The geological surveying of the UK landmass has been fundamental to the activity of the Geological Survey since its foundation in 1835.
William Smith (1769–1839) produced the first local, and subsequently national, geological maps of remarkable accuracy.
Smith published his famous geological map of England and Wales and parts of Scotland in 1815.
Mapping and surveying techniques have evolved over the last 175 years; from geologists creating hand-drawn sketches in field notebooks, to digitally capturing information using handheld notebook PCs.
Our archives and collections contain many thousands of records created during the process of surveying or mapping an area.
A geologist's standard is the archive manuscript that is the best interpretation of the geology at that time.
The BGS collection of over 30 000 maps covers most of Great Britain.
Notebooks produced by Survey and non-Survey geologists are held from about 1800 to the present day, with a wide variety of information recorded in the field including observations, sketches, sections with descriptions of exposures, wells, shafts, borings etc.
Field slips are taken into the field by geologists to record their detailed observations; dating from about 1850 to the present day, field slips are an invaluable source of geological, environmental and land-use information.