BUFI current research projects

NERC Doctoral Training

Currently BUFI supports over 100 PhD studentships, from October 2014 these are largely funded via a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), before this they were funded by direct collaboration with a university department. We do not fund applications from individuals. Available projects are advertised on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page. Below you can browse all our current research projects listed by BGS Science Area and we also list our past students (BUFI alumni) from more recent years so you can see the full breadth and depth of BGS supported PhDs past and present.

2015 student cohort

All of our PhDs that started in October 2015 are in collaboration with a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Further information can be found on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page.

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
S315 Dynamics of metal nanoparticles in soil environments

Student: Rebecca Draper

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: L Bailey, Nottingham

Climate and Landscape Change
S313 Morphogenesis and development in the Ediacaran macrobiota

Student: Frances Dunn

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: P Donoghue, Bristol

S302 Investigating Bering Sea oceanographic controls on the Middle Pleistocene Transition

Student: Savannah Worne

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: S Kender, Nottingham

Earth Hazards and Observatories
S304 Separating magnetic field sources using the Swarm satellite constellation

Student: Ashley Smith

BGS Supervisor: Sue Macmillan

University Supervisor: K Whaler, Edinburgh

S305 Forecasting changes in Earth's magnetic field

Student: Maurits Metman

BGS Supervisor: Ciaran Beggan

University Supervisor: P Livermore, Leeds

Energy and Marine Geoscience
S307 Glacial sculpting and post glacial drowning of the Celtic Sea

Student: Edward Lockhart

BGS Supervisor: Claire Mellett

University Supervisor: J Scourse, Bangor

Engineering Geology
S300 Early warning of landslide events using computer vision and geophysical image analysis

Student: Luke Sibbett

BGS Supervisor: Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: L Bai, Nottingham

S301 Revealing hydrological and bioeochemical heterogeneity at the groundwater-surface water interface using geophysics

Student: Paul McLachlan

BGS Supervisor: Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: A Binley, Lancaster

Environmental Modelling
S299 Long-term Morphodynamics and sedimentation of the Holderness Coast and Humber Estuary

Student: Chloe Morris

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Barkwith

University Supervisor: T Coulthard, Hull

S303 PRELUDE: PREdictive modelling of lead concentrations using g-base datasets for urban environments

Student: Sarah Donoghue

BGS Supervisor: Fiona Fordyce

University Supervisor: M Graham, Edinburgh

S310 Glacial, hydrological and landscape change in a deglaciating catchment: Virkisjökull, Iceland

Student: Jon MacKay

BGS Supervisor: Chris Jackson

University Supervisor: N Barrand, Birmingham

S316 Trust, risk communication format and the nature of uncertainty

Student: Sarah Jenkins

BGS Supervisor: Murray Lark

University Supervisor: A Harris, University College London

S317 Geochemical modelling of environmental processes in rare earth element mining

Student: Alexandra Crawford

BGS Supervisor: Barbara Palumbo-Roe

University Supervisor: S Banwart, Sheffield

Minerals and Waste
S311 BLUE MINING: What drives hydrothermal systems and how does it vary over time?

Student: Iain Stobbs

BGS Supervisor: Mr Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: B Murton, Southampton

S298 Tracking solar nebula evolution with analyses of single chondrules

Student: Timothy Gregory

BGS Supervisor: Stephen Noble

University Supervisor: T Elliott, Bristol/Natural History Museum

S306 Vestiges of the Earliest Crust; Crustal Evolution in the Yilgarn Craton, Australia

Student: Leanne Staddon

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: I Parkinson, Bristol

S308 Crust-mantle exchange in orogenic lower crust: the record in high temperature eclogites

Student: Eleni Wood

BGS Supervisor: Nick Roberts

University Supervisor: C Warren, Open

S309 Characterising the chemical and physical properties of the UK's stockpile of depleted, natural and low-enriched uranium and its behaviour and fate on disposal

Student: Matthew Druce

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: D Read, Loughborough

S312 Investigating the role of oceanic plateaus in early continental growth

Student: David Cavell

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisor: A Hastie, Birmingham

2014 student cohort

All of our PhDs that started in October 2014 are in collaboration with a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Further information can be found on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page.

Climate and Landscape Change
S221 Millennial-scale variability in ice-ocean-climate interaction in the Sub-Antarctic SW Atlantic – a multi-proxy study of intermediate water production and Patagonian ice sheet variability over the last glacial

Student: Jenny Roberts

BGS Supervisor: Sev Kender

University Supervisor: Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S290 Ultrasound spectrometry of the aggregation of asphaltenes during the formation of water-in-oil emulsions

Student: Aleksandra Svalova

BGS Supervisor: Chris Vane

University Supervisor: Geoffrey Abbott, Newcastle School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

S286 Effects of changing climate on an northern peatland: greenhouse gas sink or source

Student: Kerry Simcock

BGS Supervisor: Chris Vane

University Supervisor: Geoffrey Abbott, Newcastle School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

S266 Constraining the marine environment of the Cambrian metazoan adaptive radiation

Student: Thomas Hearing

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Mark Williams, University of Leicester, Geology

The Cambrian record preserves the first traces of complex ecosystems populated by arthropods, brachiopods and a range of scleritome-bearing animals, the latter often known only from the 'small shelly fossil' fragments of their post-mortem dissociated skeletons. Although the record of Cambrian life has been described in detail from numerous exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages, the marine environment in which these organisms lived remains poorly constrained. Recent advances using the oxygen isotope composition of ancient calcium phosphate skeletons now present a real chance to examine the environment of Cambrian seas, and to discriminate the environments occupied by a range of different organism groups. This project focuses on the Cambrian of England, a classical area in the study of early Cambrian faunas1. The Cambrian succession of England yields diverse and biostratigraphically important assemblages of 'small shelly fossils' and brachiopods from sedimentary deposits that are between ca 528 and 510 million years old2, the ages calibrated by radiometric dates from several bentonite horizons, and correlated with Cambrian successions worldwide by means of trilobites and other fauna3. Both the small shelly fossils and brachiopods have phosphate skeletons and pilot analyses (brachiopods and Rhombocorniculum) from the Comley Limestone of Shropshire have yielded oxygen isotope values within the range determined from Early Ordovician conodont skeletons. The project will use the small shelly fossils and brachiopods to reconstruct a sea temperature record for the earlier Cambrian.

Aims and objectives: The first detailed record of Cambrian sea temperatures, and therefore provide a context for the Cambrian adaptive radiation.

S268 Deep sea temperature and ice volume change across the mid-Pleistocene climate transition: Insights from the Bering Sea

Student: Henrieka Detlef

BGS Supervisor: Sev Kender

University Supervisor: Sindia Sosdian, Cardiff University, Earth and Ocean Sciences

The transition of Earth’s glacial-interglacial (G-IG) cycles from ˜40 ka to ˜100 ka periodicity during the middle Pleistocene (the so called Mid-Pleistocene Transition, MPT, ˜1.2–0.6 Ma) marks one of the largest climate events of the Cenozoic. Yet the causal mechanisms for this transition are still controversial, as there was no long-term shift in Earth’s orbital insolation to account for the lengthening glacial cycles and global cooling, and therefore there continues to be debate about the nature of the feedbacks and teleconnections that drove this transition. This is largely due to a lack of detailed, high-resolution climate proxy information from critical regions on the planet, with which proposed hypotheses can be tested. Two of the major hypotheses infer changes to North American Ice Sheet (NAIS) dynamics and northern hemisphere sea ice, for which the subarctic N. Pacific is a critical and largely un-sampled region. This project aims to develop high-resolution proxy records of benthic foraminiferal Mg/Ca - Bottom Water Temperature (BWT), stable oxygen (δ18O) and carbon isotopes (δ13C), and δ18O composition of seawater (δ18Oseawater, related to salinity) across the MPT from Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme (IODP) Expedition 323, Site U1343 from the Bering Sea (Fig.1).

The trajectory of ice volume and BWT across the MPT are critical to quantify the extent of global cooling and concomitant increase in ice volume on millennial and orbital time scales and provide insights into ice age variability. Two existing high-resolution benthic foraminiferal Mg/Ca BWT records from the N. Atlantic (Sosdian and Rosenthal, 2009) and S. Pacific (Elderfield et al. 2012) suggest significant changes in ice sheets. The N. Atlantic record shows that deep ocean cooling from δ1.15 to 0.82 Ma precedes the major expansion of ice sheets and the frequency shift from 41 ka to δ100 ka glaciations at δ0.9-0.7 Ma, thereby suggesting that the MPT was a fundamental change in NH ice-sheet dynamics. However, the site used by Sosdian and Rosenthal (2009) likely represents a regional signal and there were potentially large swings in water masses, along with changes in carbonate chemistry, which have been suggested to influence the epifaunal Mg/Ca ratios in this study. The Pacific Ocean record, derived from shallow infaunal species, suggests that the increase in ice volume is related to the expansion of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in contrasts to previous hypotheses and the N. Atlantic record. Confirmation and support of the existing records and hypotheses requires generation of high-resolution temperature records from sights proximal to the ice sheets. The new Mg/Ca-BWT record from Site U1343 will be based on shallow infaunal benthic foraminifera Uvigerina and will provide a BWT record independent of large swings in seawater chemistry and possibly ocean circulation. Comparison of these records with ongoing efforts to uncover the history of NAIS growth and instability over the MPT, by e.g. generating a millennial-scale IRD record (as Site U1343 records Cordilleran Ice Sheet instability), will allow the studentship to test the changing relationship between glaciations and NAIS instability.

S272 Measuring Micro-Aggregate Bond Energy for Improved Modelling of Soil Fragmentation

Student: Rachel Efrat

BGS Supervisor: Barry Rawlins

University Supervisor: John Quinton, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Soil aggregates control many soil properties on which our understanding of major challenges facing society depend; how much air or water the soil can hold in order to grow sufficient crops to feed ourselves? How much reactive carbon is preserved in soil to help mitigate climate change? How long does that carbon stay there? Researchers have established some of the rules which determine how reactive carbon passes from plants to the soil and back to the atmosphere. We also understand some of the rules governing how aggregates break down into smaller fragments. We don't understand how the strength of the bonds between soil aggregates controls their fragmentation, which is crucial for the preservation of reactive carbon and also how soils can be managed in a sustainable way. Understanding what controls the strength of bonds between soil aggregates is complicated because fundamental soil properties are so varied, and also because soils are subject to a variety of forces (ploughing, burrowing fauna, shrinking and swelling forces). Soil minerals such as a variety of clay and iron containing minerals form bonds with organic matter, and these bonds require more or less energy to be broken. These bonds also change in strength over time as this organic matter gets older. To make it easier to understand how various soil properties control the strength of aggregate bonds, we need to study a range of minerals and organic matter to create soil aggregates in the laboratory using a method developed previously and then measure the energy required to disrupt the bonds holding the aggregates together using a new measurement system. Researchers have established simple rules in a mathematical model to describe how soils fragment. The student will use the data from experiments to improve this model. This is necessary so we can predict how soil structure - and all the properties associated with it - are modified in the real world.

