A day in the field..... for the G-BASE A-Team

The Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) began in the late 1960’s and started in the north of Scotland with the overall aim of creating an ultimate geochemical map of the UK. This summer is the last year the project is running with two teams of around 12 people sampling stream sediment and waters in the south of England. Team A is covering Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Here  Rebecca Brownlow and Rosie McKay let us in on what a typical day in the field is like for our intrepid Team A........

Above: The G-BASE team of the first six weeks of sampling 2013. From top left; Doug Watson, Chris Gardiner, Paul Everett, Elaine Burt, Peter Heath, Peter Gough, Emily Carter, Rebecca Brownlow, Rosie McKay, Pamela Rattigan and Charlotte Green.

The Beginning

After planning a route with your allocated G-Base team member we tackle between seven and ten stream sample sites a day. We leave the field base at 8am with the navigator of the minibus getting the opportunity to become a world class DJ whilst dropping off the teams.

The Quest for sediment

Once in the field a typical day involves walking approximately ten to fifteen kilometers whilst overcoming various obstacles such as curious cows, barbed wire, electric fences, horse flies, vegetation, getting stuck in bogs and even farmers! After navigating through fields of nettles and thorns to reach the site, teams work efficiently to obtain the samples and site details. These samples include; sediment, pan minerals, and filtered and unfiltered water.

The sampling process

One person digs the sediment, rubs it through the coarse sieve and then through the fine sieve. The sediment is then left to settle whilst panning the material left in the fine mesh sieve to expose any heavy minerals. During this time the second sampler fills in the site details and collects the water samples.
Above: Emily Carter sieving the sediment and Below:  Peter Heath bagging it up.

Time off

We’re out in the field most of the week and so make the most of our time off. Past adventures have encompassed visits to local towns/cities, beaches, museums, beer festivals, chilling at the accommodation, paintballing, the odd bit of fossil hunting, and of course nights out!
Team A for the second half of the season after a paintballing session. From left to right: Jack Richardson, Rebecca Brownlow, Alex Williams, Lauren Marshall, Ronnie Guthrie, Peter Heath, Paul Everett, Tom Gwilt, Sean Jefferson and Heather


Of course we couldn’t possibly do this without the visionary leadership and unwavering commitment of our team leaders Paul, Pete and Elaine. Overall G-BASE is an exciting and rewarding experience, where many lifelong friendships and crazy field memories are created!!
by Rebecca Brownlow and Rosie McKay