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NEW Geophysical Technical Reference Manual!
Our senior staff have produced a new technical reference document, “A Reference for Geophysical Techniques and Applications”, covering the most commonly used geophysical techniques, and describing their application to particular target types. Back by popular demand, an updated fourth version of the manual has been produced for 2020 which is packed full of new examples and expanded sections including new interesting case studies. “We send thanks to all our many clients which gave us such interesting sites to investigate, for which without, the making of this handbook could not have been possible” says Geophysics Director, Tim Grossey.
Please click on the image below to view and download our new handbook! If you would like a hardcopy, please email us with your details.
CORONAVIRUS Update: We’re still open and ready to help!
RSK’s Geophysics and Surveying team remains operational and are ready to assist with your projects.
This includes undertaking sitework where it is assessed safe to do so following current government guidelines. We have been active throughout the Covid-19 lockdown and have established robust work methodologies to ensure that our workforce can work safely through this challenging period. Our staff are now familiar with, and used to working under, social distancing protocols. This includes amongst other things travelling to and from site individually. All our staff are fully set up to work from home, so processing data and report/drawing production is running as smoothly as if we were all in the same office together.
Please email us to discuss where we assist you in your projects.
Quantum quashes competition: Second award for RSK geophysics
RSK’s geophysics team is excited to announce that it has won the studies and research award at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands awards for the second year running. The accolade was presented for the 'Quantum Technology - Potential for Railway Infrastructure' scheme, and jointly received by RSK and its partners, the University of Birmingham, Atkins and Network Rail. The project looked at market opportunities to detect and assess the condition of assets buried below the railway network.
Last year, the RSK geophysics team won for the FINDIT project that developed non-destructive geophysical methods to detect factors that are critical to the maintenance and development of subsurface infrastructure including telecoms, water and gas supply pipes.
The annual ICE awards recognise the top built environment projects and professionals across the West Midlands region. This year, more than 300 members and guests attended the awards ceremony at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel, Birmingham, UK, on Wednesday, 22 May.
The studies and research award celebrates conceptual ideas developed through study and research, incorporated into practical solutions and recommendations. The judges were particularly impressed with the use of non-intrusive technology to help minimise disruption to railway passengers.
Giovanni Banks (principal geotechnical engineer, Atkins), Dr Nicole Metje (University of Birmingham) and RSK’s Matt Stringfellow, receive the award
ICE West Midlands regional director Jo Barnett said: "This is an exciting time for civil engineering in the region and you don't have to travel far to see the many and varied infrastructure projects taking shape. It is important for us to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of our civil engineers whose hard work and dedication can often go unnoticed."
RSK associate director Matt Stringfellow added, “Once again, a big thanks to everyone involved in the project. It is fantastic for RSK and the geophysics team to receive such recognition, especially for the second year running.”
Testing the waters on an innovative solution
RSK has been successful at winning entry into a Transport for London (TfL) innovation competition called RoadLab. TfL, one of the biggest integrated transport systems in the world, is looking for original solutions to minimise the impact of roadworks in the city, which cause delays on London’s roads, costing over £2 billion each year. A solution developed by RSK’s innovative geophysics team is to use Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in novel ways to help locate water leaks in the ground from leaking water pipes. On average, around 1,500 water leaks are being fixed every week in the Thames region, but up to 1 in 5 holes that are dug do not correctly find the leak. Using the new GPR technology, in combination with existing acoustic technology, will help to reduce the number of unnecessary holes and reduce the amount of roadworks required.
“Currently GPR is widely used in geophysical surveys, in particular for PAS128 utility surveys, to support street works. However, the survey data is only used to detect the location of buried infrastructure. The potential application in leak detection has not been addressed and would be a major innovation,” states innovation lead and Hemel Hempstead principal geophysicist, Matt Stringfellow. “We have already had trials with a number of water companies and our research to date has shown that hidden water leaks in the ground can be successfully detected under certain conditions”. The biggest test will be a complex urban environment. “If we can isolate the location of water leaks in such environments,” continues Matt, “it will offer a step change in helping to reduce water leakage.” As RSK is an environmental consultancy with innovation and sustainability at its heart, and with WaterAid as its chosen charity, helping save this valuable resource in the UK, and potentially worldwide, could have a profound impact.
New 18 channel GPR towed array being trialled
On-track for success: Improving knowledge of underground assets along the railway
This year, RSK has been working on a collaborative project with Atkins, Network Rail and the University of Birmingham, UK, to undertake a feasibility and market assessment study to determine the potential of using quantum technology (QT) gravity sensors along the railway. RSK principal geophysicist Matt Stringfellow has explained the project, Quantum Technology – Potential for Railway Infrastructure (QT–PRI), in the latest issues of Rail Professional and Civil Engineering Surveyor.
