GEMAS – Geochemical Mapping of Agricultural soils of Europe

BGS Research – international geochemistry

GEMAS aims to provide harmonised soil geochemical data for arable land and land under permanent grass cover at the continental, European scale.

As a collaboration between EuroGeoSurveys and Eurometaux, Geological Surveys in 34 European countries, covering an area of approximately 5.6 million km2, sampled their territory at a sample density of 1 site per 2500 km2. 2211 samples of arable soil (0-20 cm) and 2118 samples of grazing land soil (0-10 cm) were collected across Europe in 2008. The extensive analytical programme determined the concentrations of more than 50 chemical elements in the samples.

Sample collection

In the UK, BGS sampling teams visited a total of 138 sites collecting a total 276 soil samples. Sampling took place during the summer of 2008, following a jointly agreed field protocol. Since the collection, the samples have undergone chemical analysis and results have been reported.

Data from the GEMAS project help to support REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), the new European Chemicals Regulation, adopted in December 2006, which came into force on the 1st June 2007. The REACH regulation, as well as the pending EU Soil Protection Directive, require additional knowledge about “soil quality” at the European scale.

They provide information to policy makers as well as underpinning international collaborative research in topics such as agricultural productivity, trace element status and forensic food geochemistry. An archive of excess sample material to support future analyses was transferred to the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC), British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, UK.

The data has been published and is available at

You may also be interested in:


Applied geochemistry

Since the 1960s, the BGS has amassed considerable geochemical data holdings and developed significant expertise in applied geochemistry.

Show more

International geochemistry

BGS has had a long history of collaborative international geochemical projects involving regional baseline mapping and health and environment studies.

Show more

Was this page helpful?

  • How can we make this section better?*

  • Please select a reason*

  • How can we make this section better?*