School of Geography, Palaeoecology and Geography (GAP), Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Bernard Smith
Dr John McAlister
Dr Nicholas Betts
Dr Stephen McCabe
Daniel McAllister

School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE), Queen’s University Belfast

Professor P. A. M. Basheer

School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Professor Heather Viles
Dr Nick Cutler

Dr Julie Eklund

Samin Ahmad

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)

Professor Andrew Whiteley




Professor Bernard Smith  

Image of Prof. Bernard Smith

Prof. Smith is Professor of Tropical Geomorphology in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology where he has worked since 1979. Previously, he lectured in northern Nigeria after obtaining both his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. at the University of Reading, England. His main research interest is the study of stone decay processes in natural and built environments and he is a member of the Weathering Research Group within Queen's. He has published widely on natural rock weathering in the humid tropics, hot deserts and around the Mediterranean. Work on urban stone decay, includes studies in Venice, Budapest, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Dublin and Belfast and he has acted as an adviser to the Getty Conservation Institute on salt damage to buildings. Collaboration with leading conservation architects (Consarc Design Ltd) has included UK Research Council projects to examine how pollution modifies stone surfaces, a study of what makes stonework prone to rapid, catastrophic decay – and what can be done to turn it off – and a project to understand the long-term behaviour of stone in different environments within Northern Ireland that won a UK national award for technology transfer. He is the joint leader of a project to establish a ‘Natural Stone Database' for Northern Ireland, recently completed a major EPSRC funded project to investigate the rapid decay of building limestones, and heads up the current project on understanding climate change and the ‘greening’ of masonry.
Practical collaboration has included inputs into the conservation of key structures in Belfast such as the Albert Clock, St George's Market, Stormont and the Lanyon building at Queen's. These links lead to the creation of a joint venture company ‘Stone Conservation Services Ltd' that combines the practical expertise of Consarc with the research potential of the University. These interests in the conservation of built heritage are complemented by a concern for natural heritage. He is a former member of the statutory advisory Council for Nature Conservation and Countryside (CNCC), and is still a co-opted member of their working group on planning and protected landscapes. He sits on the management committee of the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site, has a particular interest in the promotion of National Parks within Northern Ireland, sits on the interdepartmental committee to formulate National Park legislation for Northern Ireland and has acted for IUCN as a referee for natural World Heritage Site inscription.

Selected publications:

2002 Smith, B.J., Wright, J. S. and Whalley W.B. Sources of non-glacial loess-size quartz silt and the origins of ‘desert loess’.  Earth Science Reviews, 59: 1-26.

2002 Smith, B.J., Turkington, A.V., Warke, P.A., Basheer, P.A.M., McAlister, J.J., Meneely, J. and Curran J.M. Modelling the rapid retreat of building sandstones.  A case study from a polluted maritime environment.  Geological Society of London Special Publication, 205: 339-354.

2005 Smith, B.J., Warke, P.A., McGreevy, J.P and Kane, H.L. Salt weathering simulations under hot desert conditions: agents of enlightenment or perpetuators of preconceptions?  Geomorphology, 67: 211-227.

2006 Gómez-Heras, M., Smith, B.J. and Fort, R.  Surface temperature differences between minerals in crystalline rocks: implications for granular disaggregation of granites through thermal fatigue.  Geomorphology, 78: 236-249.



Dr John McAlister

Image of Dr John McAlister

Dr. McAlister is a Senior Research Fellow, an analytical chemist, and a key member of the Weathering Research Group with specialist expertise in the geochemistry of weathered materials. He has been actively involved in Weathering Group projects for over fifteen years, especially the modification of standard analytical techniques for the analysis of building materials, e.g. X-Ray Diffraction for clays and salts in very low concentrations, statistical discrimination of elemental concentration and depletion during weathering and selective extraction to assess differential mobility of weathering products. In the current project, he oversees analytical procedures and provides expertise in the chemistry of stone decay.

