Inorganic Geochemistry Facility

BGS Science Facilities – Centre for Environmental Geochemistry

We undertake a wide range of research in the team, and work closely in collaboration with key university partners. Our research has a wide base across health and environmental quality, both within the UK and internationally. We also provide analytical services to other Directorates within BGS, and to external organisations.

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We undertake collaborative research with many universities, including supervision of PhD students. We are an integral part of the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, a collaboration between BGS and the University of Nottingham.

Environmental geochemistry and health

Many elements of the periodic table are essential for healthy life functioning. Our research focuses on those elements where there are proven or suspected environmental geochemical controls on human, livestock or crop health outcomes, particularly iodine, selenium, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Insufficient dietary supply of micronutrients (such as calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc) can result in ‘hidden hunger’, which may lead to a poorer nutritional status in populations. The impacts of hidden hunger may not only be felt at an individual level, but may also have direct economic consequences at a regional or national population level through an increased health burden. An equivalent impact is felt in the agricultural sector, where livestock may fail to thrive if micronutrients (such as cobalt, copper, iodine, magnesium, selenium and zinc) transfer from soil to plants in insufficient quantities. Benefits can be obtained by recognising any deficiencies and targeting appropriate interventions at various scales, from local to national.

Our research focuses on the links between the chemical concentration and properties of soil, water and sediments, and how these affect the transfer of mineral micronutrients to crops, livestock and humans. Controlling factors on these transfers include the chemistry and mineralogy of the rocks through which water flows or upon which soil forms.

Our research is generally undertaken in research consortia with cross-disciplinary expertise from a wide range of disciplines, including agricultural soil science, plant and crop science, agronomy, human and animal nutrition, and economics. Beyond Britain, we also work elsewhere in Europe, in Asia and have an extensive research programme with partners in sub-Saharan Africa. There is also considerable overlap with our capacity strengthening activities.

Research topics

Research to understand the environmental distribution, and potential consequences of, elements which may be harmful to health.

The chemical composition of all living organisms can be affected by their environment, and in turn can be diagnostic of the environment to which they have been exposed. These qualities allow us to use biomarkers to:

  • study exposure to potentially harmful elements, or nutrients, in humans and animals
  • study data on human and ecosystem health outcomes compared to measured environmental concentrations
  • contribute to the reconstruction of the origins and migration of people, goods, foodstuffs and animals

 

Changes in the composition of rocks are reflected in the composition and properties of soil and sediments formed from degradation of the rocks. There is an equivalent impact on the chemical properties of groundwater and surface waters. These chemical properties in soil, water and sediments can give rise to insufficient supply of micronutrients, or excess supply of potentially harmful elements through our diets and contact with these environmental media.

Anthropogenic activity, such as agricultural soil management or industrial contamination, can further alter the concentrations and ratios of elements that humans, animals or plants are exposed to. It is via exposure to our local environment, through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air (and dust) we breathe in, that small but measureable chemical concentration changes take place in the tissue of organisms.

We can use the measurement of these concentrations as part of a suite of tools to assess actual exposure to contaminants, and demonstrate whether high environmental concentrations are causing high body burdens of chemicals. We can apply the same technologies in other situations to investigate the likely origin or movement of the organisms we are studying, through using chemical properties as a ‘fingerprint’ of the geochemical environment of origin.

Our external partners in this theme include specialists in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, risk assessment, fisheries protection and archaeology.

Research topics

  • biomonitoring of private water supply users in Cornwall
  • biological markers in invertebrates exposed to contaminants in soils and sediments
  • the impact of soil geochemistry on food chemical composition and hidden hunger in Malawi
  • tracing migration of wild fish stocks
  • the impact of pollution, climate change and over fishing on shellfish for stock management and protection
  • geochemical tools applied to archaeological sciences

Laboratory services

The Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratories provide high quality analytical expertise and specialist services for the production and geochemical interpretation of inorganic data for BGS projects, and for commercial, university and public sector clients around the world. Project areas benefiting from input by laboratory staff are wide ranging and include geochemical surveys, water resources, contaminated land, natural hazards, marine pollution, mineral exploration, nuclear waste disposal, environment and health.