S281 Basin-scale mineral and fluid processes at a palaeo-platform margin, Lower Carboniferous, UK

Student: Catherine Breislin

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Cathy Hollis, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

The studentship will be based at the University of Manchester with BGS as a CASE partner. The aim of the project is to determine whether a reconstruction of palaeofluid (Carboniferous - Permian) flow paths in the dolomitised platform margin can provide insight into the extent of hydrocarbon migration out of shale-rich successions in adjacent hanging wall basins. This would be achieved by an investigation of the interdependency between faulting, fracturing, dissolution and fluid flow (resulting in dolomitisation, silicification, hydrocarbon emplacement and lead-zinc mineralisation) at the platform edge. It will require field and core based sedimentological and structural analysis, detailed petrological studies, isotope analyses and fluid inclusion studies and some fluid flow modelling. The study will be facilitated by the provision of dolomitized limestone core from a site investigation for four wind turbines in the Derbyshire Peak District. The wind turbines are founded on dolomitized limestone and are situated immediately to the north of Carsington Reservoir, which is underlain by Namurian shales. The starting hypothesis is that the source of the fluids was initially deep seawater and basinal brines carrying hydrocarbons and MVT mineralizing fluids derived from the subsiding Widmerpool Gulf (Hollis and Walkden, 2013; Frazer et al., 2012). The anticipated outcome of this project is a contribution to future refinement of shale gas reserve calculations as well as a deeper understanding of the relationship between organic maturation, clastic diagenesis, basinal fluid flux and porosity modification on adjacent carbonate platforms.

Earth Hazards and Observatories
S261 Toward a universal model for lava emplacement

Student: Nathan Magnall

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Mike James, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Our understanding of the processes behind the emplacement of silica-poor (e.g. basalt) and silica-rich (e.g. rhyolite) lavas currently differ significantly. This project will close this gap by deriving a generalized multi-scale model for lava emplacement, based on observations, textural analyses and 3D computer reconstructions of flows at Cordón Caulle, Chile and Mt. Etna, Sicily. Fieldwork will be carried out at both locations to enable characterisation of flow processes over scales of mm- to 100s-m. The results will be combined with laboratory analyses to quantify degassing, and satellite data to provide km-scale process information. State-of-the-art analytical facilities and novel computer modelling approaches will be used whilst working with international experts from the U.S., Italy and the U.K. The results of the project will have wide implications for our understanding of flow emplacement both on Earth and on other planets. For details on our preliminary study, see Tuffen, James et al. (2013), Nature Comms., 4, 2709, doi:10.1038/ncomms3709.

Flow processes in low-viscosity basaltic lavas are broadly understood as eruptions are commonly observed. However, high-viscosity lavas (e.g. rhyolites) are seldom witnessed and poorly understood. The supervisors have recently collected the first observations of an advancing rhyolite lava flow, during the 2011-13 eruption of Cordón Caulle, Chile (preliminary study: Tuffen, James et al, Nature Comms., 2013). With this being the most silica-rich lava flow ever observed, we now have a unique opportunity to develop a generalised model for lava flow emplacement, based on observations and measurements taken of active flows.

A central challenge is to understand how degassing, crystallization and shear localization interact within lavas. Such effects are critically important in high-viscosity flows, leading to highly-heterogeneous flow and gas escape, and affect processes operative over scales of millimetres to kilometres. This project will combine existing and new field data, laboratory analyses and satellite imagery to develop a multi-scale model of high-silica lava emplacement processes firmly linked to existing understanding of lower-viscosity lavas. The resulting universal emplacement model will have broad application, from geologists studying terrestrial flow fields to planetary scientists, who are beginning to discover high-viscosity lavas on Mars in the latest satellite images. Insights gained into degassing and strain localisation during flow will have significant additional implications for our understanding of magma ascent, and ultimately, how volcanoes erupt – whether they produce explosive ash or effusive lava.

S262 Fissures and fountains: magma dynamics in basaltic conduits

Student: Thomas Jones

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Ed Llewellin, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Basaltic eruptions are often spectacular, are rarely violently explosive, but can have serious impacts. Eruptions are highly variable in their vigour, duration and eruptive style; some produce spectacular pyroclastic explosions, some effuse gently, and all erupt abundant gas. Analogue experiments indicate that complex, multiphase fluid dynamic processes in the shallow subsurface explain this variability. This study will address fundamental questions about how basaltic eruptions work by investigating how magma moves to the surface and quantifying the relationship between surface eruptive phenomena and physical processes at shallow depth. This is a crucial step to forecasting the onset, evolution and termination of basaltic fissure eruptions.

S263 The sources, mechanisms and timing of volatile loss accompanying basaltic volcanism

Student: Catherine Gallagher

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Kevin Burton, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Continental flood basalt (CFB) volcanism is characterised by the repeated eruption of huge batches of magma, producing enormous basalt provinces (105-106 km3) over relatively brief intervals of time, and delivering large masses of volcanic gas to the atmosphere [e.g. 1]. The release of gases and aerosols during CFB volcanism is thought to have had a significant impact on the atmosphere, ocean chemistry and climate – and many have linked such eruptions with mass extinction events that punctuate the history of life on Earth [e.g. 2]. Some of the key factors influencing atmospheric chemistry and the environmental impact of continental flood basalt eruptions are:

  1. The source of volatiles to the magma – because of the pressure dependence of sulphur (S) solubility in melts, mantle derived magmas should be undersaturated in S when they arrive at the surface. However, CFBs are normally S saturated and this must occur either by near-surface fractional crystallisation or by assimilation of crustal rocks, each of which are likely to deliver a very different volatile budget to the melt.
  2. The duration of volatile release, into the atmosphere – because the residence time of many gases and aerosols in the atmosphere is on the order of weeks up to 3 years, and their impact on the atmospheric chemistry is thus a function of the duration of atmospheric loading (e.g. [1]). This, in turn, will depend upon the extent and duration of S saturation in the melt (that results from fractional crystallization or crustal assimilation).
  3. The mechanism of gas and aerosol release into the atmosphere. This depends, in part, on the chemistry of the melt (in particular, oxygen fugacity fO2) determining which gaseous species (H2S and SO2) are actually present [3], but also, in part, on the mechanism of transfer to the atmosphere. Where the release of sulphur may occur via gaseous species or else via the emission of crystalline sulfide particles (FeS2) or sulfates in aerosols, each of which will have a very different impact on the environment and climate (e.g. [4]).

In turn the volatile content of the magma will play a role in magma dynamics, and the style and nature of the eruption – and volatile degassing may ultimately be responsible for the initiation of eruption.

Over recent years considerable progress has been made in determining the precise timing of CFB volcanism, relative to climatic/biotic events (e.g. [5]). However, the timescale of atmospheric loading with gases and aerosols is considerably shorter than the recurrence interval of flood-basalt eruptions in an individual province [6]. The critical question then becomes whether it is possible that the atmospheric effects from a single eruption are sufficient to trigger an environmental response that results in significant climate change and/or a biotic crisis, or if 2 or 3 closely spaced events are required. Such information can only be obtained by dissecting an individual flood basalt event.

The 187Re-187Os isotope system is exceptionally sensitive to the presence of crustal material in mantle derived melts, while the extremely high parent/daughter ratios of many basaltic minerals can be used to reveal precise age information and details of equilibration between coexisting phases [7]. Recent results indicate that for individual flood basalt flows both the Columbia river and Deccan provinces, the earliest melts are affected by crustal assimilation suggesting a clear role for this process in driving melts to volatile saturation, and that immiscible sulphide (due to S oversaturation) was present in those early melts [8]. Work undertaken thus far in both the Deccan and Columbia river basalts indicates that contamination of the earliest melts is a common phenomena. However, the approach adopted here requires the presence of phenocrysts (rare in the Deccan) and for this reason the proposed work will focus on porhyritic lava flows in the Columbia river) and modern analogues in Iceland, the Laki eruption (affected by crustal assimilation) and the Thorsja eruption (little crustal contamination).

The principal objectives of the research proposed here are to use a combination of isotope and petrological techniques to constrain:

The source of the volatiles, using the exceptional sensitivity of the 187Re-187Os to the presence of crustal material in the melt, linking that information with trace element and volatile measurements on coexisting phases (and melt inclusions), and assessing the impact of immiscible sulphide (due to excess S saturation) on early volatile release.

The relative duration of volatile release during volcanism using the 187Re-187Os isotope system to monitor variations in melt chemistry and volatile release that accompany mineral crystallisation during the eruption of an individual flow.

The mechanism of volatile release, in particular, which gaseous species are present and the mechanism of S transport, either as gases or crystalline sulfide particles and/or sulfates, traced using highly siderophile element (HSE) abundances, Cu, Z and S stable isotopes.

This information will then be used to make greatly improved estimates of the mass of sulphur (and other volatiles) released during individual flood basalt eruptions, and the consequences for atmospheric loading and climatic and environmental effects. This novel approach will make a significant contribution to a long-lived and polarised debate on the potentially deleterious effects of flood basalt volcanism on the atmosphere and biosphere and the causes of mass extinction events on Earth.


[1] Self, S. et al Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 248 (2006) 518-532.

[2] Thordarson, T. et al. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pub. 453 (2009) 37-53.

[3] Burgisser, A., Scaillet, B. Nature 445 (2007) 194-197.

[4] Thordarsson, T., Self, S. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 74 (1996) 49-73.

[5] Chenet, A.-L. et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 263 (2007) 1-15.

[6] Widdowson, M. et al. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. (1997) 269-281.

[7] Gannoun, A. et al. Science 303 (2004) 70-72.

[8] Vye-Brown, et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 368 (2007) 183-194.

S284 The hidden hazard of melting ground-ice in Northern Iceland

Student: Costanza Morino

BGS Supervisor: Colm Jordan

University Supervisor: Matt Balme, The Open University, Earth and Environmental Sciences

S285 Soil moisture estimation: a new approach using multi-temporal satellite and airborne RADAR data

Student: Clare Bliss

BGS Supervisor: Colm Jordan

University Supervisor: Daniel Donoghue, Durham University, Geography

Engineering Geology
S293 Geomorphology and landslide hazard assessments. Evaluating the control of landscape evolution on landslide hazards in the UK

Student: Steven Parry

BGS Supervisor: Vanessa Banks and Claire Dashwood

University Supervisor: Bill Murphy, Leeds School of Earth and Environment

S283 Laboratory earthquakes

Student: Christopher Harbord

BGS Supervisor: Sergio Vinciguerra

University Supervisor: Stefan Neilsen, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Understanding dynamic rupture propagation and friction is paramount for earthquake modelling and provide constraints for risk assessment. Evidence from seismology, field geology and lab studies point to dramatic frictional weakening during the fast seismic slip (Di Toro et al., 2011). The weakening is achieved after a variable amount of slip which decreases dramatically with increasing slip velocity, normal stress and, generally, the amount of frictional power dissipated by slip (Nielsen et al., 2010).

Under conditions typical of faults at several km depth, the weakening may be achieved within a few tens of microns of slip only (Passelegue et al., 2013). Fully developed, dynamically propagating micro-earthquakes can be produced by stick-slip on small, pre-cut samples at the laboratory scale, provided that sufficient confining pressure and stress are imposed.

Such loading conditions can be imposed on centimetric samples (collected from exhumed seismic faults hosted in carbonate rocks, Italian Apennines), by a triaxial press such as the one at the Durham rock mechanics and at B.G.S. laboratories. Producing earthquakes in the laboratory under controlled conditions allows to directly observe the dynamic rock behaviour and measure parameters relevant to friction, rupture velocity, high frequency wave radiation (peak and steady-state friction, weakening distance, fracture energy, strength recovery). The measurements can be achieved by the instrumentation of a sample with acoustic emission sensors and high frequency strain gauges.

During the PhD the student will investigate the following questions:

  1. How does the detail of the friction weakening curve depend on slip history and loading conditions and can we generalize this behaviour into a new set of rate and state equations?
  2. What is the effect of geometrical complexities of the fault surface (kinks, bends, asperities) on the rupture propagation and on the radiated wavefield?
  3. How do these results apply to natural microearthquakes (Nadeau and Johnson, 1998) with high stress-drop and how does it upscale to larger faults and larger magnitude quakes?
  4. How do the microstructures compare to those found on exhumed natural faults?

