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Engineering Group: Bring on the drones: Airborne solutions for landscape study

29 May 2019
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Engineering Group
Burlington House, London
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Tea/coffee: 5:30

Meeting commences: 6:00

Drinks reception sponsored by Geo4D

The lecture is free to attend and will also be livestreamed at the following web address:

Presentation description

The development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology has created opportunities for geologists to gain a new view on the environment and the processes that operate within it. 

Drone helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are able to carry ever more sophisticated equipment at a fraction of the cost of survey planes, allowing insights into naturally occurring geological processes and those that are both driven by, and impact on the human environment.

The British Geological Survey was an early adopter of this technology and have continued a low-cost but high scientific value approach to gathering airborne data to inform multiple disciplines within the BGS remit, from Engineering Geology and Hazard Research to Hydrogeology and Glaciology.

The talk will describe the path the BGS have taken with UAV survey methods since the 1980s, right up to the present day, giving examples of their varied applications from around the world.

Speakers biographies

Pete Hobbs

Pete has worked at the British Geological Survey for 44 years as an engineering geologist. He has worked on marine geotechnics, including IODP, the development of laboratory geotechnical equipment for soils and rocks, including research on clay shrinkage and the tensile strength of ‘very weak’ rock. 

Pete has worked extensively on landslide mapping, monitoring and research both in the UK and overseas, at regional and site specific scales, and has established a coastal landslide observatory which has included monitoring by drone. 

Pete has co-authored works on the engineering geology of major UK clay and mudstone formations and contributed to BGS’s ‘National Geotechnical’ and ‘Landslide’ Databases and the ‘Geosure’ system for geohazard classification.

Dr Jez Everest

Jez completed a PhD at Edinburgh University reconstructing ice sheet behaviour in the Scottish Highlands using field mapping and terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating. Since joining BGS in 2003 he has mapped glacial deposits and landforms in the UK, Iceland and Antarctica. 

More recently he led the BGS Iceland Glacier Observatory from 2009 to 2019, and has become an Expedition Project Manager on IODP Expeditions in Greece and Japan. Jumping on the bandwagon back in 2014 he purchased a cheap UAV multirotor to start to map hazardous glacier forelands in Iceland. 

Since then he has gained CAA qualification to fly UAVs and has used quadcopters to, amongst other things, monitor fluvial engineering projects, log cliff sections and map drumlins and meltwater channels.