BRGM's overriding goal is to make research, expertise and innovation available to all. It collaborates with many public and private partners in the domain of Earth science applications.
BRGM produces and enriches geological knowledge for the sustainable management of resources and risks in the ground and subsurface. It strives to strengthen the resilience to climate change of regions in France and around the world.
BRGM: an institution committed to addressing major societal issues
Achievements that fall under the 2018-2022 Objectives and Performance contract
All the projects presented are part of the 2018-2022 Objectives and Performance contract signed with the State. The contract includes the following 6 strategic goals:
- Promote a research policy to support the production of knowledge, expertise and innovation.
- Deploy BRGM’s expertise to help shape public policies.
- Support a proactive policy for innovation, adding value and transferring knowledge.
- Strengthen BRGM’s European and international strategy.
- Develop a sites and training policy in line with BRGM's scientific strategy.
- Boost governance and management dynamics.
Production of knowledge, expertise and innovation
Promote a research policy to support the production of knowledge, expertise and innovation
Three exploratory research programmes (PEPRs) are underway.
In 2022, BRGM was selected under the ‘France 2030’ investment plan to co-lead two new exploratory priority research and equipment programmes (PEPRs):
- “SOUSSOL - Subsurface, a common good”, dedicated to the future uses of the subsurface, is led jointly by BRGM and CNRS and aims to develop knowledge of the French subsurface.
- IRiMa, dedicated to natural and technological risks. Led jointly by BRGM, CNRS and Grenoble-Alpes University, this programme aims to strengthen risk science in France.
The “OneWater - Water as a Common Good” PEPR, led by BRGM, CNRS and INRAE, had already been selected in 2021. This programme is structured around 6 scientific challenges to have water recognised as a common good.
These three strategic research programmes are undertaken for periods of 7 to 10 years.
Life ADAPTO: exploring natural solutions to deal with coastal erosion and coastal flooding
The Life ADAPTO project ended in 2022. Over a period of 5 years, it experimented with flexible management of the coastline in 10 pilot areas of the French coast, and in 5 different types of environment, from low-lying, Atlantic beaches to mangroves. With a budget of 52 million euros, this project has made it possible to implement soft solutions for managing the coastline on several sites, thus providing an example for other French and foreign coastal sites.
PRIME platform: a first experiment to simulate polluted soil under controlled conditions
In 2022, through the SPLODGE project, the PRIME platform, BRGM's test laboratory for soil and water decontamination, furthered our understanding of environments that have been polluted by petroleum hydrocarbons.
In a few figures, SPLODGE accounts for:
- 80 m3 of test volume
- 125 tonnes of calibrated sand
- 6 m3 of diesel fuel
- 75 TDR sensors
- 275 geophysical probes
- 24 pressure sensors
The only platform of its kind in Europe, PRIME allows for large-scale studies (several tons or tens of cubic metres).
RenovRisk Érosion: analysing and understanding the internal structure of large landslides
To understand how large landslides work, the RenovRisk project studied the role of water as a catalyst of landslides, imaged the geometry of the subsurface by combining electromagnetic and seismic approaches, and modelled the dynamics of moving masses.
Exceptional success rate in French research agency (ANR) calls for projects
This year, 11 projects submitted by BRGM in response to the French Research Agency's calls for projects were selected, 4 of which are European or international in scope and 8 of which are coordinated by BRGM. Eleven projects have also been selected under the Horizon Europe programme, including one coordinated by BRGM.
Support for shaping public policy
Deploying BRGM’s expertise to help shape public policies
Leading a full-scale crisis exercise
In 2022, BRGM coordinated the scenario of a serious collapse of an unstable cliff in Bidart as part of the European cross-border research project RiskCoast. This collapse simulation tested the ability of actors to work together in an emergency, but also to practice emergency responses and to test in-situ and satellite monitoring tools.
Assessment of the mineral potential of the Massif Central: two historical campaigns
With a budget of €5M, an airborne geophysical campaign combining three different imaging methods was conducted in the western Massif Central. This was followed by a regional geochemical exploration campaign covering areas that had not been prospected in the geophysical survey. Over a four-week period, 645 samples were taken and 49 substances were analysed.
