Cartography, Cornwall and Coring: A Round of my Dissertation research with the BGS

Finishing my Placement

It has been almost a month since my dissertation research with the British Geological Survey finished and to say that the experience was worthwhile is an understatement. By the time I had finished my time up in Keyworth, I had managed to map all of the Estuary in which its tributaries feed into as well as the majority of their courses and surrounding hillslopes in the catchment. As I have mapped the different types of slope break along the channels, I have finished creating a time sequence from the late 1880’s to the pre-world war period, enabling us to understand how peaks in mining activity and within the G-Base geochemical data can relate to the extent in which how artificial ground has scarred the land in a contemporary manner. Early analysis has shown us that the major mining sites had, on the majority, closed down before 1888, leaving vast disused sites, cluttered with old shafts, partially mined areas, spoil heaps and other man-made mining sites with few exploratory shafts later documented. However, for maintenance and site management reasons, some sites such as Wheal Jane on the Carnon River have created built up tailing dams to restrict the amount of waste that enters the estuary. More analysis needs to be undertaken to refine and further my measurements though.

Fieldwork in the River Carnon

On the 1st September, I travelled down to Falmouth with my dad to collect my own data to analysis in the lab by taking a core sample.

My study site on a tidal flat on the Carnon River, entering Restronguet Creek.

My study site on a tidal flat on the Carnon River, entering Restronguet Creek.

The picture above is of the study area where my two core samples were taken, equalling over 2 metres in overall depth, equalling 5 cores. The work to get it out was incredibly hard though luckily the tide was receding so I wasn’t at risk of getting stranded! Extracting the core with the Russian Corer was also difficult though all the hard work paid off with seeing some amazing laminations within the 4th core Sample.

A picture of me covered in mud extracting the 2nd core

A picture of me covered in mud extracting the 2nd core

The Fourth core taken in Falmouth with a superb set of laminations, these began around 110cm down and there after began to show regular spacings between each.

The Fourth core taken in Falmouth with a superb set of laminations, these began around 110cm down and there after began to show regular spacings between each.

Currently, I am undertaking lab analysis through sub-sampling for measuring the trace metal amounts as well as sediment description and particle size. This should provide a detailed geochronology of the entire estuary, enabling us to match spikes in trace metals to mining activity, complex development and geographical changes within the catchment region.

Overall, it has been an excellent experience to be able undertake a working placement and gain experience in the sector as well as gain more valuable lab time, both have further helped me develop my geographical knowledge and skills.

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