Geological Modelling Systems

Geological Model

The Geological Modelling Systems team develops cutting-edge geological modelling systems in support of BGS Science and Information Services.

Our work is integral to the change from a 2D mapping to a 3D/4D modelling culture. We develop documented workflows for the production, storage and delivery of 3D Geological Models models, along with the tools and training necessary for modellers to use these workflow.

The team's flagship product is GSI3D which it actively develops in house. Additionally BGS uses several other commercial applications such as Gocad and Petrel.


GSI3D software interface showing a model of Quaternary deposits overlying Chalk

GSI3D (Geological surveying and investigation in three dimensions) is a methodology and associated software tool for 3D geological modelling which enables you to quickly and intuitively construct 3D solid models of the subsurface for a wide range of applications.

The methodology and software is being developed jointly by the BGS and INSIGHT GmbH and is being applied by the BGS, where it is the modelling tool of choice.

GSI3D utilises a Digital Terrain Model, surface geological linework and downhole borehole data to enable the geologist to construct cross sections by correlating boreholes and the outcrops to produce a geological fence diagram.

Mathematical interpolation between the nodes along the drawn sections and the limits of the units produces a solid model comprising a stack of triangulated objects each corresponding to one of the geological units present. Geologists draw their sections based on facts such as borehole logs correlated by intuition — the shape 'looks right' to a geologist. This 'looks right' element pulls on the geologists' wealth of understanding of earth processes, examination of exposures and theoretical knowledge gathered over a career in geology.

GSI3D is available on general release as part of the GSI3D Research Consortium.


Gocad model example: Voxel model of superificial deposits in the Glasgow area

Gocad (Geological Object Computer Aided Design) software originated in a project started in 1989 by Professor Jean-Laurent Mallet at the University of Nancy in France.

Gocad consists of a structural modelling core that is extensible via a plug-in architecture to cover many areas of 3D geological modelling, for example reservoir grid construction, reservoir property modelling, well correlation and fracture analysis.

In industry, the software is primarily used by hydrocarbon and mining companies, and via the Gocad Consortium it is in use by over 120 universities and geological surveys.

Within BGS, Gocad has been in use by specialist 3D modellers for the past decade for the construction of 3D geological models and as a data integration and visualisation platform.


Petrel by Schlumberger is a high-end 3D geologic framework and property modeling package designed for the petroleum industry.

It has very sophisticated tools for integration of a wide range of data types, including 3D seismic, and is used extensively in BGS's CCS programme of work.

Petrel model example
Petrel model example


Contact Holger Kessler for more information.