Involvement of BRGM in the inter-ministerial Drought Crisis unit
This summer, BRGM was called upon during the period of exceptional drought in France to contribute its hydrogeological expertise. Our experts put forward proposals for monitoring and predicting the fluctuations in aquifers in the short term via MétéEAU Nappes and for deploying tools such as regional models to improve the management of bodies of water and their use.
Emergency consolidation work on the steel pit-head frames of the mine shafts in Oignies
In 2022, responding to an urgent need, our post-mining teams supervised the consolidation of the old mine pit-head frames in Oignies, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the evolving cultural landscape. The work took 5 months, including the complete renewal of the pipes.
Valorisation, innovation and transfer
Supporting a proactive policy for innovation, adding value and knowledge transfer
VALOMAG: 3 innovations protected by patents
As part of the VALOMAG project, our teams have filed three patent applications for enabling the extraction of metals from electronic or mining waste that are essential to the digital and ecological transitions. This innovation opens up promising prospects for securing the supply of essential raw minerals for the circular economy.
BRGM strengthens its R&D agreements with partner companies
In 2022, BRGM strengthened its partnerships for adding value to scientific results and transferring them to businesses, with new agreements and the renewal of existing partnerships.
Launch of France Géoénergie and OFREMI
BRGM is committed to securing the supply of critical metals, with the launch of the French Observatory of Mineral Resources for Industrial Sectors (OFREMI), and to ensuring the development of near-surface geothermal energy with the creation of France Géoénergie. These two collectives together federate 10 partners to promote access to strategic subsurface resources in France.
European and international strategy
Strengthening BRGM’s European and international strategy
BRGM's new strategic focus for developing its international reach
In 2022, BRGM strengthened its international activities and reaffirmed its ambition to be the leading partner in Earth science applications. In pursuit of this goal, a tripartite partnership framework agreement has been signed between AFD, Expertise France and BRGM.
Launching of the Horizon Europe AfricaMaVal project
The Horizon Europe AfricaMaVal project, coordinated by BRGM, aims to ensure an ecologically and socially responsible supply of critical metals to European industries. The aim is to ensure sustainable local co-development under the best environmental, social and governance conditions, by proposing 100 investment projects in Africa, and to create a durable environment conducive to business for European and African companies. The AfricaMaVal project involves 18 European and African partners, including NGOs, from 11 countries. It has an overall budget of €9M to be spread over 42 months.
Sites and training policy
Developing a sites and training policy in line with our scientific strategy
Deployment of the e-learning platform
BRGM’s training department, BRGM Formation, has set up an e-learning platform. Our first e-learning course on “Geology and Geotechnics for Development Projects”, was developed in partnership with RTE, France's Transmission System Operator.
QUALIOPI certification obtained
In 2022, our BRGM training platform was awarded a state-approved QUALIOPI certification which guarantees quality and sustainability for ongoing vocational training. This label, which has been compulsory since 1 January 2022, helped to attract 800 trainees during the year.
Governance and management
Boosting governance and management dynamics
A second BRGM building connected to geothermal energy in Gardanne (Bouches-du-Rhône)
In Gardanne, the 14-hectare eco-cluster will now be powered by geothermal energy from the 30°C water in Europe's largest mine shaft.
HCÉRES: positive evaluation of BRGM for the period 2017-2021
On 29 June 2022, the French High Council for Assessing Research and Higher Education (HCÉRES - Haut conseil de l’évaluation de la recherche et de l’enseignement supérieur) published its assessment of BRGM for the period 2017-2021. It identified 6 strengths:
- Quality of research and expertise on ground and the subsurface.
- BRGM has a substantial scientific position in the fields of mining and post-mining, critical materials, energy transition and the circular economy.
- State-of-the-art databases.
- Development of research units with universities.
- Significant improvement of the internal organisation: human resources, budgetary management, transversality.
- The teams at BRGM are highly motivated specialists.
HCÉRES concluded its report by positioning the French geological survey as the second most important in Europe in terms of number of publications.