CCS by an ECR at the EGU..........Got that? An Early Career Researcher in Vienna

I’m Chris Gent, a geologist at The British Geological Survey. I work in deep geology under the umbrella of the Energy Systems and Basin Analysis team based in Keyworth, just south of Nottingham. I work in many different areas associated with subsurface data including: geophysical log interpretation, basin modelling, and 3D seismic interpretation. This April I was granted early career researcher (ECR) funding internally and from the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC) to attend and present at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual general assembly in Vienna, Austria. The research I presented centred on a potential carbon capture and storage (CCS) site in the Central North Sea, with my poster titled ‘CO2 Storage Potential of the Eocene Tay Sandstone, Central North Sea’.

Vienna once again hosted the annual general assembly of the EGU. In stark contrast to the baroque streets and imperial grandeur of central Vienna, a short metro journey across the Danube takes you to the metropolitan Vienna International Centre, which this year accommodated over 14,000 scientists from 107 countries for one week of presentations, posters and networking. Through the recommended hotels list I was booked a quirky modern hotel in the east of the city, around 25 minutes away from the conference venue and 10 minutes from the city centre. The previous week I had taken some time to go travelling around southern Austria, where the weather was unseasonably cold and snowy. After a short train ride from chilly Salzburg I arrived in a gloriously sunny Vienna, where brave marathon runners were finishing in their dribs-and-drabs. After checking-in I hopped on the metro to the conference centre to begin my own marathon, of sorts, beginning with registration and the ice-breaker.
The Metropolitan Vienna International Centre. Photo by Dr Lola Rey (Twitter: lolareyv) from Cranfield University
EGU can be very daunting for a newbie with a plethora of sessions, talks, posters, PICO talks (small presentation) and short courses. Dissecting the 2,000 orals, 2,300 posters across 368 sessions was made easier with the help of an easy to use EGU2017 app. The divisions of interest, for me were, Energy, Resource & the Environment (ERE) and Tectonics and Structural Geology (TS), with lectures highlighted and phone in hand I could easily navigate around the bustling conference centre.

 I had a few days to get into the swing of things before my poster presentation Thursday evening. I attended many interesting sessions, including ‘Energy, Resources & the Environment’, ‘Fractures and Flow in Tight Reservoirs’ and various tectonic sessions. To watch some of the best scientists in their field communicate their science was very useful for an ECR, not only to understand current research but also to watch how the science was presented. In recent years, EGU has become increasingly influenced by ECRs with over half of delegates this year identifying as ECRs. I attended several ECR meetings giving me an opportunity to discuss my work and experience with others in a similar situation. I had some particularly engaging conversations with ECRs from the University of Strasbourg, Herriot Watt University and Delft University, which hopefully will lead to future collaboration.

I presented my poster on Thursday in the ‘The future of geo-energy: understanding the subsurface for safer energy production and storage’ poster session. Posters covered a broad range of technologies from CO2 storage to gas storage, hydo-power and geothermal energy. I was kept very busy over my 90 minute slot, with the wide range of specialities on show this led to interesting conversations with CO2 storage specialists to the inquisitive with no prior knowledge on CCS. With a dry throat after the session I went with a few ECRs into Vienna to tuck into a local beer and the compulsory Weiner Schnitzel.

Attendance at the conference was a complete eye opener to me on the large-scale high-quality geoscience research across Europe. It has been a brilliant opportunity to make many ECR contacts in various research institutes and universities, which hopefully with endure throughout my career. For any ECR interested in Europe-wide science and cross-institution collaborations I encourage you to attend, keeping an eye on social media, especially the EGU twitter and individual division twitters can help you keep track of events. I’m sure I will be heading back to present in the foreseeable future.
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