Records holdings


Contact Sue Roper (Data Collection Officer)

Our archives

The NGRC now maintains an archive of over some nine million items, which include:

Geoscience record documents

Applied geology records

Geotechnical Data from Applied Geology projects. A series geotechnical datasets generated during the applied geology mapping of parts of the UK. For each of these projects, data were abstracted from the available site investigations within a mapping area. Some are more detailed than others.

BGS opencast coal data

Geological data resulting from all types of opencast coal exploration. Collection of data includes reports, interpretations and records of research in British coalfield areas. Records received by BGS mainly under the requirements of the Mining Industry Act 1926.


Borehole log

Records of boreholes, shafts and wells from all forms of drilling and site investigation work. Nearly one million records are held with some dating back to at least 1790 and ranging from one to several thousand metres deep. The majority of the records contain written descriptions of the ground encountered. All have now been scanned and all new records are routinely scanned as part of the registrations process.

The records are all indexed in the Single Onshore Borehole Index (SOBI) and can be easily accessed by using the GeoIndex. Scanned images of the records can also be seen via these routes and also via the Borehole Geology Geoentry System of specialist viewers.

A small percentage of the borehole records are held commercial-in-confidence for various reasons and cannot be released without the authority of the originator. However, this does not necessarily mean information cannot be made available. The database errs on the side of caution so not all those listed as confidential on the database will actually be confidential. Some classes of data can be released by NGRC staff whilst for others written confirmation of release from the originator is required.

Coal Authority prime geological data | deep mine

This collection was deposited with BGS by the Coal Authority in July 2001. It is the prime geological data resulting from deep underground coal exploration and exploitation. The collection includes reports, interpretations and records of research in British coalfield areas. Data covered includes past and present collieries and for future prospects.

Coal Authority prime geological data | interpretive and miscellaneous

Interpretive sections of the deep mine data plus geological and environmental data selected by British Coal surveyors and the BGS from the British Coal Corporation Records (BCC) as being of value for retention. Contains reports, interpretations, and original records. Not all are necessarily directly related to coal production.

Coal Authority prime geological data | opencast

Geological data resulting from some 8000 opencast coal exploration and exploitation sites. The data consists of reports, interpretations and records of research in British coalfield areas created by British Coal Corporation or its precursors. It includes both exploratory and worked sites, therefore not all will necessarily have been exploited. The collection was deposited with the National Geological Records Centre by the Coal Authority in July 2001. New data from The Coal Authority is added as it is received.

The collection includes borehole site plans, borehole logs, analyses and geophysical data, and opencast seam analyses etc. All available BGS opencast records have also been added to the index.

DECC well logs

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), formerly (Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), well logs for both onshore and offshore hydrocarbon exploration. Data is released by DECC through release agents. All of the onshore wells are also covered by the Mining Industry Act 1926 (S 23) which requires notification of intention to drill and deposit of records to BGS. The series includes a range of different information including composite and various types of geophysical logs.

Engineering geology records

Records of the BGS Engineering Geology units projects in the UK and overseas. The variety and format of the information held reflects the date of collection and the original aims of the individual projects. The collection has not been appraised or quality checked.

Field notebooks and record cards

Field notebooks and record cards
Notebooks produced by Survey and non-Survey geologists are held, with a wide variety of information recorded in the field including observations, sketches, sections with descriptions of exposures, wells, shafts, borings etc. Notebooks have been produced in a variety of formats and the collection dates from about 1800 to the present day. Following the Lofthouse Colliery disaster in 1973 two ex-NCB surveyors Happs and Hall indexed in detail all the notebooks available at that time. This index information has been databased and is accessible via the GDI. Any notebooks deposited or produced between 1975 and 1992 will not have been indexed in detail. From the mid 1960s much data that would previously have been recorded in notebooks was recorded on field data sheets or on the back of field slips. There is no index to this data. In 1992 new loose-leaf 'field notebook record sheets' were introduced with Filofax style binder. These are routinely indexed on deposit in the archive.

Field Slips

Field Slips are also referred to as Field Maps. They are the maps that the geologists use to record data and their interpretations, (faults, lines and geology) when they are out in the field. Used in conjunction with their field notebooks and other data to produce the Standard map of the area. There are two series of slips, one is produced on County Series base maps (1:10560) and the other on the National Grid (1:10560 & 1:10000) Ordnance Survey (OS) base maps.

Geochemical Analysis Records

Records of the BGS analytical chemistry laboratories prior to the year 2000. It is an archive of original records and includes card indexes, files and raw analytical data. Originally produced mainly by the Geochemistry Division. These records measure various chemical and physical properties of samples of rocks, water and minerals. Files may contain background detail on the samples themselves but coverage is variable; and information has been collected over many years in different formats.

Geophysical logs

Geophysical Logs
Down hole geophysical logs are indexed and databased. The original logs are curated by NGRC and held in a strong room. Copies can be seen on request. Paper and sepia copies can be accessed using the GeoIndex.