The activity in the first year of the PhD will be devoted to bibliographic research, laboratory training, adapting existing laboratory machines, design/realization of new mechanical parts, perfecting of sample preparation procedures, and preliminary tests. The second year will be devoted to experimental activity, field excursions to obtain natural fault samples, analysis of post-experimental microstructure and interpretation of experimental observations in terms of processes. Third year will be devoted in small part to further experimental activity, but mainly, to the interpretation, extrapolation of results to real earthquakes and writing of publications and PhD thesis.

Environmental Modelling
S271 Understanding the interactions between adited groundwater sources and the Chalk aquifer under drought conditions, using the example of the River Colne Catchment and its groundwater sources

Student: Azucena Yebra

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Hughes

University Supervisor: Adrian Butler, Imperial College London, Civil and Environmental Engineering

In droughts the Chalk aquifer provides the largest water resource in southern England. Although Chalk often yields large quantities of water through high hydraulic conductivity zones, in some areas it doesn’t, and storage is poor. In these cases, e.g. the Colne valley, to improve yields horizontal adits (tunnels up to ~1 km long) were dug from vertical shafts. Affinity Water’s sources are such supplies, providing water to >0.5 million people.

In the Colne catchment groundwater is stored in the alluvial and glacial sands and gravels, the Palaeogene deposits, and Chalk. Recharge may be direct to the Chalk, via leakage from the Palaeogene, runoff from the London Clay, or indirect leakage from the gravels or the River Colne. The hydrogeology is complicated by karst development at the Palaeogene boundary. Understanding of drawdown and groundwater flow-path distributions to these sources is very poor. Under extreme droughts, the gravels may dewater, or the adits themselves become depressurised and even dewater causing non-linear behaviour. This area is poorly studied and to understand the relationships between the adit systems and the aquifer detailed modelling is required. Groundwater level, and pump test data for the shafts and observation boreholes are available to validate such models.

Zhang and Lerner1 have addressed the simulation of flow in aquifer-adit systems, but their model2 could not represent complex adit-borehole geometries, adit dewatering and seepage face development.

Aim & objectives: The aim of this project is to develop a new methodology to simulate adited systems that will allow improved assessment of yields during droughts. There are 4 key objectives:

  1. develop a detailed model of pressurised and gravity flow in borehole-adit systems;
  2. develop a method to couple this to a regional groundwater model;
  3. improve understanding of the hydrogeology of the Colne catchment and the important processes to model;
  4. apply the new model in the Colne, assess its performance under historic droughts, and quantify river flows and source yield under future climates.


  1. will be achieved by reviewing, selecting and modifying existing borehole and pipe flow models.
  2. will build upon work of an ongoing, joint Imperial-BGS PhD project, which has developed a linked model that simulates non-Darcian flow to vertical boreholes within regional aquifers3, using OpenMI model linkage tools (openmi.org) to couple a borehole model to a groundwater model. To address the complex geometries of adited sources unstructured finite volume schemes will be investigated to couple a pipe flow model to finite difference groundwater models.
  3. will be based on a review of previous research and a large hydrogeological dataset held by the Affinity Water and BGS.
  4. will be achieved using BGS groundwater models and those which the Affinity Water has access to. Future climate scenarios will be based on latest statistical downscaling methods developed by the NERC funded Changing Water Cycle HydEF project, led by Imperial.


1. Zhang & Lerner, 2000, Groundwater 38(1);

2. Swain & Wexler, 1996, USGS Tech. of Wat.‐Res. Investigations, book 6; 3Upton et al, 2013, Modflow & More, Golden, June 2013.

S274 Chromium speciation, transport and fate in Clyde catchment soils, sediments and waters: understanding Cr mobility in urban-industrial environments

Student: Gavin Sim

BGS Supervisor: Barbara Palumbo-Roe

University Supervisor: Margaret Graham, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

Disposal of industrial wastes has caused chromium (Cr) contamination of soils/sediments and waters in the UK, US and other countries. Cr-waste is of concern because hexavalent Cr (CrVI) is highly carcinogenic. However, the processes controlling the environmental mobility of Cr remain only partially understood. This project aims to address these knowledge gaps using a Cr-impacted catchment in Glasgow as a case study to examine the mobility and uptake of Cr to two key receptors: surface waters and humans. Widespread CrVI contamination in SE Glasgow from chromite ore processing residue (COPR) originated from JJ White’s chemical works (1838-1968). Although some sites have been remediated, CrVI is still readily detected in ground- and surface water and there is concern about its impact on the environment and human health. Evidence from BGS’s geochemical investigations suggests that Cr from COPR made-ground/soils as well as contaminated groundwater has a detrimental impact on sediment/water quality draining into the River Clyde. Indeed, surface water concentrations of up to 6.28 mg CrVI L-1 have been found in the Polmadie Burn adjacent to the JJ White’s site. The highly reducing, organic-rich burn sediments with up to 1.25% w/w total Cr are currently thought to be acting as a sink, but there is concern about the impact of drainage on the future fate of the stored Cr. Via field and laboratory measurements, this project will determine the key processes controlling both retention and release of CrVI from the soils/sediments, its transport in surface waters and eventual fate. Focus will be on processes such as (i) reduction of CrVI, e.g. by natural organic matter (NOM), microbes or FeII, which may aid CrIII retention in the soil/sediment; and (ii) complexation of CrIII (and perhaps CrVI) by NOM and/or reduction of FeIII oxides with which CrIII is associated, both of which can enhance transfer of Cr to the aqueous phase. The hydrological and biogeochemical processes which may enhance transfer of particulate, colloidal and truly dissolved forms of Cr from soils/sediments to the burn waters will be investigated. Water from the site is not used for drinking, but there is the potential for human exposure to chromium via contact with soil. Human exposure to soil-Cr can be via ingestion of soil directly or attached to home-grown vegetables as well as via inhalation of resuspended soil dust particulates. Chromium VI (the industrial form) is far more toxic to animals and humans than Cr III (found in most natural soils). To assess potential threats to humans, the project will determine the Cr VI/Cr III speciation present in soils. It will also examine the human bioaccessibility (amount transferred to the human body if the soil is ingested/inhaled) of soil Cr using laboratory-based extraction tests developed by BGS that mimic conditions in the stomach and the lung. Future plans for the site involve the possible culverting of the burn, which would potentially expose the Cr-polluted sediments to the atmosphere allowing suspension of dust particulates in air. Therefore, the project will examine the likely bioavailability of Cr in sediments from the site also. This work will contribute to optimising the bioavailability test methodologies being developed at BGS for Cr and to international understanding of the potential threats to human health from soil exposure.

S279 The effects of climate induced flood events on the mobility and bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements, biological and radiological contaminants

Student: Diana McLaren

BGS Supervisor: Joanna Wragg

University Supervisor: David Copplestone, University of Stirling, Biological and Environmental Sciences

The effects of climate change are far reaching and likely to influence the lives of almost every citizen in the world. An impact of changing weather patterns is an increase in extreme flooding events and it is estimated that 2.5 million properties are at risk in England alone (Environment Agency, 2012). Incidences of severe weather events in the UK, including flooding of urban and rural environments and prolonged dry periods, are on the increase. Risks associated with flooding are recognised as a significant threat from climate change throughout the world. Depending on the frequency and magnitude flooding can be both beneficial and detrimental, flooding can maintain or enhance soil fertility by depositing fresh layers of alluvium and flushing salts out of soils. However, in some cases flooding of soils containing naturally or anthropogenically elevated concentrations of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) and deposition of contaminants from flood waters (e.g. pathogens from sewage and radionuclides from medical waste) may occur, mobilising contaminants to the extent that they are available for uptake by plants, animals and ultimately humans, highlighted by the analysis of floodwaters and sediments after hurricane Katrina (Abel et al., 2010). New literature is emerging investigating flooding induced contaminant fate & transport/mobility (Wragg and Palumbo-Roe, 2012) and a recent pilot study has shown that flooding events can increase environmental mobility and human uptake from naturally occurring PHE e.g. As and U both by 21% (Wragg, pers comm, 2013).

The BGS G-BASE data set and national soil/sediment archive and the Environment Agency Flood Risk Register will be used to identify a suitable study areas and used for further laboratory and field trial inundation simulations to evaluate the effects of flooding (wetting and drying) on the distribution, and human and environmental mobility of contaminants. A range of geo-chemical analysis techniques including total element digestions and analysis, human digestion availability, soil pH and gamma spectroscopy will be used and the results will be analysed using geostatistical, data modelling and risk-based management tools for assessing element distributions and populations, and hazards to environmental and human health. Training will be provided by the BGS the Geochemical Baselines & Medical Geology Team, the analytical laboratories, the registering University and where applicable via bespoke training courses.

The project aims to develop a process understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants impacting on the zone of human interaction by:

  • Geochemically characterising changes in the solid phase distribution and the human accessibility of chemical and biological contaminants before, during and after drying and wetting – a novel approach not previously investigated in detail; and,
  • Using predictive and mechanistic modelling to examine the results of new field and laboratory trials would improve our understanding of contaminant mobility and hazards in floodplains and the potential risks they pose

Abel, M.T. et al. 2010. Environmental, Geochemistry and Health, 32, 379-389.

Environment Agency. 2012. Catchment Flood Management Plans Annual Report 2012.

Wragg and Palumbo-Roe, 2011. Contaminant mobility as a result of sediment inundation. BGS Report OR/11/051.

Energy and Marine Geoscience
S289 Climatic cyclicity and environmental interactions in arid continental basins: The Leman Sandstone, Southern North Sea

Student: Molly Watson

BGS Supervisor: Phil Richards

University Supervisor: Stu Clark, Keele School of Physical and Geographical Sciences

S288 Environmental assessment of deep-water sponge fields in relation to oil and gas activity: a west of Shetland case study

Student: Johanne Vad

BGS Supervisor: Sophie Green

University Supervisor: Murray Roberts, Heriot-Watt School of Life Sciences

S287 Unravelling the structural controls and consequent feedbacks on Permian and Mesozoic depositional systems in the Southern North Sea

Student: Ross Grant

BGS Supervisor: Bob Gatliff

University Supervisor: John Underhill and Rachel Jamieson, Heriot-Watt, Institute of Petroleum Engineering

S280 The Bowland Shale of the UK: development of diagenetic models for a major UK hydrocarbon reservoir

Student: Sarah Kenworthy

BGS Supervisor: Edward Hough

University Supervisor: Kevin Taylor, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

S278 Sulfate reducing bacteria in CO2

Student: Hayden Morgan

BGS Supervisor: Simon Gregory

University Supervisor: David Large, University of Nottingham, Chemical and Environmental Engineering

The presence and activity of microbes in the deep subsurface is of concern to various industries including those involved in carbon capture and storage (CCS). A specific concern to the CCS industry is the negative impact of sulphate reducing bacteria and hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms and on the injection and storage of carbon dioxide. Microbial activity can cause corrosion of materials, reduced injection well performance and degeneration of hydrocarbon fields, which are costly to remedy. A key control on microbial activity is the concentration of oxygen mixed in the carbon dioxide supply. The primary aim of this PhD will be to will carry out fundamental research into the relationship between oxygen concentration, microbial growth and the combined effects of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria and sulphate reducing bacteria in CO2 streams. The objective is to inform the setting of appropriate specification of oxygen concentration limits in CO2 that is to be stored in North Sea storage sites which will minimise the risk of negative microbial impacts without imposing onerous demands on the purification of the CO2 processing.

