission aims to 'Follow the Water' and search for environments where life might have been possible.

S150 Robust earth observation assessment of geohazards and environmental change in challenging environments

Student: Matthias Kunz

BGS Supervisor: Stuart Marsh

University Supervisor: Jon Mills, University of Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Aim: To provide an improved surface matching technique with wide applicability as well as an improved understanding of environmental change in a region that is subject to rapid warming and significant associated ice mass loss. Results of this work are of interest to scientists in the field of photogrammetry, glaciology and climate change.

S167.2 Engaging communities on geohazards: seeking community-centred approaches to reducing vulnerability to geohazards in the Solomon Islands

Student: Kim Hagen

BGS Supervisor: Susanne Sargeant

University Supervisor: Melissa Butcher, Open University, Social Sciences

S171 Petrological and geochemical monitoring of the most active volcano in North America- Volcan Fuego de Colima, Mexico

Student: Julia Crummy

BGS Supervisor: Sue Loughlin

University Supervisor: Ivan Savov, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

S197 Using Virtual Earthquakes and Virtual Seismometers in the Earth’s Interior

Student: Elizabeth Entwistle

BGS Supervisor: Brian Baptie

University Supervisor: Andrew Curtis, University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences

S198 Late Quaternary volcanism and climate of southern Patagonia

Student: Stefan Lachowycz

BGS Supervisor: Katy Mee

University Supervisor: Prof. David Pyle and Dr Tasmin Mather, Oxford, Earth Sciences and Environment

Recent publications

K. Fontijn, S.M. Lachowycz, H. Rawson, D.M. Pyle, T.A. Mather, J.A. Naranjo, H. Moreno-Roa (2014). Late Quaternary tephrostratigraphy of southern Chile and Argentina. Quatern. Sci. Rev., 89, 70–84. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.02.007 [Published paper]

S.M. Lachowycz, D.M. Pyle, T.A. Mather, N.R. Varley, H.M. Odbert, P.D. Cole, G.A. Reyes-D´vila (2013). Long-range correlations identified in time-series of volcano seismicity during dome-forming eruptions using detrended fluctuation analysis. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 264, 197–209. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.07.009 [Published paper]

Student profile

Stefan Lachowycz

Other information

Stefan was awarded the AON Benfield Prize for the best piece of work showing insight into natural catastrophes by the University of Oxford Department of Earth Sciences (June 2013).

S199 Evaluating the role of community-based monitoring in improving the mitigation of natural hazards: a case study on Montserrat, West Indies

Student: Jon Stone

BGS Supervisor: Sue Loughlin

University Supervisor: East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences

S209 Understanding the evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex (Mars) and comparison with volcanoes in the Afar Rift system (Earth)

Student: Peter Fawdon

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Matt Balme, Open University, Earth and Environmental Sciences

This project aims to understand the nature and volcano-tectonic evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex on Mars. Syrtis Major contains a large (~ 1300 km across) shield complex that probably formed ~ 3.7 to 3 billion years ago. It contains the summit calderas Nili Patera and Meroe Patera, which are aligned along a fracture system running circumferentially to a large impact basin (Isidis) at the eastern boundary of the complex. The lack of buttressing on the eastern side appears to have allowed some lateral extension, making the complex the closest martian analogue to extensional volcanic edifices such as those in the Afar Rift on Earth.

S224 Glacier-to-foreland hydrological coupling at a maritime glacier

Student: Verity Flett

BGS Supervisor: Jez Everest

University Supervisor: Martin Kirkbride, University of Dundee, Urban Water Technology

The research will analyse the mass balance response, both glaciological and hydrological, of a coupled glacier-foreland system, and will create the capability to model and predict natural variability under changing climatic regimes. The student will be based at the School of the Environment in Dundee, and will also be expected to spend some time at BGS in Edinburgh. Fieldwork will be based at the BGS Virkisjökull Observatory in southeast Iceland, a multi-technique monitoring facility established in 2009. The PhD seeks to build on and add scientific value to many of the continuously-acquired datasets at the site, examples illustrated in the figures overleaf.

