UK3D — 3D geology for the United Kingdom

UK3D national bedrock fence diagram.

Screenshot of UK3D cross sections demonstrated in Google Earth. The sections are displayed with two times vertical exaggeration.

Geological maps of the UK have been extended into the third dimension through the development of UK3D – a national–scale network of intersecting cross–sections (also known as a 'fence diagram').

UK3D comprises over 20 000 km of section line, covering the land area of the UK and extending up to 20 km offshore and down to depths of up to 6 km below the ground surface.

UK3D provides a unique visualisation of the complex rocks and structures that make up the Earth beneath our feet. The cross–sections are freely available for download in formats compatible with a range of visualisation software. A series of Regional Geological Visualisation Models, constructed from UK3D sections and geological maps, provide interactive three dimensional tools for exploring the UK's diverse geology.

The national fence diagram forms a valuable resource for improving our understanding of aquifers and the flow of water through the ground, and helping identify potential sources of energy and sites for waste storage.

UK3D development

The UK3D cross–sections were created using the geological modelling software GSI3D, incorporating information on the geology at depth from boreholes and regional Lithoframe models.

The latest update of UK3D (v2015), including offshore areas and full coverage of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was released in February 2016.

Development of UK3D is part of a BGS National programme for 3D geoscience and has been financially supported by RWM and other stakeholders.


The model has been used to improve understanding of aquifers and groundwater systems, to inform the National Geological Screening process for geological disposal of radioactive waste, and to develop open access resources including new geological visualisation models for interactive 3D exploration of the UK’s geology.

Free to download

Regional geological visualisation models

Regional visualisation models for 14 regions of England and Wales and Northern Ireland in 3D pdf format are available for download.

UK3D for GIS and visualisation platforms

UK3D in the interactive LithoFrame Model viewer (requires free software download)

First install the LithoFrame Viewer following the steps below: 37.9 MB

  • download the viewer and install (high spec graphics card required; details in the user manual that is included in the data download)
  • download the model data from this page and save
  • open the viewer software and use the file menu to open the model *.gsipre file
    (this may take 3–5 minutes)
    Known issue: in the 3D Window use a vertical exaggeration of X11 to view colours correctly for all attributes.

Other downloads


For further information contact Enquiries.

British Geological Survey
NG12 5GG
Telephone: 0115 936 3143
Fax: 0115 936 3276