BGS Groundhog Desktop GSIS

Groundhog Desktop software interface

BGS Groundhog Desktop GSIS (desktop geoscientific information system) is a graphical software tool developed by the environmental modelling directorate of BGS for the display of geological and geospatial information such as interpreted (correlated) geological cross sections, maps and boreholes.

Groundhog Desktop is intended as a basic geoscientific information system (GSIS) — a software tool that facilitates the collation, display, filtering and editing of a range of data relevant to subsurface interpretation and modelling. You can use Groundhog Desktop to load and display certain types of borehole data, geological map linework, interpreted (correlated) cross sections and faults. It also supports reference data such as elevation models and images and has basic editing capabilities.

Desktop Interpretation

Groundhog Desktop uses a map and cross-section approach to subsurface interpretation. This approach effectively allows the construction of a traditional fence diagram via the construction of a series of inter-locking 2D cross-sections and map lines, thus following tried-and-trusted methods of geological subsurface mapping, and is inspired by the work of William Smith. Today, similar methods of subsurface interpretation are employed digitally in many leading industry-standard geological modelling and GIS platforms. Groundhog Desktop provides a simple, free, entry-level solution for such work. At the BGS, Groundhog Desktop is already being used by geologists to refine and extend the UK3D National Fence Diagram.

Digital Terrain Model for the UK

Available For Download In Groundhog Desktop Format

For UK-based users we are pleased to announce that we have made a Groundhog Desktop format version of the OS Open Data 50m Terrain layer 137MB zip available as a free download. With this data loaded and selected in your workspace, you will always be able to obtain a cross-section profile anywhere in the UK any time you construct a cross-section. Please be aware that this is a large download (approx. 600 MB) as it is full UK coverage. The file is a Groundhog Binary Grid, which provides very rapid profile generation along sections. Once you have downloaded the file, unzip it, and then either follow the instructions in the manual for adding grids to a workspace, or simply place the file into the WORKSPACE_DEFAULT folder within your installation directory (normally C:\Program Files\BGS Groundhog Desktop\WORKSPACE_DEFAULT), and Groundhog should pick the file up the next time you run it. It will then appear in the pull-down layer list in the top ribbon toolbar, simply select to make it the active elevation layer. OS have released this data under the same licence as Groundhog Desktop (Open Government Licence). For full terms of use for this data, please refer to the OS website. Please note that, whilst every effort has been made in its production, this data file is provided as-is, with no guarantee from BGS as to its usefulness or accuracy.

Fieldwork Solution

If you are interested in a solution for field mapping, BGS also separately offers a free digital field data capture system - BGS.SIGMAmobile - which is designed to run on rugged tablet PCs with integrates GPS. The system consists of heavily customised versions of ArcMap and MS Access along with additional software to provide functionality such as sketching. NOTE: The BGS does not supply ArcMap or MSAccess as part of BGS·SIGMAmobile. It requires an ArcEditor licence to run.


The current version of Groundhog was released on 20/10/2016 and is version 1.7.0.

Please enter your details to download the BGS Groundhog Desktop GSIS files. By providing your email address, you consent to us contacting you from time-to-time to inform you of software updates and developments.

Terms of use

This software is available under the Open Government Licence. This means the software is free to use, exploit and redistribute for academic, personal, research or commercial purposes, subject to the terms of the UK's Open Government Licence. We also require that you acknowledge the software in the following way wherever you use it to create or deliver any product, data, information or report:

BGS Groundhog® Desktop Copyright © BGS/NERC (year).


For any enquiries regarding Groundhog Desktop GSIS, please contact