S226 Using earthquake seismology to track transient convective circulation beneath the British Isles

Student: Charlotte Schoonman

BGS Supervisor: Richard Luckett

University Supervisor: Nicky White, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

Energy & Marine Geoscience
S173.2 Active & ancient geothermal systems in Tethyan ophiolites as examples of novel solutions for natural CO2 sequestration

Student: Amy Stephen

BGS Supervisor: Mike Styles

University Supervisor: Gawen Jenkin, University of Leicester, Geology

This project aims to increase our understanding of mineralCO2 sequestration through natural analogue studies. Alteration of mantle-derived rocks to magnesite by hydrothermal and surficial waters is a common feature in ophiolitic terranes and represents ideal material for researching processes f natural CO2 sequestration. The research will focus on hyperalkaline springs and their associated mineral deposits (mainly tufa) using field observations and a range of mineralogical (optical, electron mean and XRD) and geochemical (elemental and isotopic) studies with the objectives of assessing the rate, mechanisms and magnitude of the natural processes.

S190 The effects of gas stream impurities and reservoir mineralogy on in-situ carbonation for long-term geological storage of carbon dioxide

Student: Chijioke Nwankwor

BGS Supervisor: Keith Bateman

University Supervisor: Mercedes Maroto-Valer, University of Nottingham, Chemical and Environmental Engineering

The proposed cross-disciplinary PhD project will draw upon the expertise of internationally recognised geochemists working in the Hydrothermal Laboratory at the British Geological Survey (BGS) and renowned chemical engineering expertise at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, represented through the EPSRC funded Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage (CICCS). The project is extremely timely, offering linkages with CO2GeoNet, and, should the proposal be successful, the NERC/EPSRC CCS whole systems consortium project for which both the University of Nottingham and BGS are consortium members together with the Midlands Energy Consortium, Imperial College, Newcastle and Aberdeen Universities.

S210 Mineralogy and geochemistry of ultramafic rocks for mineral CO2 sequestration

Student: Alicja Lacinska

BGS Supervisor: Mike Styles

University Supervisor: Prof. Paul Brown, Professor of Materials Characterisation, Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham University

The most widely known and mature technology for carbon abatement is carbon capture and storage (CCS) of carbon dioxide in porous rock. However, its use will be restricted in areas with no porous rocks, such as shield areas. It is possible to permanently sequester CO2 by turning it into mineral (CCS by mineralisation [CCSM]) through using Mg-silicates as a feedstock. CCSM has also been recognised by the IPCC as complimentary technology to CCS for emission reductions. It is important to understand the geological, mineralogical and geochemical controls on CCSM, as this can provide important information for the technological development of in- and ex-situ industrial scale CCSM. Furthermore, there is the potential for the technology in the longer term development of direct atmospheric CO2 sequestration.

Student profile

S211 Carbon capture and storage: Factors influencing public attitudes

Student: Andrey Barsky

BGS Supervisor: Nick Riley

University Supervisor: Brigitte Nerlich, University of Nottingham, Science Language and Society

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) involves, amongst other things, capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large emission sources and then transporting and storing or burying it in a suitable deep geological formation. Developing a suitable regulatory framework for CO2 storage is important in the context of government efforts to cut carbon emissions on the one hand and scepticism in some parts of the public about the reality of climate change on the other. The aim of this project is to study public perception of and attitudes to CCS, and to assess how opinions would respond to key variables such as price, delay, and effectiveness, as well as to key words or phrases used in the process of CCS development and implementation. To gain insight into how these and other factors may impact on public attitudes, various psychological research techniques will be applied.

S213 Dissolution processes at the CO2/brine interface change challenge

Student: Thomas Ward

BGS Supervisor: Chris Rochelle

University Supervisor: Henry Power, University of Nottingham, Engineering

The overall aim of the proposed research is develop an improved capability for modelling the development of a CO2 plume in a brine aquifer that takes into account the two mechanisms described above. The student will Use a combination of analytical and numerical methods and will have access to the high quality experiments being carried out at BGS. The theoretical work will be carried out under the supervision of Power, Cliffe and Jensen who have extensive experience of the techniques that will be required. It is anticipated that the student will make regular visits to BGS where Rochelle will be responsible for and Supervise the experimental component ofthe project, and where Noy will contribute extensive experience with the TOUGH2 code.

