Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hidden Hunger in Malawi...by Edward Joy

Edward in his panama hat out in Malawi
A few months back we shared a great post about the award winning PhD student (working at BGS and University of Nottingham) Edward Joy, whose project tackles the important issue of hidden hunger in Malawi. Now Edward tells us in his own words about his research and years of research in the field...

The last couple of years have been a steep learning curve for me: a faulty radiator can write off your engine; laptop battery life is everything; and you may need to hire guards to keep monkeys off your maize trials! These have been valuable lessons as I plan to continue similar research in Ethiopia starting in December. Overall, it has been a pleasure living in Malawi, a country endowed with some very beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly folk – it’s not uncommon on sampling trips to be invited into farmers’ houses for roast pumpkin and peanuts.

My project aim, using cross disciplinary science, is to improve the accuracy and spatial resolution of dietary mineral supply estimates in Malawi and to investigate the potential of agricultural solutions to mitigate dietary mineral deficiencies.  The Malawi Ministries of Agriculture and Health have been very supportive and hopefully the outputs will be useful to them, for example in developing fertiliser policies and targeting nutrition strategies.

So here's a look in more detail at the work I've been doing out in Malawi...

Hidden hunger

Humans require 22 mineral elements for their wellbeing including calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn). The biological functions of elements include bone structure (Ca and Mg) and, as constituents of proteins, immune response (Se and Zn) and oxygen transport (Fe and Zn). Adequate quantities of these elements in diets is thus necessary for food security; inadequate intakes, or poor absorption in the gut due to e.g. diarrhoea, can lead to ‘hidden hunger’. It’s termed ‘hidden’ because the physical effects are not obvious, unlike the symptoms of protein or energy undernourishment, and because it is often hard to quantify the prevalence of such malnourishment in populations.

Dried fish at a market in the capital city, Lilongwe
Malawi hasn’t witnessed widespread famine since 2005, although certain regions are prone to food shortages due to both drought and flooding. But it may be that hidden hunger is widespread and that deficiencies of certain minerals and vitamins are a major health burden. There is evidence to suggest this is the case, for example with Se deficiency (Gibson 2011; Eick 2009; Hurst 2013) and Zn deficiency (Gibson1998; Siyame 2013); but there is no data at the national level.

Element concentrations

Malawi is predominantly a subsistence economy in which households grow their own food. The dietary supply of elements is thus dependent on which crops households choose to grow and what those crops contain. Element concentrations in crops depend on the availability of elements in the soil: for example, in low-pH soils Se is predominantly found in forms unavailable for plant uptake, whereas in soils with pH >6.5 Se is generally soluble, mobile and readily available for plant uptake.  There are limited data on crop composition in Malawi so we worked to fill this gap, collecting over 600 crop samples representing 97 food items for multi-element analysis by ICP-MS (Joy et al. 2014). We found that soil type affects crop composition, with maize and leafy vegetables from calcareous soils having greater Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg and Se concentrations than those grown on non-calcareous soils. Maize also had greater Zn in samples from calcareous soils, whereas leafy vegetables had greater Zn from non-calcareous soils.

The household survey

Edward presenting the team’s work at Mzuzu University
in northern Malawi
To find out what crops households are growing and what foods they are eating, the Malawi Household Survey (World Bank and Malawi Government) has proved a valuable resource. In this survey, >12,500 households were asked what foods they consumed over the last seven days. We are working to match this data to our composition data to generate dietary mineral supply estimates by region and soil type. One of our early findings is the critical importance of small fish in meeting Ca, Se and Zn requirements. Most fish production is from Lake Malawi, a Rift Valley lake that runs much of the length of the country. It’s sometimes known as the Calendar Lake as it’s roughly 365 mile long and 52 miles wide. Fish are sundried before traders take them inland. Although fish is a vital source of minerals in the diet, households require some cash to purchase them. It will be very interesting to see the relationship between household income and consumption of fish.
 The FAO and World Bank have just published a book called ‘Analyzing Food Security Using Household Survey Data and at the recent Micronutrient Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I found that other research groups including IFPRI are doing similar work to us. It’s great to see the hard work now contributing to scientific knowledge as we write up, publish and present our findings.

