Geology Dissertation Topics

Example geology dissertation topic 1:

A study of the environmental impact of the construction of Rutland Water.

As one of the larger man-made reservoirs within England, the construction of Rutland Water involved the relocation of residents and the flooding of a number of farms and villages. Parts of the former villages may still be still, above the high water line, such as Normanton Church, formerly of the estate of Normanton Hall (demolished). Now matured, this dissertation assesses the environmental impact of both the original construction of the reservoir as well as the present environmental diversity of the site. Primarily involving secondary research, interviews could be carried out with local resident groups and others associated with Rutland water should the researcher wish to develop this angle within the dissertation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cosgrove, D., Roscoe, B. and Rycroft, S. (1996). Landscape and identity at Ladybower Reservoir and Rutland Water.Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 21(3), pp. 534-551.
  • Downing, R. A. (2004). Groundwater in a national water strategy, 1964-1979.Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 225(1), pp. 323-338.
  • Knights, E. A. (1982). Rutland Water—From conception to operation. Hydrobiologia, 88(1), pp. 7-17.

Example geology dissertation topic 2:

A study of cave development and joint sets in Yorkshire: with specific reference to the area near the ‘Odin Mine’.

Located within the Hope Valley of Yorkshire, the ‘Odin Mine’ is not only a fascinating geological site but is also been believed to have been a place of human endeavour for thousands of years. Initially a secondary literature review, this dissertation provides an additional primary data through recording the development of existing stalagmites and stalactites over the last five years as well as measuring the daily flows of water over certain points within the cave network. In working upon existing joint sets within the cave, this dissertation will additionally, as part of its primary work, undertake a detailed 3-D mapping and simulation of a section of the cave for use by future visitors.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Banks, D., Burke, S. P. andGray, C. G. (1997).Hydrogeochemistry of coal mine drainage and other ferruginous waters in north Derbyshire and south Yorkshire, UK.Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 30(3), pp. 257-280.
  • Donnelly, L.J. (2006)The Mam Tor landslide, geology and mining legacy around Castleton, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. Engineering Geology for Tomorrow’s Cities, Proceedings of the 10th Congress of the International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment, Nottingham, UK (pp. 6-10).
  • Ford, T. D. and Rieuwerts, J. H. (1976). Odin Mine, Castleton, Derbyshire. Bulletin of the Peak District Mines HistoricalSociety, 6(4), pp. 1-54.

Example geology dissertation topic 3:

The return of mining to the North-East: An investigation into the proposals to recommence open cast mining in Northumbria.

The expression of ‘shipping coals to Newcastle’ has, since the closure of the last remaining pits taken on a different meaning to that which it originally conveyed when ‘coal was king’ and the pits of Durham and the North East fuelled the nation’s hearths and industries. Recent proposals to commencing mining in a series of open-cast pits along the Durham-Northumberland county boundary have, however, received mixed press on account of the environmental factors that such developments may bring. Investigating these, as well as perceptions of the future potential of the industry, this dissertation comes at a time when the nature of future energy supplies in the UK is attracting much political attention. Accordingly, this is a geology dissertation topic that is not only contemporary but the findings of which could be useful to a very wide audience; making publication a realistic objective.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Turner, B. R. and Richardson, D. (2004). Geological controls on the sulphur content of coal seams in the Northumberland Coalfield, Northeast England. International Journal of Coal Geology, 60(2), pp. 169-196.
  • Younger, P. L. (2004). Environmental impacts of coal mining and associated wastes: a geochemical perspective. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 236(1), pp. 169-209.
  • Younger, P. L. and Robins, N. S. (2002).Challenges in the characterization and prediction of the hydrogeology and geochemistry of mined ground.Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 198(1), pp. 1-16.

Example geology dissertation topic 4:

Fracking in Fleetwood: A study of public knowledge and perceptions.