214.2 Micro-structural analysis of time-variant evolution in pore geometry of cement materials during carbonation

Student: Konstantinos Giannoukos

BGS Supervisor: Chris Rochelle

University Supervisor: A Hall, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

To quantify and determine the origins of time-variant evolution of pore geometry and associated multiphase (CO2-rich) transport phenomena in cement-based grouts, how mineralogical composition controls the rate and depth of carbonation. The research objectives are to: Identify and produce a selection of suitable candidate cementitious grouts for use in composite steel-lined and cement-sealed boreholes, and natural analogues of aged cement minerals, Characterise multi-scale pore geometry, bulk and selected area morphology, chemical composition and mineralogy and correlate with functional properties. Perform staggered aging of representative samples of the candidate materials by accelerated carbonation under realistic conditions Quantify the time-variant effects of aging on the evolution of pore network geometry and the corresponding alteration of the hydrothermal functional properties.

S228 The 3D architecture and structure of a tectonised glacigenic sedimentaty sequence in the DoggerBank area Bank area of the southern North Sea

Student: Astrid Ruiter

BGS Supervisor: Emrys Phillips

University Supervisor: Simon Carr, University of London Queen Mary College, Geography

S229 Glaciation of the North Sea Basin: integrating evidence from basin-scale 3D seismic geomorphology, site surveys, boreholes and adjacent land areas

Student: Rachel Lamb

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Mads Huuse, University of Manchester, School of Earth Sciences and Geography

The aim of this project is to use the now extensive high quality 3D seismic data which is available due to hydrocarbon exploration to look at the North Sea on a much larger scale (e.g. Stewart & Lonergan 2011). This will provide the very first basin-wide seismic geomorphological record of North Sea glaciations through the Quaternary.

S230 Process response to Holocene transgression: an integrated dataset from the Dogger Bank, North Sea

Student: Sascha Eichenauer

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

S232 Seismological insights into the building of the Lesser Antilles Arc

Student: David Schlaphorst

BGS Supervisor: Brian Baptie

University Supervisor: Michael Kendall, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

S237 Public perception of shale gas extraction technology

Student: William Knight

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Sarah O'Hara, University of Nottingham, School of Geography

S243 Seasonally resolved climate variability since the last Glacial Maximum from the laminated sediments of Windermere

Student: Rachel Avery

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

The project builds on previous collaborative site survey and pilot coring in Windermere between BGS and NOCS, and aims to exploit longer cores recovered during 2012. Pilot studies strongly indicate a seasonally resolved record in a continuously laminated deglacial sequence. This has the potential to generate records of interannual to decadal scale variability and document episodes of rapid climate change through the last deglaciation. These will be the first records of such resolution from Britain and Ireland, and will constitute a hitherto missing link between records from the Greenland Ice Cores (NGRIP) and lake records from continental Europe.

S249 Evaluating 3D sedimentary architecture as a fundamental control on geotechnical and physical properties (Dogger Bank Round 3 Windfarm Zone)

Student: Kieran Blacker

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Sarah Davies, Leicester, Geology

S250 High resolution environmental change from Holocene sediments of Windermere

Student: James Fielding

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

S254 Seismic Imaging and Fluid Dynamic Modelling of Sequestered Carbon Dioxide in the North Sea, UK

Student: Laurence Cowton

BGS Supervisor: Andy Chadwick

University Supervisor: Jerome Neufeld, University of Cambridge, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP)

Other information
In 2013 Laurence won First Prize in The Neftex Earth Model Award.

Storage of carbon dioxide in deeply buried geological formations offers one of the most immediate and potentially effective methods for the reduction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions at acceptable cost. Naturally-occurring geological reservoirs in which CO2 has remained trapped for millions of years shows that long-term storage is technically feasible. In order for long-term storage to become a reality, we must establish storage site effectiveness, safety and accountability. These aims are best achieved by developing remote sensing methods for monitoring and understanding the behaviour of CO2 in a variety of reservoir settings. These methods must be able to quantify the storage capabilities and the long-term performance of such reservoirs.

Controlled-source seismic reflection surveying constitutes the principal means for imaging sub-surface geological formations down to depths of 10 km or so. In recent years, there have been considerable strides in refining our ability to image the three-dimensional structure of the solid Earth, particularly in the marine realm. Perhaps the most significant recent advance has been the development of time-lapse seismic imaging which enables sub-surface fluids such as gas, oil and brine to be tracked and measured. There is considerable interest in applying this technology to other important geological problems. An obvious application concerns the sequestration and monitoring of CO2.

