Clyde Basin geochemical survey

Clyde water map (Figure 1): The Clyde Basin stream and river water sample locations. Click to enlarge. OS topography © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. BGS 100017897/2010.

Clyde soil map (Figure 2): The Clyde Basin rural and urban soil sample locations. Click to enlarge. OS topography © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. BGS 100017897/2010.

Clyde sediment map (Figure 3): The Clyde Basin stream and river sediment sample locations. Click to enlarge. OS topography © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. BGS 100017897/2010.

During 2010 and 2011 the G-BASE project carried out a geochemical survey of the Clyde Basin; one of the research themes of the Glasgow and Clyde Basin Urban Super Project (CUSP).

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

During 2010, water samples were collected from small streams (first and second order) from the same sites as an existing survey of stream sediment samples that was carried out across the area during the 1980s (BGS, 1993). Soils were also collected from rural areas across the whole of the Clyde Basin (~3100 km2) at a sample density of 1 per 2 km2. This resulted in approximately 1800 stream water and 1000 soil samples (Figures 1 and 2) that are being analysed for over 50 chemical elements. A further 60 sediment and water samples were collected from the River Clyde and its major tributaries (Figures 2 and 3). At these sites, sediments were collected also for organic contaminant (OC) analysis (PAHs, PCBs etc).

In 2011, the geochemical survey of the Clyde Basin was completed with the collection of over 1800 urban soil samples from the Lanarkshire and Inverclyde conurbations (Figure 2). During the same campaign, 80 urban soils were collected from the City of Glasgow for organic contaminant (OC) analysis (Figure 2).

These new samples in conjunction with the following existing datasets provide extensive geochemical coverage for the Clyde Basin:

  1. rural stream sediment samples collected by the G-BASE project in the 1980s
  2. urban soil samples from the Glasgow conurbation collected by the G-BASE project in 2001-2002
  3. urban sediment and water samples collected in conjunction with Glasgow City Council from all tributaries draining into the River Clyde within Glasgow City - the BGS Clyde Tributaries project (Fordyce et al., 2004)
  4. (iv) river water and sediment samples collected from the Clyde Estuary in collaboration with Glasgow City Council and SEPA as part of the BGS Estuarine Contamination project (Jones et al., 2004).

As a result, the CUSP project will have geochemical data characterising sediment, water and soil quality for some 2000 stream and river sediments; 1800 stream and river waters; 1460 rural soils and 2450 urban soils across the Clyde catchment (Figures 1 to 3).

The results will feed directly into CUSP and have applications and benefits to studies of a wide range of topics such as biodiversity, land and water quality, agriculture, human and animal health.

Particular interest has been shown, for instance, in the possible identification of areas over which trace element imbalances may lead to disease in livestock or affect the growth of crops.

Clyde Basin — key issues

Soil sampling

Acquiring onshore geochemical data for the Clyde Basin will allow BGS to develop relevant geoscience products to address key issues including:

  • distribution of potential harmful elements (PHE) and substances
  • distribution of essential trace elements for agriculture and human health
  • land and water quality
  • soil and water quality
  • soil–surface water–groundwater interactions
  • environmental impacts on ecosystem and human health, including diffuse pollution
  • contaminant migration in the River Clyde catchment
  • sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
  • attributed 3D geological models
  • soil carbon stores
  • catchment management studies

Picture gallery | Clyde Basin geochemical survey 2010 fieldwork


British Geological Survey. 1993. Regional Geochemistry of Southern Scotland and Part of Northern England. (Keyworth: British Geological Survey).

Fordyce, F M, Ó Dochartaigh, B É, Lister, T R, Cooper, R, Kim, A, Harrison, I, Vane C and Brown, S E. 2004. Clyde Tributaries: Report of Urban Stream Sediment and Surface Water Geochemistry for Glasgow. British Geological Survey Commissioned Report CR/04/037 (Edinburgh: British Geological Survey).

D. G. Jones, T. R. Lister, M. H. Strutt, D. C. Entwistle, I Harrison, A. W. Kim, J Ridgway and C. H. Vane. 2004. Estuarine Geochemistry: Report for Glasgow City Council. British Geological Survey Commissioned Report, CR/04/057 (Keyworth: British Geological Survey).

Further information

For further details and information on the geochemical survey contact Fiona Fordyce (Clyde Basin Geochemistry).