Selected publications:

2002  Smith, B.J., A.V. Turkington, P.A. Warke, P.A.M. Basheer, J.J. McAlister, J. Meneely, and J.M. Curran. "Modelling the rapid retreat of building  sandstones. A case study from a polluted  marine environment." Geological Soc. London Special Publication, 205, 339- 354.

2003 McAlister, J.J., B.J. Smith, and J.M. Curran. "The use of sequential extraction to examine iron and trace metal mobilisation and  case hardening of building sandstone: a preliminary investigation." Microchemical  J., 74, 5-18.

2003 Smith, B.J., A. Torok, J.J. McAlister, and Y. Megarry. "Observations on the factors influencing stability of building stones following contour scaling: a case study of oolitic limestones from Budapest, Hungary." Building and Environment, 38, 1173-1183.

2004 Smith, B.J., J.A. Baptista Neto, M.A.M. Silva, J.J. McAlister, P.A. Warke, and  J.M. Curran. "The decay of coastal forts in southeast Brazil and its implications for the conservation of colonial built heritage." Environmental Geology, 46: 493–503.

2004 Baptista-Neto, J.A., M. Crapez, J.J. McAlister, and C.G. Vilela. "Concentration and bioavailability of heavy metals in sediments from Niteroi Harbour, (Guanabara Bay) S.E. Brazil." J. Coastal Research, 27(4) 811-817.

2004 Vilela, C.G., D.S. Batista, J.A. Baptista-Neto, M. Crapez, and J.J. McAlister. "Benthic foraminifera distribution in high polluted sediments from Niteroi Harbor (Guanabara bay), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil." Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Science, 76(1), 161-171.

2005  McAlister, J.J., B.J. Smith, J.A. Baptista-Neto, and J.K. Simpson. "Geochemical distribution and bioavailability of heavy metals and oxalate in street sediments from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: a preliminary investigation." Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 27, 429-44.

2006 McAlister, J.J., B.J. Smith, and A. Torok. "Element partitioning and potential mobility within surface dusts on buildings in a polluted urban environment,."Atmospheric Environment, 40, 6780-6790.

2008 McAlister, J.J.,  B.J. Smith, and A. Török. "Transition metals and water-soluble ions in deposits on a building and their potential catalysis of stone decay" Atmospheric Environment, 42(33), 7657-7668.

 In Press "Post-depositional modification of atmospheric dust on a granite building in central Rio de Janeiro: implications for surface induration and subsequent stone decay,." Geol. Soc. Special Publication.

In Press McAlister, J.J. and B.J. Smith. "Analytical Techniques for Investigating Terrestrial Geochemical Sediments" In (Eds.) S. McClaren and D. Nash, Chapter 13.

In Press Baptista Neto, J.A., B.J. Smith, and J.J. McAlister. "Surface modification of a granite building stone in central Rio de Janeiro." Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias.



Dr Nicholas Betts

Image of Dr Nick Betts

Dr Betts is a climatologist specialising in synoptic and meso-scale climatolgy and climate change. He been involved in climate change projects for Northern Ireland (SNIFFER and National Trust), and is responsoble for the interpretation of future climate change scenarios in meso- / micro-scale environments in the current project.

Selected publications:

2002 Betts, N.L. "Climate change in Northern Ireland." In Implications of Climate Change for Northern Ireland: Informing Strategy Development. Smyth, A., Montgomery, W.I., Favis-Mortlock, D. and Allen, S., (eds.), The Stationary Office, Norwich, 26-42.

2003 Betts, N.L. "Analysis of an anomalously severe thunderstorm system over Northern Ireland." Atmospheric Research, 67-68, 23-34.

2004 Betts, N.L., J.D. Orford, D. White, and C.J. Graham. "Storminess and surges in the South-Western Approaches of the eastern North Atlantic: the synoptic climatology of recent extreme coastal storms." Marine Geology, 210, 1-4, 227-246.

