BGS has core expertise in macropalaeontology, micropalaeontology and palynology.
This is the most familiar face of palaeontology, and has been at the heart of BGS work almost since the organisation's inception more than 170 years ago. Over this time the BGS has amassed a comprehensive stratigraphical collection of reference material representing all the major invertebrate fossil groups (sponges, corals, brachiopods, graptolites, trilobites, bivalves, gastropods, ammonoids, belemnites, crinoids and echinoids), as well as some nationally important vertebrate collections. Much of this material comes from localities that are no longer available for study
Current work on Palaeozoic successions includes the development of a biostratigraphical framework for Middle Devonian strata of the Orcadian Basin of north-east Scotland (Caithness, East Sutherland and Orkney) based on fossil fish, and on determining the nature of palaeoecological and palaeogeographical changes in the Carboniferous of the Midland Valley of Scotland, within beds and across basins, using statistical analysis of BGS Carboniferous macrofossil collections. Both projects are in collaboration with universities and external scientists.
In the Mesozoic, current work concentrates on the high resolution stratigraphy of the Cretaceous, particularly the Late Cretaceous Chalk Group. Work on the Chalk combines biostratigraphical, lithostratigraphical and borehole geophysical log data to refine correlations and develop sophisticated three-dimensional digital geological models.
The principal palynological groups analysed are acritarchs, dinoflagellate cysts, spores, pollen and chitinozoa. Micropalaeontological groups include foraminifera, ostracods, conodonts and, occasionally, radiolaria, diatoms and calcareous algae.
Quantitative and semi-quantitative, high precision biostratigraphical analyses have applications in, for example, geological mapping, hydrocarbon exploration and civil engineering, as well as palaeoenvironmental, palaeogeographical and palaeoclimate modelling on local, regional and global scales. Palynofacies/detrital kerogen analysis for palaeogeographical/palaeoecological reconstructions and maturation studies is also carried out.
Recent micropalaeontological and palynological projects include: