RSK Group - Geophysics Focus newsletter



Happy New Year and welcome to another edition of Geophysics Focus.

Its that time of year again when the days are shorter than the nights, and the temperatures are sub-zero. Unlike other outdoor work such as construction, when cold conditions strike, work is stopped, our intrepid engineers carry on with geophysical surveys throughout the winter ensuring timely project delivery (see our Picture of the Month below).

With the recent cuts in government spending, and as many organisations also seek to become more efficient, now is the time to focus on reducing cost, and reducing risk. Geophysics plays an important part in both of these. There are still huge opportunities in the UK. In 2011 we will hope to see a modest upturn in the property sector, where RSK has very strong connections, and the energy sector continues to provide RSK with many opportunities - not least in the nuclear sector, but also in renewables, gas storage, pipelines and electricity transmission.

George Tuckwell, RSK Geophysics director and team-leader

Latest news

SafeGround website launched


RSK Geophysics recently launched a new utility mapping and detection service to complement the traditional geophysics portfolio undertaken at RSK. The SafeGround service functions as a one-stop shop for everything from the clearance of borehole locations to producing a detailed topographic drawing that documents underground service locations. The popular service is already undergoing growth with the recent acquirement of a graduate.

The new website, on-line since last autumn provides pages and resources for the full-spectrum of buried utility and obstruction site investigation. For more information on SafeGround visit or contact Gerwyn Leigh.


SafeGround website

Housebuilders Conference Success


As part of a series of Autumn property seminars by RSK, the use of geophysics was part of the agenda in a talk entitled “Reducing the risk of uncovering the unknown”. The seminars include a variety of talks focused on the environmental challenges facing the property and development sector.

As the property sector carefully manages its way out of recession, control of the environmental agenda is becoming increasingly complex. Developers are faced with the struggle of dealing with these issues and the potentially escalating costs within the harsh financial conditions of 2010. This seminar was set up by RSK to help owners and developers of land understand the complexities they face and how the problems can be managed in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Buried obstructions, services, voids, weak ground and contamination can be dangerous and expensive. The adage “you pay for a site investigation whether you have one or not” is well known across the industry. Director of RSK Geophysics, George Tuckwell discussed how new approaches using geophysical mapping techniques can make site investigation more effective. Geophysical techniques combined intelligently with intrusive investigations can greatly reduce the risk of expensive unknown issues later in the development. “We are delighted with the success of the property seminars. There has been much interest and they have already led to a number of follow up enquires of interested parties” said George.

For more information contact George Tuckwell.


Quick links:

Geophysics for property sector factsheet

Brownfield site geophysical surveys

Contaminated land geophysical surveys


The Science of Forensic Geophysics


Forensic geophysics is the study of locating and mapping hidden objects or features that are underground . RSK Geophysics is proud to support ongoing research from Keele University into conducting new field trials in the area of forensic geophysics.

Geophysical methods have great potential to aid the police and other authorities in the location and recovery of human remains as they can, non-invasively, very rapidly survey extensive areas where a suspected clandestine burial has taken place. Anomalies can then be targeted using conventional intrusive means. Early successes in the 1990s, particularly the Fred West case, raised the profile of forensic geophysics, particularly Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), but to-date, geophysics has only been used sporadically and with varied success.

RSK geophysics had part funded research student John Jervis, who has been conducting trials in the Midlands over simulated (mock) shallow burials to determine the best, near-surface, geophysical detection techniques. John’s research has shown that bulk ground electrical methods, particularly resistivity, is the most promising technique to rapidly survey a suspected area and pinpoint a burial.

A PDF poster showing the results of the research can be viewed here

For further information or advice, please contact George Tuckwell, Director of RSK Geophysics or Dr Jamie Pringle, School of Physical Sciences & Geography


Time-lapse (repeat) bulk ground resistivity surveys of a simulated clandestine grave (dotted rectangle) at (A) 2 weeks, (B) 6 weeks and (C) 12 weeks post-burial. From Jervis et al., (in press).




Last month saw our engineers battle the cold in the chilliest December on record, and in one case, the heaviest snowfall in a quarter of a century in Northern Ireland. Below, in a postcard scene from Narnia (Leicestershire wolds), our geophysical engineerr Joe Milner is carrying out a magnetic survey at a proposed wind farm site. “The lying snow has no effect on the data whatsoever, and even aids us walking in perfectly straight lines!”. The survey successfully found anomalies of archaeological interest and probable significance - such as pottery and ditches - suggesting the presence of later prehistoric or Romano-British occupation/settlement.


Surveying in white out conditions.


FREE Reference Guide to Geophysics


RSK Geophysics’s manual, A Reference for Geophysical Techniques and Applications, is a first point of reference for increasing numbers of industry professionals, and has been adopted as a reference text for three MSc courses.

Find out what all the fuss is about by downloading your free copy here.

Hard copies are available free of charge. Email us for more details.

RSK Group: the one-stop-shop for environmental support services


RSK Group is the UK’s largest privately owned environmental consultancy providing over 200 individual services across 17 broad categories. The company employs 750 consultants across 35 worldwide locations, and last year reported a turnover of £63m.
For more information, visit