BGS news

New seabed geology maps for offshore Yorkshire

Offshore Yorkshire is the latest map to be released in BGS's series of fine-scale digital seabed maps.

14/03/2023 By BGS Press
Cliffs of white chalk rock topped with green grass jut out into the sea. There are radio masts at the edge of the cliff and a lighthouse slightly inland. You can see rocks on the sea bed offshore from the beach at the bottom of the cliffs.
Flamborough Head, North Yorkshire. © Luke Thornton

BGS has initiated a new programme of mapping the seabed geology of the UK’s continental shelf, the first effort to consistently characterise the geology of the seabed in over 25 years.

The latest map offers new fine-scale digital maps featuring the seabed of offshore Yorkshire that contain combined bedrock, sediment, bedrock structure and geomorphology data. This is the third in a series of new, fine-scale maps to be released by BGS, with maps for offshore Anglesey and the Bristol Channel already available online.

The seabed geology maps are intended to support a diverse range of offshore activities and applications, including scientific research, offshore development, conservation efforts and marine management. It is part of a drive by BGS to develop new, fit-for-purpose geospatial products that, combined with the availability of new high-resolution data, can better meet current and future decarbonisation and marine science challenges. The maps are expected to be of interest to developers looking to deploy technology and infrastructure to create renewable energy.

The maps are based primarily on high-resolution bathymetry data collected through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s UK Civil Hydrography Programme. They are further informed by acoustic backscatter data, sediment cores and grab samples, seismic data, and existing onshore and offshore map products (both BGS mapsand publicly available academic and industry products).

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The geological character of the seabed and shallow subsurface is often complex, but is not well captured by currently available resources.

By applying a consistent approach nationally, incorporating both classical and innovative mapping approaches, these map products offer a unique resource, providing an excellent insight into complex geology, as well as active environmental processes.

Dayton Dove, BGS Marine Geoscientist.

BGS is among other public and government organisations to have joined the UK Centre for Seabed Mapping (UK CSM), helping to boost marine data and mapping standards. Improved geospatial resources will also provide important evidence for policy and decision makers, who need to consider the increasing demands placed on the marine environment from recreation, marine conservation and protection, resource development, and fisheries.

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As well as providing important baseline datasets that can underpin efficiency in marine infrastructure projects, such as siting offshore renewables, the analysis and mapping process also leads to interesting new findings, providing the potential for genuine discovery.

Dayton Dove, BGS Marine Geoscientist.

The maps are available from BGS under the fine-scale maps section of the Offshore GeoIndex and are designed to be viewed at 1:10 000 scale, or offline as downloadable shapefiles.

Other areas to be added as the mapping programme progresses include offshore Orkney, East Anglia, and further areas of offshore Wales.

Other maps in this series:

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