Research news and awards

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


BGS staff member Robert Ward
Congratulations to Rob Ward (Director of Science for Groundwater, BGS) on his appointment as Honorary Professor within the School of Geography. Rob is responsible for managing an integrated programme of research addressing groundwater protection, management and impacts of environmental change at the BGS. His personal research interests include assessing the risks to groundwater from shale gas exploitation, groundwater pollution by nitrates and emerging contaminants, the impacts on groundwater from extreme climate-driven events, and developing better links between science outcomes and policy/decision making.


24 October 2014

Sampling water supplies in Cornwall

Lancaster University will lead on training scientists of the future who will improve our understanding of soils, which are key to tackling many of today’s global challenges, including food, water and energy security.

This follows major funding to launch a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in soil science at Lancaster. It has been awarded to the Soils Training and Research Studentships (STARS) consortium led by Professor Phil Haygarth. The other members of the consortium are Bangor, Cranfield, Nottingham, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Rothamsted Research, the British Geological Survey and the James Hutton Institute.

This £2.3m programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) aims to create a new generation of highly-skilled soil scientists who understand the soil ecosystem from both environmental and biological viewpoints.

Read the NERC press release



13 October 2014

Nottingham University

Dr Barry Lomax from the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham has been appointed as Visiting Research Associate within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, British Geological Survey. Dr Lomax will hold this honorary position with the British Geological Survey alongside his post and ongoing research projects at Nottingham. Barry is a lecturer in Environmental Science at Nottingham and his research is focused on quantifying how the Earth's climate has changed over geologic time, how these changes have influenced the Earth's terrestrial biosphere and how in turn the Earth's terrestrial biosphere has influenced climate. Particular interests include palaeopolyploidy and plant genome size over geological time, plant responses to CO2, and sporopollenin chemistry as a palaeoclimate proxy.



3 October 2014

Geology Journal

Late Cenozoic climate history in Africa was punctuated by episodes of variability, characterized by the appearance and disappearance of large freshwater lakes within the East African Rift Valley. In the Baringo-Bogoria basin, a well-dated sequence of diatomites and fluviolacustrine sediments documents the precessionally forced cycling of an extensive lake system between 2.70 Ma and 2.55 Ma. One diatomite unit was studied, using the oxygen isotope composition of diatom silica combined with X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and taxonomic assemblage changes, to explore the nature of climate variability during this interval. Data reveal a rapid onset and gradual decline of deepwater lake conditions, which exhibit millennial-scale cyclicity of ∼1400–1700 yr, similar to late Quaternary Dansgaard-Oeschger events. These cycles are thought to reflect enhanced precipitation coincident with increased monsoonal strength, suggesting the existence of a teleconnection between the high latitudes and East Africa during this period. Such climatic variability could have affected faunal and floral evolution at the time.

Wilson, K.E., Maslin, M.A., Leng, M.J., Kingston, J.D., Deino, A.L., Edgar, R.K., Mackay, A.W. 2014. East African lake evidence for Pliocene millennial-scale climate variability. Geology.



26 September 2014

Lake Challa

The DeepCHALLA project has secured nearly £0.5 million from the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) towards drilling costs in order to conduct an unrivalled suite of state-of-the-art investigations into equatorial climate change using environmental proxies, chronological tools and climate modelling. The objectives are: to collect long cores from Lake Challa (encompassing an estimated 250,000 years); to establish a chronology for the new cores through a range of state of the art techniques; and to better understand climate and ecological change in equatorial East Africa using a variety of methods. A major target is to investigate the existence of so-called ‘megadroughts’; periods of millennial-scale aridity around 100,000 years ago. Such long and intensely dry events in the monsoonal African climate history are an unexpected phenomenon, and their precise timing, origin and extent, have yet to be established. The sensitivity of Lake Challa to climate variability, and the potential to develop an excellent uninterrupted chronology for its sediment record, makes it an ideal site to investigate these megadroughts.

The multi international team of researchers is overall led by Professor Dirk Verschuren (Ghent University, Belgium). The UK team comprise Prof Philip Barker (University of Lancaster), Prof Melanie Leng (BGS/University of Nottingham), Dr Christine Lane (University of Manchester), Dr Maarten Blaauw (Queens University Belfast), Prof Barbara Maher (University of Lancaster), Dr Rob Marchant (University of York) and Dr David Ryves (University of Loughborough).



17 September 2014

NCCCS logo

BGS now have 3 honorary staff appointments in place as part of NCCCS:

Chris Rochelle, Honorary Associate Professor in Geochemistry is leading the early career researcher programme in NCCCS.

Ceri Vincent, Honorary Assistant Professor in Hydrocarbons Geoscience is leading overseas networking and collaborations in NCCCS.

Sean Rigby, Visiting Research Associate is leading the NCCCS PhD Programme.



9 September 2014

NGPD map
A milestone was reached at BGS this August as the 100 000th borehole was entered into the National Geotechnical Properties Database.


5 September 2014

Waterfall A11980
More than 27 tonnes of ammonium leaches from an Oxford wetland into the River Thames every year, reports the Natural Environment Research Council.


27 August 2014

Sev Kender

Dr Sev Kender has been appointed as a Research Fellow within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (University of Nottingham) and an Honorary Research Fellow with the British Geological Survey. Sev is a Micropalaeontologist and Palaeoeanographer and has just returned from an IODP expedition off the coast of Japan, in the Philippine Sea, collecting sediment cores to investigate past changes in the ocean.



12 August 2014

NERC impact awards logo

To mark its 50th anniversary, NERC is pleased to announce its inaugural Impact Awards.

The awards will recognise and reward NERC-funded researchers, as individuals or teams, whose work has had substantial impact on the economy and society. The awards will culminate in a prize-giving ceremony in London on 27 January 2015, showcasing the researchers, their work and the impact of the science that NERC funds.

There will be four award categories:

  • Economic Impact Award
    Recognising research that has achieved exceptional economic benefit.
  • Societal Impact Award
    Recognising research that has achieved exceptional social, cultural, public policy or service, health, environmental or quality of life benefits.
  • International Impact Award
    Recognising research that has achieved exceptional economic and/or societal impact outside the UK.
  • Early Career Impact Award
    Recognising an early career researcher who has achieved exceptional economic and/or societal impact within the UK or internationally.

A winner from one of the four categories will be selected to receive the Overall Impact Award, in recognition of the outstanding impact of their research.

The winner of each category will receive £10,000 and the runner-up £5,000, to further the impacts of their research. The Overall Impact Award winner will receive an additional £30,000.

You can apply for an award yourself, or nominate someone else. The closing date for applications is 16:00 Wednesday 10 September 2014.

More information



8 August 2014