“The main aim is to locate and assess the condition of buried assets buried beneath the railway network, such as buried drainage, as well as the amount of groundwater within railway embankments and cuttings, which can be critical to their stability and performance and impact on the smooth running of the network,” explains Matt in Rail Professional. “Existing geophysical sensors are commercially used to detect the location of ducts and pipes in roads; however, they have limited success on the railway. “New technology is needed to significantly improve our current knowledge on the location and condition of buried assets and embankment infrastructure,” he continues.
The project has been carrying out field trials and surveys at two sites in Nottinghamshire, UK, to test the potential of QT gravity sensors and the limitations of the existing detection methods. Using QT technology could enable an increase in sensitivity by a factor of up to 10 or more over existing spring-based gravity meters, thereby providing knowledge about more assets and hidden features in the subsurface.
“The project has demonstrated that QT sensors may detect fouled ballast and hidden young wet-beds before they mature to the surface,” says Matt. “The project has also showed that the technology is likely to show variation in drainage and earthwork condition as a result of changes in siltation of drainage and from varying amounts of saturation in earthworks. This is an important result in its own right, as it shows the technology could be used for asset condition monitoring.” As well as locating drainage, the sensors have also been able to detect hidden voids ranging from badger setts, unknown hidden shafts, mine workings and, most significantly, a hidden underbridge: “One key outcome from the trials was the detection of a hidden underbridge which was completely unknown to Network Rail and not on any asset databases and beyond the depth range of instruments on the measurement trains,” says Matt. “It is unknown features such as this where QT sensors have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the ground below the trackbed.”
You can read Matt’s article in full in the digital edition of Rail Professional, pp.94–97.
The QT-PRI survey team
Geophysics as a ground investigation tool
RSK’s award-winning ground investigation experts invite you to a free seminar on the latest developments in geophysical technologies and techniques, and their use in state-of-the-art ground investigations. The seminar will provide a detailed overview of the most commonly used geophysical techniques, and explain how to acquire and process the data effectively in a commercial environment. Networking sessions will enable delegates to share their experiences.
Two sessions will run on the day:
Morning: Commonly used and useful geophysical techniques
Afternoon: Managing the risks of unforeseen ground conditions
The seminar starts at 09:30 and includes lunch. We will be sending out more information in the coming weeks. However, numbers for this event are limited, so please register your interest now. For further details, please contact Jane Rigby on 01829 772294 or email with your details. We will confirm that you have registered your interest and will send out the invitation closer to the date.
GPR Heritage Seminar a Hit!
RSK’s recent heritage seminar, co-hosted by timber specialist Exova BM TRADA, has been labelled a big success after 154 external delegates gathered at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, UK.
Entitled ‘Conserving and regenerating our heritage buildings – Overcoming the challenges’, the seminar considered the unique nature of the historic built environment. Introducing the event, RSK and Exova BM TRADA explained the rationale behind it: “Some of our buildings are irreplaceable monuments to our history, yet many of them lie dormant waiting for a new lease of life in the 21st century. A series of technical presentations explores some of these challenges with speakers included RSK's Chied Exective Alan Ryder, Jennifer Murgatroyd of the Structures and Materials Team and Matt Stringfellow from the Geophysics team, and representatives from Exova BM TRADA, Historic England, Thomasons and Heritage Building and Conservation (York) Ltd. Topics included the application of ground-penetrating radar in assessing historic buildings and sites.
Speaker Matt Stringfellow comments, “It was a good day all round. The venue was perfect, as it is a historic structure itself. We have had some fantastic feedback with many attendees not realising the wide application and number of buried features that GPR can image". If you are interested to find out more please Contact Us.
A packed room at MOSI
PAS 128 - The new standard in Utility Mapping
In 2014, the British Standards Institution (BSI) issued a new Publically Available Specification (PAS) 128, which specifies the minimum that should be done in respect to underground utility detection, verification and location, and also provides guidance and pointers to best practice.
RSK are proud to have been part of the team that helped develop the new standard. RSK's George Tuckwell was on the steering committee developing the standard, and was seconded onto the drafting panel to help write the section on detection (To view George's presentation of the standard click here).
PAS 128 gives the client much control over the specification of the survey and the tools to hold the practitioner accountable for their data acquisition and deliverables. Utility surveyors can no longer operate to unknown levels of quality that produce varying levels of detail and then hide behind the “black box “ of GPR as an excuse.
The new PAS 128 standard sets out 4 category types (levels of accuracy) of survey:
- Level D - Desktop utility records search
- Level C - Site reconnaissance
- Level B - Utility detection using EML and GPR
- Level A - Verification via intrusive inspection
For further advice on PAS 128 and how to learn to use it effectively as a client specifying works please Contact Us
A day in the life of a nuclear inspector
RSK's Geophysics director George Tuckwell was recently interviewed by The Guardian because of his participation in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO) Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) last November. The How to find a nuclear bomb podcast, part of the Science Weekly series, is now available on The Guardian's website.