Marine Sample Records

This is the collection of records (data sheets and related descriptive documents and photographs) associated with sample stations. BGS holds records for some 86 000 sample stations. A sample station in this context is the site of a seabed sample/core or observation. The distribution of these sample points is variable. There are two types of sample stations those managed by BGS Projects and those manage by external organisations. The record collection includes seabed samples, shallow cores and geotechnical type boreholes, but not hydrocarbon wells. The records are applicable to a wide range of uses including environmental, geotechnical and geological studies.

MEIGA (Mineral Exploration & Investigation Grants Act 1972) Records

Records of Mineral Exploration: 267 reports from mineral exploration projects carried out in the UK under the Mineral Exploration and Investigation Grants Act. The records include project files kept on behalf of the former Dept of Trade and Industry, now the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)


Explanatory sheet memoirs describing the geology of the areas covered by either of the above old or new medium scale (1:50 000 and 1:63 360) map series. Some reference copies are held in NGRC (for areas covered by Land Survey Units based in Keyworth) but a full reference collection is held the Library. They can be accessed via NERC Library Service or the GeoIndex.

Mineral Reconnaissance Programme (MRP) Files

The Mineral Reconnaissance Programme (MRP), was funded by the former Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) now Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The MRP carried out baseline mineral exploration. The main aim of the programme was to stimulate private sector exploration and the development of indigenous mineral resources. The programme has now been subsumed into the new BGS Minerals Programme. The database contains information from the MRP together with some from earlier programmes and the new Minerals Programme.

All geochemical results obtained are used to populate the corporate Geochemistry Database.

National Well Archive

Well rig
The National Well Record Collection contains more than 130 000 geologically classified records of wells, boreholes and springs within England and Wales. These records form a unique store of fundamental hydrogeological information upon which to base the enquiry service. The data in the collection form the basis for the well-known series of national and regional hydrogeological maps published by the British Geological Survey.

Hydrogeological information is managed and stored at the Wallingford office.

Nirex Reports (UK)

The collection comprises a set of the factual and interpretative reports that document the investigations carried out by UK Nirex at Sellafield, Dounray, Elstow, Fulbeck and Killingholm. These investigations were into potential repositories for the storage of radioactive waste. In total there are in excess of 2250 individual volumes. This collection links to the rock and core samples held in the core store.

Offshore Geophysical Records

A collection of records gathered during geophysical surveys, or as the result of post-survey processing of field data. The records are from surveys on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) and surrounding areas, although there are some records from other parts of the world. The collection includes substantial volumes of UK Hydrographic Office sonar and echo sounder records, plus British Institutions Reflection Profiling Syndicate (BIRPS) seismic sections in addition to the records collected by BGS. Collection includes geophysical logs including seismic, sonar, magnetic, gravity and echo sounder, plus navigation and observer's logs.

Onshore Geophysical Seismic Data

The collection contains original prints, on paper, sepia or film, of seismic reflection survey sections. Most data are from within the UK onshore area; although there are some UK onshore and offshore (North Sea, Irish Sea) and foreign data. An additional set has been used for interpretation purposes.

Palaeontology (PAL) Collectors Sheets

Also referred to as blue sheets — these have been filled in by the mapping geologists and contain the information associated with the samples they have collected in the field. Holds information like the collector code — which is unique to the collector, sample number which corresponds to the sample in the fossil collection, the locality information (grid reference or and one inch sheet number) and also the geological formation that the sample is from.

Palaeontology (PAL) Registers

Two sets of registers — ex London and Leeds — kept separately. Leeds specimens mainly contain carboniferous specimens (usually from the Leeds area). London specimens cover all other areas.

Palaeontology (PAL) Sheet 1" Files

Palaeontological information related to a 1:50 000 map sheet areas or offshore quadrants, which include reports, diagrams, cross sections and species descriptions.

Petrology rock collection registers

This collection has several parts to it and includes the following:

  1. The English and Welsh Sliced Rock Collection registers
  2. The Museum Reserve Collection — worldwide collection of rock specimens
  3. Foreign thin section collection registers
  4. Enquiries — register of specimens submitted by external sources for identification
  5. The 'Lindsey' rock collection registers — historic collection by C R Lindsey
  6. Continental shelf registers
  7. Irish (pre partition) Rock Collection Registers
  8. Grays Inn Road Registers — (uranium / atomic energy)
  9. RC minerals collection — worldwide register of minerals
  10. Field geologists collecting books

Petrology rock sample collection record sheets

Archive of rock collector's record sheets, giving details of sampling recording what was collected, where, when and by whom. The original collecting sheets remain in Keyworth; however after 1985 Edinburgh started their own collection of collecting sheets.

Research and technical reports

Research and technical reports
The various report series are wide ranging and are designed for the rapid dissemination of information. The unbound masters of all reports must be deposited with NGRC and are held in secure storage. Copies of these reports are held in the Library for public consultation and loan to BGS staff. Further details can be accessed via NERC Library Service.

Sheet files

Sheet files
This collection consists of a wide variety of different types of data collected as part of survey work or as the result of enquiries. The information has been sorted into 1:50 000 or 1:10 000 sheet areas as appropriate. There may be photographs, analyses correspondence, plans, papers, theses, mining data etc. None of this data is indexed.

