The National Geological Repository (NGR) is a UKRI national science facility and the largest collection of geoscience samples from the UK. It forms an integral part of the BGS (part of UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council) and is located at the BGS’s headquarters in Nottinghamshire.
The NGR’s unique collections are used extensively by industry, in research and to support university teaching. The NGR has the UK’s largest core storage and examination facility. Its centrepiece is the Core Store and records collections, including:
- borehole cores and samples
- fossils, rocks and other samples
- related subsurface information from the UK landmass and continental shelf
The NGR’s collections
- Over 250 km of cores, samples and cuttings from over 15 000 onshore boreholes, including collections from ‘landward’ hydrocarbon wells held on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), deposited with the NGR under PON9b.
- Over 350 km of drillcore and 4.5 million samples of cuttings from approximately 8000 wells comprising the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) offshore hydrocarbon collection, held on behalf of BEIS and the OGA, deposited with the NGR under PON9 and the Information and Samples Regulations made under the Energy Act 2016.
- Offshore seabed sediment and core samples from the UKCS and elsewhere, including vibrocore samples, grab samples and gravity cores.
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Civil Hydrography Programme seabed samples.
- The UK’s foremost biostratigraphical collections of over 3 million specimens.
- The major British collection of rocks and thin sections.
- Geochemistry collections comprising a variety of materials, mostly held as processed soil and stream sediment samples, collected primarily for geochemical analysis.
- Unique collections of geological records and maps.
- Parts of the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) rock and fossil collections from Antarctica and the southern Atlantic, held for BAS and accessed through BAS.
Limited subsampling is allowed and the data, prepared samples, residues, reports and papers must be lodged with the NGR. The raw data is freely available two years after sampling.
Additional online databases can be searched to discover the physical collections held in the NGR, including:
- onshore borehole samples and cores
- offshore hydrocarbons wells
- biostratigraphy and palaeontology collections
- mineralogy and petrology collections
The BGS is progressively scanning and digitising the NGR collections and some of these are now available online and free of charge.
Examples include over 1.3 million scanned UK onshore borehole records and 125 000 high-definition images of cores from UKCS hydrocarbon exploration and production wells. These are available from OpenGeoscience.
Access to the collections of the NGR is provided free of charge to private individuals, students and academic researchers.
The NGR’s collections and facilities underpin exploration for natural resources, facilitate the expansion of existing and new businesses, and inform subsurface risk assessment and site investigations.
In particular, the collections underpin:
- oil and gas exploration
- mineral exploration
- construction and civil engineering
- groundwater management
- research into topics including carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and radioactive waste management
Student and academic users
The NGR collections are used regularly by academics and students working on a very broad range of earth sciences research, from palaeobiology to hydrocarbon prospectivity.
A number of UK universities bring student parties to the NGR each year and use its collections and facilities to support practical teaching and training in petroleum geoscience.
Supporting Government legislation
The NGR directly supports the UK Government, its departments and agencies in the implementation of legislation, regulation and codes of practice relating to subsurface data acquired by private operators during groundwater and mineral (including oil and gas) exploration.
Legislation requires parties that drill certain types of wells to deposit specific records and samples with the BGS. The legislation includes:
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)/Oil and Gas Authority (OGA): Petroleum Operations Notices (PON9 and PON9b); Information & Samples Regulations made under the Energy Act 2016
- Mining Industry Act 1926
- Water Resources Act 1991
- Water (Scotland) Act 1946
These materials are all housed and managed in the NGR.
The British Standard 5930 (Site Investigation) and the Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Approved Code of Practice on the Prevention of Inrushes in Mines’ both reference key NGR collections as an essential source for due diligence information during desk studies.
Find out more about the NGR
BGS Corporate Collections advisory committee
A small committee of curators, drawn from national and university museums, monitors progress with the collections, reviews the curatorial policies and collections management procedures, and advises on future work. It is also the ultimate authority in complex accession and de-accession matters. Committee membership is honorary and normally for a period of three years, with two meetings per year.
The chief curator, Mike Howe, would like to hear from any suitably qualified individuals interested in serving on the committee in the future.