BP micropalaeontology project

Alveolina boscii

Alveolina boscii imaged from the former British Petroleum micropalaeontology collection

Principal Investigators

Project summary

  • Focus: Mapping palaeoenvironmental changes through geological time focusing on well-runs and outcrops from northwest Europe

We are undertaking an in-depth analysis of the former British Petroleum micropalaeontology collection, which is now held at the Natural History Museum.

This three-year pilot project focuses on well-runs and outcrops from northwest Europe, mapping palaeoenvironmental changes through geological time.

The former British Petroleum micropalaeontology collection contains microfossil assemblages from around 4,300 well-run and outcrop sequences across the world, collected by British Petroleum from the late 1950s until the early 1990s. Little applied research has focused on this valuable resource since it arrived at the Museum. 

Revisiting the collection

In collaboration with BP Exploration, the Museum's micropalaeontology unit will analyse a selection of these sequences collected from evenly distributed sites across northwest Europe, in conjunction with legacy reports and data. 

This will help us to establish a palaeoenvironmental framework and hopefully in the future produce a public-facing interactive GIS model.

Micropalaeontology collection

The former British Petroleum micropalaeontology collection, housed at the Museum


Year 1

Initially the project will focus on data gathering. We will collate information provided by BP and use it to target study areas and complement our analyses. 

The reference collection, containing foraminifera and ostracods used by BP in their past work, will be updated and imaged.

Years 2-3

We will analyse well-run sequences with the help of a post-doctoral researcher, recruited towards the end of the first year. This will include the study of microfaunas and palynological material (spores, pollen grains and other microscopic plant structures).

Towards the end of the three years, data from numerous wells will be collated into a GIS platform, mapping palaeoenvironmental changes through geological time.

Micropalaeontology imaging technician

Imaging technician Kelly Smith working on the digitisation of the former British Petroleum micropalaeontology reference collection

Origins, evolution and futures research

We study the Earth's origins and environment, and the evolution of life.

Economic and environmental earth sciences research

Researching the formation, discovery and sustainability of Earth's resources.

Micropalaeontology collections

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