This project would be suitable for a biological sciences or environmental science graduate with some experience in microbiology. Additional experience in molecular biology or geochemical modelling will be welcome. Training will be provided in running experiments to simulate subsurface CCS environments, and in the geomicrobiological analytical techniques including and molecular methods for characterising microbial communities.

S259 Variations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and its impact on South Georgia ice sheet extent over the Holocene

Student: Rowan Dejardin

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: George Swann, University of Nottingham, School of Geography

Developing a better understanding of how the Southern Ocean evolved during the transition from the last glacial maximum (~25 ka) to the present is critical for assessing climatic sensitivity (Anderson et al., 2009), and placing recent environmental changes within a historical context (Pritchard et al., 2012). For instance South Georgia is one the most rapidly warming regions in the world (Whitehouse et al. 2008). This project has two broad goals: to understand variations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) since the last glacial; and to decipher the nature and timing of the South Georgia ice sheet retreat within the same time interval.

The ACC is a major uninterrupted water mass that encircles Antarctica, and brings CO2 and nutrient-rich warm deep water to the surface. Recent studies indicate that the ACC may have been a major source of atmospheric CO2 during the de-glacial (Anderson et al., 2009), and studies from the Falkland Plateau and the Antarctic Peninsula show that changes to the climate of the Southern Ocean occurred during the comparatively stable Holocene. However, there is still no consensus on how the Southern Ocean evolved since the last glacial, largely due to a lack of well-preserved sedimentary records. One important region is South Georgia, which sits in the path of the ACC and within proximity to the modern southern ACC front (SACCF). Tracking changes to this frontal position through time will be important for understanding changes in wind strength (the Southern Westerly Winds) and ACC extent. South Georgia had an extensive ice sheet probably to the outer shelf during the last glacial (Graham et al. 2008), and understanding the nature and timing of its retreat should aid in our understanding of the potential coupling between ice sheets and surrounding water mass properties (Pritchard et al., 2012).

This project aims to reconstruct the palaeoceanography of the South Georgia region since the last glacial maximum, by generating geochemical and micropalaeontological climate proxy records from unique sediment cores recently collected on the shelf and in Cumberland Bay (Fig. 1). The shelf sites should contain a unique record of oceanic conditions since the last glacial (sea ice, productivity, bottom water temperature/oxygen), and the inner bay sites should contain a unique record of glacial retreat related to onset of marine sedimentation (including marine microfossils) and changing salinity from ice melt. The goals of this project will be to: (i) assess changes in the upwelling and nature of the ACC, via monitoring local movements in the proximal SACCF, and related changes in local productivity and sea ice; and (ii) assess how these changes related to the timing and rate of South Georgia ice sheet decay.

In practical terms the project will:

  • Reconstruct surface and sea floor conditions at centennial to millennial scale from South Georgia marine sediment cores (collected 2013 and housed in Potsdam) from the mouth of Cumberland Bay to the shelf edge, using a combination of the following depending on the material: benthic foraminiferal assemblages, planktonic and benthic foraminiferal stable isotopes, TOC/CN and organic carbon isotopes, diatom assemblages and stable isotopes, palynology.
  • Assess the stability/variability of oceanographic/climatic conditions around South Georgia from the last glacial and through the Holocene, to compare with the rate/amplitude of change observed in recent years.
  • Compare South Georgia climate records with those from South America, Falkland Plateau, West Antarctic Peninsula, and elsewhere to assess regional influences such as the Southern Westerly Wind belt.
  • Assess coarse fraction sediments in the cores – potential ice-rafted debris possibly derived from local South Georgia glaciers – to infer glacier advance/surges/instabilities.


Anderson R.F. et al. 2009. Wind-driven upwelling in the Southern Ocean and the deglacial rise in atmospheric CO2. Science, 323, 1443-1448.

Graham A.G.C. et al. 2008. A new bathymetric compilation highlighting extensive paleo–ice sheet drainage on the continental shelf, South Georgia, sub-Antarctica. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 9, 7, Q07011.

Hogg O.T., Barnes D.K.A., Griffiths H.J. 2011. Highly Diverse, Poorly Studied and Uniquely Threatened by Climate Change: An Assessment of Marine Biodiversity on South Georgia's Continental Shelf. PLoS ONE 6(5), e19795.

Pritchard H.D. et al. 2012. Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves: Nature, 484, 502-505.

Whitehouse M.J. et al. 2008. Rapid warming of the ocean around South Georgia, Southern Ocean, during the 20th Century: Forcings, characteristics and implications for lower tropic levels. Deep-Sea Research I, 55, 1218–1228.

S292 Source apportionment of urban contaminants

Student: Abida Usman

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander and Simon Chenery

University Supervisor: Liz Bailey and Scott Young, Nottingham, School of Life and Environmental Sciences

S265 Speleothem climate capture of the Neanderthal demise

Student: Laura Deeprose

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Peter Wynn, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Northern Iberia is ideally located to record long term changes in climate. The marginal location of this region to key ocean circulation regimes heightens its sensitivity to oscillatory climatic behaviour throughout the Quaternary. Terrestrial records of climatic change in Iberia are currently limited to the Holocene and late glacial, with some of the best records produced by speleothems. However, a paucity of records beyond this time frame has thus far prevented any reconstruction of ocean and atmospheric circulation at the time of the Neanderthal demise. Climate variations in Iberia during the transition between the Neanderthal decline and the rising dominance of modern humans are relatively unknown, yet are critical for understanding environmental controls on Neanderthal extinction patterns.

Current research in the Matienzo region of northern Spain has revealed a rich archive of palaeoclimatic information contained within speleothem deposits spanning the last 12,000 years. The Matienzo region is unique in its positioning along the Northern Iberian margin, its diversity of archaeology associated with pre-historic populations, and extensive speleological research which has mapped cave systems known to have developed throughout the Quaternary. This provides the opportunity to extend the palaeoclimate record of the Iberian Peninsula into key periods of hominid population dynamics in the region. In conjunction with the rich archaeological legacy of this region, understanding the climatic context during this time period promises to reveal exciting new insight into climate dynamics and patterns of Neanderthal population change.

S270 The mid-Pleistocene transition in Asian monsoon variability

Student: Sonja Felder

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng.

University Supervisor: Andrew Henderson, Newcastle University, Geography, Politics and Sociology

A fundamental change in Earth’s climate occurred between ~1.3 and 0.6 million years ago (Ma), where the dominant periodicity of climate cycles shifted from 41 thousand to 100 thousand years (ka). Known as the mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT), this enigmatic climate change occurred in the absence of any substantial changes in external orbital forcing, indicating the mechanisms that caused this climate shift were internal to Earth’s climate system. During the MPT, the amplitude of deep-ocean oxygen isotopes increased, which have been interpreted as the main rhythm of ice ages throughout the Pleistocene. Recent research suggests the MPT was initiated by an abrupt increase in Antarctic ice volume ~0.9 Ma, while other evidence points to a quasi-100 ka cycle begining at 1.2 Ma, when sea surface temperatures first decrease, followed by a pronounced cooling at 0.9 Ma. A number of mechanisms have been suggested to explain the shift from 41 ka to 100 ka cycles during the MPT, including high latitude ice sheet dynamics and changes in the global carbon cycle leading to fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Even so, the trigger for the MPT remains elusive, with tropical forcing involving the global carbon reservoir, sea surface temperature (SST) changes in the equatorial Pacific, internal feedbacks of CO2 and ice albedo, as well as strong silicate weathering during glacial lowstands linked to Tibetan Plateau (TP) uplift, all being suggested.

Geological and modelling evidence show the uplift of the TP has pronounced effects on crustal weathering and atmospheric circulation, being invoked as a mechanism for late Cenozoic cooling by CO2 drawdown through silicate weathering. In addition, this uplift also enhanced the seasonal contrast between land and ocean, which drives the Asian monsoon system, as well as biofurcating the westerly jet circulation. Continental records from the Chinese Loess Plateau suggest the MPT evolved in two major steps closely linked to the stepwise uplift of the plateau, and intriguingly, there is evidence for rapid uplift of the TP, especially in the northern part, during the mid-Pleistocene at 1.2, 0.9 – 0.8 and 0.6 Ma. These events set up a positive feedback related to surface conditions on the TP, changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation linked to the enhancement of the Asian monsoon system, as well as the development of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. However, there are very few high-resolution records of Asian monsoon variability covering the MPT and this hampers our ability to fully test this continental-weathering hypothesis.

The objective of this project is to produce the first high-resolution record of Asian monsoon variability from the Japan Sea/East Sea over the MPT using the oxygen isotope composition of benthic (ice volume and temperature) and planktonic (Asian monsoon variability) foraminifera, coupled with Mg/Ca ratios to tease out temperature effects on their geochemistry. These proxies will provide the necessary dataset to test the role of TP uplift during the MPT. The project benefits from newly collected material from the recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 346 (July-Sept 2013) to the Japan Sea/East Sea and it will focus on Sites U1426 and U1427, which are influenced by the Tsushima Warm Current (TWC) that flows into the basin. In turn, the strength of the TWC is controlled by the discharge of the Yangzte River in China. Annual discharge of the Yangzte River is inextricably linked to the intensity of the Asian monsoon, and therefore changes in the amount of freshwater delivered to the Japan Sea/East Sea will be reflected in the isotopic composition of planktonic foraminifera and hence reflect monsoon variability. In addition, Sites U1426 and U1427 have abundant foraminifera ideal for the proposed geochemical analysis, with working biostratigraphies already established, but, as part of this programme of research, these new geochemical records will be tuned to provide robust age models. The student will have access to all shipboard data, as well as being integrated into an international network of scientists working on these sites.

Key research questions this studentship will address are:

  1. What is the timing and nature of Asian monsoon variability during the MPT?
  2. How does changes in the Asian monsoon relate to Tibetan Plateau uplift?
  3. What is the sychroneity of monsoon variability with records of sea surface temperature and ice volume changes? And what do they tell us about the likely forcing mechanisms of the MPT?
S277 Bioavailability of chromium from African soils near mine waste dumps: implications for staple crops

Student: Elliott Hamilton

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Liz Bailey and Scott Young, University of Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The environmental ubiquity of chromium can be attributed to both natural and anthropogenic sources. The toxicity of chromium is dependent on its chemical forms, with Cr(III) and Cr(VI) being the primary species in the environment (Kotaś and Stasicka 2000). It has been widely reported that Cr(VI) is acutely toxic and carcinogenic (Katz and Salem 1993), therefore increased concentrations of Cr(VI) can potentially pose a risk to living matter within soils. In addition, crops and plants grown in high-Cr(VI) soils can present a risk to human health as well as having deleterious effects on the growth of the plant (Shanker, Cervantes et al. 2005). Although it is known that Cr(VI) is more mobile and bioavailable due to its anionic forms (Fendorf, Wielinga et al. 2000), the mechanistic aspects of its fate in soils are not fully understood. Reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) in soils is possible through both geological and biological pathways, but anthropogenic contributions (fertiliser, liming) may also affect the speciation and bioavailability of Cr.

The aim of this proposal is to assess the mechanisms of chromium species equilibria in soils over a range of properties and conditions, and establish whether these mechanisms increase the likelihood of exposure to Cr(VI). This work will build upon existing analytical methodology with a view to incorporating computational speciation models to assess the processes dominating chromium speciation in soils. Isotope speciation analysis will be utilised to monitor redox reactions and species uptake, combined with pot experiments and fieldwork to evaluate controls on chromium speciation in idealised and real-world situations. There is scope to incorporate liming/fertiliser trials to look at the impact of agriculture on chromium speciation, whilst additional elements of interest, such as antimony, could be included on a site-specific basis. For example, Copperbelt mining in Zambia has been shown to increase total elemental concentrations in both the environment (von der Heyden and New 2004) and occupationally-exposed workers (Ndilila, Callan et al. 2014), although the specific pathways of exposure have yet to be determined; a more thorough understanding of chromium’s soil chemistry could begin the process of addressing this problem.

