Research clusters for BGS Scotland

Earth hazards and observatories

Montage of hazard-related pictures

The Earth hazards and observatories science teams based in Edinburgh cover earthquake seismology, geomagnetism and volcanology. They focus on observations and research into the dynamic processes in the Earth's core, mantle and crust, and the space environment surrounding our planet. Understanding how these processes create and control hazards to life, infrastructure, economies and the environment enables better forecasts to be made of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and space weather events. By working across disciplines and with decision makers, scientific knowledge is translated into information and risk analyses to assist in the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies to minimise harm.

We work with the Met Office and other agencies in the UK Natural Hazards Partnership, through which we advise the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat on geohazards to inform the National Risk Assessment.


Montage of energy-related pictures

The BGS supports science that seeks to understand and maximise the recovery of dwindling fossil fuel reserves, as well as helping the development of renewable energy such as geothermal power.

Further fossil fuel development could be mitigated by carbon capture and storage (CCS). The BGS is a world leader in CCS science and geophysical research into the structure of underground reservoirs, as well as a centre for research into unconventional hydrocarbons (shale gas and oil) and coal resource development.

Conventional hydrocarbons remain core to the energy balance of the UK. The BGS works closely with BEIS and the oil industry, stimulating more exploration and a better understanding of the potential on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Following the Sir Ian Wood review, the BGS recently led a collaborative industry-Government project focusing on Palaeozoic petroleum systems.

Among our activities is the Edinburgh Anisotropy Project (EAP), a world leader in the geophysical characterisation of fractures within underground rock reservoirs that influence the movement of oil, water, gas or CO2.

Geology and regional geophysics

Montage of geology-related pictures

The BGS provides high-quality geoscience solutions in 2D and 3D for Scotland's many environmental and social challenges. Collaborating widely, our Edinburgh-based team ensures that our science contributes to the needs of the private sector, local and central government, non-governmental organisations, academia and the wider community. For example, through the ASK Network, we work with the public and private sectors to advance knowledge of the urban subsurface and improve the management of subsurface data to help deliver successful construction and regeneration projects. We have also provided the Scottish Government with a review on the deep geothermal energy potential in Scotland and promote the use of minewaters for renewable heat recovery and storage in Central Scotland.

The BGS is renewing its focus on Carboniferous rocks, with integrated 3D modelling of the Central Belt of Scotland, both onshore and offshore, where new sources of energy are being sought.

We are assisting the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust in restoring opencast coal sites across Scotland, including using several sites for training the next generation of conventional and renewable energy specialists.

Our geologists are collaborating with academic and public sector partners to study some spectacular, newly discovered fossils that will fill in a gap in our understanding of the evolution of terrestrial life during the Carboniferous.


Montage of groundwater-related pictures

The BGS groundwater team addresses issues related to the sustainability of groundwater resources and quality, the impacts of environmental change on the water cycle, natural hazards and human health. The focus of the BGS is on ensuring innovation and outcomes that support the effective management and protection of groundwater in the UK, Europe and the developing world.

The Edinburgh researchers focus on research and collaborations within Scotland, and also lead much of the groundwater work of the BGS in developing countries. Current projects include groundwater resilience mapping in south Asia and developing an Africa Groundwater Atlas.

Marine geoscience

Montage of marine-related pictures

Based in Edinburgh, the BGS marine team, made up of geoscientists, operations experts and skilled engineers, have been undertaking an integrated programme of research since 1966. Today their work takes them from the lochs and shores of the UK to the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

The study of marine environments, both locally and globally, enables us to better understand many of the big challenges facing our planet today, including climate change, coastal erosion and renewable energy. This research allows us to maximise development of our marine resources including oil and gas, marine aggregates, aquaculture and fishing. It also helps to conserve our rich biodiversity and marine archaeological inheritance. The team works closely with many UK marine government and research groups, and the offshore renewables industry, in marine resources, habitats and geohazards.

The BGS is a leader in developing remotely operated drilling technology and is the lead organisation in European operations for IODP. We have successfully managed major international drilling projects on the Lomonosov Ridge near the North Pole, on the fringing reefs around Tahiti, the New Jersey margin off the US coast and the Australian Great Barrier Reef. The most recent expeditions were to the Baltic Sea, which ended its offshore phase in November 2013, and to the Atlantic Ocean in late 2015.

SIGMA fieldwork