Monday 21 November 2016

BGS Annual Science Review

I am pleased to present the BGS Annual Science Review for 2015/16.

In the review we have chosen to focus on the BGS working with nations; the devolved administrations of the UK and nations globally.  Our strategy is focused on state of-the-art geological modelling and technology for monitoring the subsurface with our aim for people to feel confident that we know what is below their feet and how this will be managed and may change during their lifetimes.

We have activities in all parts of the UK and worked in 79 countries globally. Environmental monitoring and modelling were a strong focus in all of our UK activities this year: working on baseline monitoring for potential future shale gas extraction in northern England; monitoring heat from abandoned mine waters in South Wales and Glasgow, and subsidence monitoring of abandoned mines in Northern Ireland with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI).

On the energy front, we worked as part of a national effort on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Wales and looked at the sub-Irish sea floor CO2 storage potential. We are also part of the UK CCS group in Edinburgh, and are still helping out South Africa in CCS and shale gas development.

Infrastructure and data to support infrastructure development remain key parts of the BGS and we released software packages that allow better definition of borehole data and visualisation of geological cross-sections via ‘Groundhog’. In response to a recommendation by a Parliamentary report on unconventional gas, we released a database on the regional stress field that will be of use in subsurface activities including ‘fracking’, geothermal and energy storage.

Our public-good-facing activities are underpinned by state-of-the-art applied research, and our outputs in publications have almost doubled in five years with a marked shift towards high-impact outputs in highly rated science journals; in 2015-16 we wrote ~300 papers of which ~30% were in Impact Factor 5 or above publications. 

We moved our science base in Scotland to a new home, the Lyell Centre, at Heriot-Watt University (HWU), Edinburgh. Our staff are in a fully open and modern building shared with HWU and we also moved our marine operations onsite.

The Lyell Centre, BGS's new home in Scotland

This significantly strengthens our visibility and presence in Scotland. In 2017, we will move into the Cardiff University campus and hope to achieve the same for GSNI with Queen’s University of Belfast, thus creating strong academic links in all parts of the UK.

Looking forward to 2016/17 we are starting with a balanced budget, significant capital infrastructure investment in the energy sector and a growing overseas development programme as part of the new Research Councils UK Global Challenges programme.

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