S269 Environmental lead pollution in the Roman Empire – characterising its effects on juvenile exposure, health and geographic mobility

Student: Joanna Moore

BGS Supervisor: Jane Evans

University Supervisor: Jane Montgomery, University of Bradford, Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences.

This project will investigate the impact of environmental lead pollution on human health and mobility in the Roman Period. It will develop the use of lead isotopes as an indicator of the cultural sphere an individual inhabited using exposure to geographically-determined anthropogenic pollution as a proxy. Lead isotope and concentration analysis will be undertaken on individuals from Roman period cemeteries across the Empire with the aim of:

  1. establishing and comparing the level of lead they were exposed to during childhood;
  2. establishing geographic and cultural variation in Roman Period human lead isotopes;
  3. exploring the link between lead burden and childhood health;
  4. Investigating the possibility of obtaining high-spatial and high-temporal resolution lead isotope data using LA-ICP-MS.

The project will obtain teeth from selected individuals buried in five Roman Period cemeteries at Dorchester, England, Ravenna, Italy, Tarragona, Spain, Budapest, Hungary, and Mainz, Germany. Enamel will be removed from the teeth following established procedures and measured for lead isotope and trace element concentration. Lead isotope preparation and analysis will be carried out in the clean laboratory suite at NIGL. Lead will be measured using PIMMS (MC-ICP-MS) according to established laboratory protocols. A novel aspect of this High spatial-resolution lead isotope analysis of enamel will be obtained by means of a New Wave Research UP193FX LA system connected to a Nu Instruments AttoM HR singlecollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS). The elemental Pb concentrations of the enamel samples and quality control materials will be determined using an Agilent quadrupole ICP-MS instrument. Palaeopathological data will be collated from previously published data and integrated and analysed in relation to the isotope results.

Geology and Regional Geophysics
S264 Formation and age of the Arran central ring complex

Student: Robert Gooday

BGS Supervisor: Kathryn Goodenough

University Supervisor: Andrew Kerr, Cardiff University, Earth and Ocean Sciences

Our understanding of the processes behind the emplacement of silica-poor (e.g. basalt) and silica-rich (e.g. rhyolite) lavas currently differ significantly. This project will close this gap by deriving a generalized multi-scale model for lava emplacement, based on observations, textural analyses and 3D computer reconstructions of flows at Cordón Caulle, Chile and Mt. Etna, Sicily. Fieldwork will be carried out at both locations to enable characterisation of flow processes over scales of mm- to 100s-m. The results will be combined with laboratory analyses to quantify degassing, and satellite data to provide km-scale process information. State-of-the-art analytical facilities and novel computer modelling approaches will be used whilst working with international experts from the U.S., Italy and the U.K. The results of the project will have wide implications for our understanding of flow emplacement both on Earth and on other planets. For details on our preliminary study, see Tuffen, James et al. (2013), Nature Comms., 4, 2709, doi:10.1038/ncomms3709.

Flow processes in low-viscosity basaltic lavas are broadly understood as eruptions are commonly observed. However, high-viscosity lavas (e.g. rhyolites) are seldom witnessed and poorly understood. The supervisors have recently collected the first observations of an advancing rhyolite lava flow, during the 2011-13 eruption of Cordón Caulle, Chile (preliminary study: Tuffen, James et al, Nature Comms., 2013). With this being the most silica-rich lava flow ever observed, we now have a unique opportunity to develop a generalised model for lava flow emplacement, based on observations and measurements taken of active flows.

A central challenge is to understand how degassing, crystallization and shear localization interact within lavas. Such effects are critically important in high-viscosity flows, leading to highly-heterogeneous flow and gas escape, and affect processes operative over scales of millimetres to kilometres. This project will combine existing and new field data, laboratory analyses and satellite imagery to develop a multi-scale model of high-silica lava emplacement processes firmly linked to existing understanding of lower-viscosity lavas. The resulting universal emplacement model will have broad application, from geologists studying terrestrial flow fields to planetary scientists, who are beginning to discover high-viscosity lavas on Mars in the latest satellite images. Insights gained into degassing and strain localisation during flow will have significant additional implications for our understanding of magma ascent, and ultimately, how volcanoes erupt – whether they produce explosive ash or effusive lava.

S273 Runoff generation, flooding and flowpaths in the changing environment of upland UK

Student: Leo Peskett

BGS Supervisor: Alan MacDonald

University Supervisor: Kate Heal, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

In temperate environments, uplands are often dominated by agricultural land use, as in the UK, which is linked to downstream flood risk. Increasingly natural flood management (NFM) measures applied in the uplands - such as wetland restoration, changes in land use and management, and tree planting - are promoted as more sustainable ways of addressing flood risk compared to constructing more extensive flood defences downstream. NFM measures should also be more resilient to the increased flood risk expected as the result of more frequent extreme rainfall events. However, for NFM to be effective requires an integrated understanding of runoff processes and flowpaths across a catchment. This enables the scale and locations of different types of NFM measures to be selected so as to reduce flood peak flow and volume downstream. The situation is further complicated by the heterogeneous nature of upland catchments, which typically contain a mixture of topography, land uses and soil types within a small area. Most research on upland hydrological processes has focused on plot- and small-scale investigations and not on the catchment scale which is most relevant for implementing NFM. The interaction between surface and subsurface flow and water stores has also been largely overlooked in upland catchments, even though it has been shown to have an important effect on catchment hydrology. These research gaps will be addressed in this project which aims to relate detailed understanding of hydrological processes to river flows at the catchment scale.

S260 Understanding groundwater controls on microbial metabolic activity, biogeochemical cycling and associated greenhouse gas production in streambed sediments

Student: Sophie Comer

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Stefan Krause, University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

This interdisciplinary project will pioneer the combination of novel distributed sensor networks and smart tracer technologies for quantification of microbial metabolic activity with state-of-the-art isotope tracer techniques and novel passive pore-water chemical sampling and gas analysis. The innovative combination of these cutting-edge technologies will allow investigating the role of streambed sediments for integrated C, N and O cycling in dependency of spatio-temporal variability in groundwater – surface water mixing and resulting patterns and dynamics of thermal and redox-chemical conditions. In addition to analysing spatial patterns of biogeochemical hotspots and C, N, O turnover rates and identifying their reliance on groundwater up-welling, residence time distributions and hyporheic mixing patterns, the project will aim to quantify bulk streambed respiration rates in order to assess their role for carbon sequestration and the production of climate active gases CO2, CH4 and N2O.

S291 Semantic Information Retrieval for Geological Resources

Student: Ikechukwu Nkisi-Orji

BGS Supervisor: Rachel Heaven

University Supervisor: Nirmalie Wiratunga, Robert Gordan School of Computing Science.

Minerals and Waste
S295 An enhanced understanding of the thermal and fluid history of a Variscan metallogenic province from critical metal investigations: The antimony and tungsten-bismuth deposits of south-west England.

Student: Eimear Deady

BGS Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Goodenough and Mr Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Moore and Dr Frances Wall, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

The aims of this project are to improve the model for tungsten mineralisation in the south-west and to develop a model for bismuth mineralisation which has not been established as yet in this region. An additional deliverable is to establish a robust directory of tungsten mineral occurrences in the south-west using legacy collections and the associated metadata.

Ideally the project would aim to characterise the bismuth minerals associated with the tungsten mineralisation and to establish whether this accessory could be processed as a value-adding by product to tungsten processing. To establish the paragenetic sequence of the mineralisation, using a variety of localities across the region. Describe previously un-described bismuth mineralisation in samples from spoil heaps.

S276 Timing of Cu-Au-Te-PGE porphyry-style mineralisation in northern Greece and Bulgaria and its relationship to metamorphic core complex exhumation

Student: Rebecca Perkins

BGS Supervisor: Jon Naden

University Supervisor: Frances Cooper, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

The increasing global interest and investment in green technologies such as wind turbines, solar energy collectors, and electric cars, has created new demand for previously underutilized elements such as Te and Se for photovoltaic energy production and platinum group elements (PGE) for autocatalytic convertors and fuel cells. These elements are commonly enriched in areas of Cu, Mo, or Au mineralisation associated with high-level potassic and calc-alkaline magmatism. Typically, the anatomy of this mineralisation at the deposit scale is porphyry and epithermal in style, but on a regional scale, enrichment in Te, Se, and PGE appears to be connected with post-subduction high-K to shoshonitic magmatism. Thus, a key area for research is to understand the regional geodynamic setting for this mineralisation; in particular, the generation and timing of fertile magmas and the structural pathways that control their emplacement. Advances in this field will significantly aid mineral resource exploration through the development of new genetic models for this relatively poorly understood mineral deposit type.

A globally important region for porphyry- and epithermal-style Cu-Au-Te-PGE deposits is the Rhodope Massif of northern Greece and southern Bulgaria (Figs. 1-2), which forms the hinterland to the Hellenic orogen [1]. The PhD will focus on a detailed geo- and thermochronology study of the emplacement, mineralisation and exhumation of the Moronia–Sappes–Leptokaria magmatic corridor in NE Greece, a sequence of Eocene–Miocene mineralised and barren subvolcanic plutons plus the Biala Reka–Kekros Dome, part of the Rhodope metamorphic core complex into which the plutons are intruded [e.g. 2]. Key research questions to be addressed are:

  1. How does magma petrogenesis influence magma metal fertility,
  2. how does the timing and duration of mineralization processes affect the size of mineral deposits and
  3. can rates of exhumation and erosion be used to determine regional potential for ore deposit preservation.

The PhD will involve two field seasons in the Rhodope Massif, a programme of laboratory work that includes trace element geochemistry, geo- and thermochronology (U-Pb, Ar-Ar, (U-Th)/He) and computer modelling. The project will provide excellent research training in field skills, analytical techniques and numerical analysis. Work will be primarily undertaken at the University of Bristol and the British Geological Survey, with potential for visits to other laboratories for additional analyses. Fieldwork support will also be provided by experts in the Universities of Thessaloniki and Athens.

S267 Earth observation for advanced geoscience modelling – the Tellus South West airborne high resolution geophysical, multispectral and LiDAR survey

Student: Chris Yeomans

BGS Supervisor: Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Robin Shail, University of Exeter Camborne School of Mines, Mining Geology

This project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of a new geoscience framework for South West England. The region (most of Cornwall, Devon and part of Somerset) is now one of the best surveyed parts of the planet, because of recent NERC investment in a high resolution airborne geophysical and LiDAR survey and land-based geochemical sampling www.tellusgb.ac.uk. The Tellus Survey of Northern Ireland exemplifies what can be achieved with comparable data, including improved geological and structural mapping, enhanced regional geological interpretation (e.g. Young and Earls, 2007; Chew et al. 2010) and more sophisticated mineral exploration targeting (e.g. Lusty et al. 2012), particularly in areas of concealed geology.

These new data are of particular significance as the South West England orefield is widely recognised as the most important metallogenic province in the UK (Scrivener, 2006; Moon, 2010), with significant current exploration interest (e.g. Wolf Minerals, Hemerdon project and exploration by Treliver Minerals) and the potential for development of a future mining industry. Despite extensive geological research and a protracted history of mineral extraction, fundamental questions remain concerning the exact nature, source and timing of the mineralisation and its relation to structure, magmatism and regional tectonics. Key to addressing these questions is the development of an enhanced geoscience framework, based upon the new high resolution datasets, coupled with extensive legacy data (e.g. geological mapping, borehole data, mineral occurrences databases etc). The new data provide an exceptional opportunity to enhance our fundamental understanding of the geological and structural evolution of South West England, with direct implications for metallic mineral exploration and future resource potential.