Engineering Geology
S192 4D Hydrogeophysical Monitoring of Landslide Processes

Student: Andy Merritt

BGS Supervisor: Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: Phil Murphy, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

The primary objective of this project is to develop non-invasive hydrogeophysical imaging tools that will allow us to monitor the hydraulic precursors to failure within landslides. By understanding and monitoring these processes we may then be able to improve the prediction of landslide, thereby potentially avoiding loss of life, money or property, and providing the opportunity for remedial action to be undertaken. The fundamental elements of the work will include (1) the determination and characterisation of 3D landslide structure, (2) an assessment of the hydrogeological regime, and (3) an improved understanding of how hydrogeological processes are related to movement.

S223 Development and application of geophysical proxies for imaging geotechnical property changes during development of near surface shear zones

Student: Rosalind Hen-Jones

BGS Supervisor: Dave Gunn

University Supervisor: John Hughes, University of Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

New methods integrated geophysical-geotechnical sensor systems can be developed to monitor ground moisture changes, associated geotechnical property changes (e.g. pore suction) and movement to capture the shear failure process with sufficient resolution (spatial/temporal) such that ‘cause and effect’ can be established. This project will monitor a slope failure at the BIONICS site using integrated geotechnical-geophysical sensor technologies. The project will develop methodologies for analysing the spatial and temporal coherence of time series geotechnical data from distributed sensor networks and time-lapse volumetric images gathered using high resolution electrical tomography. Ultimately, the project aims to identify development of low strength zones from the spatial and temporal material property change sequences associated with a shear failure event for a positive test of the hypothesis.

S241 Development of a UAV-based landslide monitoring system

Student: Maria Peppa

BGS Supervisor: Jonathan Chambers

University Supervisor: Pauline Miller, Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

This research will develop an optimised approach to landslide monitoring and assessment through combining detailed UAV generated surface measurements with geotechnical and geophysical observations of sub-surface processes. This integrated approach will advance understanding of landslide mechanisms and causative behaviours. The research will be rigorously tested at the BGS Hollin Hill landslide observatory (North Yorkshire) [1, 2], and will be founded on an automatic UAV georeferencing approach, which will improve positional accuracy and overcome the need for establishing ground control in a challenging environment.

S256 Development and application of machine learning techniques for characterisation and quantification of change in time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring

Student: William Ward

BGS Supervisor: Paul Wilkinson

University Supervisor: Li Bai, University of Nottingham, School of Computer Science

Electrical resistivity monitoring (4D ERT) is increasingly used to investigate complex hydrogeophysical processes. Although the data collection and imaging is automated, the detection and interpretation of changes in the resulting images caused by subsurface processes is still a manual, labour intensive activity. The aim of the PhD is to apply machine learning techniques (image processing, computer vision, and time-series processing) to 4D ERT images to develop methods to identify and assess significant changes, with the goal of producing reliable automated warning algorithms that can trigger user intervention and further interpretation when necessary. The methods developed in this research will be rigorously tested in controlled laboratory imaging experiments [1], and analysis of existing and future monitoring data from well characterised field installations [2, 3, 4].

Environmental Modelling
S233 Finite element methods for modelling mantle dynamics backward in time: finding the most likely scenario

Student: Samuel Cox

BGS Supervisor: John Ludden

University Supervisor: Tiffany Barry, University of Leicester, Geology

Continents move because of Earth’s mantle movement, which in turn is the result of convective forces. Scientists have a good idea of how the continents were arranged in the past millions of years, and they have a good idea of the physics behind mantle movement. A major challenge is to be able to use these two pieces of information to reconstruct and simulate the mantle’s movement through geological time.

S245 Uncertainty in expert interpretation of geological cross-sections and its propagation into 3D geological framework models

Student: Charles Randle

BGS Supervisor: Murray Lark

University Supervisor: Clare Bond , Aberdeen, Geosciences, Geography and Environment

The unique value of 3-D geological models derives from the expert interpretation which they embody. However, geological interpretation is also a source of uncertainty in the model. This uncertainty must be quantified, which is challenging because it does not arise from a simple algorithm or statistical model. This project will quantify and compare the uncertainty introduced by expert interpretation in GSI3D and GOCAD modelling workflows. This will be done by controlled modelling experiments and formal expert elicitation to quantify error distributions, along with numerical analysis of key algorithms to assess how errors propagate, and are modified by interpretative editing. By doing this work in contrasting terranes and with different data densities, benchmark information on model quality will be provided for contrasting conditions.

