News stories about BGS

A selection of recent news, that includes mentions of the British Geological Survey, reported in online news websites. Click on a heading link to read the full article.

The eight new layers cover a variety of physical features and hazards, including a nationwide map of groundwater flooding as well as ground stability data, geological indicators of flooding and permeability data. Widely used by developers, planners and environmental consultants, for example, this new data complements the national datasets already on offer, including high resolution aerial photography, detailed height models and Ordnance Survey mapping.

The Geological map layers from BGS that are now available through the Bluesky Mapshop include both the 1:10,000 scale and 1:50, scale DigMapGB digital geological maps of Great Britain. These cover five standard themes: Artifical Ground, Bedrock Geology, Linear Features, Mass Movement Deposits and Superficial Deposits, as well as a composition type. Applications of this data ranges from detailed site assessment through to nationwide studies, dependent on scale.

30 June 2015

My Soil From the British Geological Survey, this app lets you check the soil in your local area so you can decide which plants will grow well. You can source information about soil type, depth, pH, soil temperature and organic matter content, and the app suggests fruit and plant varieties to use in your location.

30 June 2015

In March 2007, over 80 scientists from 43 countries gathered in Brighton, UK, to discuss the proposition of creating an online geological map of the world for the benefit of students, teachers, researchers, professionals and other users anywhere in the world. The discussion was continued in another meeting held in Utrecht, Netherlands, in May 2007. The result was ‘OneGeology’, with the following mission statement: ‘Making web-accessible the best available geologic map data worldwide at a scale of 1:1 million, as a geological survey contribution to the International Year of Planet Earth (2008)’. The initiative is supported by a dozen international organisations including UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences, as well as the geological surveys of 117 countries. The web portal was launched in August 2008 during the 33rd International Geological Congress in Oslo, Norway.

OneGeology covers more than 100 million square kilometres or about 70% of the Earth’s land surface. The website is hosted by the British Geological Survey and uses the GeoScience Markup Language (GeoSCiML) as schema for data exchange over the internet. OneGeology is planning to provide a more sophisticated query system as well as making applied geological data on 3D visual features.

29 June 2015

New discoveries on how underwater ridges impact the ocean’s circulation system will help improve climate projections. An underwater ridge can trap the flow of cold, dense water at the bottom of the ocean. Without the ridge, deepwater can flow freely and speed up the ocean circulation pattern, which generally increases the flow of warm surface water. Warm water on the ocean’s surface makes the formation of sea ice difficult. With less ice present to reflect the sun, surface water will absorb more sunlight and continue to warm. U.S. Geological Survey scientists looked back 3 million years, to the mid-Pliocene warm period, and studied the influence of the North Atlantic Ocean’s Greenland-Scotland Ridge on surface water temperature.

The article was published in the journal, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, and can be viewed online. Any journalists who are not registered with this journal and cannot view this article can contact us to have a copy emailed to them. This research contributes to the scientific foundation needed to make sound planning decisions in response to changes in climate and land use. To learn more, visit the Climate and Land Use Change website. The USGS led this research through the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping group. The primary collaborators in this research are the University of Leeds, University of Bristol and the British Geological Survey. More information about PRISM research is available online.

29 June 2015

With various research projects underway, Cranfield heard earlier this year that it was successful in its bid to lead a consortium of four British universities as a Centre for Doctoral Training in Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical Methods (DREAM). “We used our 3D capability as part of our pitch to become a Centre for Doctoral Training under the DREAM programme”, explained Dr Stephen Hallett. “We hold ‘big data’ collections including the WOSSAC (World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue) facility, which consists of tens of thousands of environmental resources and artefacts from 280 territories worldwide. The British Geological Survey (BGS) holds national geological data from about two metres down, with our national soils data complementing this, representing overlying surface ground conditions. The zone between soils and solid geology is an area of considerable scientific interest and the Virtalis solution allows us to visualise this interface. From speaking with BGS colleagues, we knew we wanted GeoVisionary, but we looked at all the alternatives before settling on an ActiveMove, which, being “luggable”, is ideal for stakeholder meetings in different locations”. GeoVisionary was developed by Virtalis in collaboration with the BGS as specialist software for high-resolution visualisation of spatial earth sciences data. One of the major advantages GeoVisionary offers over other visualisation software (3 & 4D GIS) is its ability to integrate seamlessly very large volumes of data from multiple sources, allowing a greater understanding of diverse spatial datasets.

