Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The National Geological Repository; Meet the Team

The National Geological Repository: Meet the team

The National Geological Repository Team at Keyworth
The National Geological Repository (NGR), part of the British Geological Survey, holds geological information, data and samples on behalf of the UK. Its origins go back to the beginnings of the Geological Survey in 1835, and it also includes donated material from the 18th Century onwards. Although its roots go back a long way and it contains a great deal of material of historical importance, it is at the forefront of modern good practice, digitisation and web delivery. Systems such as SESAR (the International Sample Numbering System) are highlighting the requirement for robust item numbering systems; it is reassuring to know that the NGR registration system has functioned consistently since its introduction 167 years ago.

The National Geological Repository Team in Edinburgh

The NGR manages the records, geological samples and library held by the BGS. Data born digitally is managed by the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC), another BGS facility, but the NGR is responsible for the digital surrogates of analogue items. The NGR is run by staff based in the BGS office in Keyworth, Nottingham and the office in Edinburgh.

A type fossil in the BGS collections – also available as a 3d digital model

The geological samples range from type fossil specimens to panned stream sediment geochemistry samples, from petrological thin sections to building stone samples, from hydrocarbon well core samples to UKCS sediment vibrocores, and from asbestos minerals to microfossils. Most of the samples are indexed in one of several online databases, and shown in GeoIndex, our online GIS system.

GeoIndex – our online GIS (Geographical Information System)

Records include our geological maps, field slips and field notebooks, as well as detailed borehole logs, photographs and reports. The library contains a full set of published maps and reports, as well as a broad range of modern and historical books. Our book catalogue is online and our books are available for inspection in Keyworth and in Edinburgh.

Example of a current BGS 1:50k online geological map
The National Geological Repository is consulted online and at our offices by a large range of users, including commercial organisations such as oil companies, mining companies and geotechnical companies, and by academics ranging from  undergraduates to professors and from the UK and overseas. Any member of the public with a bona fide enquiry is most welcome too. Most non-commercial enquiries are free.

The commercial use of the NGR is particularly important to the UK economy. Hydrocarbon operators can assess borehole samples related to their areas of interest, thereby reducing their investment risks; mining companies can do likewise. Every year an estimated 2.5 million borehole logs are downloaded, mostly by geotechnical companies, enabling them plan their field work far more cost effectively. The resources of the NGR help to underpin much of the exploration for natural resources within the UK, as well as the geotechnical aspects of the construction industry. Its data and resources are also widely used in areas such as insurance, town planning and countryside conservation and tourism. In 2001, an independent study suggested that BGS contributed to sectors responsible for 5 – 8% of GVP (similar to GDP); much of this was reliant on the NGR.

Laser scanning of fossils to produce 3d digital models
In future blogs we intend to cover many of these areas in greater detail. We intend to show you how you can access the data and information simply and in a way that’s most helpful to you. We will flag up the importance of many of the datasets to science, industry and the UK, and document their impact. We are particularly interested to hear from users of NGR data, information and samples. Could you write a guest blog, illustrating how a particular dataset has been helpful to you? In these days of increasing competition for declining resources, we need to demonstrate the impact the NGR is having if it is to continue to receive the level of funding required to provide you with the information and samples you need. The ball is in your court.......National Geological Repository

Blog by Mike Howe