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UCL Earth Sciences

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Natural and Environmental Hazards

Our research addresses the mechanisms and processes that underpin natural hazards, the prediction, forecasting and monitoring of hazardous geophysical events

Environmental Hazards
Our research addresses the mechanisms and processes that underpin natural hazards, the prediction, forecasting and monitoring of hazardous geophysical events, and community preparedness via effective early warning, risk communication and improved hazard and risk perception. We  study a wide range of natural and environmental hazards throughout the world, specifically the origins and effects of earthquakes, volcanism, landslides, hurricane activities, sand-dune motions, groundwater pollution (especially the chemistry of arsenic pollution), carbon sequestration and risk management of mining wastes.

 

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Research highlights include:

  • Remote sensing of the world's fastest sand dunes. (Vermeesch)
  • A generic model for understanding arsenic pollution in anoxic groundwater, in which arsenic poses a severe threat to health worldwide (McArthur)
  • Working with Dhaka University, Bangladesh, modelling of the arsenic transport in aquifers in Bangladesh which showed that deep aquifers are safe from pollution whilst shallow aquifers are at risk over decadal periods (Burgess);
  • Contaminant hydrocarbons in UK aquifers may drive reductive-release of arsenic to groundwater (Burgess);
  • The demonstration that double-porosity diffusive retardation can explain contaminant distribution in the UK Chalk aquifer’s seasonally unsaturated zone (Burgess);
  • Regional pollution of aquifers by boron provides evidence of aquifer freshening and not, as thought before, of saline intrusion; the distinction can guide aquifer development in coastal regions (McArthur).
  • Karstic behaviour of groundwater in English chalk suggest that in areas of the Chalk with rapid groundwater flow, fissures supplying abstraction boreholes may be connected to karst conduit networks with low potential for contaminant (Atkinson).