Research themes

HWU staff in the field BGS marine operations staff in the workshop Tom Wagner in the forest

The Lyell Centre's research themes are clustered in two main areas: applied geoscience and ecosystems science. A programme of academic recruitment is ongoing to appoint dynamic and highly regarded research leaders in these two main research areas. There are several themes within each area that will help inform future appointments at all levels, including Lyell Research Fellows. This £8.5 m investment in top-level academics from around the world will provide a huge opportunity for earth and marine science in Scotland.

Research at The Lyell Centre will be directed by Grand Science Challenges, which will be adapted as the societal, economic and research landscape evolves and new challenges arise.

Grand Challenges

Carbon capture, transport and storage.

Four main Grand Challenges have been identified as part of the centre's first strategic phase:

  • climate, life and surface environments
  • water and life in subsurface environments
  • energy from the earth
  • risk, hazards and uncertainties

A wide range of integrated research areas are already covered by The Lyell Centre, including

What causes geomagnetic storms?

The centre aims to build and expand on these core strengths by complementing opportunities for research collaboration with other strategic national and international partners, in the areas of:

  • energy: including carbon capture and storage, shale gas, clean coal and unconventional gas, geothermal energy, underground gas storage
  • climate change: including carbon in soil, soil sustainability, coastal pollution and coastline change, palaeoclimate, environmental response
  • marine geoscience: including continental margins, marine geohazards, hydrocarbon prospectivity, ocean research drilling
  • land use/development: including shallow geohazards, geophysical processes, urban geosciences (subsurface interactions with development/land use)
  • water: including water resources, quality and protection, ecology and biodiversity, catchment processes, flooding
  • minerals and waste: including resource availability, abandoned mines and contaminated land, radioactive waste
  • geoscience technologies: including Earth and planetary observation and mapping, tomography, mathematical modelling, digital modelling and visualisation systems
  • earth hazards: including earthquakes and volcanoes
  • geomagnetism: measuring, recording, and interpreting variations in the Earth's natural magnetic fields
  • informatics: including sensor development and deployment, data innovation, big data, telemetry


2021 publications

2020 publications

2019 publications

2018 publications

2017 publications

2016 publications