Below-Ground Investigations into Past and Future; TERRA DAT: Company Undertaking Work from Archaeological Surveys to Mineral Exploration Plans to Grow at Home and Abroad

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 31, 2002 | Go to article overview

Below-Ground Investigations into Past and Future; TERRA DAT: Company Undertaking Work from Archaeological Surveys to Mineral Exploration Plans to Grow at Home and Abroad


Byline: ROBERT LLEWELLYN JONES

MONNINGTON Court, in Herefordshire, is believed by many to be the last resting place of the of Welsh patriot Owain Glyndwir.

In June 2000 a survey was carried out by Cardiff-based Terra Dat Geophysical under the direction of its managing director Nick Russill.

No bones were found but the survey did reveal a motte and bailey structure which had for centuries lay hidden beneath the soil. And the company's historical connections doesn't end there.

``We have undertaken a high resolution survey for the BBC at Aberglasney House,'' Mr Russill said. ``Here we discovered a cobbled carriageway still intact at the front of the house.''

Terra Dat was set up in 1992, a spin-off company from Cardiff University offering a ground investigation service using non destructive geophysical techniques. In layman's terms this means that no ground has to be dug up which makes the surveying process environmentally friendly, quick and cost effective.

Apart from its archaeological applications Terra Dat also serves other industrial sectors.

Work in South Wales involves locating abandoned mine workings and shafts. It can also involve reclamation work on brownfield and contaminated sites where the company undertakes survey work on behalf of a potential buyer of what lies beneath the ground.

Included in the company's portfolio are monitoring surveys identifying the problems arising from coal tip instability caused by heavy rainfall.

``Recently we were conducting a survey at the site of the new Baglan Bay power station when an unexplored shell was discovered,'' Mr Russill said. ``Having located the device we could then call in specialists to make it safe.''

One of Terra Dat's biggest customers is the landfill industry as the demand increases to manage sites more efficiently. Another is the nuclear industry where the company works with British Nuclear Fuels (BNF) on the geology of its nuclear waste repositories.

Finally the company carries out work on industrial parks built on former colliery sites. Here its nonintrusive surveys mean existing buildings can remain intact.

Today it has satellite offices in Melbourne, Australia, engaged in mineral exploration and agricultural surveys for land with irrigation difficulties.

Australia has a more active min-eral industry than Britain so Terra Dat works to promote its services to extractive industries in that part of the world, Mr Russill said.

There is also an office in Dublin, set up last year to take advantage of money made available through EU funding.

``We have pioneered our methodology on the new road network being built across Ireland coupled with our work for the bottled water industry where we have gone into partnership with a ground water company in Dublin,'' Mr Russill said.

As graduates of Cardiff University Mr Russill and partner Robert McDonald are eager to repay some of the debt they owe their alma mater. Cardiff was a lead partner on a EU-funded project monitoring the effects of global warming on permanently frozen ground.

As temperatures rise the ground can become unstable causing land-slides in mountain regions. …

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