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 www.northumbria.ac.uk/segh2014.

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

  • Geophagy among East African Chimpanzees: consumed soils provide protection from plant secondary compounds and bioavailable iron 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    Geophagy, the intentional consumption of earth materials, has been recorded in humans and other animals. It has been hypothesized that geophagy is an adaptive behavior, and that clay minerals commonly found in eaten soil can provide protection from toxins and/or supplement micronutrients. To test these hypotheses, we monitored chimpanzee geophagy using camera traps in four permanent sites at the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, from October 2015–October 2016. We also collected plants, and soil chimpanzees were observed eating. We analyzed 10 plant and 45 soil samples to characterize geophagic behavior and geophagic soil and determine (1) whether micronutrients are available from the soil under physiological conditions and if iron is bioavailable, (2) the concentration of phenolic compounds in plants, and (3) if consumed soils are able to adsorb these phenolics. Chimpanzees ate soil and drank clay-infused water containing 1:1 and 2:1 clay minerals and > 30% sand. Under physiological conditions, the soils released calcium, iron, and magnesium. In vitro Caco-2 experiments found that five times more iron was bioavailable from three of four soil samples found at the base of trees. Plant samples contained approximately 60 μg/mg gallic acid equivalent. Soil from one site contained 10 times more 2:1 clay minerals, which were better at removing phenolics present in their diet. We suggest that geophagy may provide bioavailable iron and protection from phenolics, which have increased in plants over the last 20 years. In summary, geophagy within the Sonso community is multifunctional and may be an important self-medicative behavior.

  • Accumulation of uranium and heavy metals in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium ore field, Guangdong Province, China 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    Plants that have grown for many years in the special environmental conditions prevailing in mining areas are naturally screened and show strong capacity to adapt to their environment. The present study investigated the enrichment characteristics of U and other heavy metals (As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni) in the soil–plant system in Xiazhuang uranium mine. Four dominant plants (Castanopsis carlesii, Rhus chinensis, Liriodendron chinense, and Sapium discolor) and soil samples were collected from the mined areas, unmined areas, and background areas away from the ore field. U, As, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cd, Co, and Ni concentrations were analyzed by ICP-MS. The results demonstrate that (1) The highest concentrations of U (4.1–206.9 mg/kg) and Pb (43.3–126.0 mg/kg) with the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) greater than 1 show that they are the main soil pollutants in the research area. (2) The biological accumulation coefficient (LBAC) values for Cd, Mn, and Cu are greater than zero in S. discolor, L. chinense, and C. carlesii and these three plants indicate that they can be used for remediation of the soil in the ore field. (3) R. chinensis inhibits the accumulation of heavy metals and shows sensitive pigment responses to the accumulation of U in the leaves. L. chinense has the strongest enrichment effect on heavy metals but exhibits weak biochemical responses under U stress. C. carlesii demonstrates strong adaptation to U and can maintain healthy pigment characteristics in case of high U enrichment. (4) S. discolor, L. chinense, C. carlesii and R. chinensis have strong tolerance to U toxicity and different biochemical responses.

  • Distribution, sources and health risk assessment of contaminations in water of urban park: A case study in Northeast China 2019-12-01

    Abstract

    This case study was performed to determine whether the pollutants in water of urban park could bring health risk to human engaging in water-related activities such as swimming and provide evidence demonstrating the critical need for strengthened recreational water resources management of urban park. TN, NH4+-N, TP, Cu, Mn, Zn, Se, Pb, As, Cd and Cr(VI) contents were determined to describe the spatial distribution of contaminations; sources apportionment with the method of correlation analysis, factor analysis and cluster analysis were followed by health risk assessment for swimmers of different age groups. The results reveal that element contents in all sites do not exceed Chinese standard for swimming area and European Commission standard for surface water; all detected elements except Cr(VI) have a tendency to accumulate in the location of lake crossing bridge; Mn and Zn are considered to have the same pollution source including geogenic and anthropogenic sources by multivariable analysis. Carcinogenic risks of different age groups descend in the same order with non-carcinogenic risks. Among all elements, Zn and Mn contribute the lowest non-carcinogenic risk (5.1940E-06) and the highest non-carcinogenic risk (7.9921E-04) through skin contact pathway, respectively. The total average personal risk for swimmers in swimming area is 1.9693E-03, and this site is not suitable for swimming. Overall, it is possible that swimmers are exposed to risk via the dermal route when carrying out water-related activities, it is recommended that necessary precautions and management should be taken in other similar locations around the world.