George participated in the first training cycle of the CTBTO organised by the Provisional Technical Secretariat in 2007-2008, and led the geophysics team in IFE08, the first on-site inspection integrated field exercise hosted by Kazakhstan in September 2008. Since then, he has regularly participated in CTBTO training events, exercises, meetings and workshops. He wrote early drafts of the standard operating procedures for the deployment of geophysical techniques during on-site inspections and worked closely with the Provisional Technical Secretariat to develop the inspection team functionality and functional field team concepts and procedures.
You can listen to the full podcast here.
For more information contact George Tuckwell
George (right) undertaking a ground-penetrating radar survey
with Gordon MacLeod (chief of policy and planning, CTBTO)
RSK wins government research grant for SIGMA
RSK has won a major government research grant for a study on the use of quantum gravity sensors. SIGMA – Study of industrial gravity measurement applications is a collaborative project between RSK (as lead) and Birmingham University, UK.
The proposal included details of how quantum gravity sensors could revolutionise geophysical surveys and explained the research that needs to be done first -
“The potential of the step change in sensitivity promised by Quantum Technology (QT) sensors, in particular gravity instruments, is enormous and would revolutionise geophysical surveys for environmental and engineering applications.
“However, this promise is subject to a number of factors that are currently unknown and must be determined to evaluate the feasibility of this new technology to provide a practical improvement on existing survey technology and practice.
“To obtain any benefit from the step change in sensitivity of gravity measurements, there needs to be an equivalent step change in survey strategies and data reduction methods. This feasibility study will develop tools to quantify these requirements and apply them to real-world survey problems. Quantifying the technical advances required will allow us to understand the time and expertise required to deliver enhanced surveys and, therefore, evaluate the cost-benefit of quantum technology over existing gravity sensors.
Geophysics director, George Tuckwell, commented, “Winning this grant plants us firmly at the forefront of geophysical research and ahead of the competition in our ability to commercialise the next generation of quantum-technology based geophysical instruments.
SIGMA - Study of industrial gravity measurement applications
Geophysics as a ground investigation tool
Liverpool University is delighted to invite RSK's award-winning ground investigation experts to give a free seminar on the latest developments in geophysical technologies and techniques, and their use in state-of-the-art ground investigations.
Encountering unforeseen ground conditions mid-project can be an expensive problem. Buried obstructions, waste, contamination, mineshafts, solution features, soft ground, landfills, storage tanks, unexploded ordnance, archaeological features and difficult geology may variously lie in wait.
Buried services are often early concerns. Managing the health and safety risks means getting the right information at the right time. A well-designed investigation can pick up much more than just services at the same cost. Each project is different. This session will demonstrate how the latest developments in surveying and geophysics can be tailored to understand and reduce the specific risks encountered at any particular stage in a project.
A graphical approach to visualising information and risk will be used to discuss the value and usefulness of different types of intrusive and geophysical site investigation data. Interactive sessions will illustrate when and when not to use geophysics, and, if it is used, how best to integrate it into a site investigation approach. Detailed case studies will illustrate the lessons and objectives.
For more information contact George Tuckwell
Liverpool ground investigation flier Event details
Understanding and Managing the Risks of Unforeseen Ground Conditions
Ground Investigation Seminar
Keele University is delighted to invite RSK’s award-winning ground investigation experts to give a seminar on the latest developments in geophysical technologies and techniques, and their use in state-of-the-art ground investigations. The course will provide a detailed overview of the most commonly used geophysical techniques, and how the data should be acquired and processed effectively in a commercial environment. Networking sessions will allow delegates to share experiences, and students and potential employers to connect. All delegates are invited to tour the Keele Sustainability Hub and learn more about Keele’s research in this area.For more information contact George Tuckwell Download Ground Investigation Event Flier (all day) Download Ground Investigation Event Flier (afternoon session) RSK Geophysics work in close collaboration with Keele University
Web Site Update
We’ve redesigned our site and we want to know what you think! Please take 5 minutes to browse and let us know what you think about the new site design, ease of use, and a little about you. Is there anything you would like to see us include? Your feedback helps us to serve you better.
Geophysics expands into the North West
RSK’s geophysics service now has a new team in Helsby in Cheshire.
Previously, geophysics services were based in RSK Hemel Hempstead office. From August a team of three geophysicists led by Stephen Owen togther with specialist Topographic surveyor Paul Birtles will be located in the Cheshire office. The new team will offer the complete range of geophysics services, including SafeGround, the service and utility detection and mapping arm.
