COGER Meeting 2014... by Charles Gowing

Each year around Easter, environmental radiochemists and radioecologists from all over the UK congregate for the meeting of the Co-Ordinating Group on Environmental Radioactivity (COGER). Our Dr Charles Gowing tells us more about this years happenings...
This year’s event was hosted in uncharacteristically sunny and spring-like conditions at the University of Lancaster. Combining formal lectures with a convivial poster session and relaxed evening social events provides a welcome opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues and students from universities the length and breadth of the UK and as far afield as Ireland and France.

The COGER meeting is a relatively informal conference providing an ideal platform for research students to experience the joys of presenting their research as well as more experienced researchers covering the more global topics such as the long term impacts of the reactor accidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl. 50-60 delegates were treated to topics as diverse as Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material in industry, radionuclides in sediment transport and 14CH4 migration in soil to genotoxic uptake in mussels and radionuclide uptake in plants. A particular highlight this year was a showcasing of the projects funded under NERC’s “The NERC Radioactivity And The Environment (RATE) Programme”, the secretariat for which is located in BGS Keyworth.

Gamma Spectrometry in the BGS Inorganic
Geochemistry Laboratories
I found the range of presentations at this conference appealed across a broad reach of environmental science; my particular interest was sparked by a study of transport and accumulation of nuclides from Sellafield and Parys Mountain into estuarine sediments. The conference was an ideal platform for my presentation on “Dating the Anthropocene: Pb-210 geochronology of river and estuarine sediments from the River Thames”, outlining the work carried out at BGS using gamma spectrometry and mathematical models to interpret the natural radioactivity in a complex river system. It is always rewarding to present to a receptive audience who show an interest in my work and to discuss the potential for using Pb-210 chronology in other estuarine and lake settings.

Next year the COGER meeting is being hosted at the BGS in Keyworth, with accommodation at the University of Nottingham – enhancing the developing links within The Centre for Environmental Geochemistry.

by Dr Charles Gowing (secretary of COGER and a researcher in The Centre for Environmental Geochemistry at the British Geological Survey)