What lies beneath: geologists converge on Leicester for Near Surface meeting

Posted by mjs76 at Sep 08, 2011 06:05 PM |
Prestigious European conference comes to the UK for the first time.
What lies beneath: geologists converge on Leicester for Near Surface meeting

The sort of tie that well-dressed geologists are wearing this year (image: Zazzle.co.uk)

Next week our Department of Geology plays host to Near Surface 2011, which is more formally known as the 17th European Meeting of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics. Organised by the European Association of Geophysicists and Engineers (EAGE), this is the first time that the Near Surface conference has been held in the UK.

Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, EAGE is a global professional network of geophysicists and engineers with members in both business and academia. Members of the Association work in – or study – geophysics, petroleum exploration, geology, reservoir engineering, mining and civil engineering. There are two divisions within EAGE: the Near Surface Geoscience Division, which covers areas such as environment, hydrogeology, archaeology and anything else which is, well, near the surface; and the Oil and Gas Geoscience Division whose interests lie a little deeper.

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Professor John Underhill, University of Edinburgh

In previous years Near Surface has been held everywhere from Dublin to Istanbul and it is being hosted by a British university for the first time, which reflects the outstanding reputation of Leicester’s geologists. The conference (which is sponsored by UK-based geophysics company Fugro Aperio) takes place over three days, from Monday 12 September to Wednesday 14 September with a couple of workshops and an 'icebreaker' social on the Sunday.

The keynote speakers include:

  • Professor John Underhill, Chair of Stratigraphy at the University of Edinburgh’s Grant Institute of Earth Science, and Vice-President of EAGE
  • Professor Andrew Curtis, Total Professor of Mathematical Geoscience*, also from the University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Evert Slob from the Delft University of Technology
  • Professor Neil Chapman, Chairman of the ITC School of Underground Waste Storage and Disposal in Switzerland and Research Professor of Environmental Geology in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Engineering Materials
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PhD student Sam Cheyney is developing technologies which can create 3D models of buried archaeological material, providing far more information than standard geomagnetic surveys.

Leicester researchers presenting their work at Near Surface 2011 include Dr Ian Hill, Dr Stewart Fishwick, Kip Jeffrey and postgrad students Sam Cheyney and Aveen Hameed, who between them have papers on:

  • 3D Quantitative Interpretation of Archaeo-magnetic Datasets
  • Bedrock Detection and Mineral Thickness Assessment using 3D Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT)
  • Geophysical Quality Assessment of Sand and Gravel Deposits

In addition, seismologist Victoria Lane from SEIS-UK (a NERC-funded geophysical equipment facility hosted in our Department of Geology) is presenting a one-day workshop on Sunday about Passive Seismic Methods for Near Surface Applications, featuring talks and equipment demonstrations.

A walk in the park

On Monday afternoon you may see a conglomerate** of geologists milling about in Victoria Park.

This is because a number of geophysical instrument companies will be exhibiting at the conference, and a session on Monday is set aside for the exhibitors to demonstrate their latest technology to the delegates as they emerge blinking from their lecture theatres.

So if you’ve ever wanted to know what a vertical fluxgate gradiometer with 4-channel data logger looks like, here’s your chance.

* This probably reflects sponsorship by the petroleum company Total rather than just implying that he is, like, totally a Professor of Geoscience.

** This is apparently the approved collective noun.

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