Field observations

BGS specialises in taking laboratory observations and using these to interpret and validate full-scale field observations.

Large scale gas injection test (Lasgit)

The Large scale gas injection test is a full-scale KBS-3v nuclear disposal canister test that operates in the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory in Sweden. The aim of the experiment is to investigate the propagation of gas should water enter the canister after deposition and validate the findings seen in the laboratory. The experiment has been running since 2005 and has an expected lifetime of 10-12 years.

East Leake Embankment Research Site

At East Leake, Nottinghamshire, our team is developing new techniques to characterise the condition and performance of engineered embankments. We have combined traditional site investigation techniques with new advances in resistivity surveying and continuous surface wave surveys, and are pioneering new applications of microtremor studies to investigate the distribution and variability in the geotechnical properties of engineered fill. Heterogeneity within the earthworks exerts huge control over the moisture movement and long term changes in internal condition, which we are now imaging in 4D (3D plus time), using automated time lapse electrical resistivity tomography (ALERT) technology.

BIONICS Embankment

The BIONICS (BIOlogical and eNgineering Impacts of Climate change on Slopes) embankment was funded by the EPSRC as part of the Building Knowledge for Climate Change (BKCC) programme, and is located at the University of Newcastle. The test site was established to facilitate research into the effects of climate change on earth embankment slopes. BGS is currently working with the University of Newcastle to assess the efficacy of ALERT for monitoring the internal condition of earth embankments. As with the East Leake Research Site, laboratory based assessment of geophysical-geotechnical property relationships are crucial for calibrating and interpreting the time-lapse geophysical images generated from ALERT monitoring.

Hollin Hill Landslide Observatory

The landslide observatory has been established to facilitate the development of 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 include (1) the determination and characterisation of 3D landslide structure, (2) an assessment of the hydrogeological regime, (3) the development of ground motion tracking using geophysical measurements, and (4) assessing how hydrogeological processes are related to movement. The research is heavily reliant on BGS laboratories for instrument development, controlled testing of new landslide monitoring methodologies, materials testing, and geophysical-geotechnical-hydrogeological relationship determination for field-scale geophysical model calibration.

Landfill research

In conjunction with waste operators and engineering consultations, BGS undertook a small laboratory and field based study examining the gas migration behaviour of clay-based landfill liner materials. As part of the study BGS designed the 'Envirotest' module, a self-contained, vandal/theft proof unit which was successfully deployed on an operational landfill site for several years to measure the in situ properties of a lateral clay liner.

Geohazard Monitoring and Imaging

BGS has a long history of developing and testing new instrumentation and techniques to locate and characterise geohazards, such as mineshafts and understand the processes leading to instability, such as metastable collapse in weakly cemented fabrics, and the development of slip planes in mudrocks. Laboratory and field studies are closely linked improving our understanding of the controls on geohazards.

Recent publications (2000+)

Chambers, J E, Gunn, D A, Meldrum, P I, Ogilvy, R D, Wilkinson, P B, Haslam, E, Holyoake, S and Wragg, J. 2011. Volumetric imaging of earth embankment internal structure and moisture movement as a tool for condition monitoring. Proc. 11th Int. Conf. Railway Engineering, London.

Chambers, J.E., Gunn, D.A., Wilkinson, P.B., Ogilvy, R.D., Ghataora, G.S., Burrow, M.P.N., and Smith, R.T., 2008, Non-invasive time-lapse imaging of moisture content changes in earth embankments using electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). In Ellis, E., Yu, H.S., McDowell, G., Dawson, A., and Thom, N., eds., Advances in Transportation Geotechnics: Boca Raton, Crc Press-Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN: 978-0-415-47590-7, p. 475-480.

Chambers, J. E., Wilkinson, P. B., Kuras, O., Ford, J. R., Gunn, D. A., Meldrum, P. I., Pennington, C. V. L., Weller, A. L., Hobbs, P. R. N. and Ogilvy, R. D., 2011. Three-dimensional geophysical anatomy of an active landslide in Lias Group mudrocks, Cleveland Basin, UK. Geomorphology, Vol. 125, 472-484.

Chambers, J E, Wilkinson, P B, Weller, A L, Meldrum, P I, Ogilvy, R D, and Caunt, S, 2007. Mineshaft imaging using surface and crosshole 3D electrical resistivity tomography: A case history from the East Pennine Coalfield, UK. Journal of Applied Geophysics, Vol. 62, 324-337.

Cuss, R.J., Harrington, J.F., & Noy, D.J. (2010) Large scale gas injection test (Lasgit) performed at the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. Summary report 2008. Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB) Technical Report TR-10-38, SKB, Stockholm, Sweden. Pp.109.

Glendinning, S, Mendes, J, Hughes, P, Chambers, J, and Gunn, D. Climate-induced variation of pore water pressures in a clay embankment. part 1: full-scale monitoring. Geotechnique (accepted).

Gunn, D A, Ogilvy, R, Chambers, J, and Meldrum, P. 2010. ALERT?ME — New technologies for embankment warning systems. Rail Technology Magazine, Oct/Nov 2010, 80–82.

Gunn, D A, Ogilvy, R, Chambers, J, Meldrum, P, Haslam, E, Holyoake, S, and Wragg, J. 2010. The first trials of the British Geological Survey's new ALERT-ME system for monitoring embankments using resistivity imaging have thrown up some fascinating results. Ground Engineering, Sept 2010, 12–14.

Gunn, D A, Raines, M G, Chambers, J E, Haslam, E, Meldrum, P I, Holyoake, S, Kirkham, M, Williams, G, Ghataora, G S. and Burrow, M P N. 2011. Embankment stiffness characterisation using MASW and continuous surface wave methods. Proc. 11th Int. Conf. Railway Engineering, London.

Gunn, D.A., Reeves, H. J., Chambers, J.E., Ghataora, G., Burrow, M., Weston, P., Lovell, J .M., Nelder, L., Ward, D. and Tilden Smith, R., 2008. New geophysical and geotechnical approaches to characterise under utilised earthworks. In Ellis, E., Yu, H.S., McDowell, G., Dawson, A., and Thom, N., eds., Advances in Transportation Geotechnics: Boca Raton, Crc Press-Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN: 978-0-415-47590-7, 299-305.

Pennington, C.V.L, Foster C., Chambers J.E. and Jenkins G.O. 2009. Landslide Research at the British Geological Survey: Capture, Storage and Interpretation on a National and Site-Specific Scale. Acta Geologica Sinica, Vol. 83, 991-999.

Wilkinson P. B., Chambers, J. E., Kuras, O, Meldrum, P. I. and Gunn, D. A., 2011. Long-term time-lapse geoelectrical monitoring. First Break, Vol. 29, 45-52.

Wilkinson, P. B., Chambers, J. E., Meldrum, P. I., Gunn, D. A., Ogilvy, R. D. and Kuras, O. 2010. Predicting the movements of permanently installed electrodes on an active landslide using time-lapse geoelectrical resistivity data only. Geophysical Journal International, Vol. 183(2), 543-556.


Please contact Dr Rob Cuss for further information