School of GeoSciences Research

Environmental geochemistry

We study the chemical speciation and processes in all environmental compartments to understand the sources, transport and fate of naturally occurring and man-made contaminants and nutrients.

Research is carried out through laboratory and field experiments and sampling and supporting data analysis and modelling. Much of our work is conducted with external stakeholders and results inform policies and actions to improve the environment and recycle resources.

Current projects

Sustaining plantation forestry for carbon balance and productivity benefits from the recycling of nutrient phosphorus removed in the harvest

Pyrolysis of P-dense processing residues in re-stocking (new rotation) is having marked positive effects on early state tree growth, as well as lower seedling mortality. Field-scale tests alongside glasshouse work indicate that small doses of biochar will benefit carbon balance through this effect much more than direct carbon storage, while also confirming the potential to build soil carbon efficiently and quite rapidly using somewhat larger applications.

This research takes place at the UK Biochar Research Centre.

Visit the UK Biochar Research Centre website

Further examples of collaborative research include:

Improving understanding of mechanisms and pathways for the release of potentially toxic elements from historic mining sites into surface waters

Investigating team:  Professor Margaret Graham, Professor Kate Heal; with Keele University, UK

Vanadium cycling in lakes

Investigating team:  Professor Margaret Graham, Professor Kate Heal; with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Developing more sustainable phosphorus cycling through capturing phosphorus from wastewater for use as a slow-release fertiliser 

Investigating team: Professor Kate Heal, Dr Saran Sohi; with the James Hutton Institute, UK

Understanding the role of plant-growth promoting bacteria in remediation of metal-contaminated soils

Investigating team:  Professor Kate Heal, Professor Bryne Ngwenya; with Diamond Light Source, UK

Biochar in forestry 

Principal Investigator: Dr Saran Sohi

More information on this project award can be found on *ERE

Our researchers in environmental geochemistry are:

  • Professor Margaret Graham
  • Professor Kate Heal
  • Dr Saran Sohi  


* Edinburgh Research Explorer (ERE) is the University's research information system and is managed by Library and University Collections.