Thanks for reading

Here are my references:

Eick F, Maleta K, Govasmark E, Duttaroy AK, Bjune AG (2009) Food intake of selenium and sulphur amino acids in tuberculosis patients and healthy adults in Malawi. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 13: 1313–1315

Gibson RS, Bailey KB, Ampong Romano AB, Thomson CD (2011) Plasma selenium concentrations in pregnant women in two countries with contrasting soil selenium levels. J Trace Elem Med Bio 25:230–235

Gibson RS, Huddle JM (1998) Suboptimal zinc status in pregnant Malawian women: its association with low intakes of poorly available zinc, frequent reproductive cycling, and malaria. Am J Clin Nutr 67:702–709

Hurst R, Siyame EWP, Young SD, Chilimba ADC, Joy EJM, Black CR, Ander EL, Watts MJ, Chilima B, Gondwe J, Kang’ombe D, Stein AJ, Fairweather-Tait SJ, Gibson RS, Kalimbira AA, Broadley MR (2013) Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi. Sci Rep 3: 1425. DOI: 10.1038/srep01425
Joy, EJM, Broadley, MR, Young, SD, Black CR, Chilimba, ADC, Ander, EL, Barlow, TS and Watts, MJ*. (2014). A spatially refined food composition table for Malawi, Science Total Environment, (accepted Sept. 2014)

Siyame EWP, Hurst R, Wawer AA, Young SD, Broadley MR, Chilimba ADC, Ander EL, Watts MJ, Chilima B, Gondwe J, Kang'ombe D, Kalimbira A, Fairweather-Tait SJ, Bailey KB, Gibson RS (2013) A high prevalence of zinc- but not iron-deficiency among women in rural Malawi: a cross-sectional study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 83: 176–187

Friday, 19 September 2014

One of our ecological footprints… By Sarah Bennett

Landfills provide a way of hiding away the rubbish we create – out of sight out of mind.  However, research now shows that chemicals leaching from these landfills are polluting our rivers.  The work led by BGS scientist, Daren Gooddy, found that approximately 27.5 tonnes of ammonium a year finds its way from unlined landfills on the outskirts of Oxford, through a flood plain and into the River Thames. Here Sarah Bennett, a Stable Isotope Research Geochemist at BGS and co-author of the research, explains more...
Once ammonium enters the rivers, it breaks down to nitrogen.  The extra nitrogen can trigger excessive plant growth and decay, damaging water quality and starving fish and other aquatic organisms of the oxygen they need to survive.  Scientists are most worried about so-called blue-green algal blooms, which can produce toxins capable of killing wild animals, livestock and domestic pets.  In people, they can cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach pains, headache and fever.
Sampling groundwater on a floodplain in the winter is not always
      straight forward and requires both innovation and improvisation    
The source of the ammonium was identified with isotopes, a chemical fingerprinting technique, and this enabled the team to attribute the ammonium to household waste.  This isn’t the first time isotopes have been used to identify human impacts on the planet.  Back in August, Jonathan Dean discussed how isotopes provide evidence of human activities 2000 years ago during mining and smelting and more recently during the industrial revolution.  His work suggests that we are in a new geological age, the Anthropocene: where humans impact and change the environment (read Jonathan's blog here).

Aerial view of Port Meadow, Oxford, during flooding
As a society we are concerned with our current and future activities on this planet, but we also need to deal with the ramifications of our past mistakes.  These landfills are one such example; we’ve learnt to line our landfills with thick clay to prevent chemical leaching, but we still need to deal with the unlined landfills that represent thousands of historic landfills across the UK.  We’ll be drawing up new management plans for floodplains on the margins of towns and cities as a result of this work. 

You can read more about this research in the journal Science of the Total Environment.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rob Ward - a Groundwater Guru... by Hazel Gibson

Hi, I’m Hazel Gibson, a PhD researcher from Plymouth University, who is interested in what people think about geology and how that affects how we as geoscientists communicate it. During July I was up at the British Geological Survey speaking to the scientists about their work, what makes them passionate about it and why they think it’s important to us. The following is a series of short 'people posts' about the real faces behind the BGS.

