SEGH Articles

SEGH 2014

06 February 2014
Dr Jane Entwistle is Head of Department of Geography at Northumbria University and is organising the 2014 SEGH conference. Here she gives some insight into the host organisation and city.

The Department of Geography at Northumbria University are delighted to host the 2014 SEGH conference. The conference oral and poster sessions will run over 3 days (1st – 3rd July), with a pre-conference workshop (30th June) led by Dr Mark Cave and Dr Joanna Wragg of the British Geological Survey, and a post-conference excursion (4th July) taking in some of the sights the North East of England has to offer, including a stop on Hadrian’s Wall. For specific details of the conference programme, keynote and invited speakers please go to

Northumbria University, in Newcastle upon Tyne, is renowned for the excellence of its teaching, as well as its research. Based in the popular, safe and vibrant city of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumbria offers you one of the best academic and social experiences possible. Newcastle is known for its lively nightlife and friendly inhabitants, and is home to the world famous Newcastle United premier league football club and its 'Toon Army' (St James's Park stadium is situated in the city centre, only a 10 minute stroll from the campus). Newcastle also has its own Chinatown, several art galleries and museums, and Antony Gormley's Angel of the North stands on a low hill next to the main A1 southern road approach to Newcastle. The city is steeped in history having originated as a Roman settlement on the banks of the River Tyne over 2000 years ago. Newcastle is also the gateway to the spectacular Northumberland Coast with its sandy beaches and stunning coastal castles.

The University itself was formed in 1969 from the amalgamation of three regional colleges and today is the largest university in the North East of England with a student population of around 33,000 from over 125 countries. The Department of Geography sits within one of four faculties, the Faculty of Engineering and Environment. Research in the Department focuses around three research groups, with strong synergies between these groups:

Cold and Palaeo Environments. Members of the group work in polar and high mountain environments addressing key problems in Earth Systems Science. Current research includes: glacier mass balance, ice/water/sediment interaction and ice sheet dynamics; slope and coastal cliff processes and large landslide deposits; palaeo-biogeography and palaeo-biome reconstruction for modelling past climates; fluvial processes in large Arctic river systems; environmental microbiology; and subglacial lakes, as part of the Lake Ellsworth Consortium.

Communities and Resilience. Members of the group work in diverse topics from the localism of community engagement and social inclusion to the internationalism of world city economics and disaster risk reduction across Africa and Asia. The group also hosts the Disasters and Development Network (DDN), which aims to develop through research, teaching and learning, the knowledge and skills to address hazards, disasters and complex emergencies from the perspective of different development debates and experience.

Environmental Geochemistry and Ecology. Research in this area is focused upon the sustainability of the physical, chemical and biological environment. There is a strong focus on the application of these fields to problems from the local to global scale. This approach is supported by the Northumbrian Environmental Training and Research Centre (NETREC), a dedicated research, consultancy and training unit that has been running since 1996. NETREC operates the North of England Air Quality in Major Incidents Service on behalf of the UK Environment Agency. Current research includes: environmental analysis to detect and model bioavailability and bioaccessibility of metals and other pollutants in the environment and the associated risks to human health; ecological resilience and climatic impacts on biodiversity; carbon capture and ecosystem services.

Recently refurbished laboratories provide facilities for environmental geochemistry and microbiology, in addition to a dedicated laboratory (including core storage, HF fume cupboard, micro-balance and microscope rooms) for palaeo-environmental research. Available instrumentation includes Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry; High Performance Liquid Chromatography; Gas Chromatography and Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry; Scanning Electron Microscope with energy dispersive spectrometry; and a Flash 2000 organic elemental analyser. Over £0.5 million has been invested in field equipment including: terrestrial laser scanner with ~2km range; sub-bottom profiler for lakes and offshore surveys; portable XRF system; global positioning systems for precise point positioning; state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles with high-resolution cameras for DEM generation and change detection; novel bespoke borehole radar equipment; ground-penetrating radar; seismic equipment; meteorological and air-monitoring equipment; and lake coring equipment.

We look forward to welcoming you to Newcastle and to Northumbria University and of course we will be happy to arrange a tour of the facilities during the conference.

