G-BASE: Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment

Stream sediment sampling

BGS's G-BASE (Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment) project provides National Capability for mapping the geochemical baseline of the British Isles by collecting and analysing stream sediment, stream water, soil and, more recently, vegetation samples (at drainage sites) across the UK.

Establishing the regional geochemical baseline is important for understanding our environment and for measuring changes, whether they be natural or man-made. Baseline data of the surface environment also allow us to plan mineral resource development, model the migration of elements and provide a reference point against which we can monitor change.

Analysis of the diverse environmental media collected under the project is carried out by a range of analytical techniques (including ICP-AES, ICP-MS, ion chromatography, carbon analyser) in the BGS GeoEnvironmental Laboratories.

Recent survey work under the G-BASE project has focused on the Clyde Basin and London Earth investigations:

Clyde Basin geochemical survey

The Clyde Basin

Survey work is ongoing in the Clyde Basin. The 2010 sampling season involved collection of stream water and soil samples from rural parts of the catchment, and additional water samples from the River Clyde and its main tributaries.

Urban soils

Urban soil sampling: London

An integral part of the G-BASE project is to map and establish the soil geochemical baselines of urban areas. These baseline data provide unique soil chemical information for the urban surface and are used to assess the condition of soils, identify and quantify human impact on soils through comparison with the rural soil geochemical background and can indicate elevated concentrations of potentially harmful elements. Relevant applications include investigations relating to human health, land-use planning and development, urban regeneration and contaminated land legislation.

The London Earth project has involved a recent geochemical survey of Greater London and surrounding areas, where over 6600 surface soil samples were collected and analysed in the BGS laboratories.

Further information

See our G-BASE web pages for further information on sample collection, current and past research activities, maps and reports.


For more information contact Team Leader Dr Joanna Wragg for further information