2007 Crawford, T., N.L. Betts, and D. Favis-Mortlock. "Issues of GCM grid box choice and predictor selection associated with statistical downscaling of daily precipitation over Northern Ireland." Climate Research



Dr Stephen McCabe

Image of Dr Stephen McCabe

Dr McCabe's research focuses on the decay of stone-built heritage, including his PhD on the impact of complex stress histories (sequences of lime rendering, fire, frost and salt weathering) on the decay of historic stone structures and the ensuing conservation implications. Through this project, he seeks to understand the greening and deterioration of sandstone walls under wet conditions. In 2011 he received a Queen's Impact Award (sponsored by EPSRC), for the purpose of communicating this research to a wider audience, particularly conservation practitioners.

Selected Publications:

2007 McCabe, S., Smith, B. J., and Warke, P. A. "Preliminary observations on the impact of complex stress histories on the response of sandstone to salt weathering: laboratory simulations of process combinations." Environmental Geology 52: 269 – 276.

2007 McCabe, S., Smith, B. J., Warke, P. A. "An holistic approach to the assessment of stone decay: Bonamargy Friary, Northern Ireland." In: Prikryl, R. & Smith, B. J. (eds.), Building Stone Decay: From Diagnosis to Conservation. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 271: 77 – 86.

2008 McCabe, S., McKinley, J. M. & Smith, B. J. "Simulating initial stages of salt accumulation and organisation within building sandstones." In: Lukaszewicz, J. W. & Niemcewizc, P. (eds.), 11th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone. Nicolaus Copernicus University Press, Torun: 173 – 180.

2008 Smith, B. J., Gomez-Heras, M. & McCabe, S. "Understanding the decay of stone-built cultural heritage." Progress in Physical Geography 32: 439 - 461.

2010 McCabe, S., Smith, B. J., McAlister, J. J., Viles, H. A., Curran, J. M. & Crawford, T. "Climate change and wet winters: testing the diffusion of soluble salts in building stone under saturated conditions." XIX Congress of the Carpathian Balkan Geological Association, Thessaloniki, Greece, Vol. 100: 399 - 405.

2010 McKinley, J., Keaney, A., McCabe, S., Curran, J. & Smith, B. "Spatial distribution of salt penetration in weathered sandstone." XIX Congress of the Carpathian Balkan Geological Association, Thessaloniki, Greece, Vol. 100: 407 - 411.

2010 McKinley, J. M., Keaney, A.Z., McCabe, S. & Curran, J. "Geostatistical analysis of multiple correlated variables from salt weathering simulations." Accuracy 2010 Symposium, Leicester, UK: 229-232, July 2010

2010 McKinley, J. M. & McCabe, S. "A geostatistical investigation into changing permeability of sandstone during weathering simulations." Geographical Analysis 42: 180 - 203. doi:10.1111/j.1538-4632.2010.00789.x

2011 Smith, B. J., Srinivasan, S., McCabe, S., McAllister, D., Cutler, N., M. Basheer, P.A.M. & Viles, H. A. "Climate change and the investigation of complex moisture regimes in heritage stone: preliminary observations on possible strategies." Materials Evaluation: January 2011, 48 - 58.

2011 McCabe, S., McKinley, J. M., Gomez-Heras, M. & Smith, B. J. "Dynamical instability in surface permeability characteristics of building sandstone in response to salt accumulation over time." Geomorphology 130: 65 - 75.

In Press Smith, B. J., McCabe, S., McAllister, D., Adamson, C., Viles, H. A. & Curran, J. M. "A commentary on climate change, stone decay dynamics and the 'greening' of natural stone buildings: new perspectives on 'deep wetting'." Environmental Earth Sciences.

Submitted McCabe, S., Smith, B. J., McAlister, J. J., McAllister, D., Srinivasan, S., Basheer, P. A. M. & Curran, J. M. "Linking climate change, moisture dynamics and salt movement within natural building sandstones: implications for salt transport by diffusion." In: Salt Weathering on Buildings and Stone Sculptures 2011, Cyprus.