Dr Jane Entwisle

Organiser of SEGH 2014

Keep up to date

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Fate and partitioning of heavy metals in soils from landfill sites in Cape Town, South Africa: a health risk approach to data interpretation 2019-06-14


    The fate and persistence of trace metals in soils and sludge from landfill sites are crucial in determining the hazard posed by landfill, techniques for their restoration and potential reuse purposes of landfill sites after closure and restoration. A modified European Community Bureau of Reference’s (BCR) sequential extraction procedure was applied for partitioning and evaluating the mobility and persistence of trace metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Zn) in soils from three landfill sites and sludge sample from Cape Town, South Africa. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy was used to analyze BCR extracts. The mobility sequence based on the BCR mobile fraction showed that Cu (74–87%), Pb (65–80%), Zn (59–82%) and Cd (55–66%) constituted the mobile metals in the soils from the three sites. The mobility of Cu, Zn and Ni (> 95%) was particularly high in the sludge sample, which showed significant enrichment compared to the soil samples. Geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and risk assessment code were used to further assess the environmental risk of the metals in the soils. Exposure to the soils and sludge did not pose any non-cancer risks to adult and children as the hazard quotient and hazard index values were all below the safe level of 1. The cancer risks from Cd, Cr and Ni require that remedial action be considered during closure and restoration of the landfill sites.

  • An investigation into the use of < 38 µm fraction as a proxy for < 10 µm road dust particles 2019-06-13


    It is well documented that a large portion of urban particulate matters is derived from road dust. Isolating particles of RD which are small enough to be inhaled, however, is a difficult process. In this study, it is shown for the first time that the < 38 µm fraction of road dust particles can be used as a proxy for road dust particles < 10 µm in bioaccessibility studies. This study probed similarities between the < 10 and < 38µm fractions of urban road dust to show that the larger of the two can be used for analysis for which larger sample masses are required, as is the case with in vitro analysis. Road dust, initially segregated to size < 38 µm using sieves, was again size segregated to < 10 µm using water deposition. Both the original < 38 µm and the separated < 10 µm fractions were then subject to single particle analysis by SEM–EDX and bulk analysis by ICP-OES for its elemental composition. Dissolution tests in artificial lysosomal fluid, representative of lung fluid, were carried out on both samples to determine % bioaccessibility of selected potentially harmful elements and thus probe similarities/differences in in vitro behaviour between the two fractions. The separation technique achieved 94.3% of particles < 10 µm in terms of number of particles (the original sample contained 90.4% as determined by SEM–EDX). Acid-soluble metal concentration results indicated differences between the samples. However, when manipulated to negate the input of Si, SEM–EDX data showed general similarities in metal concentrations. Dissolution testing results indicated similar behaviour between the two samples in a simulated biological fluid.

  • Degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil and effects on subsequent biodegradation by potassium permanganate 2019-06-13


    To date, the oxidation of petroleum hydrocarbons using permanganate has been investigated rarely. Only a few studies on the remediation of unsaturated soil using permanganate can be found in the literature. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study conducted using permanganate pretreatment to degrade petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil in combination with subsequent bioaugmentation. The pretreatment of diesel-contaminated unsaturated soil with 0.5-pore-volume (5%) potassium permanganate (PP) by solution pouring and foam spraying (with a surfactant) achieved the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) removal efficiencies of 37% and 72.1%, respectively. The PP foam, when coupled with bioaugmentation foam, further degraded the TPH to a final concentration of 438 mg/kg (92.1% total reduction). The experiment was conducted without soil mixing or disturbance. The relatively high TPH removal efficiency achieved by the PP–bioaugmentation serial foam application may be attributed to an increase in soil pH caused by the PP and effective infiltration of the remediation agent by foaming. The applied PP foam increased the pH of the acidic soil, thus enhancing microbial activity. The first-order biodegradation rate after PP oxidation was calculated to be 0.068 d−1. Furthermore, 94% of the group of relatively persistent hydrocarbons (C18–C22) was removed by PP–bioaugmentation, as verified by chromatogram peaks. Some physicochemical parameters related to contaminant removal efficiency were also evaluated. The results reveal that PP can degrade soil TPH and significantly enhance the biodegradation rate in unsaturated diesel-contaminated soil when combined with bioaugmentation foam.