Soils are the thin veneer of geology that humans live on. Increasing human populations, changing climates and the intensification in the use of our soils mean that we are in danger of losing or causing irreversible damage to a resource that takes thousands of years to produce. In addition, how we use our soils is a key factor in determining the quality of our ground and surface waters as well as well as the air we breathe.
The soils team at BGS has expertise in soil chemistry, particularly the biogeochemical cycles of major and trace elements, and soil physics, where we focus on understanding soil structure and understanding soil moisture dynamics in UK and African soils. In addition we try to understand these processes in relation to the properties that the soil parent material (i.e. the geology) provides the soil, including the lifespan of soils in relation to formation and erosion.
Sustainable soils work at the BGS currently focuses on delivering information that can help the management of soils both in the UK and internationally. We work with a range of researchers, including BGS colleagues in groundwater, at the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, the mineralogy and petrography laboratories, and externally with HEI establishments and research institutes. Recent and current external collaborators include the Environment Agency and the Welsh Government.
Our research projects
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Studying the evolution of newly emerging soils uncovered by retreating glaciers on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
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