Hydrogeologist Research
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(Careers profile courtesy of the Hydrogeological Group)

Groundwater is a hidden resource beneath the Earth’s surface, but it is hugely important to both industry and people’s livelihoods around the world. My interest in the subject began during my undergraduate training in Geoscience at the University of St Andrews (2003-2007), and after a work experience placement with the British Geological Survey in 2006 I completed a MSc in Hydrogeology in 2007-2008.

I now work as a Hydrogeologist at the British Geological Survey, where I am involved in both government-funded and commercially commissioned research in groundwater science. The work is for a broad range of clients including environmental regulators, national and local government, water companies and private individuals.

Hydrogeology encompasses a range of disciplines, not just geology, and the work is extremely diverse. Over the last year I have been involved in projects ranging from: a year-long research project funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) to examine the resilience of groundwater to climate change in Africa, and the ability of groundwater to support climate change adaptation in Africa; developing a pilot urban groundwater monitoring network in Glasgow; and, sampling groundwater chemistry across Scotland to establish a national baseline dataset.

There is a strong fieldwork component to work in Hydrogeology – from sampling groundwater chemistry to determine the natural quality or pollution of the resource, to assessing the capacity of different rocks to store and transmit groundwater. Fieldwork often brings you into contact with the people who are directly dependent on the groundwater resource, from farmers in UK to rural communities in Africa, and gives a real relevance to the work. Another large area of work in Hydrogeology is groundwater modelling; simulating groundwater flow, recharge, and contamination plumes to help make decisions on how best to manage the resource, or assess likely future impacts of climate change.

Hydrogeology combines many facets of Earth Science and is focused to some of the major environmental issues today. It is an exciting area in which to work, and I would recommend it to anyone considering a career in Environmental and Earth Sciences.