Steve says, “This move is prompted by the success of the SafeGround service led by Gerwyn Leigh, which we launched in 2009, and the continuing growth of the geophysics team. These services will be more accessible for RSK’s northern offices and more cost-effective because mobilisation costs will be reduced. “As well as cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, it’ll also be easier to run projects in locations such as Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.”
Geophysics will continue to have a strong presence in the south of the country, where Tim Grossey will manage the six-strong team in Hemel Hempstead. For more information about the geophysics teams and the services they offer, please contact Steve Owen or George Tuckwell.
RSK wins Ground Engineering awards
RSK has won Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year at the 2012 Ground Engineering Awards.
The judges for the Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year award said, “Our winner is a firm capable of working for global clients on a wide range of environmentally challenging projects with onerous health and safety issues. This is a firm that enjoys solving the complete problem.” The award recognises the innovative use of existing techniques and pioneering new technology to give clients confidence in findings and minimise the potential for unforeseen ground conditions.
George Tuckwell, director, RSK Geophysics, says, “This is a significant win and a major recognition of RSK’s philosophy of using the right techniques at the right time in the right context for an integrated ground investigation. The projects used as exemplars showed off the full RSK offering: Wylfa and Carrington combined-cycle gas turbine in the UK, and consultancy we did for the UN.” Each project showed how RSK can get the best value from existing data and intrusive and geophysical investigations to provide clients with the most accurate, cost-effective and safe ground investigations. George, with John Lawrence, Stephen Mackereth and Adrian Barby-Moule from Structural Soils, attended the awards ceremony, which was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Friday, 4 May, and hosted by actor and presenter Robert Llewellyn.
RSK included positive client comments in its submission, which helped to secure the win. On the Wylfa project, Graham Garrard of Halcrow said, “RSK played a key role in developing the survey programme and optimising field techniques that not only delivered the very high quality results that were required but also added value. RSK also conducted the work under a challenging timescale for acquisition and interpretation.”
On the Carrington project, Louise Lynch from ESB International said, “A cooperative working environment and good joint objective focus and ownership, which was established between ESBI and RSK, resulted in the identification of naturally occurring and manmade features that were not known from any available desk study information and that would have meant significant rerouting at the construction stage of the gas pipeline for the project.”
For more information, please contact George Tuckwell.
Click here to download the Carrington Case Study sheet.
From left to right: one of the judges, Derek Butcher, route asset manager, civil engineering, with Network Rail; George Tuckwell; Adrian Barby-Moule; John Lawrence; Steve Mackereth; and host Robert Llewellyn.
RSK boosts its topographic survey offering
RSK is extending its surveying services to include topographic surveys, appraisal surveys, GPS surveys, control networks, boundary surveys and movement monitoring including data acquisition.
Paul Birtles, survey manager based in RSK’s Helsby office, recently joined the company to develop these services.” Paul explains that the services can be tailored to meet individual client requirements: “Within the topographic survey service we will be able to provide accurate plans for detailed design work, planning applications, flood risk assessment, ground modelling and visualisation.
“For clients that do not require the level of detail provided by a topographic survey, appraisal and boundary surveys identify the main features of the site such as buildings and boundaries. GPS and control networks services are other options for clients that may not need the full survey, for example, if they require survey markers to be placed around there site to aid the setting out process for construction.
“RSK can provide these services for all types of sites and locations around the UK, whether a new or existing development,” says Paul. The capability compliments and extends the existing SafeGround service stream offered by RSK’s widely respected geophysics team.
For more information, contact Paul Birtles or George Tuckwell.
Pic of example topo plan.
Download Topographic Service Sheet.
Geosciences wins utilities mapping contract with the Environment Agency
The Environment Agency has awarded a contract for specialist site investigation services to RSK as part of a ‘National Site Investigation’ Framework (NSIF).
The focus of work will be mapping utilities such as pipes and cables, and underground hazards such as unexploded ordnance in support of all the agency’s site investigation projects.
“The agency has suggested that the main framework of site investigation work could be worth about £20 million over the next four years. RSK’s share of that should be fairly substantial because every site investigation will require a utilities mapping survey,” says George Tuckwell, director, RSK Geophysics. The SafeGround team will undertake the work, which will be mainly in the South East and the Midlands. There should also be opportunities for surveys elsewhere in England and Wales. The framework also opens up RSK to other potential appointments or site investigation works by other government bodies including local authorities.
George continues “The Environment Agency was impressed that we have the wider capabilities to follow up our work with targeted intrusive investigations. What will be particularly interesting is when the agency has difficult or unusual site conditions for which we can generate innovative solutions. Our ability to tackle more complex investigations distinguishes us from other outfits,” he says.