Essex ecologist to showcase shipwreck research to MPs

  • Date

    Mon 14 Feb 22

Essex ecologist Dr Gareth Thomas has been chosen to showcase his environmental research project at the Houses of Parliament next month.

Dr Thomas, from our School of Life Sciences, will be taking part in STEM for Britain 2022, an event where experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are chosen to present their revolutionary research to Members of Parliament at Westminster.

His research relates to the shipwreck of the HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow, Scotland, and whether there has been any subsequent environmental impact by oil-spills in the surrounding sediment on the sea floor.

Dr Thomas said: “Our research on HMS Royal Oak, which sank in 1939, is the first of its kind to evaluate any potential impact the shipwreck is having on the marine environment.”

The concern was that the wreck was estimated to still contain 697 tonnes of fuel oil, which posed a great risk to the surrounding environment.

“Given the environmental impact of oil-spills, there is a lack of studies investigating the status of shipwrecks and their surrounding environments,” he added.

Sediment samples were retrieved from various distances from the wreck and the results revealed that there were no long-term implications from previous oil-spills.

“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to present my research at the Houses of Parliament,” added Dr Thomas. “Presenting to MPs and Peers through the STEM for Britain competition will allow me to highlight the ongoing challenges concerning shipwrecks and the scientific initiatives we are working on that will allow for a detailed, rapid, and cost-effective assessment.”

Organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, STEM for Britain has been held in Parliament since 1997 and this year takes place on 7 March.

This article was written by first year Multimedia Journalism student Gina Williams