The main aim of the project is to integrate all available data for the South West (new imagery and geochemistry, previous bedrock and superficial mapping, geophysics etc) to generate enhanced baseline geological and structural information and understanding for the region. The project will develop and employ novel approaches for spatial analysis, interrogation, filtering, modelling, visualisation and fusion of multi-resolution and multi-source geological data (e.g. correlation analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, principal component analysis, fractal clustering, regression analysis, transformation techniques, geophysical inversion etc) to emphasise patterns and association. Of particular interest is the application of the new LiDAR data for enhanced and automated lithological and structural mapping (e.g. Grebby et al. 2010; Grebby et al. 2012). South West England provides an opportunity to test this approach in a well vegetated terrane with less pronounced topographic variation. The datasets derived from this analysis and interpretation will be used to develop augmented geological and structural maps for the region. The distribution of mineralisation in the South West can subsequently be reinterpreted in this context. The new geological map and structural interpretation coupled with other derived datasets will ultimately form a basis for a regional scale prospectivity model and quantitative resource assessment, based upon a range of techniques e.g. discriminant analysis, weights-of-evidence, artificial neural networks (e.g. Harris et al. 2003). Datasets produced by this study e.g. lineament and fracture maps will have wide ranging applications e.g. geothermal energy, hydrogeology and environmental modelling, which could inform future decision making in the South West and the attribution of 3D models of the region at a variety of scales.


Chew, D.M, McFarlane, J.A.S., Cooper, M.R. and Fleming, C.M. (2010) New geological insights into the Dalradian Lack Inlier, Northern Ireland and correlative sequences: implications for lithostratigraphical correlation and gold mineralisation. In Abstracts of the 53rd Annual Irish Geological Research Meeting, 16.

Grebby S, Cunningham D, Naden J, Tansey K. (2010). Lithological mapping of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, using airborne LiDAR topographic data. Remotes Sensing of Environment, 114, 713–724.

Grebby, S., Cunningham, D., Naden, J., & Tansey, K. (2012). Application of airborne LiDAR data and airborne multispectral imagery to structural mapping of the upper section of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 101, 1645-1660.

Harris DV, Zurcher J, Stanley M, Marlow J, Pan G. (2003). A comparative analysis of favorability mappings by weights of evidence, probabilistic neural networks, discriminant analysis, and logistic regression. Natural Resource Research 12, 241–255.

Lusty P A J, Scheib C, Gunn A G, Walker A S D. (2012). Reconnaissance-Scale Prospectivity Analysis for Gold Mineralisation in the Southern Uplands-Down-Longford Terrane, Northern Ireland. Natural Resources Research, 21, 359–382.

Moon C J. (2010). Geochemical exploration in Cornwall and Devon: a review. Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, 10, 331–351.

Scrivener R C. (2006). Cornubian granites and mineralization of SW England. In: Brenchley P.J. and Rawson P.F. (eds), The Geology of England and Wales, 2nd Edition. The Geological Society of London.

Young M E, Earls G J T. (2007). New geochemical and geophyisical data of Northern Ireland. In: Andrew C J (ed). Digging Deeper, Proceedings of the ninth Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin, Ireland, Millpress.

S297 Geochemical dynamics and bioavailability of Iodine and Selenium in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Student: Saeed Ahmad

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: S Young, Nottingham

Pre-2014 student cohorts

Climate and Landscape Change
S222 Palaeohydrology of a rapid climate change event at the Palaeocene-Eocene

Student: Alex Dawson

BGS Supervisor: Mike Ellis

University Supervisor: Stephen Grimes, University of Plymouth, Geography

This project tackles the possible existence of precursory signals in hydrological behaviour to the Earth’s most significant and essentially catastrophic climate change event at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The study will take advantage of multiple sections of a terrestrial to shallow marine PETM facies exposed across the southern and western Pyrenees. We will use Sr and D isotope ratios, and sedimentological analyses to constrain the hydrological behaviour of the fluvial system. The PhD project will be integrated with existing PETM investigations at the BGS, Plymouth University (home to the PhD studentship), and Liverpool University.

S227 The making of the modern world: Ocean evolution during the neogene, the last great warm interval

Student: Jamie Lakin

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Alan Haywood, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

This project will reconstruct the evolution of ocean surface temperature, salinity, nutrients, and ocean circulation via the development and application of a novel proxy, dinoflagellate cysts, throughout the Neogene Period (23-2.6 Ma). New proxies are essential since the usefulness of geochemical proxy techniques can be limited by, for example, diagenesis and the occurrence of suitable fossils in open and deep ocean settings. Palaeo-sea surface parameters (SSPs) will be examined in terms of our current understanding of climate and environmental evolution over the last 23 million years, and this will be used to evaluate simulations of ocean circulation and SSPs produced by coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, which are used to understand contemporary climate and to predict future climate change. The project will therefore yield unique insights into the evolution of the oceans in the recent geological past, as well as the predictive abilities of sophisticated numerical models currently utilised for future climate change prediction.

S234 The last forests on Antarctica: Neogene (~12Ma) plant fossils and climates from Antarctica

Student: Rhian Rees-Owen

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Jane Frances, University of Leeds, School of Environment and Technology

This project will: Identify the fossil wood to determine the diversity of shrubs that survived on the tundra landscape. The composition of the tundra vegetation will be reconstructed, along with information from other plant remains. Growth rings, stem morphology, and cellular details will be used to reconstruct shrub habit and other adaptations to interglacial environments. Climate data will be interpreted from tree ring and cell dimension analysis. Analyses of isotopic composition of the organic matter in the wood will help reconstruct aspects of climate such as rainfall and seasonality. New information about the vegetation will help resolve current issues with the timing of the evolution of Antarctic biotas from molecular studies. The climate and palaeoenvironmental data will be compared to data from rock cores and outputs of computer models to contribute to the debate about the glacial history of Antarctica and global climate evolution.

S239 The Rock Record of the British Cretaceous

Student: Fiona Walker

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Newell

University Supervisor: Michael Benton, Bristol

A key underpinning of earth science is the assumption that the rock and fossil records provide reasonable information on the history of the Earth and of life. This project proposes to test this assumption using a twofold approach on the British Cretaceous, (1) to explore how knowledge about geology and palaeontology have accumulated through 200 years of research time; and (2) to explore linkages or redundancy between rock and fossil signals as a major contribution to current debates about quality of the fossil record. The research will be underpinned by BGS databases, digital map products and emerging 3D models and will generate high impact publications in a very active research field. A strong emphasis on 3D techniques and property modelling of rock volumes will not only produce totally new science but will feed directly into the BGS DREAM and FutureThames projects. The work has broader implications for evaluating geological uncertainty and in providing a measure of how well we understand the geology of a large part of southeast England: a densely populated region strongly dependant on water resources from Cretaceous aquifers.

S246 The Mid Jurassic Plankton Explosion

Student: Nick Wiggan

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

The Mid Jurassic is a critical interval in terms of evolution and hydrocarbon reserves. Plankton evolution at this time is poorly understood. The dinoflagellates are major primary producers and underwent an evolutionary explosion during the Mid Bajocian (~169 Ma). This event is poorly known, and is coincident with other phenomena such as the rise of the planktonic foraminifera. The project will document the dinoflagellate radiation from key successions, investigate synchronous geochemical changes, assess coeval biotic change and provide a holistic explanation of Mesozoic plankton evolution. This research is closely aligned to the BGS Strategy, e.g. Climate Change, Energy and Geology/Landscape.

S247 Equatorial sea surface temperature seasonality in the Mississippian (Carboniferous) derived from brachiopod shell carbonate

Student: Leah Nolan

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Melanie Leng, Leicester, Geology

The monsoon rainfall seasonality of the palaeoequatorial Mississippian (L Carboniferous) has been deduced from fossil plant morphology. However little is known about palaeoequatorial Mississippian sea surface temperature (SST) seasonality. In particular no numerical values are available for SST seasonality to feed into General Circulation Models (GCMs) of the Mississippian greenhouse to icehouse transition, a period of global climatic significance.

The main goal is to derive temperatures for palaeoequatorial Mississippian seawater seasonality through sclerocronology and isotope profiling of fossil shells. Little is known presently of SSTs in the Carboniferous and this type of interannual information is vital so that tie points can be placed within GCMs for wider estimates of SST seasonality. Preliminary data from one shell indicates SST seasonality of ~ 5-6 °C (over a 20 year period). This is 1-2°C greater than the seasonal temperature variation at the present day equator in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

A secondary goal is to investigate the possibility of a 'vestigial signal' in altered brachiopod shell preserving the pattern of a primary signal if not primary values. If it is found that even after diagenesis primary variation is preserved, this has far-reaching effects for isotope proxy studies, since much material is diagenetically altered and therefore presently deemed unsuitable for palaeoclimate research.

In a pilot study a large brachiopod shell (Gigantoproductus) was sampled consecutively across annual growth bands (Angiolini et al., in press). δ18O and δ13C (interpreted as temperature and productivity) was found to correlate with growth as an annual rhythm (winter-summer). The same periodicity is also preserved superimposed on diagenetic values of δ18O and δ13C as a ‘vestigial signal' within an altered part of the shell. The project aims to sample further shells to:

  • test correlation between growth lines and geochemical periodicity
  • derive values for SST seasonality (winter minima and summer maxima)
  • and investigate further the phenomenon of the 'vestigial signal'.
S253 Palaeobiology of phosphatized Ediacaran microfossils from Norway

Student: Peter Adamson

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S255 Colloidal copper and lead sulphide dynamics in an alluvial floodplain soil and their impact on trace metal mobility

Student: Suzanne Schwarz

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: Wolfgang Wilcke, University of Berne, Switzerland

S275 The early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) mass extinction event and recovery in the eastern Tethys: integrating palaeontological and geochemical data from Bulgaria

Student: Autumn Pugh

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Chris Little, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

The early Toarcian mass extinction in the Early Jurassic was the most severe crisis of the Jurassic-Cretaceous interval, with ~20% generic extinction rates. The event is best known from the marine realm with ammonites, bivalves and foraminifera being amongst the groups to suffering significant losses. In the northern Europe the extinction coincides with the development of black shales that are thought to be the local development of an oceanic anoxic event. This in turn has been linked to the contemporaneous eruption of the vast Karoo-Ferrar flood basalt province in the southern hemisphere that is thought to have triggered a dramatic global warming event. This extinction-anoxia-volcanism-warming scenario has been postulated for several other environmental crises and by studying the effects of these events in the geological record we will be better able to forecast how marine ecosystems will respond to the increasing duration and geographic extent of oxygen minimum 'dead zones' in modern oceans. These are a major environmental concern for the future, as they have the potential to severely affect marine diversity and productivity.

The anoxia-extinction link for the early Toarcian extinction event is well established in northern European areas (e.g. the Cleveland Basin of northern England and the Swabian Basin in Germany), comprising the shallow water epicontinental seas of the Boreal Realm. In contrast, the early Toarcian event is less well established in the western Tethys marine sections of southern and eastern Europe, because while there are numerous geochemical (e.g. using Sr, O and C isotopes) and some microfossil studies of Tethyan Early Jurassic geological sections, there is poor knowledge of benthic macrofaunas in these areas. This precludes detailed comparison with the integrated macrofossil-microfossil-isotope geochemical record from the Boreal Realm epicontinental seas and thus constrains our ability to define the geographic and temporal scope of the early Toarcian extinction event.

