How the BGS is involved with industry

Geological window

The BGS has been surveying the UK's geology since 1835. Our current role is still very close to what it was when we were established during the industrial revolution.

We identify the UK's resources and investigate whether they can be utilised sustainably in the national interest. To do this we map, measure, observe and model the rocks and superficial deposits from a depth of several kilometres all the way to the surface.

Providing data, knowledge and information on natural resources means that we:

  • identify the extent of the resources
  • provide estimates on the volume of resources
  • assess whether they can be extracted without damaging the natural environment
  • provide evidence on how competing underground activities may need to be managed to ensure safety

This means that the BGS is involved in areas of immediate interest and strategic importance to government, industry and society. Undertaking this work requires close association with all parties involved in how the UK's natural resources are utilised: industry, government, regulators and other academic institutes. We often have a role in the transfer of knowledge to industry.

Funding from private and public sources

As an independent geological survey, working in close association with these bodies means that the BGS has always derived funding from a mix of public and private sources. Half of our £50 million funding comes from our parent body, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The other half comes from a combination of commercial data sales, research grants, commercial consultancy and other services. Some of the work we do is confidential. In every single case, the BGS must remain impartial and objective.

Core store and record centre

Confidentiality agreements

BGS utilises industry data from the sensors industry have deployed in the Preston New Road area, this allows BGS to generate a comprehensive picture of all the available information and data, which is being captured alongside our own seismic network. On balance we believe it is in the public interest to be able to utilise all available information, this can on occasion mean we need to sign a confidentiality agreement, in order to access industry data. This is in line with the guidance and recommendations of the Information Commissioners Office. BGS always strives to ensure, where possible, all data is then transferred and made publicly available through our National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC).

On the 24th August BGS published a statement on our use of Confidentiality Agreements, more information can be found here.

A geological database for public and national good

The data that the BGS collects is deposited into our National Geoscience Data Centre and the cores, samples and reports in the National Geological Repository. We utilise this information to build up the national geological database to help the nation make decisions about its natural resources into the future. We have been building and maintaining this geological database for public and national good since 1835. Our fundamental aim is to provide the very best independent, scientific evidence base possible.

The petroleum, mining, environmental and construction industries have been and remain principle providers of this geological information. These industries collect substantial geological datasets in the usual course of their activities. Where data is collected via commercially sensitive projects, the data can remain confidential for a limited period of time. However, wherever possible we make all of our data and research available to the public, regulators, industry, government and academia in the form of open data, openly published reports and as peer-reviewed science.


For more information on BGS work, please contact Enquiries.