The Laboratories are accredited to ISO 17025 and we have a schedule of UKAS accredited tests. Confidence in the quality of our data is demonstrated by participation in a range of proficiency testing schemes, such as Aquacheck and Quality Consult (waters), CONTEST (contaminated land) and GeoPT (silicate rocks).

These laboratories occupy purpose-built accommodation equipped with an extensive suite of modern analytical instrumentation, along with specialised sample preparation facilities.

Our analytical capability provides extensive datasets on a wide range of geological and environmental samples.

We can perform elemental analyses on plant samples, including forage vegetation, and crops from root vegetables through to wheat, rice and maize grains. Analysis of plant materials is not covered under the scope of ISO 17025 accreditation.

Trace and major elements capability

The facility has three inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments: an Agilent 8900 Triple Quadrupole, an Agilent 7500 and a Spectro Array ICP-MS.

We have capability for:

  • high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of 57 elements, plus iodine using a TMAH extraction
  • isotope ratio analyses for uranium (e.g. DU) and lead (provenancing)
  • solid sampling on a microsscale using laser ablation ICP-MS

 

The ability to determine mercury in a wide variety of biological material such as plants or tissue directly, without time-consuming chemical preparation, is provided by a Milestone DMA-80 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.

Spatially resolved analysis

It is frequently advantageous to know the location of elements within a biological structure at a microscale, for example to differentiate uptake into plant roots, stem or leaf. Laser ablation coupled with ICP-MS can provide this. The hard parts of aquatic biota grow on a seasonal or even daily basis in a manner analogous to tree rings, thus providing ‘tape recorders’ of environmental change. The laboratories have two decades of experience of applying laser ablation to corals, shells (bivalves) and fish earbones (otoliths).

Gamma-emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Certain artificial isotopes may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, i.e. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Water sample types we can analyse include:

  • environmental
  • groundwater
  • stream water
  • borehole
  • pore water
  • process water

 

We also have the facilities to analyse other waters such as saline matrices, synthetic, experimental and hydrothermal fluids, effluents, and leachates.

Trace and major elements capability

The facility has three inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments: an Agilent 8900 Triple Quadrupole (UKAS accredited for aqueous samples to ISO 17025), an Agilent 7500 and a Spectro Array ICP-MS.

We have capability for:

  • high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of 57 elements, plus iodine with TMAH preservation
  • low-volume analyses (< 5 mL, including IC, pH/Alk, NPOC)
  • elemental speciation of arsenic, chromium and selenium using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • isotope ratio analyses for uranium (e.g. DU) and lead (provenancing)

 

In addition, we have a Spectro Arcos inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) instrument used for analysis of major and high trace elements in high total dissolved solutions such as process or saline waters.

Anions: ion chromatography

We have one Dionex ICS5000 dual line ion chromatograph (UKAS accredited for aqueous samples to ISO 17025). There is capability for high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of fluoride, chloride, bromide, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate and sulphate, as well as analysis of low-volume and saline matrix samples.

Alkalinity, pH and organic carbon

Alkalinity and pH are measured using a Radiometer TIM autotitrator. Both pH and alkalinity (expressed as bicarbonate) are accredited to ISO 17025. Determination of alkalinity speciation (hydroxide, carbonate and bicarbonate) can be provided, but outside the scope of accreditation.

Total organic carbon (TOC) or dissolved organic carbon (DOC) (according to whether the sample has been filtered) is measured as non-purgeable organic carbon (NPOC) to reflect sparging inherent in the method, and utilises a Shimadzu TOC-L instrument (accredited to ISO 17025).

Radon in water

Radon (222Rn) is measured by a liquid scintillation counting (LSC) technique using a HIDEX Triathler liquid scintillation counter to quantify the activity of 222Rn radionuclides in aqueous samples.

