Tellus Takes Off! by Dr Andrew Howard

The Tellus South West launch team, (from left) myself [Andy
Howard], Emma Ward, Sonya Cassidy,  Cally Oldershaw
Dr Andy Howard is today's guest BGS blogger and shares with us the latest news about Tellus South West airborne environmental survey and all the events at it's big launch on 8th August:

First off what is Tellus South West and why are we doing it? Essentially we’re scanning  the whole of Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset from the air to gather a wealth of new data and knowledge that will extend our understanding of the area’s geology, soils, natural resources and environment.

There’s lots more info at these sources:

Oh Snap! The survey  aircraft in action over Mount’s
Bay Cornwall
This wealth of high-quality data, of large (and often inaccessible) areas can help us make the right decisions about developing resources, managing our environment and growing our economy. Decisions about resources such as tin, copper, tungsten, china clay, geothermal energy and fertile soils. Decisions about managing hazards, such as floods, landslides, groundwater contamination and radon. And decisions about sustaining the environment, economy and landscape for heritage, tourism, investment and jobs. As BBC Spotlight South West observed, ‘It’s quite a list’.

We’ve had a very hectic few weeks pulling together the launch event in Newquay so here’s a glimpse into the week’s events............

Emma Ward (BGS Geoscientist) and I shared the long drive down from Nottingham to the Tellus South West launch in Newquay, arriving on 7 August,  the day before the big event. First up, it was a recorded interview at BBC Radio Cornwall in their Truro studio, to go out on the David White Show the following morning.

With that ‘in the can’, it was off to Camborne to see if we could see the survey aircraft in action. We spotted it in the distance, flying low over Hayle Towans. We tried to get underneath for some good pictures – but, how hard was that? Lots of twisty country lanes with high hedges, and losing our sense of direction. Eventually, after an hour, we gave up, parking up in a lay-by to stretch legs. Then, suddenly, the survey aircraft appeared majestically over the brow of a hill and was above us before I could reach the camera. It was low, 80m altitude and amazingly quiet. A quick u-turn and we were after it, to get a good vantage point for the next survey pass, 200m to the east. Sure enough, 10 minutes later it was back, higher this time, and I’m happy with my cherished bit of shaky smartphone video!

The Team from Fugro Airborne Surveys, and the Reims Cessna F406
aircraft, who are carrying out the Tellus South West Survey for BGS
Then it was off to the hotel and – disaster! No phone reception. So it was off in the car again to the nearest cliff top for a phone interview with Simon Clemison for BBC TV South West Spotlight. An hour later he had a storyboard together for the next day’s filming, all cooked up on the phone overlooking a beautiful Cornish sunset.

So it was up bright and early on the 8th for a live interview on BBC Radio Devon breakfast show,  on the phone from the hotel office with some tea and toast. Then off to the Classic Air Force Museum Newquay for the project launch. First up it was two more radio interviews (BBC Radio Cornwall (again!) and Pirate FM, and then on to the filming with Simon for BBC Spotlight South West. Meanwhile, Emma’s doing a great ‘Krypton Factor’ job, assembling the BGS displays from some deranged poles, screws and washers in the boot of the car, and fielding some tricky questions from the stakeholders while I’m swanning off being interviewed. And back at BGS Keyworth, the  local BBC East Midlands crew is filming some geophysics in 3D, ready for inclusion in the BBC Spotlight piece.

Some young visitors to the Classic Air Force Museum,
at the controls of the survey aircraft
And the launch? Simply great, we had 50 attendees from the media, local government, universities, industry and the media. And all for a project not yet 4 weeks old. Thanks to our Tellus SW Comms manager Sonya Cassidy, and Cally Oldershaw from Camborne School of Mines, for doing a super job with the organisation and guest list. To Jojo and the Fugro Airborne Surveys team for help with organising aircraft flights for the media. And finally to our hosts, the Classic Air Force Museum Newquay - we couldn’t possibly have chosen a better place for the launch. The Museum has some great displays of post war military and training aircraft, beautifully restored and many in flying condition. If you’re  holidaying in Cornwall, do give CAF a visit and take the kids, you’ll have a great day.

………….so, after all this, we’re proud the project is now in full swing and bringing in great data. Keep an eye on the web and the blog for more information and news (and pictures of course).

Tellus South West project manager (among other jobs)

Want to know more?

British Geological Survey
Classic Air Force Museum Newquay