Geological Survey Northern Ireland
S161 The origin and nature of Cenozoic faulting in north-east Ireland

Student: Hugh Anderson

BGS Supervisor: M Cooper

University Supervisor: John Walsh, University of Dublin - University College, School of Geological Sciences

Geology & Regional Geophysics
S181 Lateral variations and linkages in thrust geometry in fold and thrust belts

Student: Michael Kelly

BGS Supervisor: Graham Leslie

University Supervisor: Graham Williams, University of Keele, School of Earth Sciences and Geography

To study detailed geometry of thrust systems in 3 dimensions (geometry); and in particular how thrust units and thrusts link together and relate to each other; what these linkages (topology) mean in terms of lateral changes in thrust sheets; how, using their displacement vectors, thrust systems evolve over time (kinematics) – in each case integrating the field and 3D seismic datasets. Full, sequential restoration of 3D thrust models will characterise the pre-thrusting template and will assess that template capacity to control subsequent lateral thrust geometries. It is intended to model fluid flow (e.g. Clarke et al. 2005), simulating hydrocarbon migration, through the evolving thrust models.

S184 Postglacial fjordic landscape evolution: the onshore and offshore limits of the Younger Dryas ice sheet, western Scotland

Student: Kate McIntyre

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: John Howe, University of Scottish Association for Marine Science

S189 Late Quaternary Palaeoglaciology of the Welsh Ice Cap

Student: John Balfour

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: Mike Hambrey, University of Aberystwyth, Institute of Geography and Earth Studies

Over the last ten to twenty years, significant advances have been made in our understanding of sub-Milankovitch scale environmental change. An increasing number of studies have recognised ice-sheet fluctuations at the millennial scale but the synchronicity of terrestrially based glacial responses is not fully understood. This project seeks to map and evaluate geomorphological and sedimentary evidence and reconstruct the palaeoglaciology of the Welsh ice cap, to enable a robust model of its dynamics to be established. Crucial to this work will be understanding the spatial and temporal interaction with the Irish Sea Ice Stream.

S194 Glacio-eustatic controls on sedimentary sequences: a field and physical modelling based study

Student: Jochem Bijkerk

BGS Supervisor: Colin Waters

University Supervisor: Maltman, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

The project will provide a critique of the key interpretational paradigms in sequence stratigraphy, in particular regarding the expression of sequence stratigraphy in deep-water settings: currently the subject of much debate. Additionally, the project will help to establish a robust interpretational framework for the Carboniferous succession in the area, which will compliment the BGS mapping programme and provide a framework for other Carboniferous basins.

S206 Early Ediacaran biotas of Charnwood Forest (UK): assembly of the first macroscopic marine communities

Student: Charlotte Kenchington

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

Three hypotheses will be tested through the development of heuristic, spatial and evolutionary models: H1) that the enhanced weathering associated with land-dwelling eukaryotes was initiated in the early Neoproterozoic leading to major environmental change, including extreme glaciations and stepwise increases in atmospheric oxygen; H2) that major environmental changes in the mid Neoproterozoic triggered the emergence of animals; and H3) that the late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian radiations of animals and biomineralization were themselves responsible for much of the accompanying biogeochemical perturbation. At its centre is the acquisition of substantial new data, not least concerning the nature and ecology of the earliest macroscopic communities, like those preserved in Charnwood.

S220 Peat’s secret archive: reconstructing the North Atlantic storm frequency and volcanic eruption history of the last 10,000 years

Student: Helena Stewart

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: Stirling, Natural Sciences

The main sources of North Atlantic dust are the expansive unvegetated Sandur plains of southern Iceland and areas close to the glaciers. During high-magnitude windstorms this dust is remobilised in the lower atmosphere and carried much further afield by strong winds and is often deposited over Scotland and the British Isles and a chronology of this process can be developed from peat cores. Iceland is also a highly volcanic area therefore tephra can be identified in peat alongside the glacial dust and can be used as a chronological tool. My project focuses on producing a high-resolution, age-constrained index of Icelandic dust storm and volcanic eruption frequency spanning the past 10,000 years, through detailed analysis of terrestrial peat cores from northern Scotland and assessing the long term frequency of these events.