Gamma-emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Occasionally anthropogenic processes such as oil or gas extraction may pre-concentrate these to hazardous levels e.g. radium in barium sulphate-rich brines.

These radionuclides may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Certain artificial radionuclides may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, e.g. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Soil sample types we can analyse include:

  • agricultural
  • contaminated land
  • urban
  • domestic

High throughput is available for survey-scale soil sampling.

Trace and major elements capability

The facility has three inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments: an Agilent 8900 Triple Quadrupole, an Agilent 7500 and a Spectro Array ICP-MS.

We have capability for:

  • high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of 55 elements, plus iodine using a TMAH extraction
  • elemental speciation of arsenic
  • elemental speciation of chromium and iodine using speciated isotope dilution mass spectrometry
  • isotope ratio analyses for uranium (e.g. DU) and lead (provenancing)

In addition, we have a Spectro Arcos inductively coupled plasma atomic l emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) instrument for solutions with a high total dissolved solids, such as partial extractions or cation exchange capacities.

The ability to determine mercury in a wide variety of solids directly, without time-consuming chemical preparation, is provided by a Milestone DMA-80 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.

Bioaccessibility and CISED

BGS offers bioaccessibility testing of soils by the application of a methodology that simulates conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, to assess the human bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements by ingestion. The methodology applied has been developed by the BioAccessibility Research Group of Europe (BARGE) and is known as the unified BARGE method or UBM (Hamilton et al., 2015).

These tests can be followed up with an investigation into the source of the potentially harmful elements by defining the mineral association of elements using a method of chemometric identification of substrates and element distribution (CISED) (Cave et al., 2004Wragg and Cave, 2012).

Partition coefficient

Partition coefficient (Kd) testing is also available for a range of routine and non-routine determinands, e.g. nitrates, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, phosphorus, vanadium, potassium, zinc and mercury. The method employed uses an EA-approved Kd test adapted from Gillespie et al., 2000 (Environment Agency Technical Report TR P340).

Partial extractions and cation exchange capacities

There are many partial extraction schemes aimed at defining plant available fractions from soil or exchangability. The laboratories have experience in many of these and they can be made available as required or to customer/collaborator-specific requirements.

Gamma-emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Occasionally anthropogenic processes such as oil or gas extraction may pre-concentrate these to hazardous levels e.g. radium in barium sulphate-rich brines.

These radionuclides may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Certain artificial radionuclides may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, e.g. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

The Sample Handling team routinely prepares bulk reference materials for a variety of sample matrices such as soils, peats and sediments. Bulk materials and reference materials are used for laboratory quality control (QC) and proficiency testing to assess the quality of instrumentation and analytical techniques.

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Our methods are capable of analysing a full range of igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary rock materials, including mineralised material. We can adapt our procedures for pure and applied geochemical applications. A wide range of metallic, industrial and waste minerals can be analysed as either bulk granular material or individual pieces. We are active participants in the GeoPT and Quasimeme proficiency testing schemes.

Trace and major elements capability

The facility has three inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments: an Agilent 8900 Triple Quadrupole, an Agilent 7500 and a Spectro Array ICP-MS.

We have capability for:

  • high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of 55 elements, plus iodine in sediments using a TMAH extraction
  • solid sampling on a microscale using laser ablation ICP-MS

In addition, we have a Spectro Arcos inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) instrument for solutions containing high total dissolved solids, such as fusions.

Mercury in sediments

Mercury can be determined in a wide variety of solids directly, without time-consuming chemical preparation. This is done using a Milestone DMA-80 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.

Industrial and critical minerals

A new generation of metals and semi-metals will be critical for both hi-tech and green applications. We have tailored packages for selenium, indium, tellurium and rare earth elements (REEs).

We can calculate radioactivity indices in gypsum by measuring natural radium, thorium and potassium activity. We have developed a method for analysis of complex matrices such as fly ash, gypsum or polyhalite.