While the extinction in early Toarcian has been relatively well studied, very little is known about patterns and rates of biotic recovery from this event, in part because of the nature of rock exposure in some of the well studied sections (e.g. the Cleveland Basin). Some older work based on generic ranges using relatively coarse time scales suggests that pre-extinction diversity levels were not reached again until the Aalenian, possibly 4 million years later after the event. This lack of knowledge prevents us currently using the Toarcian event as a predictive tool for the long term effects of widespread oxygen minimum ‘dead zones’ in modern oceans.

Aims and objectives: The project will examine the Jurassic to Aalenian fossil record of the eastern Tethyan area, by documenting extinction losses and associated environmental changes within a high-resolution time framework. This will be achieved by linking existing local and regional geochemical datasets (e.g. strontium, carbon and oxygen isotopes) with new fossil range data (principally brachiopods, molluscs and foraminifera) from the Bulgarian Balkan Mountains. The significance of the Bulgarian geological sections is that palaeogeographic reconstructions of Europe for the Early Jurassic shows that at this time sediments in the Balkan Mountains were deposited on the margin of the western Tethys Ocean in relatively deep (but above the contemporary Carbonate Compensation Depth) marginal basins in proximity to active spreading and island arc volcanism. By studying the Bulgarian sections we will be able to trace biotic and geochemical events during the early Toarcian event and subsequent biotic recovery from the shallow water epicontinental seas of the Boreal area to the deep water margin of the western Tethys, and thus to better constrain the geographic and temporal scope of the event.

To achieve the project aims the student will undertake several field seasons to the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria, north of the capital city of Sofia, together with their UK based and Bulgarian supervisors, where they will examine a number of well-exposed Early to Middle Jurassic geological sections. Here they will construct measured sections and sample in detail the macrofossil content (principally ammonites, belemnites, bivalves, brachiopods), and collect sediment samples for subsequent palaeoecological and microfossil analysis (calcareous foraminifera and palynomorphs). The student will then identify the macrofossils using reference material in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences collections (including previously collected ammonites, belemnites and brachiopods), and construct range charts for species. Microfossil analysis will be performed at Leeds. After this work the student will integrate the fossil data with existing geochemical data (major and trace elements and Sr, C and O isotopes) for the same sections. Later, this integrated data will be compared to equivalent data from other Toarcian Tethyan and Boreal sections to establish regional versus global trends, and to estimate patterns and rates of recovery.

Earth Hazards and Observatories
S145.2 Climate Change on Mars: Remote Sensing Constraints on the Origin of Layered Sediments

Student: Stuart Turner

BGS Supervisor: Stephen Grebby

University Supervisor: John Bridges, University of Leicester, National Space Centre

Aim: To characterise climate variation on Mars from its 'Warm and Wet' ancient past to its cold and dry current landscape by characterising sedimentary terrains of different ages and origins. Objectives: To identify the distribution of sediments on Mars and use high resolution and spectral information.Compile HRSC digital elevation models of selected sedimentary terrains. Identify cyclicity within the Mars sedimentary record and correlate with known current orbital characteristics e.g. the ratio of current precession and obliquity cycles. Determine ages of sedimentary terrain surfaces using recent crater counting models. Compare sediments to terrestrial analogues and other Mars terrains (e.g. the recent north polar layered deposits) to constrain environments of deposition.Fieldwork visits to potential terrestrial analogue sites of the cyclic Mars sediments.Use range of high resolution orbital data and knowledge to identify and characterise landing sites for upcoming Mars missions consistent with their mission aims to 'Follow the Water' and search for environments where life might have been possible.

S209 Understanding the evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex (Mars) and comparison with volcanoes in the Afar Rift system (Earth)

Student: Peter Fawdon

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Matt Balme, Open University, Earth and Environmental Sciences

This project aims to understand the nature and volcano-tectonic evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex on Mars. Syrtis Major contains a large (~ 1300 km across) shield complex that probably formed ~ 3.7 to 3 billion years ago. It contains the summit calderas Nili Patera and Meroe Patera, which are aligned along a fracture system running circumferentially to a large impact basin (Isidis) at the eastern boundary of the complex. The lack of buttressing on the eastern side appears to have allowed some lateral extension, making the complex the closest martian analogue to extensional volcanic edifices such as those in the Afar Rift on Earth.

S224 Glacier-to-foreland hydrological coupling at a maritime glacier

Student: Verity Flett

BGS Supervisor: Jez Everest

University Supervisor: Martin Kirkbride, University of Dundee, Urban Water Technology

The research will analyse the mass balance response, both glaciological and hydrological, of a coupled glacier-foreland system, and will create the capability to model and predict natural variability under changing climatic regimes. The student will be based at the School of the Environment in Dundee, and will also be expected to spend some time at BGS in Edinburgh. Fieldwork will be based at the BGS Virkisjökull Observatory in southeast Iceland, a multi-technique monitoring facility established in 2009. The PhD seeks to build on and add scientific value to many of the continuously-acquired datasets at the site, examples illustrated in the figures overleaf.

S226 Using earthquake seismology to track transient convective circulation beneath the British Isles

Student: Charlotte Schoonman

BGS Supervisor: Richard Luckett

University Supervisor: Nicky White, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S282 Petrological constraints on the structure of Icelandic volcanic systems

Student: Will Miller

BGS Supervisor: Evgenia Ilyinskaya

University Supervisor: John Maclennan, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

The research will analyse the mass balance response, both glaciological and hydrological, of a coupled glacier-foreland system, and will create the capability to model and predict natural variability under changing climatic regimes. The student will be based at the School of the Environment in Dundee, and will also be expected to spend some time at BGS in Edinburgh. Fieldwork will be based at the BGS Virkisjökull Observatory in southeast Iceland, a multi-technique monitoring facility established in 2009. The PhD seeks to build on and add scientific value to many of the continuously-acquired datasets at the site, examples illustrated in the figures overleaf.

Energy and Marine Geoscience
S210 Mineralogy and geochemistry of ultramafic rocks for mineral CO2 sequestration

Student: Alicja Lacinska

BGS Supervisor: Mike Styles

University Supervisor: Prof. Paul Brown, Professor of Materials Characterisation, Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham University

The most widely known and mature technology for carbon abatement is carbon capture and storage (CCS) of carbon dioxide in porous rock. However, its use will be restricted in areas with no porous rocks, such as shield areas. It is possible to permanently sequester CO2 by turning it into mineral (CCS by mineralisation [CCSM]) through using Mg-silicates as a feedstock. CCSM has also been recognised by the IPCC as complimentary technology to CCS for emission reductions. It is important to understand the geological, mineralogical and geochemical controls on CCSM, as this can provide important information for the technological development of in- and ex-situ industrial scale CCSM. Furthermore, there is the potential for the technology in the longer term development of direct atmospheric CO2 sequestration.

214.2 Micro-structural analysis of time-variant evolution in pore geometry of cement materials during carbonation

Student: Konstantinos Giannoukos

BGS Supervisor: Chris Rochelle

University Supervisor: A Hall, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

To quantify and determine the origins of time-variant evolution of pore geometry and associated multiphase (CO2-rich) transport phenomena in cement-based grouts, how mineralogical composition controls the rate and depth of carbonation. The research objectives are to: Identify and produce a selection of suitable candidate cementitious grouts for use in composite steel-lined and cement-sealed boreholes, and natural analogues of aged cement minerals, Characterise multi-scale pore geometry, bulk and selected area morphology, chemical composition and mineralogy and correlate with functional properties. Perform staggered aging of representative samples of the candidate materials by accelerated carbonation under realistic conditions Quantify the time-variant effects of aging on the evolution of pore network geometry and the corresponding alteration of the hydrothermal functional properties.

S228 The 3D architecture and structure of a tectonised glacigenic sedimentaty sequence in the DoggerBank area Bank area of the southern North Sea

Student: Astrid Ruiter

BGS Supervisor: Emrys Phillips

University Supervisor: Simon Carr, University of London Queen Mary College, Geography

S229 Glaciation of the North Sea Basin: integrating evidence from basin-scale 3D seismic geomorphology, site surveys, boreholes and adjacent land areas

Student: Rachel Lamb

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Mads Huuse, University of Manchester, School of Earth Sciences and Geography

The aim of this project is to use the now extensive high quality 3D seismic data which is available due to hydrocarbon exploration to look at the North Sea on a much larger scale (e.g. Stewart & Lonergan 2011). This will provide the very first basin-wide seismic geomorphological record of North Sea glaciations through the Quaternary.

S232 Seismological insights into the building of the Lesser Antilles Arc

Student: David Schlaphorst

BGS Supervisor: Brian Baptie

University Supervisor: Michael Kendall, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

S237 Public perception of shale gas extraction technology

Student: William Knight

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Sarah O'Hara, University of Nottingham, School of Geography

S243 Seasonally resolved climate variability since the last Glacial Maximum from the laminated sediments of Windermere

Student: Rachel Avery

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

The project builds on previous collaborative site survey and pilot coring in Windermere between BGS and NOCS, and aims to exploit longer cores recovered during 2012. Pilot studies strongly indicate a seasonally resolved record in a continuously laminated deglacial sequence. This has the potential to generate records of interannual to decadal scale variability and document episodes of rapid climate change through the last deglaciation. These will be the first records of such resolution from Britain and Ireland, and will constitute a hitherto missing link between records from the Greenland Ice Cores (NGRIP) and lake records from continental Europe.

S249 Evaluating 3D sedimentary architecture as a fundamental control on geotechnical and physical properties (Dogger Bank Round 3 Windfarm Zone)

Student: Kieran Blacker

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Sarah Davies, Leicester, Geology

S250 High resolution environmental change from Holocene sediments of Windermere

Student: James Fielding

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

S254 Seismic Imaging and Fluid Dynamic Modelling of Sequestered Carbon Dioxide in the North Sea, UK

Student: Laurence Cowton

BGS Supervisor: Andy Chadwick

University Supervisor: Jerome Neufeld, University of Cambridge, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP)

Other information
In 2013 Laurence won First Prize in The Neftex Earth Model Award.

Storage of carbon dioxide in deeply buried geological formations offers one of the most immediate and potentially effective methods for the reduction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions at acceptable cost. Naturally-occurring geological reservoirs in which CO2 has remained trapped for millions of years shows that long-term storage is technically feasible. In order for long-term storage to become a reality, we must establish storage site effectiveness, safety and accountability. These aims are best achieved by developing remote sensing methods for monitoring and understanding the behaviour of CO2 in a variety of reservoir settings. These methods must be able to quantify the storage capabilities and the long-term performance of such reservoirs.

Controlled-source seismic reflection surveying constitutes the principal means for imaging sub-surface geological formations down to depths of 10 km or so. In recent years, there have been considerable strides in refining our ability to image the three-dimensional structure of the solid Earth, particularly in the marine realm. Perhaps the most significant recent advance has been the development of time-lapse seismic imaging which enables sub-surface fluids such as gas, oil and brine to be tracked and measured. There is considerable interest in applying this technology to other important geological problems. An obvious application concerns the sequestration and monitoring of CO2.

Engineering Geology
S223 Development and application of geophysical proxies for imaging geotechnical property changes during development of near surface shear zones

Student: Rosalind Hen-Jones

BGS Supervisor: Dave Gunn

University Supervisor: John Hughes, University of Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

New methods integrated geophysical-geotechnical sensor systems can be developed to monitor ground moisture changes, associated geotechnical property changes (e.g. pore suction) and movement to capture the shear failure process with sufficient resolution (spatial/temporal) such that ‘cause and effect’ can be established. This project will monitor a slope failure at the BIONICS site using integrated geotechnical-geophysical sensor technologies. The project will develop methodologies for analysing the spatial and temporal coherence of time series geotechnical data from distributed sensor networks and time-lapse volumetric images gathered using high resolution electrical tomography. Ultimately, the project aims to identify development of low strength zones from the spatial and temporal material property change sequences associated with a shear failure event for a positive test of the hypothesis.