S153 3D – 3D – characterisation of the Chalk aquifer using innovative geophysical and testing methods

Student: Mike Davis

BGS Supervisor: Neil Butcher

University Supervisor: W Burgess, London University College, Geography

S186 Hydrogeophysics of a restless volcano

Student: Brioch Hemmings

BGS Supervisor: Alan Hughes

University Supervisor: Jo Gottsmann, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

The project aims at investigating the interaction between magmatic activity, groundwater dynamics and the geophysical response at the restless Nisyros caldera in Greece. Combining geophysical data and numerical simulations, the studentship will involve developing an understanding of the hydrological and magmatic forcing on the island and use these to help interpret data from geophysical field studies and develop new hydrogeophysical simulations. The outcomes of the project are expected to provide fundamental insights into the dynamic behaviour of a restless island-arc volcano with implications for geothermal exploitation and threat assessment.

S225 Geological controls on the distribution and abundance of invertebrate groundwater

Student: Damiano Weitowitz

BGS Supervisor: Louise Maurice

University Supervisor: Roehampton, Life Sciences

S231 Novel approaches for speciating and tracing the metabolism of phosphorus in groundwater and surface water

Student: Ceri Davies

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Ben Surridge, University of Lancaster, Environmental Science

S235 Tracing pollution and sea water intrusion in groundwater systems of the Pearl River Basin, China

Student: Lee Chambers

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Greg Holland, University of Lancaster, Environmental Science

To couple the development of PO4-δ18O as a novel isotopic label for P biogeochemical research with in-depth speciation studies to characterise the importance of organic- and colloidal-P within catchments. TO: Building on method development work with BGS and LEC, to optimise extraction and pyrolysis protocols for analysis of PO4-δ18O in surface water and Groundwater matrices. To characterise PO4-δ18O in significant sources of P within the DTC study catchments (e.g. inorganic and organic fertiliser, waste water effluents, phosphate-rich aquifer materials, septic tank discharges). To track changes in PO4-δ18O and water- δ18O within groundwater and surface water in the study catchments to understand the extent of metabolism of P from different sources. To use commercially-available enzymes and HPLC and sequential filtration techniques to characterise the magnitude and bioavailability of organic-P fractions of the total P pool in groundwater and surface water.

S236 Assessing the Efficacy of Mitigation Options for Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture

Student: Matilda Biddulph

BGS Supervisor: Sean Burke

University Supervisor: Northampton, School of Science and Technology

S240 Stable isotope biogeochemistry of methane in UK groundwater prior to shale gas development

Student: Millie Basava-reddi

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Edward Hornibrook, Bristol, Earth Sciences

The proposed study will contribute valuable new data to the BGS baseline survey of groundwater CH4 in regions of the UK where shale gas exploration and exploitation are likely to occur in the future. The collaboration with Bristol University will focus on stable isotope characterization of groundwater CH4 to establish its origin and to evaluate factors influencing the stability of CH4 concentration and δ13C and δ2H values in groundwater prior to shale gas development.

S169 The fate of contaminants in urban soils and road dusts: novel assessments and implications for risks (A case study from urban Manchester)

Student: Raquel Carduso

University Supervisor: Kevin Taylor, Manchester Metropolitan, Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Urban centres are critical environments. It is estimated that half the global population live in urban centres (UN, 2007), and in industrialised nations the proportion is often much greater. Therefore, the quality of the urban environment, including soils, water and atmosphere, is critical to the health of human society (Hough et al, 2004). In addition, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of preserving and enhancing urban biodiversity. The urban environment will form the frontier for environmental research in the future.

The PhD project has two aims.

  1. To collect novel spatial geochemical data for RDS in Manchester (a major urban centre) and statistically compare the distribution of PHS in this medium to the recently acquired BGS data sets for urban soils in Manchester.
  2. To apply state-of-the-art mineralogical techniques to both RDS and urban soils for the first time to fully assess the geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of PHS-bearing particulates in these environmental media in the Manchester urban centre.

