British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey is a world leading geological survey and is the UK’s preeminent centre for public-good geoscientific data and expertise. Founded in 1835, it is the oldest national geological survey in the world.
As a public sector organisation, BGS is responsible for advising the UK government on all aspects of geoscience including the legislative framework for CO2 storage. It also provides impartial advice to industry, academia and the public.
The BGS undertakes is a world-leading centre for surveying and monitoring, modelling and research and data and knowledge. It runs an extensive program of overseas research; its CO2 storage team has been working in the field of CCS since the mid-1990s. The BGS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences.
The BGS was awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze status recognising excellence in women’s employment in science, technology, engineering, math's and medicine (STEMM) divisions. BGS was the first NERC centre to participate.
The NERC Open Research Archive (NORA) is the Institutional Repository for research publications and research outcomes of the British Geological Survey staff, along with publications from the other three NERC Research Centres. To read publications from BGS staff you can access NORA here
There are five science disciplines within the British Geological Survey who's research interests align with GERC.
Energy Systems and Basin Analysis
Science Director: Dr David Schofield
The Energy discipline focuses its research on the imminent problem of our future energy security; how to maximise the recovery of dwindling fossil fuel reserves such as underground coal gasification and coal bed methane alongside the ongoing development of renewable energy such as geothermal.
Siting within the Energy discipline is the CO2 storage team. BGS is recognised as a European Centre of Excellence for the study of carbon dioxide (CO2) storage investigating characterising underground storage reservoirs, determining chemical interactions of injected CO2 with storage rocks, technologies to monitor storage sites and the assessment of long-term site performance.
BGS is also a world leader in advanced seismic techniques to aid understanding of characterisation of deep underground reservoirs and their fluid flow.
The team conducts research into underground natural gas storage for future maintenance of gas supply during peak demand or as stand-by cover as well as shale gas prospectively and in 2014 BGS aided DECC to complete shale resource estimates for several areas of the United Kingdom.
Science Director: Mr Andrew Bloodworth
The Minerals and Waste discipline has a multidisciplinary research portfolio encompassing security of supply and minerals resource management.
The Fluid Process Laboratory houses state-of-the-art equipment for understating complex biological, chemical and physical processes. Laboratory investigations are supported by field scale tests. The laboratory strongly supports research in carbon capture and storage (CCS) examining system controls such as fluid chemistry, pressure, temperature and the presence of faults.
The team studies the problems surrounding the future safe geological disposal of radioactive waste conducting multidisciplinary research on a range of topics, such as movement of fluids through mudrock and predicting groundwater flow paths.
Close connections with the mineral industry enables the directorate to compile statistics of mineral production, ore deposits and commodities both nationally and internationally. Additional close examination of minerals resources and policy allows for the future security of supply and sustainable development for use in power generation, transport and so on.
The team specialises in the provision of expert advice on building stones, quarries and building conservation
Science Director: Dr Rob Ward
The groundwater discipline provides national capability in hydroscience centered on sustainability of groundwater resources, consequential effects of environmental change, groundwater as a natural hazard, the relationships between groundwater and human health plus boasts a strong groundwater modelling team. The discipline also has an international programme of groundwater research.
To ensure the sustainability of groundwater, BGS conducts regional basin studies investigating all facets of their water resources including groundwater flow, recharge and discharge. The team has a track record in groundwater quality research regarding natural baseline chemistry especially nitrate pollution and other sources of diffuse pollution. Point source pollution and organic contaminates are also explored. The directorate is the UK’s leading expert on environmental tracers and groundwater dating.
Groundwater is susceptible to the impacts of environmental change such as climate change and shale gas exploration. Research into the consequences of change on supplies includes reconstruction of historic groundwater levels, modelling impacts of future climate change and the creation of a national groundwater methane baseline prior to any shale gas activity. This will be used as a natural benchmark by which potential impacts can be measured. Ecology and biodiversity present in groundwater are also sensitive to change with stygobites a current area of study for the team.
BGS has a strong reputation for its work on groundwater as a natural hazard i.e. flooding aiding understanding of flooding mechanisms, modelling flooding and mapping susceptible areas. The human health consequences of flooding and groundwater are examined both nationally and internationally.
Geoanalytics and Modelling
Science Director: Dr Katherine Royse
The Geoanalytics and Modelling discipline (GMD) has the challenge of explaining, exploring and forecasting how the earth will respond to natural and human induced environmental change. The need to understand and accurately map the variability of the subsurface is important as our demand for energy, waste disposal, amenities and space increases. The team do so by applying multidisciplinary knowledge to a range of different models and software.
The GMD is a world leader in application and development of geoscience visualisation, allowing users from non-geological backgrounds to understand complex geological datasets. Using parameterisation of 3D geological models and geostatistics the subsurface can be expressed numerically and analysed statistically to understand its variability.
The team develops many numerical process modelling techniques including groundwater, debris flow, multiphase flow and coupled process modelling.
A challenging area of work the GMD are addressing is the process of model and data integration. Integrated environmental modelling links components, such as process models, by developing methods to link them. Careful quantification and analysis of uncertainty is required for this type of modelling. The GMD is tasked with developing and testing methodologies to quantify uncertainty in linked model systems.
Science Director: Dr Helen Reeves
The engineering geology team have an integrated programme of work mapping and monitoring the physical properties of the subsurface. The Geophysical Tomography team specialise in non-invasive geoelectrical imaging of the shallow subsurface with their ALERT technology (4D electrical imaging system). ALERT applications aligning with GERC include waste management and changes in fluid flow.
Geotechnical and geophysical properties and processes characterise the lithology and engineering properties of UK rock and soil formations as well as developing a UK physical subsurface model. Such applications help to assess local and regional scale ground conditions.
The team examines shallow hazards across various scales investigating how best to reduce risk to society in addition to creating 3D models of the processes contributing to urban geoscience, specifically the ground conditions affecting existing and future city developments.