BRITROCKS: mineralogy and petrology collections database

BGS Technologies — Databases

The BGS mineralogy and petrology collections contain upwards of a million samples and are housed at our Keyworth site and in Edinburgh. Roughly a quarter of this is prime material arranged into a number of major archive collections, which are denoted by alphabetical prefixes in the BRITROCKS database.

Prefix Collection description Location
CUK Continental Shelf thin sectionsKeyworth
EEnglish and Welsh samples with thin sectionsKeyworth
EDGeneral collection, some with thin sectionsEdinburgh
EMCDisplay-quality specimens previously in the former Geological Survey gallery of the Royal Museum of ScotlandEdinburgh
FOverseas samples with thin sectionsKeyworth
GPolished thin sectionsKeyworth
PBPolished blocksKeyworth
MRGeneral collection, hand specimens only, many of display qualityKeyworth
MCGeneral collection, hand specimens only, many of display quality. Includes minerals.Edinburgh
NScottish samples with thin sectionsEdinburgh
SScottish samples with thin sectionsEdinburgh

Petrological thin section images

Our petrological thin sections (microscope slides) are being imaged (in both plane and cross-polarised light) and progressively linked to the database. Currently about 100 000 Scottish thin sections are available (S and N registration series). Some 75 000 English and Welsh thin sections (E registration series) will be added in due course.

Registration number
e.g. S1234. The prefix codes denote the major archive collections. Many specimens will have an original collector’s number (COLLNO) as well as an archive number. Specimens that have been geochemically analysed may have a laboratory number (LABNO).

Rock or mineral name
Includes terms such as ‘basalt’, ‘malachite’, ‘dyke’ and ‘porphyritic’.

Used for a fairly precise locality names, e.g. ‘Bardon’. For more general searches use the 1:50k geological map sheet.

Map reference
Note that many of the early collections predate the introduction of the British National Grid and may not be retrieved by this search. A programme of retrospective entry is ongoing, but will take several years to complete.

Collector and/or donor
Enter a name such as ‘Darwin’


Database status

BRITROCKS contains over 200 000 entries and includes most of the prime material. The information has been accumulated over many years from variable sources and it contains some inconsistencies and imperfections. Feedback on these is welcomed and should be directed to Mike Howe.

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