The spatial analysis of individual mineral grains (10–100 μm) using laser ablation extends BGS’s other capability (SEM-EDX) for diagnostic trace elements either of high value or key to geological process understanding.

Heavy mineral analysis

Correlation and provenance of geological materials can be achieved through analysis of heavy minerals (density > 2.85 g/cm3). Geochemical analysis by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) establishes the relative or absolute abundance of key elements associated with specific heavy minerals: apatite, chrome spinel, monazite, titanium oxides (rutile, titanite, anatase etc.) and zircon. This technique provides unique mineral-chemical signatures, broad trends in major cation groups and the quantification of specific REEs.

Classification of sediments and their associated sources are constructed through the comparison of the geochemistry associated with both ultra-stable and unstable heavy minerals. Heavy minerals from the 63–125 μm sand fraction are concentrated using a typical ‘sink float’ heavy media separation using lithium-polytungstate. Samples are fused using a lithium-metaborate flux and analysed using ICP-AES for a suite of major, minor and trace elements.

Core profiling and in situ analyses

Stratigraphic analysis is done using handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (HH-XRFS) to analyse drill core to identify sedimentary cycles. We also carry out in situ analyses of building stones.

Gamma emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Occasionally anthropogenic processes such as oil or gas extraction may pre-concentrate these to hazardous levels e.g. radium in barium sulphate-rich brines.

Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Certain artificial isotopes may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, e.g. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

The laboratories can analyse a wide range of samples, including but not exclusive to:

  • biomonitoring samples (toenails, urine, hair)
  • ecological samples (earthworms, coral, otoliths, fish, feathers)
  • archaeological samples (glass, pottery)
  • geophagy samples

For solutions, low-volume pore waters (spun or squeezed), saline and hyper-alkaline solutions are used.

Gamma emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Occasionally anthropogenic processes such as oil or gas extraction may pre-concentrate these to hazardous levels i.e. radium in barium sulphate-rich brines. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Certain artificial isotopes may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, i.e. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Micro-scale analyses

Laser ablation ICP-MS for is available for spatial and micro analyses of individual minerals as well as solid or fluid inclusions etc. We would normally couple this with scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) analysis of thin sections or polished blocks.

Laser ablation ICP-MS is also available for spatial and micro-analyses of both ecological samples (e.g. sea coral, otolith — fish ear bones) or archaeological samples where either growth structures or chemistry may by on the scale of tens of microns.

Experimental design

We provide advice on sampling strategy for field collections or experimental design and optimal analytical methodology.

The facility handles a wide range of samples, including but not limited to:

  • contaminated land samples
  • agricultural soils
  • vegetation and crops
  • rocks, minerals and sediments

We use bespoke equipment depending on the sample matrix and subsequent analytical method, whether trace element or organic chemistry, mineralogy and petrology.

We have capability to handle low volume samples through to high throughput survey scale jobs, preparation of bulk materials and reference materials for proficiency testing and certification. Although its methods are not specifically accredited, the sample preparation laboratories are managed following our Quality System, which is accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025.

The facility uses a clean preparation environment to minimise sample cross contamination and can handle contaminated and ore-grade samples away from areas used for trace-level sample preparation.

The majority of sample material is milled using agate media to minimise metal contamination of sample matrices. Other types of mill (e.g. Cr-steel mixer mill) are used when large volumes of sample are required and the potential for contamination is less significant.

Our environmental radioactivity facility concentrates on:

  • sediment profiling of peat and lake deposits to support reconstruction of recent environmental history
  • radon measurements to understand the natural distribution and migration of this gas in the environment

Peat profiling

Peat cores are used to reconstruct the accumulation of peat, through analysis of sample slices taken at intervals down a core. In ombrotrophic peat bogs, for which accumulated material is derived from the breakdown of plants, there is no mineral source of natural radioactivity within the layers of peat. Where the peat has not been disturbed by erosion, such as from rivers or human activity, it can accumulate a continuous record of atmospheric deposition of minerals to the land surface.