Site investigation reports

Site investigation reports
Some 45 000 site investigation reports containing borehole records, trial pit data, laboratory and test data. In most cases the factual data from the reports may be made available, subject to any copyright and confidentiality conditions. Interpretative sections may also be present but should not be released unless the donor has released the whole report. Any borehole records in these reports will be registered and databased with the borehole records collection, as described above.

The reports are indexed in the Site Investigations Database (BGS.BGS_SI) and can be accessed via the GeoIndex. The grid references used in the database are based on an unrefined rectangle and therefore may not be applicable to a specific site.

Waste site survey 1973

Waste sites
Listing of some 3500 waste sites in England and Wales identified by BGS as part of a survey carried out on behalf of the Department of the Environment in 1973. Enquirers should be made aware of when the data was collected and that it does not reflect current interpretation. There are not records for all of the sites listed. They are indexed in the table BGS.WASTE_SITES and accessible via the GeoIndex. Copies of the extant data are held in the strong room at Keyworth and are indexed by accession number.

Geoscience maps and plans

Borehole site maps

Maps in scales 1:10 000 and 1:10 560 where the sites of boreholes are shown. These maps contain the position of many boreholes registered with BGS up to 2000.

Coal Authority | opencast maps

Index of c. 8500 sites dating from the 1940s that accompany the opencast coal data. Showing outlines of the sites on 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey (OS) quarter sheets with site number and name.

Commercial mineral workings maps

These are Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 paper maps upon which the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (currently Department for Communities and Local Government) recorded hand drawn boundaries for permitted, withdrawn and refused mineral planning permissions and worked ground for every local authority area in England.

County map collection

Geological map 'Standards', manuscript and published maps of Great Britain produced by the Survey on County Series (1:10 560) Ordnance Survey base maps. Maps produced from 1860–1970. 'Standard maps' in this collection are the final 'best interpretation' of the geology at that time signed and approved by the BGS District Geologist (or equivalent).

Geological maps

Geological maps
A geologist's standard is the archive manuscript or computer generated geological map at 1:10 000 or 1:10 560 scale. It is the geologist's best interpretation of the geology at that time. The collection of over 35 000 maps covers most of Great Britain.

Geological maps | 1" Series

Original early geological mapping completed on Ordnance Survey (OS) First Series one inch map sheet areas. (Scale 1 inch to 1 mile).

Geological maps | 1" corrections

Collection of 1" to 1 mile scale geological maps, with annotations and corrections made to the first survey maps of UK (original 1" series see above).

Geophysical maps

Masters (dyeline) of various published geophysical maps including Bouguer anomaly, aeromagnetic and gravity. Thematic geology maps.

Industrial Minerals Assessment Unit (IMAU) collection

These maps were produced and/used as part of the IMAU (Industrial Minerals Assessment Unit) work.

Mine plans

Mine plans
Plans of various types relating to all types of mining activity including working copies, compilations, interpretation and plans of abandonment. They date from the 1840s to the present day.

The coverage for northern England and Scotland is more comprehensive than for the rest of the country. The plans include working copies, compilations and interpretations that may be copyright or confidential and therefore not be available for purchase. The general nature of some of the plans means that they may not be applicable to a specific site. However, the presence of mining data could indicate that further specialist advice or interpretation is required. They are indexed in the table BGS.ALL_PLANS and accessible via the GeoIndex.

Mineral Reconnaissance Programme (MRP) maps

Maps relating to the data for the MRP programme, a baseline mineral exploration programme originally funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) between 1972 and 1997. It has been subsumed into the new BGS Minerals Programme, funded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Maps relate to data held on the geochemistry of drainage stream sediments, panned concentrates, soil, deep overburden, and rock and drill core samples.

National Coal Board seam maps

Published seam maps created by National Coal Board Scientific Department. These show the extent of seams and physical and chemical properties of each individual seam within a coalfield area.

National Grid map collection

Manuscript and published geological maps of Great Britain produced by the Survey on National Grid Series (1:10 560, 1:10 000 and 1:25 000) Ordnance Survey base maps. Maps produced from 1955 to date. Standards are final 'best interpretation' of the geology at that time.

Offshore maps & charts

A collection of marine maps and charts held by BGS, various scales and subject types usually produced as part of BGS project work, although there are maps from other sources; for example UK Hydrographic Office survey charts. The topics are very wide-ranging from survey navigation to geological interpretation and is variable in areas covered, although most of the collection is for the United Kingdom Continental Shelf and surrounding areas.

Project specific maps

Maps and charts produced specifically as part of a BGS project.

Radon maps

Maps used as a basis for the joint PHE-BGS Digital Radon Potential Dataset which provides the current definitive map of Radon Affected Areas in England and Wales. Data used includes the relevant portions of airborne and ground gamma spectrometer surveys, mineral exploration, baseline geochemistry and environmental radiometric surveys along with lithogeochemical and borehole log data. It is predominantly a specialist subset of other existing BGS databases.