Dr Rob Ward with the amazing sand tank groundwater model.
Dr Rob Ward has one of the most challenging jobs in the BGS. As the Director of Groundwater Science, he oversees a huge research department examining all aspects of groundwater use in the UK and abroad and he also acts as a liaison between his research teams and a diverse range of other government bodies. He is, in many ways, the ‘face’ of groundwater research at the BGS and is very proud of the diverse team that he manages and the exciting work that they are doing. He started his career at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, studying Environmental Science and majoring in Aquatic and Atmospheric Science.

When he finished his degree, he decided to pursue a PhD and focused on the chalk aquifer,  one of the most important sources of drinking water in the UK and which maintains the flow in many of the rivers in southern England. He enjoyed his PhD so much that he wanted to stay working in the same field, so joined the BGS in, what was at the time called, the Fluid Processes Research Group.

He stayed at the BGS for 10 years, examining subjects as diverse as landfill gas migration and radioactive waste disposal, before being selected as the first of a new cohort of exchange workers, sent to the Environment Agency to improve communication and understanding between the different science organisations (a practice that continues today). Unfortunately for the BGS, he enjoyed the challenges of working for a new team, within a different organisation so much that he wanted to stay. “I enjoyed working there so much that I tried to make myself invaluable. If you do that then you’ll have a lot more options at the end of your secondment!” He was successful and ended up staying with the Environment Agency for 12 years commissioning or appointing research; translating its results into policy and operational guidance; and providing advice to government departments like DEFRA. He gradually started to move from research to policy, handling many of the new EU requirements for more robust planning and management of risks to groundwater. He also had the challenge of managing a large dispersed project team comprising people that he didn’t directly manage. The aim of this group was to develop and implement a new national monitoring strategy for UK groundwater.

Rob was faced with the question of 'how do you meet complex and difficult targets with people who don’t answer to you?' The answer he says is trust. “I had to build trust with the people who I needed to do this work whilst at the same time getting buy-in from their managers. It was great experience for me.”

About four years ago, Rob was given the opportunity to become the Head (now Director) of Groundwater Science, back in the BGS and he says he doesn’t think he could have got to this position  without broadening his experience outside the Survey. Now he is in charge of a department that is at the heart of many issues faced in the UK today, from natural groundwater chemistry to cutting edge 3Dgroundwater mapping, from resilience of our water supplies to climate change, to the legacy of our industrial past. These issues impact us all in many ways and our lack of awareness of this problem is part of a bigger issue that Rob and his whole department are trying to fix. “Here in the UK, we don’t recognise how important groundwater is – it’s hidden. Out of sight, out of mind.” In order to raise awareness of this precious resource, Rob is a strong advocate for public engagement and encourages his team to discuss their work with others. He even demonstrated a great new piece of kit that simulates groundwater flow in different environments – the Sand Tank Model. This model allows people to manipulate the groundwater movement through an aquifer and introduce coloured dyes to simulate groundwater contamination and flow through different types of ‘rock’ and at different depths to see how they interact. It’s a brilliant example of making the unseen, seen and understandable.

The Groundwater Science team also help produce the
Hydrological Outlook - this is for August 2014.
But for Rob, communicating his science doesn’t just mean sand tanks and school children. At the height of the Somerset floods (winter2013/14), Rob was called to Downing Street to represent the BGS, as a part of SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) to advise the Prime Minister and the government about the flooding crisis unfolding across the south of England. Rob’s position means that he has to be ready at any moment to speak with the national media, the government or a member of the public about the risks and opportunities provided by UK groundwater. It’s a difficult job, but with the support of his team, Dr Rob Ward is confident he can improve our understanding and awareness of groundwater in the UK, and I think so too.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Caroline Graham - a rock (star) physicist... by Hazel Gibson

Hi, I’m Hazel Gibson, a PhD researcher from Plymouth University, who is interested in what people think about geology and how that affects how we as geoscientists communicate it. During July I was up at the British Geological Survey speaking to the scientists about their work, what makes them passionate about it and why they think it’s important to us. The following is a series of short 'people posts' about the real faces behind the BGS.

Dr Caroline Graham is not your average geologist. For a start she spent most of her early career listening to rock music, but this isn’t the heavy metal kind, more the percussive sequence of low frequency sounds that a rock makes when it is forced to break under extreme pressure! In fact here at the British Geological Survey Caroline is described as the rock (star) physicist – kind of like the other one, but better because there are rocks. Caroline, you see, is a Geomechanics Specialist, someone who knows the way rocks break apart and why better than almost anyone else. Throughout her career she has been interested in lots of different aspects of how rocks break, from earthquakes to collapsing mine shafts. In fact if her career was album, it would probably be called ‘All about the fractures’.
Caroline was encouraged in her early career by her parents; her dad, who was an engineer, and her mum, who although mostly self taught, had a brilliant scientific curiosity, took Caroline fossil hunting and discussed archaeology, evolution and other scientific ideas with her. In fact Caroline originally wanted to study Archaeology at university, but realised how hard it would be to get an archaeology job without a special skill, so instead she decided to study Geophysics at Edinburgh University. It was during this course that her interest in how rocks fracture really blossomed. Her work eventually led her to study for a PhD examining what sounds rock make as they break apart. In fact whilst listening to the death rattles of granites, she discovered they actually make a specific sound just before they explode apart and by listening for this sound, you can tell in advance when the rock will break!

Caroline in a Salt Mine.
She still experiments with rocks breaking today, but now the rocks she works with are far more likely to be related to UK’s need for energy solutions, be they shale rocks for gas and oil resources or rocks that might one day house a radioactive waste repository. Caroline still really enjoys her work, but the experiments don’t always go the way she expects “It’s like working in a nursery of rocks!” she told me, “They do silly things the minute you turn your back, you have to always have your eye on them!” And it can be a lot of watching – some of the experiments that Caroline runs can last for several years! You also have to be pretty patient; one of Caroline’s proudest discoveries was an amendment to an equation. This might seem like a pretty small step to us, but is a huge achievement for a rock physicist.

Caroline has travelled all over the world with her work in Geomechanics. In March 2012, she went to China to represent the UK and the BGS to examine radioactive waste disposal solutions. She went to Montserrat to discover more about how rocks break during earthquakes under volcanoes and working for the BGS has visited most countries in Europe. “Sometimes” she says, “it feels like I am visiting a different country every week!” By working with scientists from all over the globe who are also interested in these problems, Caroline ensures that the BGS has the most up to date approaches in place to answer our important questions. One of the strangest places she has been, however, was BoulbySalt Mine in Britain. Well, at least she entered this mine in Britain, but by the time she had gone down 1.2km (0.75 miles or 364 stories - which is like going up the Shard in London five times) in an elevator and gotten in a car to drive 12km to the place she needed to look at the rock, she was miles out under the North Sea! The thing that made this such a strange place to be was the fact that the pressure is so high that the mine tunnels will collapse within a year of being tunnelled. Now the idea of being in a tunnel, miles under the rock (and under the sea), that is cracking apart, with bits falling off as it continuously collapses under the weight of the planet’s gravity is pretty terrifying, but for Caroline it was a brilliant experience – she was just excited to see giant rock mechanics experiments in action!

Caroline is also dedicated to talking about her science. She has made a number of videos for the BGS (see below and on YouTube), but finds the issues of language one of the biggest hurdles that we have to overcome as geologists – and she is not talking about jargon. “There is a big difference between prediction and forecasting” she says. And she has a point; the Met Office forecasts the weather all the time and we know that includes a degree of uncertainty. However geologists are often asked to predict things and that is much harder – a prediction suggest that you KNOW what is going to happen – but that is impossible. One thing though is for sure, we can forecast a bright future for this ground breaking Geomechanic. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

From Canada to Clough... by Lauren Noakes

Charles Clough worked at the BGS for a whopping 41 years, right up until his untimely death on this day in 1916. He’s a famous face around our BGS Edinburgh office, photos of him can be spotted along the corridors and his skill for detailed geological mapping is legendary. So it was a fantastic honour to have his great granddaughter Trena, and her family, travel over 3000 miles from Canada last week to visit the place he loved and work.

These photos show Trena, her husband Ken and their daughter Sage (Clough’s great great granddaughter) looking through some of Cloughs field maps and artefacts from his time at the BGS.
Pouring over a small part of the work Clough contributed to during his time at the BGS

Members of BGS and Edinburgh GeolSoc with Trena and her family

Sage holding the Clough medal - an annual award given by the Edinburgh Geological Society to promote the study of the geology of Scotland and north England

Their story has also made the news in Huddersfield (article in the Huddersfield Examiner)where he was born as Trena and family continued their journey visiting other areas where memorials have been erected in Clough’s memory. He really was a great man much respected for his keen scientific mind and geological eye. We're very proud he spent 41 years sharpening these skills at the BGS and helped build its reputation (then and now!) for being a world class leader in geological mapping.
Thanks so much to Trena and her family for visiting us, it was a privilege to share with you our Clough collection. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Counting success in the Baltic Sea ... by Carol Cotterill

It's time for bunting, streamers and excited faces all round as the operational phase of Expedition 347* comes to a successful close.  

