FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Terra e do Espaço

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Geologia da Universidade do Porto [EASP-Norte-Porto-39] visitada em 29/01/2009

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Overview
This large Unit comprising researchers from both Porto and Minho does good solid regional research. The Unit shows a positive trend in the number of international publications but still needs to improve. Their current strategy for internationalisation seems to involve trying to get regional problems into international journals rather than targeting problems of international importance. As a consequence, there is a need for a clearer strategy to promote the international aspect of their work. Currently, there are three active Groups, GEODYN, GEOREMAT and ENVISED of which the forensic geology work is topical and appears to have good potential and the coal research is well established, internationally. There are student concerns about library access and administrative problems that resulted in some funding being delayed that hindered graduate research. It appears that these problems are not of the Unit's making. Also there appeared to be a shortage of desk space for new PhD students and a lack of a student society or regular seminars. However, research students were happy with both the quality of the science and the levels of supervision. There also seems to be little clarity about the level of formal support for this Unit by the Faculty and a lack of clarity about commercial contracts and overhead levies.

Management
The Unit management seemed to be top down, but in some of the new Groups it appeared more bottom up.

Facilities
Space seems mostly adequate, with perhaps the exception of cubicles for research students. The Unit includesa good selection of equipment which, whilst generally old, is well maintained and enthusiastically used. The Unit houses a National Laser Raman Facility that is currently in need of repair especially if plans to develop forensic applications are to be realised. Technical support has been requested for the Cathodoluminescence microscope. However, a strategic plan for its use in internationally relevant and sustainable projects should be developed before we could recommend FCT to fund such support.

Recommendations to the Unit
The Unit clearly has great potential, however, the staff must concentrate and focus their resources in key areas of international importance and on new areas with good potential to develop. A strategic revision of all the groupings should be undertaken to ensure critical mass is obtained in the areas so identified. Attention should be given to further supporting graduate training. A Graduate Training Committee should be established, which should include students as members, with a view to developing a formal Graduate Training Programme which also includes a seminar series.

Commendations
We commend the previous and continuing work on coal research, research in this field is developing well with a good vision and diversification. We also welcome the innovative introduction of forensic geology within the Unit and agree that this subject will have good future potential.

Conclusions
This Unit with an enthusiastic and diverse group of researchers has considerable potential. However, they have not yet realised their international potential except in a few areas, and the Unit as a whole needs a clear strategy to identify areas of excellence and improve the rate of international products in these fields. We would rate the Unit as Good. This is a Unit in which one or few groups did high quality international research which leads to some contributions to the field while most groups did good, solid research at international level leading to incremental contributions to the field
Sobre os grupos de investigação
ENVISED: Environment, Society and Education [RG-EASP-Norte-Braga-39-1494]
Introduction
This is a moderate-sized group of staff and other PhD level researchers. It is noted that the group, from 2007, has developed from the SURYNEN previous group (2003-2007).

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus is on environmental management, geoheritage, geoeducation and land-use planning. These are moderately topical research areas in the Earth Science which would be expected to provide significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. As an illustration it would have been significant that this group would have mentioned special productions linked to the commemorations of the International Year of the Earth Planet.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved in the previous period a good level of productivity in terms of publications. Some of these are in peer-reviewed international journals.

Training
5 PhD and 10 MSc projects completed in the previous period is evidence the group provide a very good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
This newly structured group is based on previous group (SURYNEN) whose overall achievements and potential are below expectations with little indications of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. Future plans and objectives are reasonable. The proposed work may lead to outcome of international relevance and importance.
GEODYN - Geosphere Dynamics [RG-EASP-Norte-Porto-39-1696]
Introduction
This is a moderate-sized, recently formed group of staff from The Universities of Porto and Minho.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The specific research focus is a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding of crustal recycling processes and evolution and the associated geotectonic controls. The Unit has three main focusses: Variscan thermal evolution; Variscan basin development; and palaeoenvironment. These are topical research areas in the Earth Science which would be expected to lead to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. Whilst it is easy to see the overlap between the subgroups dealing with the igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary evolution of the Palaeozoic rocks their synergy with the very small Coastal Evolution sub-group was not clear. Perhaps these researchers might be better placed in another group such as ENVISED? The Group has a clear future strategy to investigate the Portuguese Variscides. It is important that the Group continue to develop international links to place this work in a global context.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
Members of this recently formed Group have a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications in peer-reviewed international journals in the past. The Group has participated in an IGCP Project (503), enjoys a cooperative arrangement with France (FCT-CNRS), has arrangements for joint international supervision of students and has organised an international conference.

