Geology and Landscape: Scotland

We provide applied geoscience solutions in 2D and 3D for Scotland's many environmental and social challenges.

Collaborating widely, our Edinburgh-based team ensures our science contributes to the needs of the private sector, local and central government, non-governmental organisations, academia and the wider community.

Much of our current research is focused on urban geology and on the Central Belt of Scotland, particularly the Carboniferous rocks. Understanding this area's geology is increasingly important as the legacy of past industrial development, future land use and resource and energy pressures combine to create a highly sensitive subsurface environment. This presents major challenges for sustainable development and potentially conflicting uses, particularly beneath our cities.

Our current regional focus is on the Forth and Lothians area where there are many competing interests in the surface and subsurface environments from planned developments in urban and water infrastructure to growing interest in geothermal energy, and urban and rural environmental management.

We are also active in applied geomorphological research. The upland environments of Scotland provide valuable ecosystem services, many of which are closely linked with geomorphology.

Selected research

GOForth — Geological Observatory ForthGOForth — Geological Observatory Forth

Developing new 3D/4D geoscience applications to improve efficiency in resource and infrastructure development, and to support effective environmental management.

Scotland's Carboniferous legacy landscapesScotland's Carboniferous legacy landscapes

Working closely with the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust to find ways of delivering a natural rock laboratory for training and research in East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire.

Grampian and northern HighlandsGrampian and northern Highlands

Capturing key digital datasets underpinning the UK geoscience knowledge base and the national 3D geological model. Researching the processes of mountain building and landscape development. Focusing on the Great Glen and the north west Highlands. Renewable energy sector applied geological and tectonic expertise, particularly in hydroelectricity.

Finnieston Bridge, GlasgowGlasgow and the Clyde Basin — Clyde Urban Super Project (CUSP)

Making geoscience information more accessible, relevant and understandable to users involved in the sustainable regeneration and development of Glasgow and the Clyde Gateway.

Upland geomorphologyUpland geomorphology

The upland environments of Scotland provide valuable ecosystem services, many of which are closely linked with geomorphology. Planning for their future sustainable management requires an understanding of landscape evolution.

Extract from the Moray coast regional model.Moray coast and Inverness

We collect digital geological and hydrogeological data from the land around the Moray Firth to produce linked 3D shallow groundwater models.

ASK Network (Glasgow)ASK Network (Glasgow)

Accessing Subsurface Knowledge (ASK) is an innovative subsurface data and knowledge exchange network between public and private sectors that is focused around Glasgow.

Salisbury Crags with Edinburgh Castle in the backgroundGeodiversity, geoheritage and geotourism

Audits of Scotland's local geological assets. Strategic assessment of the value and state of Scotland's geodiversity. Working with the Scottish Geoparks in raising awareness of Scotland's geological heritage and in promoting geotourism.

Tetrapod World (TWeed)Tetrapod World (TWeed): early evolution and diversification

Scientists from the universities of Cambridge, Leicester and Southampton, BGS and National Museums of Scotland are collaborating to study some spectacular, newly-discovered early Carboniferous tetrapod fossils, to fill the gap in our understanding of how and why these animals became fully terrestrial.


A network has been established to coordinate, integrate and accelerate the world-leading research into modelling the subsurface taking place in European institutions, and to develop a toolbox to enable dissemination of subsurface knowledge.

Assynt Culmination 3D geological modelAssynt Culmination 3D geological model

Assynt has long attracted geologists using the area to learn how mountain ranges are formed. You can now explore the structure of the area with this free interactive 3D model.


Contact Hugh Barron for more information.