Its mission: to discover if globally significant questions relating to climate forcing, climate systems and microbial responses could be unlocked from the deep sea sediments of the Baltic Sea Basin. As the mission enters the research phase we thought we'd ask BGS Expedition Project Manager Carol Cotterill to give us a glimpse into this monumental collaboration and super feat of engineering and science...

Nothing gives you a sense of scale like a list of ever increasing numbers, here's some I picked from the operations of 347 Expedition: 
6 drilled sub-basins
17 scientists from 10 countries sailed
24 hour operations with 2 shifts of 12 hours
51 days working offshore, 66 including mobilisation, de-mobilisation and transits
65 people aboard the Greatship Manisha including scientists, BGS, ESO staff, drillers and ships crew
206 feet of shipping containers! That's 13 boxes, 20ft each, converted into offices, core curation, petrophysical and clean geochemistry and microbiology labs
1,623m of core recovered totalling 91% overall recovery
9,300 offshore samples taken
373,000 km2 of areal extent of sediments feeding into the glacially eroded Baltic Sea Basin and investigated by IODP
But this is only half of it, the offshore half. Once recovered onto the ship the cores and samples were stored and then transported, back to the IODP Bremen core repository at MARUM, in temperature controlled units in preparation for the onshore phase.
This phase lasted 24 days, with 65 staff, including the full complement of 31 scientists from 12 countries, processing, recording and sampling the cores acquired offshore. In total over 38,500 samples were taken for post-cruise research encompassing disciplines including palynology, geochemistry, paleomagnetics, glacial deformation, deep biosphere communities, micropaleontology and physical properties of the sediments.
But why the Baltic and what were our aims? Summarised below are the four over-arching research themes (covered in more detail here):
1. Climate and sea level dynamics of marine isotope Stage (MIS) 5, including onsets and terminations;
2. Complexities of the last glacial, MIS 4–MIS 2;
3. Glacial and Holocene (MIS 2–MIS 1) climate forcing; and
4. Deep biosphere in Baltic Sea Basin (BSB) sediments.

The location of the BSB in the heartland of the recurrently waning and waxing Scandinavian Ice Sheet (SIS), has resulted in a complex development: repeated glaciations of different magnitudes, sensitive responses to sea level and gateway threshold changes, large shifts in sedimentation patterns, and high sedimentation rates. Its position also makes it a unique link between Eurasian and northwest European terrestrial records.
Therefore, the sediments of this largest European intracontinental basin form a rare archive of climate evolution over the last glacial cycle. High sedimentation rates provide an excellent opportunity to reconstruct climatic variability of global importance at a unique resolution from a marine-brackish setting. Comparable sequences cannot be retrieved anywhere in the surrounding onshore regions.
Furthermore, and crucially, the large variability (salinity, climate, sedimentation, and oxygenation) that the BSB has undergone during the last glacial cycle makes it optimal for new research on the deep biosphere and its evolution and biogeochemical processes in a changing environment.

The science party are currently busy processing their samples and coming up with preliminary results. We hope to see some of the initial results presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. However, when asked for possible titles for papers at the end of the onshore phase, the enthusiastic science party gave me 73 potential papers!! This could be the most successful MSP to date for ECORD, IODP and BGS.

Thanks for reading and special thanks to those of you who followed us through GeoBlogy and the IODP expedition online logbook.