The predicted outcomes of the project are to link, for the first time, spatial variability in elemental composition between urban soils and RDS, and to produce novel data on the PHS-particulate relationships between RDS and soils in an urban environment. This will enhance scientific understanding of the nature of contaminants in urban soils and sediments in the international literature, which at present is relatively poorly known, and lead to a better understanding of the speciation, form, transport and environmental risks of PHS-particulates in urban RDS and soils.

S178 Characterising and modelling the migration of iodine species through soil solution-mineral equilibra

Student: Hannah Bowley (nee Smith)

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

S193 Microbial response to soil chemistry defined by the Tellus dataset, Northern Ireland

Student: Nicola Ashton

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: Richard Pattrick, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

In this PhD project, we propose to use the Tellus database to identify sites/areas particularly high and depleted in specific elements that are known to control microbial populations. In addition, variations in physico-chemical conditions (especially redox) within geochemical populations will also be factors; these will be variations relating to topography and depth. We propose to focus on the elements Fe, Ca, K, P, N and S which play an important role in the environment and are likely to affect microbial populations.

S202 Novel strategies for nutritional security in sub-Saharan Africa

Student: Edward Joy

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander, Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Scott Young, Martin Broadley, University of Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Sustainable agricultural strategies for alleviating mineral malnutrition in sub-Saharan African (SSA) will be evaluated using a novel geospatial modelling framework.

S204.2 Geogenic arsenic attributable health risks in UK and the European Union

Student: Daniel Middleton

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

S248 Evaluating trade-offs between health benefits and risks associated with grow your own in (peri-)urban areas

Student: Jonathon Stubberfield

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Neil Crout, Nottingham

S252 Using geospatial approaches to determine the phosphorus dynamics in soil-crop systems in Malaysia

Student: Diriba Kumssa

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Martin Broadley, Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Minerals & Waste
S111 Current mechanisms and future patterns of stone decay in cleaned sandstone and granite buildings

Student: Marta Zurakowska

BGS Supervisor: Martin Gillespie

University Supervisor: John Hughes, University of Paisley

Aim of project: To recognise the stone types used in construction, determine the mechanisms of decay in different stone types and understand details of weathering in the urban environment. Objectives: To identify the varieties of sandstone and granite, assess the weathering mechanisms, experimental cleaning to research the effects of stone cleaning in a controlled environment, compare the weathering mechanisms in in-situ cleaned stone and laboratory cleaned samples with background uncleaned samples, assess the rates and tempo of stone deterioration, experimental results will be compared with results of modelling geochemical reactions in minerals in different environments and temperatures. The outputs of the work aim to be the most detailed mechanistic understanding of the decay processes occurring in cleaned damaged sandstone and granite in northern climate.

S188 The geomicrobiology of coal mine drainage – microbes, green rust and the factors controlling iron mineralogy in coal mine drainage

Student: Nia Blackwell

BGS Supervisor: Jenny Bearcock

University Supervisor: William Perkins, University of Aberystwyth, Institute of Biological Sciences

Bacteria play a key role in the precipitation of oxidised iron minerals in coal mine drainage. Their influence has been underestimated in the past particularly in the design of passive treatment systems. This project will assess the geochemistry and microbiology of ochre precipitation in constructed passive treatment systems and untreated coal mine drainage in South Wales. The proposal goal is to elucidate the role of bacteria in the precipitation of iron and in the mineralogical changes which take place in accumulated ochre systems. The project will investigate the use of ochre precipitates for acid/metal mine drainage remediation.

S196 Development of a genetic model for targeting gold mineralisation in the Scottish Dalradian

Student: Nyree Hill

BGS Supervisor: Gus Gunn

University Supervisor: Gawen Jenkin, University of Leicester, Geology

S200 From Castle to Quarry – The Characterisation of Historic Mortars with a Focus on Provenance

Student: Dorn Carran

BGS Supervisor: A Leslie

University Supervisor: John Hughes, Paisley

An interdisciplinary project between the University of the West of Scotland, Historic Scotland and the British Geological Survey has been initiated to study in detail historic lime mortars. In particular the project aims to establish whether it is possible to use the binders of these mortars to determine the provenance of the limestone used to make them, and to further the understanding of such mortars and the processes involved in their study.