Training
Successfully completed PhD and MSc projects in previous groups involving several of the researchers of this new group indicate that it can provide a good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
This newly structured group is based on previous groups whose overall achievements and potential have met expectations with some indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. Future plans and objectives are reasonable and realistic. The proposed work may lead to outcome of international relevance and importance.
Geology and Society (GEOSOC) [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Braga-39-857]
Introduction
This is a small group of staff and other PhD level researchers. It is noted that the group, from 2007, will be incorporated into the larger ENVISED group at FCUP.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus has been on Geological Heritage and the application of ICT (information and communication technologies) to Earth Science training. These are topical research areas in the Earth Science which has led to some contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a low productivity in terms of ISI publications. Most of these are in a peer-reviewed international specialist volume published by the Royal Irish Academy. The group has participated in and organised international conferences in this new and emerging area and has helped to establish a journal (Geoheritage) to be published by Springer that should help resolve the productivity problems. The ICT products were more difficult to assess although geological material on the University's web site was easy to access, though it was not clear how much is attributed to this project.

Training
1 PhD and 4 MSc projects completed in the review period is evidence the group provide a good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements have perhaps just met expectations with some indication(s) of the impact and relevance of this work at international level.
GeoREMAT: Geological Resources and Materials [RG-EASP-Norte-Porto-39-1644]
Introduction
This is a large group of staff and other PhD level researchers. It is noted that the group was established in 2007, having evolved from amalgamation/ rationalisation of three previous groups.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research foci are on the genesis, characterisation and use of earth resources. These are very topical, but broad, research areas in the Earth Science which would be expected to lead to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. International impact would be enhanced if research programmes in these sub-areas could be more effectively integrated or, key sub-areas for development more clearly identified.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group members have achieved a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications. A few are in relevant peer-reviewed international journals. Other indicators of the international importance of the groups work are limited.

Training
Successfully completed PhD and MSc projects in previous groups within the review indicate that the new group can provide a good research training environment.

Overview
This newly structured group is based on previous groups whose overall achievements and potential have met expectations but with only some indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. Future plans and objectives are reasonably well developed and ambitious. These may lead to outcomes of international relevance and importance.
Lithosphere Dynamics (LITHODYN) [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Braga-39-855]
Introduction
This has a very small number of staff and no other researchers. It is noted that the group, from 2007 will be inactive.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus has been on lithosphere evolution through the study of Variscan granitic associations with specific reference to the Central Iberian Zone and comparisons with similar associations in France and Switzerland and Portugal and Spain. These are established research areas in the Earth Science which have led to some contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level through comparative studies elsewhere in Europe.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its small size, the group has had a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications. Only one of these is in a peer-reviewed international journal (Terra Nova). The others are primarily restricted to abstracts. It is noted that the group are preparing two other manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Training
One completed PhD in 2003, but no other submissions during the review period is evidence of a limited research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements, to date, have been below expectations. There is some indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level, but not through substantive publications or completed theses.
Petrogás-Energy Resources and Environment: Prospecting/Exploring for Liquid and Gaseous Hydrocarbons [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Porto-39-1020]
Introduction
This is a small group of staff and other PhD level researchers. Since 2007, the group has been incorporated into the larger GEOREMAT group at FCUP.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus has been on Coal and CBM research on the Douro, Buçaco and other basins in Portugal and Spain. This is an established research area in the Earth Sciences which has led to major contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. The programme has demonstrated a clear perspective in both its focus on coal reserves and their economic potential together with CO2 sequestration.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a moderate to high level of productivity in terms of publications, reports and patents. Some of the publications are in peer-reviewed international journals, primarily in the International Journal of Coal Geology.