Having outlined the geological processes involved in fracking, the second half of this dissertation seeks to educate the public further as to its advantageous. Focusing upon the town of Fleetwood in Lancashire, this dissertation will employ street-survey interview techniques to gauge initial perceptions of the advantages and dangers perceived relating to fracking. Thereafter, having distributed a leaflet (part of the research methodology) to the streets initially interviewed, the researcher will conduct secondary interviews and additionally answer questions that arise during the interview process. This combination of qualitative techniques and the dissemination of information makes this a dynamic dissertation proposal that is ideally suited to both undergraduate and postgraduate researchers.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Regeneris Consulting (2012).Economic impact of shale gas exploration and production in Lancashire and the UK. Altrincham: Regeneris Consulting/Cuadrilla Resources.
  • Richards, P. (2012). Shale gas and fracking: Report to the House of Commons. London: HMSO.
  • Royal Society, The (2012). Shale gas extraction in the UK: A review of hydraulic fracturing. London: The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Example geology dissertation topic 5:

An evaluation of changes in storm water discharge as a consequence of block paving in heavily suburbanised areas: A case study in Tewkesbury

Historically prone to flooding, the Abbey town of Tewkesbury has, nevertheless, been prone to more surface water flooding and damage in recent years than had hitherto been the case. Focusing on those suburbs of the town most removed from the River Severn, this dissertation measures storm water discharge flow rates off properties that have retained front gardens (of a grass and soil basis) compared to those that are predominantly comprised of block paving and or driveways. Thereafter presenting the findings, this dissertation seeks to suggest that the changes wrought to surface water and storm water discharge patterns by such changes in ‘gardening’ need to be examined with a view to legislation being passed relating to maximum permitted surface areas that can be covered in concrete/block paving to the front, side and rear elevations of houses in suburban areas.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Frazer, L. (2005). Paving paradise: the peril of impervious surfaces.Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(7), p. A456.
  • Langhammer, J. (2010). Analysis of the relationship between the stream regulations and the geomorphologic effects of floods.Natural Hazards, 54(1), pp. 121-139.
  • Schmitt, T. G., Thomas, M. andEttrich, N. (2004).Analysis and modeling of flooding in urban drainage systems.Journal of Hydrology, 299(3), pp. 300-311.

Example geology dissertation topic 6:

Tidal marsh sedimentation levels: A study along the Severn bore.

Much publicity has been given to the suggestion that the Severn bore (the largest of its type within the UK) could be used to generate tidal energy. However, comparatively little analysis has been carried out as to the effects that the infrastructural developments that would need to be put in place for the generation of that power could have upon sediment levels upon the bore’s course. Accordingly, using both field work and a computer based simulated model of the bore (in which its properties can not only be recreated but also adjusted), this thesis seeks to uncover the potentially devastating effect to exist sediment levels that could accompany the harnessing of this natural source of power.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Archer, A. W. (2013). World’s highest tides: Hypertidal coastal systems in North America, South America and Europe. Sedimentary Geology, 284-285, pp. 1-25.
  • Langston, W., & Ridgway, J. (2006).Geological and geochemical influences on estuarine ecosystems. In, Zektser, I., Marker, M., Ridgway, J., Rogachevskaya, L. and Vartanyan, G.(eds) Geology and ecosystems.Berlin: Springer, pp. 21-47.
  • Manning, A. J., Langston, W. J. and Jonas, P. J. C. (2010). A review of sediment dynamics in the Severn Estuary: Influence of flocculation. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 61(1), pp. 37-51.

Example geology dissertation topic 7:

Understanding the mechanics of rock falls so as to minimise the dangers faced by climbers.

This dissertation seeks to further understanding as to the flow patterns of rock avalanches. Using a scale model of a section of the Cairngorms, this dissertation will, through experimentation, measure and record the dynamics of the rock falls simulated. Given that the morphology of rock falls is in part dependent upon the nature of the substrate, this dissertation seeks to show, in a controlled manner, how changing the external parameters of rock formation and substrate leads to differing fall rates. Through this it is hoped that, in the future, more tailored guidance can be given to climbers to maximise their safety when enjoying the Cairngorms.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Finlay, P.J., Mostyn, G.R., and Fell, R. (1999). Landslide risk assessment: Prediction of travel distance. Canadian Geotechnical Journal,36, pp. 556-562.
  • Kent, P. E. (1966). The transport mechanisms of catastrophic rock falls.Journal of Geology, 74, pp. 79-83.
  • Winter, M.G., Macgregor, F. and Shackman, L. (2005).Scottish road network landslides study. Edinburgh: The Scottish Executive.

