Research news and awards

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

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

Mike Stephenson
In shale gas exploitation, most people are more worried about what goes on at the surface than deep underground. If you’ve never seen a drilling rig or a frack truck, it’s hard to imagine what it might be like to live up close to a fracking operation, but many people believe that shale gas fracking on a large scale counts as industrialization of the landscape. This article looks at the ground-level effects that people near fracking sites might experience.

15 September 2015

Seismic trace
BGS seismic data was used in this report which examines UK earthquake records to determine the number and cause of man-made earthquakes.

11 September 2015

BGS staff member Jane Evans
Professor Jane Evans at BGS tested an Ice Age leopard tooth for an element called strontium to help reveal its age.

28 August 2015

BGS Geology Map viewer

BGS have won prestigious funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK1 (Solving Urban Challenges with Data – Feasibility Studies) as part of a business led consortium to develop a prototype webGIS subscription service for landowners, developers, local authorities and their advisors to conduct renewable energy feasibility studies. The project will help the Government achieve renewable energy targets by allowing users to select which technologies are suitable for their site. The system will utilise information that will signify when a technology will and will not work, using BGS’ extensive geoscience data holdings and other open access data sources.

Consortium members are made up of industry and applied research organisations: Land Quality Management and Nottingham Energy Partnership and Nottingham Geospatial Institute. Positive Homes and University of Nottingham Estates Office who have extensive experience in installing and using renewable energy, will trial the system as potential end-users. The project starts in July 2015 and ends in 2016. For more information contact Darren Beriro.

10 August 2015