Research news and awards

Latest news about our research. Project progress and collaboration. Awards and achievements.

Jurassic Cadomities
NERC have funded a Large Grant application to support an ICDP project on the Lower Jurassic in Wales/UK: Integrated understanding of the early Jurassic Earth system and Timescale (JET). The overall PI is Stephen Hesselbo (University of Exeter) with UK Co-Is from the BGS (Jim Riding, Melanie Leng, and Dan Condon), Oxford and Leeds.

29 April 2016

Professor Jane Plant CBE
It is with great sadness that we report that Jane passed away on Friday 4th March 2016. She will be remembered vividly by many of her former colleagues at BGS as well as by former research collaborators and students across the world. A geochemist of high international standing and a leader in her field, Jane made a lasting impression on those who had the privilege of working with her – her passion, drive, creativity and pursuit of meaningful impact in her research were exceptional. Reflecting on Jane's work as a BGS scientist, it is easy to see that she left a substantial legacy – a high resolution baseline geochemical dataset with many applications of economic, environmental and social benefit for the UK and methods that have been adopted and adapted around the globe as standard for undertaking geochemical surveys. Further, Jane developed strong and prolific research outputs in metallogenesis, crustal evolution and environment and health; In the latter she was the initiator of what continues to be a significant area of research for BGS. Her scientific reputation was recognised throughout her career by numerous prestigious awards, honorary professorships and memberships of learned society, governmental and parliamentary committees.

Jane's legacy extended beyond her scientific outputs – her leadership, with a firm commitment to creating and supporting opportunities for the development and progression of early-career scientists also made a lasting impact; she made exceptional career progress becoming one of the nation’s most senior female scientists in an era when leading female scientists were rare and faced many barriers to progression. As a result of her experiences she became a role model and champion to many younger scientists.

Jane retired from BGS in 2005 when she held the role of Chief Scientist but her career continued to gather momentum in other directions, commencing in 2003, with publication of 'Your life in your hands', the first of a series of books she wrote on the relationship between diet and health. After leaving BGS, Jane held the position of Emeritus Professor of Geochemistry at Imperial College until her death.


G-BASE: geochemical map of Scotland: Nickel (Ni)

Jane attended Ashby de la Zouch Grammar School for Girls and joined BGS in 1967, aged 23, with a first-class degree in Geology from the University of Liverpool and was assigned to the Atomic Energy Section in London under Stan Bowie. Her career progressed rapidly; initially developing methods in the north of Scotland for a regional geochemical Survey to identify resources of economically important metals for which she was awarded, in 1977, a PhD from the university of Leicester for her work "Regional Geochemical mapping in Great Britain with particular reference to sources of error".

By 1983 Jane had achieved Band three Individual Merit Promotion in recognition of her scientific achievement. Following a sabbatical year in 1988-89, spent in Northern Canada developing her skills and experience working as Vice-President of a junior exploration company, she moved from London to Keyworth as all BGS Geochemistry operations relocated. Subsequently, Jane held a succession of senior leadership positions in BGS culminating in 2002 with her appointment as BGS Chief Scientist.

In 1997 Jane was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in recognition of her contribution to science and industry.

14 March 2016

Dr Stefan Engels
Congratulations to Dr Stefan Engels (UoN) who has been appointed as a Visiting Research Associate at the British Geological Survey within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. Stefan's research aims are to better understand natural and anthropogenic processes that drive environmental change in the recent past through materials deposited in lake sediments. In his current project Stefan combines classic palaeoecological proxies and novel geochemical techniques to investigate recent human impacts (including pollution, land development, invasive species, hydrological modification and climate change) on Asian lakes and wetlands.

19 February 2016

GSNI logo
This talk was given by Alex Donald with support from Kieran Parker and our DETI client at GeoDATA in Belfast. It was voted by delegates as the best talk of GeoDATA conference in Belfast! The talk had the theme of ‘tools, technologies and techniques’ and how we, as a society, exploited resources (coal, bauxite and salt as examples) using technologies and tools of the time and how we as a survey/department are using the latest techniques to monitor and make safe the legacy that the extraction of resources have left behind.