A patent on CO2 sequestration is also noted and commended as evidence for activity in this area. Evidence for international standing in the Coal Geology is also apparent from involvement of staff in the International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrology (ICCOP).

Training
The group has provided a good research training environment evident from1 PhD and 8 MSc projects completed in the review period.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements have met expectations with some indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level.
Remigaia- Geology, evaluation and environmental impact of mineral resources [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Porto-39-1021]
Introduction
This is a large group of 13 staff and 1 other PhD level researchers. It is noted that the group, from 2007, will be incorporated into the larger GEOREMAT group at FCUP.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus has been concerned with the geology and characterisation of geological resources with particular reference to specific areas of Northern and Central Portugal. This is a topical research area in the Earth Science which has led to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications. Some of these are these are in peer-reviewed international journals (5 of the 10 listed), but those in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta are only abstracts.

Training
1 PhD and over 27 MSc projects completed in the review period is evidence the group suggest a very good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
For its size, the group’s overall achievements have been below expectations in terms of publications in major journals and in developing formal international partnerships, with some indication(s) of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. In contrast productivity in terms of completed MSc theses has been high.
Surface Dynamics and Environment (SURYNEN) [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Braga-39-856]
Introduction
This is a small group of staff which has been not renewed for the 2007-2010 period. It is noted that many members have joined the ENVISED Group at FCUP.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
During the period of activity (2003-2007) the “Surface Dynamics and Environment - SURYNEN” research group has carried out scientific work (on the environmental evolution of continental areas during the Cenozoic, coastal zone changes, environmental impacts and vulnerability indicators with application to management) in both the national and international context, as testified by the listed scientific publications and by the participation in international research projects with Morocco, Spain and Tunisia. Moreover the group has been involved in a project on coastal morphodynamics monitoring approved for affiliation in the IGBP-LOICZ. The group has organized 2 national meetings and has collaborated to the organization of 4 international meetings. The scientific relevance of the group activities can be considered very good.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
During its activity period, the “Surface Dynamics and Environment - SURYNEN” research group (leader Helena Maria Leite Pato Granja) has produced 4 papers in journals (2 of which are ISI), 1 articles in conference proceedings, 4 chapters in scientific books (1 of which international), 1 book, and an encyclopaedia article. Taking into account the small number of researchers (10), the overall productivity of the SURYNEN research group may be considered good.

Training
During its activity period this small research group has provided a very good training environment producing 14 higher degrees, comprising 10 MScs and 4 PhDs.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements have met expectations with some indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level and have provided a very good training environment.
Transmass- Mass Transfer in the Genesis of Mineral and Water Resources [RG-X-EASP-Norte-Porto-39-1111]
Introduction
This was a small to medium-sized group of researchers that became extinct at the end of the review period, being incorporated, from 2007, into the larger GEOREMAT group at FCUP.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus was on mass transfer with diverse applications (mineral resources, water resources). Depending on the local geology, studies were coupled with stratigraphy, tectonics, geochemistry, and related areas. These are established research areas in the Earth Sciences which might have been expected to lead to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. In terms of relevance/impact in the area of hydrogeology, a model for the hydrologic balance and recharge of aquifers was established.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group achieved a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications. There were only 6 peer-review journal publications listed, two of which were actually short Conference Proceedings papers and another a Goldschmidt abstract in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Two of the others, however, were in journals (Chemical Geology, Episodes). There were also 11 other publications, seven of which were Conference Proceedings (with at least three on hydrogeology). Group members were involved in the organisation of two Conferences.

Training
Only 1MSc thesis was completed in the review period, suggesting that the group provided a relatively poor research training environment, given that the overall Unit produced 49 Masters and 8 PhDs over the 2003-2006 period.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements were probably below expectations, with only modest indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level, thereby leading to the decision to disband the group at the time of reorganisation of the overall Unit.