Urban geochemistry

Urban soil sampling

An integral part of the G-BASE mapping programme is to map and establish the soil geochemical baselines of urban areas. These data provide unique soil chemical information for the urban environment and are used to:

  • Assess the condition of soils within populated areas.
  • Identify and quantify human impact on soils in urban areas through comparison with the rural, natural soil geochemical background.
  • Indicate elevated concentrations of potential harmful elements

Applications are relevant to human health, land-use planning and development, urban regeneration and contaminated land legislation.

For further reading on urban geochemical mapping in BGS, follow links Fordyce et al.(2005) and Johnson and Ander (2008)

Where have we been?


This Google map indicates 27 urban areas which have been sampled by the project to date.These include Glasgow, Nottingham, Ipswich and Cardiff. Through the London Earth, G-BASE has recently undertaken the collection of soil samples within the boundaries of the Greater London Authority (GLA). Find out more about our sampling procedures in urban areas. Zoom in to cities and towns for further detail including links to BGS urban reports.

Urban soil data

BGS Onshore GeoIndex

Visit BGS Onshore Geoindex to search for individual soil sample location of the urban areas sampled so far. Make sure the map theme is set to Geochemistry (top right hand corner) and top or profile soil is selected in the left hand panel.

Alternatively go to G-BASE enquiries for data sales and products.

Urban geochemistry : How do we do it?

  • The sampling procedures within urban areas follow exactly the ones of regional surveys. Please see our sampling procedures manual or got to our sampling and analysis page for more details.
  • The only difference is that we operate in urban areas at a higher density of 4 sites per sqkm. Since the beginning of London EARTH in 2008 we introduced a third sample, which is collected at 0-2 cm depth.

Picture gallery of recent urban sampling campaign