The BGS Open Day - 27 June 2015

Iain Stewart gets captured in 3D!
The BGS 2015 Open Day was held in Keyworth, Nottingham on Saturday 27th June. This year, not only did we have our very own staff on site demonstrating their science, we also had staff from our sister centres (British Antarctic Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, National Oceanography Centre, National Centre for Atmospheric ScienceNational Centre for Earth Observation and of course NERC) to help NERC celebrate their 50 year anniversary.

'William Smith'
We had fantastic warm, sunny weather on the day, the ice cream stall sold out, our talks and tours were full, geological treasure was hunted, children with scary dinosaur faces explored and everyone had a brilliant day.

William "Strata" Smith (aka BGS's David Bate) and Prof Iain Stewart (who just happened to be at BGS for a meeting) were our stars of the day!

See below for round ups of the Open Day from both BGS staff and some of our visitors.  Don't forget to look at the Photobooth photos, you might just see yourself being chased by a dinosaur!.

Talking Science! By Sarah Nice   

"Just taking my inflatable dino for a walk"
 As well as the plethora of exhibits and tours at the Open Day there was a series of comprehensive talks held in our De La Beche conference Suite.  The day kicked off with our Executive Director, John Ludden, giving an introduction of who BGS are and what we’ve been up to.  John then introduced Dr Julia (Jules) West who gave a fascinating talk on “Fukushima – four years on” and the work that she has been involved with in the clean-up operation in Japan.  The talk raised some really interesting questions from the audience about nuclear power and how to keep it as safe as we can.

Next up was Dr Chris Vane, who’s talk on “Muddy Molecules” was about - you’ve guessed it – mud, and how it can help us to find oil and gas, predict catastrophic events and understand the earth’s climate.  Chris talked about  his work which has taken him to far flung corners of the globe.  From taking sediments samples in the river Thames, to mud samples from mangrove swamps Chris’s talk really hit home just how varied the work at BGS can be.  Chris explained all of this with a terrific sense of humour which the audience really appreciated, even down to looking at the organic make up of poo!

Dave Tappin then took to the stage to ask us the question “Did a catastrophic tsunami wipe out the Minoans?” where he presented an in depth background to the 1500 BC events on the demise of the Minoans that forms the basis for a new research proposal that will solve an enigma that has challenged science for 70 years. With breath-taking photos of Santorini, and using evidence from Krakatoa, Dave really helped the audience understand the importance of trying to understand past catastrophic events.

Leanne Hughes teaches field mapping
Our Director of Science and Technology, Mike Stephenson, then talked to the audience about “Why it’s great to be a Geologist in the 21st century”. His talk, aimed to inspire the next generation of geologists, covered the work we do at BGS from earthquakes to landslides, mapping to energy and volcanoes to groundwater flooding. He ended his talk by highlighting the importance of geology in helping to cut the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by considering carbon capture and storage, nuclear energy (and the storage of radioactive waste) and other renewable sources of energy. His talk should definitely have got the younger members of the audience thinking about taking up geology as a future career option, if nothing else for the wonderful photos that Mike showed us on his travels as a geologist!

Last, but definitely not least, Leanne Hughes gave the final talk of the day, entitled “Mapping rocks. How we collect our geological data”. Leanne took us through the various stages of geological mapping, from fieldwork and actual real life “mapping” (with loads of cool photos), to compiling the data collected in the field to making cutting edge 3D geological models and maps. Leanne explained all of this in a fun and easy to understand way, demonstrating to our audience that mapping really does rock.

Purple ... by Gemma Nash

That poor old Blackberry is really tough!
In the purple tent, many happy children went home with an iron pyrite sample after they panned for fools gold; the minerals team smashed up mobile phones to show all the rare earth elements enclosed within; mini wind turbines were built out of paper and pencils to be tested for foundation conditions and CCS was demonstrated using chocolate, milk and balloons! All the while the London Volcano rumbled and smoked in the background.

Blue ... by Mike Ackroyd

I spent an extremely enjoyable day on the BGS Groundwater exhibit on Saturday as part of the Open Day. Our displays and activities were intended to entertain and inform both the kids and their parents. Whilst mum and dad were able to see examples of fluid flow process at depth on exhibits overseen by the groundwater experts I was able to have fun showing the kids the BGS global water cycle model. They had fun filling their sponge clouds with evaporated water from the sea, raining on the mountains, watching the water run-off into the rivers and flow back to the sea. Then the kids pumped water from the aquifers, treated it at the water works and then wracked their brains to think of all the ways it can be used in their homes before it was cleaned again and returned to the rivers. It’s fair to say that some of the kids left us not only slightly wetter than when they arrived but hopefully slightly better informed.


