Artificial ground is a term used by BGS for those areas where the ground surface has been significantly modified by human activity. Artificial or man-made ground is a vital component of our understanding of UK geology, that also includes bedrock and superficial deposits, because the near surface ground conditions are so important to human activities and economic development.
For BGS Geology and related purposes, artificial ground information is placed in a separate theme. It may be regarded, in other uses in BGS and elsewhere, as part of the superficial geology that includes both man-made and natural deposits. Further information on artificial ground can be found in the BGS Rock Classification Scheme Volume 4.
The artificial ground theme includes:
Artificial ground was not formerly mapped by BGS. It became a common requirement of the applied geological mapping projects in the 1980s and is now routinely recorded but information is only available for parts of the country. It is classified primarily on its mode of origin, which is usually apparent from the landform or the changes made to the topography.
Infilled ground can also be classified by its composition into types of fill such as inert waste, ash or slag. This is not usually practicable in routine mapping as many landfills are mixed deposits with inadequate records of their actual content.
Caution must be exercised using the artificial theme, as it may become dated very rapidly. BGS cannot monitor every pit and landfill site in the country recording changes from day to day. It is inevitable that many maps of artificial ground will be out-of-date. Also, many urban areas are built on artificial ground but it is impracticable to unravel the details in routine mapping.