4 December 2015

Marble Arch Caves

BGS welcomes the news from UNESCO today that the UK now has seven UNESCO Global Geoparks. The new UNESCO Global Geoparks programme was announced by UNESCO this morning, in a historic vote that created the first new programme in UNESCO since World Heritage in 1972. The seven existing UK Global Geoparks automatically become UNESCO Global Geoparks, putting them alongside UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Here at BGS, we have worked with all of the UNESCO Global Geoparks since they were first established in the UK in 2001. This has included helping to develop and interpret geological sites, developing and compiling publications and online resources, providing advice and guidance on site management as well as in many cases helping to write the initial application dossier.  

Dr Kirstin Lemon, based in our Belfast office, has a long association with Global Geoparks and is now a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Evaluation Team as well as the European Geoparks Network Coordination Committee. Kirstin is also the Chairperson of the Irish Global Geoparks Committee and Vice-Chairperson of the UK Global Geoparks Forum.

17 November 2015


Congratulations to Dr Liz Bailey from the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham who has been appointed as Visiting Research Associate within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, British Geological Survey. Liz is a specialist in environmental geochemistry and works on urban risk assessment, soil iodine and selenium geochemistry, dynamics of uranium, thorium and heavy metals and Global Food Security.

11 November 2015

Hugh Barron meets Princess Anne
BGS's Hugh Barron attended this ceremony where he talked to the Princess Royal about geothermal energy under Balmoral! Read about the new champion for Geography

21 October 2015

microbial life

ICDP have provided US$ 1M funding for a new drilling project on the Paleogene marine record from coastal Tanzania, project TOPIC (Tanzania Onshore Paleogene Integrated Coring).The project will provide a new integrated stratigraphy for the Tanzanian Paleogene which is well known for its excquisite microfossil preservation and palaeoclimate records. Drilling will include new records through the Paleocene/Eocene and Eocene/Oligocene boundaries, and everything in between. Scientific objectives relate to paleoclimate studies and the deep subsurface biosphere:

  • How did atmospheric CO2 and global temperature co-vary during previous intervals of global warmth?
  • How extreme did climatic conditions become in the tropics, in the ocean and on land?
  • What was the response of the marine and terrestrial biota to extreme climate states and intervals of climate change?
  • Is the paleoclimate forcing and response we infer from the sediment record consistent with the predictions of General Circulation Models (GCMs) that are also used to predict the future?

  • What kind of microbial life currently exists subsurface, at what abundance and depth?

The project PI is Paul Pearson (Cardiff University) with other UK Co-Is from BGS (Melanie Leng), UCL, Birmingham, Southampton, and Bristol.

16 October 2015

Mochras site

Funding success! The ICDP have provided US$1.5M towards the drilling for a project on the Lower Jurassic in Wales/UK: Integrated understanding of the early Jurassic Earth system and Timescale (JET).

The science objectives are to:

  • Achieve a high-resolution continuous cyclostratigraphy for the Early Jurassic and associated astronomical time scale leading to insights into solar system resonance, length-of-day and tidal dissipation; the first biostratigraphically-calibrated magnetostratigraphy for the entire 25 Myr long Early Jurassic based on a single section, and; a full synthesis of radio-isotopic and chronostratigraphic scales
  • Provide a multi-proxy isotopic and elemental chemostratigraphy to track supercontinent break-up influence on the global Earth system and, in particular, a record of the end-Triassic and Early Toarcian mass extinctions, and subsequent recoveries of the carbon cycle, biosphere and ocean, and effects from volatile releases from coeval LIPs.
  • Deliver insights into Early Jurassic sea-level change and the greenhouse-icehouse transitions; an understanding of interdependencies between primary productivity, nutrient flux, and ocean redox state; and an integrated record of changes in atmospheric and marine composition understood in the context of quantitative whole-Earth system models.

The overall PI is Stephen Hesselbo (University of Exeter) with UK Co-Is from BGS (Jim Riding, Melanie Leng and Dan Condon), Oxford and Leeds.

21 September 2015

Dr Sev Kender
Dr Sev Kender describes that plate tectonics was the groundbreaking theory discovered early 20th century that actually explained everything in geology and started our modern discipline. Before it no one knew why oceans and mountains formed and continents look like they used to be linked together. So this new discovery is one of the last links in the theory that explains how geology works.

16 September 2015