In order to make this archive relevant to the history of landscape evolution and records of human activity, it is important that the layers of peat can be dated. The age-dating provides a chronological context to the other measurements, such as organic markers or chemical pollutants. These data allow us to understand the processes of peat accumulation and look at the implications of peat erosion into local water courses, as well as providing records of Anthropocene activity.

The ability to date peat cores uses the natural deposition of a radiogenic isotope of lead (Pb) onto the earth’s surface from atmospheric fallout. The isotope Pb-210 forms in the atmosphere due the decay of the naturally occurring radioactive gas radon (Rn, isotope Rn-222), and is deposited as a particulate.

When Pb-210-containing material is deposited onto the surface of peat, it is retained and gradually buried as organic matter continues to accumulate through time. The Pb-210 atoms in turn decay at a well-characterised rate (half-life), and because no further Pb-210 is added to the buried layers, the rate equation can be used to reconstruct the age of the slices of peat taken for measurement from the core. We measure Pb-210 using one of our gamma spectrometers.

In addition to Pb-210, anthropogenic-derived radioisotopes can be measured by gamma spectrometry and used to corroborate these models. For example, atmospheric bomb tests were associated with the release of the caesium isotope Cs-137, which peaked in the 1960s: the rate of decay of this isotope is well understood and can be used to assess the age of peat material.

Using the complementary techniques of Pb and Cs dating, the age of peat and rates of peat accumulation can be modelled from approximately the last 150 years. We are able to link this with other established techniques to reconstruct contaminant loading onto peat from atmospheric deposition, such as with stable Pb isotope dating and isotopic liability testing using Pb isotope ratios determined by ICP-MS.

Reference

Rothwell, J J, Taylor, K G, Chenery, S R N, Cundy, A B, Evans, M G, and Allott, T E H.  2010.  Storage and Behavior of As, Sb, Pb, and Cu in Ombrotrophic Peat Bogs under Contrasting Water Table Conditions.  Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 44, 8497–8502.  10.1021/es101150w

Lake, river and estuary sediment profiling

The same principles described for peat can be applied to dating lake and large river sediments. However, there is an added complication, as Pb-210 is incorporated into these sediments not just from atmospheric sources, but also from deposition of water-borne sediment. These minerals are ultimately derived from the erosion of rocks in the river catchment, and will contain Pb-210 from the decay of naturally occurring uranium-bearing minerals in the sediment. These minerals represent a continuous source of replenishment of Pb-210 in the core, whilst the Pb-210 from atmospheric deposition is isolated as the sediment accumulates. This inherent mineral-derived Pb-210 activity needs to be taken into account when calculating a deposition age for a sample slice from the core and to reconstruct sedimentation rates via making measurements on a sequence of samples through the core.

Reconstruction of river and lake deposition or estuarine sediments is used to understand human–environment interactions as a result of population growth, urban expansion, climate change and pollution events.

Reference

Kemp, A C, Sommerfield, C K, Vane, C H, Horton, B P, Chenery, S, Anisfeld, S, and Nikitina, D.  2012   Use of lead isotopes for developing chronologies in recent salt-marsh sediments.  Quaternary Geochronology, Vol. 12, 40–49.

Radon in soil and water

Radon (Rn) gas is a natural decay product from both the uranium series (Rn-222) and thorium series (Rn-220). Most rocks will contain small concentrations of uranium and thorium, decay from which provides a well-known background level of Rn. Certain rocks can have relatively elevated concentrations of the Rn parent elements and hence can give rise to high concentrations of Rn.

Rn is soluble in water and can readily dissolve into ground water. This may then be released directly as a gas via fissures or dissolved in water by flow from aquifers. In turn this could lead to unusually high concentrations of Rn in some areas, potentially becoming a risk to health if trapped in unventilated buildings.