29 June 2015

Kids clambered on igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks in Nottinghamshire's geologists' paradise, which also gave the opportunity to take a simulated 3D flight around the UK and learn about the 26 different metals in a typical mobile phone. Alex Smith, of Keyworth, learned that he walks like a Troodon – a small dinosaur similar in stature to a Velociraptor.

Professor John Ludden, director of the centre, said he hoped the day could inspire more youngsters to take up science and become the geologists of the future. "A lot of people know British Geological Survey is here but might not know exactly what we do," added the professor. "Which is why this open day is so important. We're exposing ourselves to the community. "I don't know how many of the children here today will go on to become geologists, or scientists, but it would be great if we inspired any of them into a life of science."

27 June 2015

The earth sciences, like geology, oceanography and astronomy, generate vast quantities of Big Data. Yet without the right tools scientists either drown in this sea of Big Earth Data or it sits in an archive, barely used. The vision of the EARTHSERVER project is to offer researchers 'Big Earth Data at your fingertips' so that they can access and manipulate enormous data sets with just a few mouseclicks. 'The project was the result of a 'push' and a 'pull',' says project coordinator Peter Baumann, Professor of Computer Science at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. 'On the demand side there was a need for new concepts to handle the wave of data crashing down on us. On the supply side we had a data cube technology that is well-suited to this domain.' A data cube is a three- (or higher) dimensional array of values, commonly used to describe a time series of image data.

EARTHSERVER built advanced data cubes and custom web portals to make it possible for researchers to extract and visualise earth sciences data as 3-D cubes, 2-D maps or 1-D diagrams. The British Geological Survey, for example, used EARTHSERVER technology to drill down through different layers of the earth in 3-D. 'For the user, data cubes hide the unnecessary complexity of the data,' says Professor Baumann. 'As a user, I don't want to see a million files: I want to see a few data cubes.' The massive data in the earth sciences is represented by sensor, image, simulation, and statistics data, often with a time dimension. The data typically form regular or irregular grid values with space/time coordinates. EARTHSERVER made these arrays available as data cubes. Aside from ease-of-use, the data cubes also made it possible to integrate data from different disciplines, and scientists could combine measurement data with data generated from simulations.

24 June 2015

St Andrews University’s Guardbridge Energy Centre, on the site of the former paper mill, is to investigate the feasibility of heating buildings using warm water recovered from sedimentary rocks deep below the ground. The university is lead partner in a Scottish Government-funded project. This largely untapped resource could provide significant amounts of renewable heat for Scotland, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a low-carbon heat source.

The team of collaborators working on the project with the university are part of a group called Fife Geothermal, and include the British Geological Survey, Ramboll, Town Rock Energy Ltd, Fife Council, and Resource Efficient Solutions Ltd. The award to the Guardbridge project has been made from the Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund, supported by the Low-Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, the first strategic intervention established under the new European Structural Funds programme.

22 June 2015

Last year Britain’s prime minister asserted that his government would go “all out for shale”. Yet despite that boast, and the lifting of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in 2012, no onshore wells have been drilled in the country for the past three years. On June 15th, however, planners at Lancashire County Council recommended that Cuadrilla, a big energy company, should be allowed to start drilling at one site in the area; councillors will vote on the issue next week. If pushed ahead, the decision could radically change the energy market in Britain. But an American-style shale bonanza remains a long way off.

One reason for the delay in fracking is awkward geography. The British Geological Survey (BGS), a research body, has estimated that perhaps 1,300 trillion cubic feet (37 trillion cubic metres) of shale gas lie in the north of England (see map). If even 10% of this were recoverable, it could fuel between 40 and 50 years of Britain’s gas consumption. Cuadrilla estimates that around 200 trillion cubic feet lie in the area it has licensed. But much of Britain’s shale gas sits beneath densely populated areas, says Michael Stephenson of the BGS. In the north, shale can be found under large cities, valuable agricultural land and much-loved national parks. And unlike in America, oil and gas rights in Britain belong to the Crown, making it harder to reward crotchety landowners.

20 June 2015

A 23-year-old woman has died after a rock fell on her head on a beach in south Wales. Emergency services were called to the beach in Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, just before 17:30 BST on Thursday.


David Boon, deputy head of the British Geological Survey in Wales, said people should show caution when walking along the Vale of Glamorgan coastline. The expert in landslide hazards said: "The cliffs are being continually eroded by the seas. Our key message is that our geology is rich and diverse and we want people to enjoy it, but they need to be cautious of high cliffs and overhanging rock. "We would say to people 'don't walk under steep high cliffs, particularly in areas where rocks have come down, don't stand, sit or stray too close to the edge.'

19 June 2015