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Editorial 15th April

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it’s been a busy few weeks since my last editorial and I’ve a few points to talk about.

First off, a little housekeeping.  I’d like to apologise to our readers for any inconvenience when the website was down recently. Our provider suffered a hack so we thought it prudent to take the site offline for a few day’s just to double check that there weren’t any problems with the site. I know that several people following links on Linkedin were prevented from reading content and were justifiably a bit frustrated! We’ve checked through the site and everything is back up and running as it should.

Onto a happier topic, a few weeks ago I went for a visit to the Ordnance Survey headquarters down in Southampton. As well as a productive meeting we had the chance to go for a tour of their facilities and get a feel of the scale of the operation involved in keeping their maps up to date. The sheer number of updates and edits on a daily basis are staggering and I definitely feel a new level of affection for my Explorer series map of Snowdonia on my wall, now that I have an idea of the work that went into its creation!

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Review: OS Tales: One Man’s Part in the Re-Triangulation of Great Britain

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One Man’s Part in the Re-Triangulation of Great Britain is a collection of tales of Barrie Corlson’s experiences of working for the Ordnance Survey. The tales were originally published in the journal of the institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors over several years, but are bought together here in one illuminating and humorous collection.

After the end of the Second World War there were large numbers of people for whom the idea of sitting behind a desk was torture. The author, Barrie Corlson, was one of these and upon leaving the Royal Navy after the end of the war, heard that the Ordnance Survey was looking for adventurous chaps. Off Corlson went and some adventures did he have!

One Man’s Part includes the authors run ins and experiences with assault craft, gypsies, battery acid, tank shells, tobogganing down mountains, multiple car accidents, getting locked in church towers, exploding biscuits tins, atomic research stations and lugging their equipment up and down mountains to sit in fog and rain. It also details their experiences with the local wildlife and population including red stags, midges, ornithologists, monks, tourists and even more midges.

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Monitoring Banks and other Structures

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The Environment Agency is responsible for monitoring many flood defence structures that protect communities from inundation. In this article, Richard Groom describes how the organisation undertakes this task with particular reference to reservoir safety inspections.

Most monitoring surveys carried out for the Environment Agency are required to support statutory reservoir inspections. These have to be made at regular intervals for any reservoir with a capacity of over 25,000 cubic metres but we also monitor smaller reservoirs. The Agency’s reservoirs are generally flood storage areas: areas that are used to store water during a flood event at the upper end of watercourses, so as to lower the flood water levels downstream and thereby reduce flooding.

Although some flood storage reservoirs are lakes that have additional capacity for flood water, most are usually empty. Perhaps counter-intuitively, reservoirs that are normally empty can present a potentially greater risk than those that retain water on a regular basis because they have never been fully tested until they have to work ‘in anger’. Then, rapid rises and falls in water level can cause bank slips and water reaching levels never previously achieved can uncover weaknesses, such as rodent burrows. Most reservoirs are also located upstream of the built up areas that they protect, so the consequences of failure can be serious. Monitoring, surveillance and maintenance has therefore to be kept at a high level throughout the life of these assets.

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Geo Goes North

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A day after Manchester United succumbed to Real Madrid, the first of this year’s Geo events travelled north to the Reebok Stadium at Bolton, home of Bolton Wanderers, for the away leg of the year’s dual-venue event. Richard Groom reports.

Geo-North was a slimmer version of its southern sister with a packed day of seminars accompanying the exhibition. Testing the water? If so, then the results should be encouraging for future shows.

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UKHO releases spectacular images of WWII D-Day harbour

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The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has released stunning images from a survey of the underwater remains of an artificial harbour used in World War II that was used to facilitate rapid offloading of cargo onto the beaches during the Allied landings in Normandy.


Photo: Sonar image of two sunken concrete ‘beetles’. These were the floats used to support the floating roadways that allowed stores landed on the pier heads to reach the shore. The ‘beetles’ are 42 feet (12.8m) long and rest in about 10 feet (3m) of water.

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