S203 The impact of hyper-alkaline fluids from a geological radioactive waste repository on the biological and physical characteristics of the host rock environment

Student: Sarah Smith

BGS Supervisor: Julie West

University Supervisor: John Lloyd, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

To test the hypothesis that microbes interacting with hyperalkaline fluids can impact on transport properties in host rocks for radioactive waste. The project will explore fluid/rock/microbial interactions in intact rock and will use materials already identified in the BIGRAD project. The composition and changes in the microbial populations will be studied using a variety of imaging and molecular biological techniques generating information to be used in existing transport models.

S208 Targeting elevated concentrations of mid and heavy rare earth elements in alkaline provinces

Student: Sam Broom-Fendley

BGS Supervisor: Gus Gunn

University Supervisor: Frances Wall, University of Exeter Camborne School of Mines, Mining Geology

This project aims to develop new models for the processes responsible for rare earth element (REE) enrichment in carbonatites and peralkaline granite-syenite complexes and in overlying weathered zones. Research will focus on the relatively scarce mid and heavy REE in the Chilwa Province of Malawi. Field investigations will involve sampling of drillcore, rocks and soils from targets located within licence areas held by Leo Mining and Exploration Ltd who will provide technical and logistical support in the field. A wide range of geochemical, mineralogical and geometallurgical techniques will be used to identify potentially economic targets and their processing characteristics. The results of the research will have wide application to REE deposits in similar settings elsewhere.

S215 Rock Alteration in the Chemically Disturbed Zone of a Geological Disposal Facility for Radioactive Waste

Student: Lizzy Moyce

BGS Supervisor: Tony Milodowski

University Supervisor: G Shaw, University of Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

S219 Investigating the Controls on Critical Metal Distribution within Intrusion-Centred Mineralization: Chalkidiki Peninsula, N. Greece

Student: Kate Sullivan

BGS Supervisor: Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Steve Roberts, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

To identify the processes responsible for ‘critical metals’ (PGM, Te, Se, Ag) enrichment in high-level potassic and calc-alkaline magmatic systems. Although intrusions of potassic and calc-alkaline magmatism are typically associated with Cu, Mo and Au mineralisation, some are enriched in the so called critical metals. However, the processes responsible for these enhanced metal concentrations are poorly understood and limit the development of optimum exploration strategies. Research will focus on the porphyry copper deposits of the Stratoni region of northern Greece and Muratdere area of Turkey, where Miocene porphyry systems host Cu and Au mineralisation. To test the hypothesis that the enhanced levels of critical metals in the porphyry system result from the interaction between the porphyry magmas and pre-existing mafic and ultramafic rocks, rather than from mantle-derived melts.

NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL)
S216 Improving the utility of LA-ICP-MS for isotope ratio environmentals1

Student: Grant Craig

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: Barry Sharp, University of Loughborough, Chemistry

Continents move because of Earth’s mantle movement, which in turn is the result of convective forces. Scientists have a good idea of how the continents were arranged in the past millions of years, and they have a good idea of the physics behind mantle movement. A major challenge is to be able to use these two pieces of information to reconstruct and simulate the mantle’s movement through geological time.

S218 Late quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction from Lake Ohrid (Macedonia/Albania) using stable isotopes

Student: Jack Lacey

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Leicester, Geography

S244 U-Series constraints on the evolution of the Green River (Utah) natural analogue for geological carbon storage

Student: Peter Scott

BGS Supervisor: Dan Condon

University Supervisor: Mike Bickle, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

This PhD project is focussed on using U-Series dating, combined with other geochemistry (e.g. Sr/Ca, δ13C, 87Sr/86Sr) and numerical modelling to understand the tempo of CO2 degassing in a natural CO2 leaking system, a natural analogue for potential future storage systems. The student research experience will build upon existing synergy between groups at Cambridge and the BGS and will generate data that are pertinent to our understanding of CO2 storage on time scales of 1 to >100 kyr, detailing rates and nature of fundamental processes/reactions, and the response of CO2 reservoirs to external forcing (i.e., environmental change).

S251 Propagation of deformation across the India-Asia collision zone, and its effect on climate change; constraints from the sediment record in the Tarim Basin, China

Student: Tamsin Blayney

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisor: Yani Najman, Lancaster, Environmental Science

Contacts for further information

Dr Jon Naden
BGS University Funding Initiative
British Geological Survey
NG12 5GG
E-mail: BUFI
Telephone: 0115 936 3100
Fax: 0115 936 3200
Twitter: @DocBGS