S241 Development of a UAV-based landslide monitoring system

Student: Maria Peppa

BGS Supervisor: Jonathan Chambers

University Supervisor: Pauline Miller, Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

This research will develop an optimised approach to landslide monitoring and assessment through combining detailed UAV generated surface measurements with geotechnical and geophysical observations of sub-surface processes. This integrated approach will advance understanding of landslide mechanisms and causative behaviours. The research will be rigorously tested at the BGS Hollin Hill landslide observatory (North Yorkshire) [1, 2], and will be founded on an automatic UAV georeferencing approach, which will improve positional accuracy and overcome the need for establishing ground control in a challenging environment.

S256 Development and application of machine learning techniques for characterisation and quantification of change in time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring

Student: William Ward

BGS Supervisor: Paul Wilkinson

University Supervisor: Li Bai, University of Nottingham, School of Computer Science

Electrical resistivity monitoring (4D ERT) is increasingly used to investigate complex hydrogeophysical processes. Although the data collection and imaging is automated, the detection and interpretation of changes in the resulting images caused by subsurface processes is still a manual, labour intensive activity. The aim of the PhD is to apply machine learning techniques (image processing, computer vision, and time-series processing) to 4D ERT images to develop methods to identify and assess significant changes, with the goal of producing reliable automated warning algorithms that can trigger user intervention and further interpretation when necessary. The methods developed in this research will be rigorously tested in controlled laboratory imaging experiments [1], and analysis of existing and future monitoring data from well characterised field installations [2, 3, 4].

Environmental Modelling
S233 Finite element methods for modelling mantle dynamics backward in time: finding the most likely scenario

Student: Samuel Cox

BGS Supervisor: John Ludden

University Supervisor: Tiffany Barry, University of Leicester, Geology

Continents move because of Earth’s mantle movement, which in turn is the result of convective forces. Scientists have a good idea of how the continents were arranged in the past millions of years, and they have a good idea of the physics behind mantle movement. A major challenge is to be able to use these two pieces of information to reconstruct and simulate the mantle’s movement through geological time.

S245 Uncertainty in expert interpretation of geological cross-sections and its propagation into 3D geological framework models

Student: Charles Randle

BGS Supervisor: Murray Lark

University Supervisor: Clare Bond , Aberdeen, Geosciences, Geography and Environment

The unique value of 3-D geological models derives from the expert interpretation which they embody. However, geological interpretation is also a source of uncertainty in the model. This uncertainty must be quantified, which is challenging because it does not arise from a simple algorithm or statistical model. This project will quantify and compare the uncertainty introduced by expert interpretation in GSI3D and GOCAD modelling workflows. This will be done by controlled modelling experiments and formal expert elicitation to quantify error distributions, along with numerical analysis of key algorithms to assess how errors propagate, and are modified by interpretative editing. By doing this work in contrasting terranes and with different data densities, benchmark information on model quality will be provided for contrasting conditions.

S204.2 Geogenic arsenic attributable health risks in UK and the European Union

Student: Daniel Middleton

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

S216 Improving the utility of LA-ICP-MS for isotope ratio environmentals1

Student: Grant Craig

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: Barry Sharp, University of Loughborough, Chemistry

Continents move because of Earth’s mantle movement, which in turn is the result of convective forces. Scientists have a good idea of how the continents were arranged in the past millions of years, and they have a good idea of the physics behind mantle movement. A major challenge is to be able to use these two pieces of information to reconstruct and simulate the mantle’s movement through geological time.

S244 U-Series constraints on the evolution of the Green River (Utah) natural analogue for geological carbon storage

Student: Peter Scott

BGS Supervisor: Dan Condon

University Supervisor: Mike Bickle, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

This PhD project is focussed on using U-Series dating, combined with other geochemistry (e.g. Sr/Ca, δ13C, 87Sr/86Sr) and numerical modelling to understand the tempo of CO2 degassing in a natural CO2 leaking system, a natural analogue for potential future storage systems. The student research experience will build upon existing synergy between groups at Cambridge and the BGS and will generate data that are pertinent to our understanding of CO2 storage on time scales of 1 to >100 kyr, detailing rates and nature of fundamental processes/reactions, and the response of CO2 reservoirs to external forcing (i.e., environmental change).

S248 Evaluating trade-offs between health benefits and risks associated with grow your own in (peri-)urban areas

Student: Jonathon Stubberfield

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Neil Crout, Nottingham

S251 Propagation of deformation across the India-Asia collision zone, and its effect on climate change; constraints from the sediment record in the Tarim Basin, China

Student: Tamsin Blayney

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisor: Yani Najman, Lancaster, Environmental Science

S252 Using geospatial approaches to determine the phosphorus dynamics in soil-crop systems in Malaysia

Student: Diriba Kumssa

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Martin Broadley, Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Geology and Regional Geophysics
S184 Postglacial fjordic landscape evolution: the onshore and offshore limits of the Younger Dryas ice sheet, western Scotland

Student: Kate McIntyre

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: John Howe, University of Scottish Association for Marine Science

S206 Early Ediacaran biotas of Charnwood Forest (UK): assembly of the first macroscopic marine communities

Student: Charlotte Kenchington

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

Three hypotheses will be tested through the development of heuristic, spatial and evolutionary models: H1) that the enhanced weathering associated with land-dwelling eukaryotes was initiated in the early Neoproterozoic leading to major environmental change, including extreme glaciations and stepwise increases in atmospheric oxygen; H2) that major environmental changes in the mid Neoproterozoic triggered the emergence of animals; and H3) that the late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian radiations of animals and biomineralization were themselves responsible for much of the accompanying biogeochemical perturbation. At its centre is the acquisition of substantial new data, not least concerning the nature and ecology of the earliest macroscopic communities, like those preserved in Charnwood.

S220 Peat’s secret archive: reconstructing the North Atlantic storm frequency and volcanic eruption history of the last 10,000 years

Student: Helena Stewart

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: Stirling, Natural Sciences

The main sources of North Atlantic dust are the expansive unvegetated Sandur plains of southern Iceland and areas close to the glaciers. During high-magnitude windstorms this dust is remobilised in the lower atmosphere and carried much further afield by strong winds and is often deposited over Scotland and the British Isles and a chronology of this process can be developed from peat cores. Iceland is also a highly volcanic area therefore tephra can be identified in peat alongside the glacial dust and can be used as a chronological tool. My project focuses on producing a high-resolution, age-constrained index of Icelandic dust storm and volcanic eruption frequency spanning the past 10,000 years, through detailed analysis of terrestrial peat cores from northern Scotland and assessing the long term frequency of these events.

S153 3D – 3D – characterisation of the Chalk aquifer using innovative geophysical and testing methods

Student: Mike Davis

BGS Supervisor: Neil Butcher

University Supervisor: W Burgess, London University College, Geography

S225 Geological controls on the distribution and abundance of invertebrate groundwater

Student: Damiano Weitowitz

BGS Supervisor: Louise Maurice

University Supervisor: Roehampton, Life Sciences

S231 Novel approaches for speciating and tracing the metabolism of phosphorus in groundwater and surface water

Student: Ceri Davies

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Ben Surridge, University of Lancaster, Environmental Science

S235 Tracing pollution and sea water intrusion in groundwater systems of the Pearl River Basin, China

Student: Lee Chambers

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Greg Holland, University of Lancaster, Environmental Science

To couple the development of PO4-δ18O as a novel isotopic label for P biogeochemical research with in-depth speciation studies to characterise the importance of organic- and colloidal-P within catchments. TO: Building on method development work with BGS and LEC, to optimise extraction and pyrolysis protocols for analysis of PO4-δ18O in surface water and Groundwater matrices. To characterise PO4-δ18O in significant sources of P within the DTC study catchments (e.g. inorganic and organic fertiliser, waste water effluents, phosphate-rich aquifer materials, septic tank discharges). To track changes in PO4-δ18O and water- δ18O within groundwater and surface water in the study catchments to understand the extent of metabolism of P from different sources. To use commercially-available enzymes and HPLC and sequential filtration techniques to characterise the magnitude and bioavailability of organic-P fractions of the total P pool in groundwater and surface water.

S236 Assessing the Efficacy of Mitigation Options for Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture

Student: Matilda Biddulph

BGS Supervisor: Sean Burke

University Supervisor: Northampton, School of Science and Technology

S240 Stable isotope biogeochemistry of methane in UK groundwater prior to shale gas development

Student: Millie Basava-reddi

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Edward Hornibrook, Bristol, Earth Sciences

The proposed study will contribute valuable new data to the BGS baseline survey of groundwater CH4 in regions of the UK where shale gas exploration and exploitation are likely to occur in the future. The collaboration with Bristol University will focus on stable isotope characterization of groundwater CH4 to establish its origin and to evaluate factors influencing the stability of CH4 concentration and δ13C and δ2H values in groundwater prior to shale gas development.

Minerals and Waste
S111 Current mechanisms and future patterns of stone decay in cleaned sandstone and granite buildings

Student: Marta Zurakowska

BGS Supervisor: Martin Gillespie

University Supervisor: John Hughes, University of Paisley

Aim of project: To recognise the stone types used in construction, determine the mechanisms of decay in different stone types and understand details of weathering in the urban environment. Objectives: To identify the varieties of sandstone and granite, assess the weathering mechanisms, experimental cleaning to research the effects of stone cleaning in a controlled environment, compare the weathering mechanisms in in-situ cleaned stone and laboratory cleaned samples with background uncleaned samples, assess the rates and tempo of stone deterioration, experimental results will be compared with results of modelling geochemical reactions in minerals in different environments and temperatures. The outputs of the work aim to be the most detailed mechanistic understanding of the decay processes occurring in cleaned damaged sandstone and granite in northern climate.

S200 From Castle to Quarry – The Characterisation of Historic Mortars with a Focus on Provenance

Student: Dorn Carran

BGS Supervisor: A Leslie

University Supervisor: John Hughes, Paisley

An interdisciplinary project between the University of the West of Scotland, Historic Scotland and the British Geological Survey has been initiated to study in detail historic lime mortars. In particular the project aims to establish whether it is possible to use the binders of these mortars to determine the provenance of the limestone used to make them, and to further the understanding of such mortars and the processes involved in their study.

S219 Investigating the Controls on Critical Metal Distribution within Intrusion-Centred Mineralization: Chalkidiki Peninsula, N. Greece

Student: Kate Sullivan

BGS Supervisor: Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Steve Roberts, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

To identify the processes responsible for ‘critical metals’ (PGM, Te, Se, Ag) enrichment in high-level potassic and calc-alkaline magmatic systems. Although intrusions of potassic and calc-alkaline magmatism are typically associated with Cu, Mo and Au mineralisation, some are enriched in the so called critical metals. However, the processes responsible for these enhanced metal concentrations are poorly understood and limit the development of optimum exploration strategies. Research will focus on the porphyry copper deposits of the Stratoni region of northern Greece and Muratdere area of Turkey, where Miocene porphyry systems host Cu and Au mineralisation. To test the hypothesis that the enhanced levels of critical metals in the porphyry system result from the interaction between the porphyry magmas and pre-existing mafic and ultramafic rocks, rather than from mantle-derived melts.

Contacts for further information

Dr Jon Naden
BGS University Funding Initiative
British Geological Survey
NG12 5GG
E-mail: BUFI
Telephone: 0115 936 3100
Fax: 0115 936 3200
Twitter: @DocBGS