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Soil geochemical baselines in UK urban centres : The G-BASE Project

By Deirdre M.A. Flight and Andreas J. Scheib

Abstract

The British Geological Survey’s Geochemical Baseline\ud Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) project is\ud responsible for providing National Capability in\ud baseline geochemical mapping in the United Kingdom.\ud G-BASE is a long-established systematic geochemical\ud mapping project that is indirectly funded by the British\ud Government through the UK Natural Environment\ud Research Council (NERC). When sampling commenced\ud in the late 1960s, the work was stimulated by\ud mineral exploration and the need to assist geological\ud mapping. The current high-resolution survey is very\ud relevant to contemporary environmental science, and\ud much of the current demand for baseline geochemical\ud information relating to the surface environment is legislatively\ud driven (Johnson et al., 2005).\ud The early years of the G-BASE project were based\ud entirely on rural drainage sampling, utilizing methodologies\ud described in the regional geochemical atlas\ud publications (e.g. BGS, 1993). Results were presented\ud in map form in a series of hard-copy regional geochemical\ud atlases, and little consideration was given to\ud the urban environment. G-BASE methodologies have\ud evolved considerably, since the mid 1970s, to meet the\ud need for improved environmental information. The key\ud aspects of progression include: use of a wider range\ud of sample media, especially soils and stream waters;\ud inclusion of, and focus on, baseline geochemistry in\ud urban areas; continuous improvement in the range and\ud quality of analytes reported; utilization of digital data\ud processing and mapping methodologies and adoption of\ud diverse publication media.\ud Currently, approximately 88% of the British land area\ud has been sampled by G-BASE. Sampling is carried out in\ud the summermonths (June–September) by Earth and Environmental\ud Sciences students during their vacation.\ud Continuous progress has been made, sampling between\ud 2000 and 5000 sites each summer, but resources for the\ud project have varied according to the BGS’s commitments\ud to other projects. To date, over 105 000 stream sediments,\ud 50 000 soils and 90 000 stream waters have been collected.\ud A programme of baseline geochemistry in urban centres\ud was adopted by G-BASE in 1992, when\ud Wolverhampton became the first UK urban centre to be\ud sampled (Bridge et al., 1997). At this time, it was\ud acknowledged that, as the regional geochemical sampling\ud campaign passed through * the country, urban centres should be routinely included. By 2010, a baseline geochemical\ud survey had been completed in 26 urban centres\ud (Figure 13.1), including Belfast and Londonderry in\ud Northern Ireland (Nice, 2008), using standardized GBASE\ud methodologies. The largest urban geochemical\ud mapping exercise to be undertaken so far has been that\ud in Greater London, known as the ‘London Earth’ project,\ud where sampling was completed in 2010 (Knights and\ud Scheib, 2010) and geochemical maps due for publication\ud in 2011

Topics: Ecology and Environment, Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Health
Publisher: John Wiley &Sons
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:14028

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