Clyde Basin geochemical survey

BGS Research — Applied Geochemistry

Between 2001 and 2011, BGS carried out a series of geochemical surveys in the Clyde Basin forming an integral part of the BGS G-BASE project and the Glasgow and Clyde Basin Urban Super Project (CUSP).

CUSP was a multi-disciplinary catchment-based project to characterise the geoenvironment of the Clyde Basin to aid sustainable planning and development in and around Scotland’s major conurbation.

The geochemical surveys were based on the collection of 2000 stream and river sediment/water and 3943 soil samples that were analysed to determine the distribution of c. 50 inorganic chemical parameters that are important for agriculture and/or land and water/sediment quality assessment. Additional studies determined the concentration of c. 50 persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in selected soil and river sediment samples. Results reveal the natural and geological influences on; and the impacts of urbanisation/industrialisation, former mining and atmospheric deposition on soil and drainage system resources. Understanding the controls on soil and surface water/sediment chemical quality provides an invaluable basis to aid catchment management and urban regeneration for the future.

The data shows the chemical state of the surface environment across Scotland’s largest urban area and a key river catchment, against which to assess future change. As demonstrated by the list of publications below, they have application to understanding a variety of environmental issues including:

  • land and water chemical quality assessment and regulation
  • distribution of potentially harmful substances and diffuse pollution for environmental protection
  • distribution of essential trace elements for agriculture and ecosystem health
  • soil–surface water–groundwater interactions
  • contaminant migration in the River Clyde catchment
  • sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
  • catchment management studies
  • land use planning and development
  • soil carbon stocks
  • the data were the first to show a link between soil metal chemistry and deprivation indicators in the UK (See Morrison et al., 2013 in Publication list)

Main outputs

The geochemical surveys were carried out in various phases, with the following main outputs:

Top (5 – 20 cm) and deeper (35 – 50 cm) soil samples collected across the Clyde Basin at a sample density of 1 per 2 km2 in rural and 4 per 1 km2 in urban areas. Analysed for c. 50 inorganic chemical parameters.

80 urban topsoil (5 – 20 cm) samples from 10 different land use types in Glasgow City. Analysed for c. 100 inorganic and organic chemical substances.

Water samples from small (1st and 2nd order) rural streams, collected at a sample density of 1 per 1.5 km2 from the same sites as the existing 1980s G-BASE stream sediment survey ( ). Analysed for c. 50 inorganic chemical parameters.

40 river sediment and water samples collected from all junctions with major tributaries on the River Clyde upstream of Glasgow. Sediment analysed for c. 100 inorganic and organic substances. Water analysed for c. 50 inorganic parameters.

Sediment and water samples collected from the inner and outer estuary of the River Clyde. Analysed for c. 100 inorganic and organic chemical substances.

Carried out in collaboration with Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Glasgow Humane Society.

  • Estuarine Geochemistry: Report for Glasgow City Council. 2004. British Geological Survey Commissioned Report, CR/04/057. Contact BGS Enquiries.

Fine (< 150 µm) fraction urban stream sediment; and stream water collected from every km of length of all tributaries draining into the River Clyde within the Glasgow City area. Analysed for c. 60 inorganic and organic chemical substances.

Carried out in collaboration with Glasgow City Council.

Top (5 – 20 cm) and deeper (35 – 50 cm) soil samples collected across the Glasgow conurbation at a sample density of 1 per 2 km2 in rural and 4 per 1 km in urban areas. Analysed for c. 50 inorganic chemical parameters.

For all the surveys above, see also the CUSP Special Issue of the Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Links to individual papers in this volume are given in the Publications list below.

Data

Data Search the BGS Onshore GeoIndex for the availability of G-BASE soil, stream water and stream sediment data. G-BASE data are available under license from BGS. Contact the BGS enquiry service.

Publications

Fordyce F M, Lass-Evans S and Ó Dochartaigh, B É. A Case Study to Identify Urban Diffuse Pollution in the Light Burn Catchment, Glasgow, UK. Stage 3 contribution to: Wade, R et al. 2013. A Critical Review of Urban Diffuse Pollution Control: Methodologies to Identify Sources, Pathways and Mitigation Measures with Multiple Benefits. CRW2012/1.Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen. 

Wade R, Lundy  L, Fordyce F M, Berwick N, Jefferies C, McLean N, Lass-Evans S, Ó Dochartaigh  B É, Garcia-Haba E, Jose R and Spray C. 2013Research Summary. A Critical Review of Urban Diffuse Pollution Control: Methodologies to Identify Sources, Pathways and Mitigation Measures with Multiple Benefits. CRW2012/1.Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen. 

  • Fordyce F M, Ó Dochartaigh B É, Bonsor H C, Ander E L, Graham M T, McCuaig R and Lovatt  M J. 2019Assessing threats to shallow groundwater quality from soil pollutants in Glasgow, UK: development of a new screening tool. The Geosciences in Europe’s Urban Sustainability: Lessons from Glasgow and Beyond (CUSP). Earth and Environmental Science: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 108 (2-3), 173–190. 
  • Lovatt M J. 2008. Assessing the Importance of Depth to Groundwater in a Methodology for Prioritising Threats to Groundwater Quality from Surface Contaminants in the Clyde Gateway, Glasgow. MSc Thesis, University of Strathclyde. 
  • McCuaig, R. 2011. Validation of a GIS-based Tool for Prioritising Threats to Shallow Groundwater Quality from Soil Pollutants in Glasgow. MSc Thesis. Birmingham University. 

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