This is a diverse and active research area, led by Dr Julia West, which examines the processes and effects of microbes on contaminant breakdown, transport and containment in a range of geological settings.
Biological processes are being increasingly recognised as an important part of the subsurface environment having major implications on the interpretation of geochemical and hydrogeological information.
the influences of microbes and biofilms on mass transport properties through geological media – recent developments include a bioreactor flow apparatus
geomicrobiology of radioactive waste disposal, including
radionuclide migration, redox control and natural analogues
environmental issues and the geological storage of carbon dioxide – extensive research has been undertaken in the UK and overseas into the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage on ecosystems
development of the in-house BGSE code to determine controls on subsurface microbial growth; ongoing research is updating and improving this model
microbial effects on mineral dissolution and precipitation
groundwater quality, including transport and viability studies in groundwater systems
development of fluorescence imaging to assess distribution and
enumeration in geological materials
the evaluation of microbiological activity on the bioaccessibility of potentially hazardous elements in soils
A fully equipped Containment Level 2 microbiology laboratory is
available with the capability of handling geological materials (core materials and groundwaters).
microaerophilic/anaerobic chamber:a variable atmosphere workstation for the study of oxygen sensitive microbes.
Microtox analyser: the Microtox systems provide a reliable biological test system for the measurement of toxicity in aquatic and solid
Deltatox analyser: provides portable rapid screening of potentially contaminated waters. It can also be used for total viable biomass
quantification using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) analysis
refrigerated and programmable incubators for the cultivation and
isolation of bacteria
epifluorescence microscopy for the assessment of microbial numbers