We measure Rn in water and soil using a combination of liquid scintillation counting, alpha counting and gamma spectrometry. Measurement of Rn has well established applications in developing natural tracer and hazard assessment methods, e.g. in soil profiles and domestic drinking water supplies. This is an important aspect of establishing and monitoring baselines as part of BGS research into baseline groundwater conditions in areas that have the potential for extraction of unconventional gas resources.

Capacity strengthening and training

The Inorganic Geochemistry team undertakes work in many countries, especially within sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, often through capacity strengthening projects or scientific partnerships, which may be funded by the host organisation or major organisations such as the World Bank or the UK Department for International Development (DFID). These projects may be specifically aimed at geochemistry and laboratories, or part of a wider institutional strengthening project with other colleagues in BGS Global.

Our approach is always to do an initial evaluation of the existing skills capability, laboratory infrastructure, equipment, and supporting infrastructure, with our local counterparts to develop a sustainable capacity strengthening plan. The scope of evaluation includes but is not limited to:

  • management systems for quality assurance
  • sample preparation
  • sample analysis
  • sample analysis by sub-contractor laboratories
  • quality control of analytical data

Projects often require local delivery of training priorities agreed with the stakeholders and can be complemented with short-term visits to our own laboratories when in-country capacity strengthening is not possible. We have developed considerable experience resulting in a wide range of training activities which we can use to provide a customised training programme.

We also undertake individual technical skills development with scientists in companies, institutes and universities through international funding initiatives such as the DFID Commonwealth Scholarship Council UK fellowship, Royal Society International Exchange or Royal Society of Chemistry analytical chemistry training schemes. These types of scheme provide funds for travel and training, and have proved very successful in transferring skills. In these instances we typically provide both laboratory and wider research programme training (e.g. advanced data presentation and analysis).

We have considerable experience in developing research skills in sub-Saharan Africa through PhD training, jointly with in-country university and agricultural research institute counterparts and in partnership with the University of Nottingham through the joint Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. We were awarded a Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative programme grant “Strengthening African capacity in soil geochemistry to inform agricultural and health policies” (2015–2020), which has three core–funded PhD studentships in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as further associated PhD studentships underway or in development.

Recent projects

The inorganic geochemistry team provides training in laboratory systems (e.g. quality assurance) and techniques, from sampling strategy to sample preparation, dissolution, sample analyses to interpretation and data management, all with an overarching need to provide an audit trail to maintain confidence in data outputs.

PhD students

We regularly host PhD students undertaking experimental work or for laboratory training in systems of work (e.g. health and safety, quality assurance) and the wide range of techniques and procedures available. The students have access to the range of laboratory and applied scientific expertise of the inorganic geochemistry team and the wider BGS.

Overseas trainees

In recent years we have hosted overseas trainees from India, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe through international development projects, exchange secondments or on a commercial basis. We have also provided training packages in Jamaica and Israel, as well as major capacity strengthening programmes in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Liberia.

Industrial placements

We provide 12-month rolling programmes for research projects and on-the-job training for applied analytical chemistry placements.

Examples of previous sandwich research projects include:

  • development of elemental speciation for field and laboratory techniques (SPE, HPLC-ICP-MS)
  • validation of a Mercury analyser
  • specialised method development for analysis of heavy minerals
  • set up of radiochemistry analytical equipment
  • application of bioaccessibility methodology to soil risk assessment and geogenic dust analyses.
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Testimonial:

Michael Watts at BGS provide an excellent laboratory for students undertaking work-based learning (or Professional Training). This long standing link with the University of Surrey is highly recognised for the professional level of training the students get, with specific on-the-job experience of quality control systems, project specific analysis of other staff at BGS and the day-to-day experience of working with experts from a variety of professions at BGS. All of the students learn about research in a world where it is important to not just analyse samples, but the results are very important in relation to natural environmental and geochemical problems’.

Professor Neil Ward, University of Surrey

Contact

Please contact Michael WattsCharles Gowing or Simon Chenery for further information.

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