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Centre for Applied Geoscience

Organisational unit: Research Centre

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Organisation profile

The Centre for Applied Geoscience (CAG) brings together applied geoscience research and consultancy activities carried out across four departments. We specialise in the investigation and management of natural and man-made hazards and the conservation of our geo-heritage. Our aim is to carry out research that has a direct impact upon communities, helping them to adapt to environmental change, and improve the resilience and sustainability of homes, jobs and cultures.

Members of the team have internationally recognised expertise in the fields of Engineering Geology & Geomorphology, Geotechnical Engineering, Remote Sensing, Disaster Management and Geographical Analyses. Our work is supported by the Royal Thai Government, Government of Greece, Federal Government of Nigeria, Ministry of Defence (MoD), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Leverhulme Trust, National Environment Research Council (NERC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Ordnance Survey. We also carry out commissioned research on behalf of industrial partners.

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Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunami 

Leaders: Dr Derek Rust, Dr Carmen Solana

Research in this group is focused on four areas:

Palaeoseismology and Neotectonics of Seismically Active Regions

Working with partners in Turkey, Crete and Kyrgyzstan, we are using remote sensing, geophysics and field investigation to identify indicators of ancient and modern earthquakes.

Mechanisms, Causes and Premonitory Signals of Volcano Failure

With the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology we are investigating the mechanisms, tectonic and geotechnical controls on Mt Etna and other volcanoes. For example our NERC funded research on El Hierro investigated the curious large-scale ground movement that accompanied the 2011/12 eruption.

Volcanic Activity and Lava flows Modelling

Understanding effusive activity and lava movement is crucial to the effective management of hazards on many volcanoes. We use a range of analogue modelling, remote sensing and field investigation techniques to examine the origin, evolution and associated hazards at Mt Vesuvius, Mt Etna and Tenerife.

Identification of Tsunamigenic Slope Instability

Several slopes on the island of Dominica, Lesser Antilles and the Canaries show signs that, if they become move suddenly they could create tsunami waves. We are using remote sensing and high resolution geological modelling to identify possible zones of instability both on land and offshore.

Environmental Monitoring and Modelling

Leader: Dr Malcolm Whitworth

Our work is supported by NERC, NATO, the Leverhulme Trust, the Environment Agency, English Nature, National Trust, Dustscan Ltd and Grundon Waste Management.

Landscape evolution and disasters

Using mountainous and coastal landscapes in Asia, Europe and Africa we are examining how different tectonic and denudation processes combine to produce terrains with different hazard potentials. Our work involves combining high resolution optical and radar remote sensing with field exploration, before and after disaster events.

Landslide Enhanced Models of Engineering Geology

The Hampshire Basin provides us with a great opportunity to investigate how features visible at the surface (landslides) can be used to predict geotechnical properties buried underneath. Understanding landslide occurrence, morphology, and stability characteristics can be used to improve geotechnical models where there may be limited physical data.

GIS for monitoring, Modelling and Managing Flooding and Coastal Change

Understanding how different coastal terrains will react to environmental change, predicting how they will evolve in the future and providing this information to management authorities is being researched using remote sensing, GIS.

Monitoring and Modelling Hazardous Dusts

Working with DustScan Ltd, Grundon Waste Management and Leeds University, we are examining several aspects of contamination including metal partitioning in rocks and soils; bio-accessibility of micronutrients and toxic metals; metal chemistry; and source attribution of nuisance dust.

Geoconservation and Heritage Science

Leader: Dr Rob Inkpen

Research in this group is focused on three areas:

Conservation of Cultural Heritage

We are examining how different types of rock decay can be linked to factors such as industrial pollution, weather patterns and climate change. We are using a number of techniques including LiDAR and VIS/NIR spectroscopy to understand and quantify the fundamental decay processes and controls associated with heritage materials. We are modelling and predicting the usefulness of different conservation treatments under changing environmental conditions.

Geoconservation of Rocky Coasts

Using the coast of Malta as our laboratory, we are measuring the nature and rates of erosion on rocky coasts and modelling them in context of different environmental parameters. This will enable a better understanding of the temporal and spatial variability of erosion risks to rocky coasts.

Biodiversity in Disturbed Landscapes

Using a range of field and remote techniques we are investigating the connection between geomorphological units and the ecological niches they create and maintain. Working at the Black Ven landslide complex in West Dorset, and concentrating upon plant species, we hope to answer some key questions regarding the timescale, controls and reversibility of ecological complexity and succession.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Leader: Dr Richard Teeuw

Our work, in partnership with the British Geological Survey and Transport Research Laboratory is arranged in three areas:

Economic and Social Impacts

Globally and locally, we are increasingly aware of the true costs of natural hazards. A little researched aspect is the cost in financial terms and their effects upon business and planning decisions. Our multidisciplinary programme examines how natural hazards impact on economic and social environments. 

Geo-environmental Security

Our research in this field seeks to develop cost-effective but robust vulnerability assessment procedures for those states that lack the funding or technological infrastructure to use what can be expensive and inaccessible proprietary data and software.

Low Cost Tools for Disaster Risk Reduction

CAGs Derek Rust is responsible for the delivery of the University of Portsmouth’s package within the NATO funded ‘Science for Peace’ programme; investigating the risks to people and property in a seismically active region of Kyrgyzstan.

Contact information

Burnaby Road
Burnaby Building
United Kingdom
  • Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 2257

ID: 8529