Example geology dissertation topic 8:

The New Forest Wetland Restoration Project: An analysis of its progress to date.

Begun in 2003, the New Forest is the site of an impressive wetland restoration project. This project is the largest of its type in lowland England. The New Forest project examines the sustainability and protection of grassland, heathland, pasture, mire and woodland habitats, and considers how these varying environments co-exist. Previously a common feature of Western Europe, this type of network of environments and habitats is now a rare feature, because of centuries of human development. Using not only primary research in the form of interviews but also based on actual field work conducted at the site over a three-week period, this dissertation notes how the wetland has progressed in its first ten years and proffers suggestions as to how it should be managed in the future.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Acreman, M. C., Adams, B., Birchall, P. andConnorton, B. (2000). Does groundwater abstraction cause degradation of rivers and wetlands? Water and Environment Journal, 14(3), pp. 200-206.
  • Nakamura, K., Tockner, K. and Amano, K. (2006). River and wetland restoration: Lessons from Japan. BioScience, 56(5), pp. 419-429.
  • Simenstad, C., Reed, D. and Ford, M. (2006). When is restoration not? Incorporating landscape-scale processes to restore self-sustaining ecosystems in coastal wetland restoration. Ecological Engineering, 26(1), pp. 27-39.

Example geology dissertation topic 9:

An analysis of the effects of acid depositions on the lead lettering of marble headed cemetery gravestones of Manchester and surrounding areas to measure the geographic spread environmental degradation.

At the heart of the industrial revolution, Manchester played a pivotal role in the industrialisation of England. However, the city’s air quality suffered immeasurable damage as a consequence until the introduction of clean air legislation in the 1970s. This dissertation, looking at cemeteries over a thirty mile radius, hopes firstly to show how levels of acid depositionaffect lead lettering degradation on marble headstones near the industrial heart of Manchester, and thereafter to show how its effects within individual cemeteries may vary depending upon variables such as tree cover, lichen cover and the spatial orientation of individual stones.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Inkpen, R. J. and Jackson, J. (2000). Contrasting weathering rates in coastal, urban andrural areas in southern Britain: Preliminary investigations using gravestones. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 25, pp. 229-238.
  • Meierding, T. C. (1993).Marble tombstone weathering and air pollution in NorthAmerica.Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 83(4), pp.568-588.
  • Rahn, T. (1971).The weathering of tombstones and its relation to the topography of NewEngland.Journal of Geological Education, 19, pp. 112-118

Example geology dissertation topic 10:

A geological map of the London Underground: Unearthing different soil types in tunnelling.

Taking as its starting point the difficulties encountered with the Jubilee Line extension as a consequence of the soil types discovered therein, this dissertation has three primary aims. First, it provides a geological map of the London Underground based on the iconic template design by Harry Beck (1933). Secondly, joining maintenance teams across the network over a three month period, it records the different maintenance problems encountered (especially copper corrosion) as a consequence of different soil types – and in particular those differences encountered between heavy clay and lighter chalk. Thirdly, it provides a thorough literature review of existing literature on boring techniques through different substrates.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ggurrénec, S. M. (2005). Ground conditions around an old tunnel in London Clay.Geotechnical Engineering, 158, pp. 25-34.
  • Rosenbaum, M. S. and Warren, C. D. (1986).Creating a geological database for planning tunnels under London.Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 19(4), pp. 413-423.
  • Selby, A. R. (1999). Tunnelling in soils-Ground movements, and damage to buildings in Workington, UK.Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, 17(3), pp. 351-371.

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