My Placement at the BGS


I have just completed my first week of two with the British Geological Survey and it has been an interesting yet completely new experience for me. I had never worked in an office environment, working 9-5 on a daily basis so on my first day, I was a bit apprehensive and nervous to say the least! However, my worries soon dissipated once I settled down into the routine and understood the Job at hand. Once I readjusted to using ArcGIS again, I got given a souvenir Pen by my supervisor Jon which I had to put on here because it had a colouring pen and touch screen rubber on the end, it has certainly been a highlight of the week (sorry about the bad joke!).

During my first week, my main task has been to outline the convex and concave breaks in the slopes and landscape across the Fal estuary on ArcGIS, manipulating a series of data platforms to help mark and underline these changes in morphology. The main data source used is the Tellus Lidar data provided and produced by the BGS in 2013. This data has an incredibly high resolution, so much so that it can pick out details to an 1cm. This can help interpret subtleties seen along slopes to mark out the convex and concave curves, without having to entirely rely on the contours provided from previous mapping techniques. Other layers at my disposal  include high resolution aerial photographs which help understand current land use and landscape features which may seem uncertain within the lidar data. The picture below gives an indication of what I have done this week. 20150807_161340

Another area of the observation analysis includes seeking out areas of past and present mining activity across the landscape. This is to help understand how anthropogenic features have ‘evolved’ over the period of the industrial revolution. As modern features are noticeable within aerial and Lidar data, historical maps from 1888, 1908 and 1938 are available to lay above the Cornish Landscape to create a surprisingly clear image of historical extraction within the catchment.

Ultimately, the combination of morphological and distribution of mining activity will help understand how mining has implemented the river catchment as well as how wastage and trace metals are effectively ‘dumped’ within an estuary. Taking this further, the work in my next week will not only expand and refine my mapping skills, but I will also create a time-series to observe how mining activity has changed in an effective, analytical  manner. This data, as well as information from historical maps, will help once I begin to interpret the sediment core from within the estuary in September. The result will hopefully be the opportunity to chronologically match concentrations of trace metals with that of the related mining activity.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed the first week of my placement,not only as a research technique for  my dissertation but also as putting the geographical skills I have gained throughout my two years at university and apply them. Hopefully in my last blog post, I will be able to summarize my time at the BGS a bit more as well as progress with my core analysis.


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