Bursting bubbles: can experiments and analogues help stakeholders and the public visualise risks?

Linda Stalker, Jennifer J. Roberts, Leslie Mabon

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Contribution

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Laboratory experiments, natural analogues and pilot projects have been fundamental in developing scientific understanding of risk and uncertainty from georesource exploration. International research into CO2 and CH4 leakage provide scientific understanding of potential leakage styles, rates and environmental impacts. However, the value of these experiments as a communication tool for stakeholders and the wider public is often overlooked in the form of visual information and comparisons. Quantifiable laboratory experiments, measurement of gas at natural springs or controlled release ofCO2 (e.g. Quantifying and Monitoring Potential Ecosystem Impacts of Geological Carbon Storage Project (QICS)) raise awareness and commitment to understanding environmental impacts and geological complexities. Visuals can greatly facilitate communication, and research into public understanding of the subsurface demonstrates that quality and scale of schematics can affect perceived risk. Here we consider how public perception of subsurface activities could be shaped by relevant and applicable research that shares accessible and visually engaging information. Could images showing bubbles of seeping gas, or showcasing monitoring methods and capabilities, help to contextualise risks and geoscientific concepts and shape opinions? Can these materials aid dialogue between the wider scientific community, publics and stakeholders? We propose that future projects could improve dialogue through use of context-appropriate visuals to enhance dialogue on risks, impacts and monitoring of subsurface engineering technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-616
Number of pages5
JournalThe APPEA Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018
Event2018 APPEA Conference & Exhibition - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 14 May 201817 May 2018


  • carbon capture and storage
  • CH4 and hydrocarbon seepage
  • CO2 seep
  • engineering the subsurface
  • geoenergy
  • natural analogue
  • science communication

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