Legal framework | National Geological Records Centre (NGRC)

Drilling rig in operation

Information about the BGS legal framework:

Background, forms and guides

NGRC collections policy

The National Geoscience Records Centre (NGRC) is comprised of three primary collections areas:

  • BGS Archives
  • British Geoscience Archive

The NGRC Collections Policy 26KB pdf sets out the details of what specific subjects, geographical areas, chronological periods and formats the NGRC collects; the legislative framework and standards involved; and how the items are managed once within the collection.

Drilling information

The Survey has statutory rights of access to records (Public Records Act 1958), core and various samples from boreholes drilled to depths greater than 30 metres for mineral exploration and 15 metres for water supply assessment. Data from investigations of shallower depth are also voluntarily deposited.

The BGS acknowledges that the copyright of the records is still vested with data donors or with the clients /organisations who commissioned the work. When paper records are scanned, the copyright of scanned images will be jointly vested in the BGS and the donor. If confidentiality is requested images are not passed to external third parties without the express permission of the data donor.

The ownership of the information itself and that of the copyright and other intellectual property rights must be clearly established before a data collection is deposited. The BGS can offer advice and guidance about clearing intellectual property rights including copyright.


What happens to your data if it is held on open file?

All the information received will be registered and sited using 1:10 000 scale topographical maps and then indexed within ORACLE database tables. To facilitate access to data BGS may scan paper records and hold the images within an information retrieval system. The index information and the records themselves are then available to BGS staff to aid geological interpretation as part of the national geological mapping programme.

What happens to your data if it is held commercial-in-confidence?

If the donor requests that the information is to be held as commercial-in-confidence, the Survey acknowledges that the copyright of these reports is vested with the clients that commissioned the work, and that their permission is required before the reports can be placed on open file. Information will be stored physically separate from open file data and where held digitally will be password protected on a secure server. Only the existence of the data and the geographic location will available externally via BGS Enquiries and the BGS GeoIndex. Any requests for release of data will be referred to the donor.

Release of confidential data

The NGRC follows a strict quality procedure before releasing confidential data. Please ensure that you fill in a confidentiality request form when depositing your data so that this can be held on file for future administration purposes.

The NGRC is a place of deposit for public records. As a National Archive it is in everyone's interest to make as much information available as possible. The normal period of commercial-in-confidence cover is four years. If you have specific requirements beyond this period these can be arranged with the BGS Data Collection Officer. All records held are treated as public records and will therefore be subject to release after the restricted period, even if initially held as commercial-in-confidence.

Please download our Terms of deposit form 20 KB pdf for further guidance and the Release of confidential information 20 KB pdf site investigation and drilling information frequently asked questions.

Exclusion of liability

The following information is provided to all users of data from the NGDC:

The use of information provided by the British Geological Survey (BGS) is at your own risk. Please read any warnings given about the limitations of the information.

In view of the disparate sources of information at the BGS's disposal, including much material donated to the BGS that is accepted in good faith as being accurate, the Natural Environment Research Council gives no warranty as to the quality or accuracy of the information or its suitability for any use. All implied conditions relating to the quality or suitability of the information, and all liabilities arising from the supply of the information (including any liability arising in negligence) are excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

The BGS draws customers or recipient’s attention to the following considerations that may affect the quality or accuracy of information supplied:

  • Geological observations are made according to the prevailing understanding of the subject at the time. The quality of such observations may be affected by subsequent advances in knowledge, improved methods of interpretation, and better access to sampling locations.
  • Raw data may have been transcribed from analogue to digital format, or may have been acquired by means of automated measuring techniques. Although such processes are subjected to quality control to ensure reliability where possible, some raw data may have been processed without human intervention and may in consequence contain undetected errors.
  • Detail clearly defined and accurately depicted on large-scale maps may be lost when small-scale maps are derived from them.
  • Although samples and records are maintained with all reasonable care, there may be some deterioration in the long term.
  • The most appropriate techniques for copying original records are used, but there may be some loss of detail and dimensional distortion when such records are copied.
  • Data may be complied from the disparate sources of information at the BGS’s disposal, including material donated to BGS by third parties, and may not have been subject to any verification or other quality control process.
  • Data, information and related records, which have been donated to BGS have been produced for a specific purpose, and that may affect the type and completeness of the data recorded and any interpretation. The nature and purpose of data collection, and the age of the resultant material may render it unsuitable for certain applications/uses. You must verify the suitability of the material for their intended usage.
  • The data, information and related records supplied by BGS should not be taken as a substitute for specialist interpretations, professional advice and/or detailed site investigations. You must seek professional advice before making technical interpretations on the basis of the materials provided.

If a report or other output is produced for you on the basis of data you have provided to BGS, or your own data input into a BGS system, please do not rely on it as a source of information about other areas or geological features, as the report may omit important details.

ISO 15489 records management

Published by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), ISO 15489, Information and documentation - Records management, focuses on the business principles behind records management and how organisations can establish a framework to enable a comprehensive records management programme. BGS records management works towards this standard and is also ISO 9001 accredited.


Contact Sue Roper (Data Collection Officer)