* [editor] being that the full expedition name and accreditation is almost as long as it's recovered core we popped all this info to the end of the blog. Of course without the excellent collaboration between all these good people and partners the expedition would've never got afloat so a humble thanks from BGS to those friends mentioned below: 

The 'IODP Expedition 347 Baltic Sea Paleoenvironment' was the fifth Mission Specific Platform project organised and carried out by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD). As the one of the lead partners within the ECORD Science Operator, BGS were tasked with the logistical planning and vessel contracting, scientific staffing and operations for both the offshore and onshore phases of the Expedition, along with colleagues from the European Petrophysics Consortium and the IODP Bremen Core Repository, MARUM.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Tim Kearsey - a curious sedimentologist... by Hazel Gibson

Hi, I’m Hazel Gibson, a PhD researcher from Plymouth University, who is interested in what people think about geology and how that affects how we as geoscientists communicate it. During July I was up at the British Geological Survey speaking to the scientists about their work, what makes them passionate about it and why they think it’s important to us. The following is a series of short 'people posts' about the real faces behind the BGS.

 Dr Tim Kearsey is interested in history. So much so, that initially he didn’t want to be a geologist at all. “I was interested in archaeology first” he told me. “I even worked as a volunteer digger when I was at school!” But while studying for his A-levels in history, biology and geography, he was lucky enough that his school offered an AS Level in geology. “I realised everything that I liked in geography was actually geology, so I switched.” After completing his A-levels he started a degree in geology, reasoning that he could always transfer those skills to archaeology, but that archaeology wouldn’t transfer to geology. It was during his undergraduate degree that he realised that geology and specifically sedimentology, helps you to look at a landscape and see something completely unexpected – the past!

Tim is now  a sedimentary geologist at BGS’s Edinburgh office. This means that he has a very varied job, which includes traditional geological mapping; looking at mathematical uncertainty in geological 3D models and maps; working with scientists overseas to improve their national geological maps and getting stuck in to some really interesting research of his own. At the moment Tim is looking at Tetrapods, which if you don’t know, are the group of fossils that represent the very first four limbed creatures. Tim is a part of a research group called the TW:eed (Tetrapod  World: early evolution and diversification) consortium that also includes palaeontologists from Cambridge University and the NationalMuseum of Scotland; sedimentologists from Leicester University and palynologists (scientists who look at pollen) from Southampton University. It’s a really exciting project because the people involved are looking at the early evolution and diversity of these amazing creatures, but not just at the organisms themselves – they are trying to discover the whole picture of what it was like when the tetrapods were alive! This is where Tim comes in. His speciality is looking at past environments using fossilised soils, which is a really tricky thing to do! Tim uses fossilised soils contained in sedimentary rock to help him reveal lost terrains, by examining how the sediment that was deposited at the time has been recorded in the rocks, and what clues that can give us to what it was like. “Sedimentology is the archaeology of the landscape” Tim says, and it can tell us a surprising amount of things that you may take for granted...

                              Tim loves looking at fossilised soils...                           
For example – when we think of dinosaurs, I’m sure many of us picture a herd of gigantic creatures wandering a grassy plain, but that is impossible, because grass didn’t evolve until the dinosaurs had become extinct. And did you know that before trees evolved there were no meanders in rivers?! It boggles the mind. But it’s not all delving into lost landscapes for Tim. One of his favourite things about working for the BGS is the way that his job combines academic style research, with practical work – that makes you feel that you are making a difference. Another of his primary projects is to do with how other people – especially engineers – use geological maps and the problems that they can have with them. One of the things he told me about recently is how he wants to figure out a way to help engineers use geological maps more effectively and thinks that this has a lot to do with how non-geologists use maps. Think about it, if you wanted to go to London, you would look on a map, follow the directions and London would be there at the end of your journey. But a geological map doesn’t always show you where things definitely are, just where they PROBABLY are based on the current available evidence. They don’t even show you where one type of rock is sometimes either – most maps use formations, which are a group of rocks. It can make things pretty confusing!!

This video shows one of the 3D models that Tim has helped to create.

Luckily Tim is not alone in wanting to find a solution to this problem; many scientists at the BGS are trying to diversify our geological maps for whoever wants to use them. Tim has said to me in the past; “one of the hardest things is trying to explain some ideas to a non-geologist we can forget that, like me before I did geology A level, most people don’t really know what ‘geology’ is. We must also remember we talk about a world underground and a time long ago that is outside many people's experience and is quite alien to them.” But with his work unveiling the vanished environments of millions of years ago, helping other scientists to improve their maps or developing new ways for us to look at the geological information we already have, I think Tim will show many more people how to access our vast stores of geological knowledge in their own way.