BGS Earth Observation and 3D technologies for volcano monitoring ... by Francesca Cigna & Deodato Tapete

As part of BGS' Volcanoes stand, this year we designed exciting demos, virtual 3D tours and volcano hunts using Earth Observation data and GeoVisionary, to discover volcanoes of central and southern Italy that the public could even touch via printed 3D models!
Whilst little kids were captivated by ancient myths of Cyclops and giants living within active volcanoes, grown-ups got engaged with remote sensing technologies to gather objective evidence of volcanic activity and associated hazards.

As soon as they grasped our science, people acknowledged the public benefits of having BGS geoscientists working on volcano hazards in densely populated areas.

Many visitors came back for a second round of activities and demos at the end of their visit – unafraid at all to turn the Earth upside down with the 3D mouse!

 BGS' Volcanoes Stand ... by Lorraine Field

3D view of Mount Etna (Italy) in GeoVisionary
To complement the Earth Observation and Volcano Hazard parts of the BGS' Volcanoes stand, we had posters giving a basic introduction to volcanoes, different eruptions and the rocks they produce. A wide range of rocks were set out for people to handle: everything from volcanic bombs to gabbros. The different varieties of obsidian and the pumices were particularly popular with the kids. The adult visitors were especially fascinated by the Eyjafjallajökull ash, and that it was this fine, innocent, grey powder that caused so many problems! One enthusiastic little girl had even brought her rock identification book with her and went through every rock on display, reading out the entries to her very patient father.

We also had a microscope set up so that we could show what scientists can discover from the crystals within the rocks. Many people came back two or three times to compare what appeared to be a 'boring' basalt in a hand specimen with the corresponding thin section with its brightly coloured crystals!

BGS Volcano Hazards ... by Katy Mee

Also on the BGS Volcanoes stand, visitors could learn about the many different hazards produced by volcanoes from lava flows, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) and volcanic mud flows (lahars), to volcanic gases and ash clouds. Examples from previous eruptions in Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Colombia showed the true devastation that can be caused by some of these hazards, particularly the high speeds and enormous power produced by PDCs and lahars. Visitors also learnt about a multi-disciplinary, collaborative project that BGS is involved with trying to increase resilience to natural hazards in volcanic environments of Ecuador, Colombia and the eastern Caribbean.

The kids loved having a go at recreating the volcano hazard map for Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia by squirting a sticky concoction of watered-down golden syrup over a 3D model of the volcano. And another 3D model of Soufrière St. Vincent volcano (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) was overlain by an ash 'veil' which demonstrated how different parts of the island might be covered by thinner or thicker deposits of ash during an eruption, depending on which way the wind was blowing.

Yellow ...

Hook a dino... by Denise Langley

The hook-a-dino proved a great success with our younger visitors (and a few of the not-so-young ones too!).   The dinos had more of a cute factor than any real scientific authenticity – although this didn’t stop the children from having a good go at identifying the one that they had successfully hooked!  Some of the very small children were more interested in the balls and splashing about in the water – but who could blame them?!

Maps and apps ... by Patrick Bell

Over in ‘maps and apps’, visitors where fascinated to discover the vast range of datasets BGS hold and were delighted to receive a free personalised GeoReport describing the geology of their house, its natural ground stability and its liability to flooding.  Younger visitors wowed their parents by demonstrating their hitherto unrevealed spatial awareness as they used the BGS Geology of Britain website and iGeology app to navigate around their area to pinpoint where they live. I thought one mother was going to drive her 5 year old straight down to Southampton for a job with OS as he panned around the aerial image of the Vale of Belvoir naming all the villages!

National Oceanography Centre ... by Lauren Noakes

Showcasing some of our latest discoveries at the BGS Keyworth Open Day allowed us to bring Oceanography to an eager and excited new audience. We introduced Heti the Yeti Crab (pictured) and our 'Exploring Ocean Fronts' displays to big and little kids alike. The whole day was extremely good fun and it was great to be there with our other sister research centres celebrating the NERC 50th Anniversary. Thanks to the amazing staff at BGS for having us and an even bigger thanks to the hundreds of visitors who chatted to us and tried to 'Beat the Cube'! For more news about our research and discoveries keep in touch via @NOCNews