3D Geology

Infrastructure data overlain with geological information

Teaching using 3D models

3D models help us visualise the ground beneath our feet without the need for training in complex geological techniques.

Modelling the Earth's subsurface can help us understand the relationship between geology and our environment.

The BGS is developing a national geological model of the UK's subsurface to give decision makers greater clarity in planning for the future.

Our traditional printed, 2D geological maps show the distribution of geological units at the surface, but 3D models of the same geology shows us the depth of features such as faults, changes in thickness, tilted units and subsurface contacts.

3D models can:

  • allow non IT specialists to easily access geological information
  • answer specific questions about the subsurface
  • produce a range of outputs
  • display 360° views

We have developed a set of online tools to enable the user to interrogate the subsurface geology; drill a virtual borehole or draw a virtual cross-section or horizontal section through our sample models using the virtual borehole and section viewer.

National Fence DiagramNational Geological Model

We are in the process of producing a national 3D model of the subsurface. Work is underway to develop a model viewable at a range of scales representing the rocks and sediments present in the UK.

Thurrock 3D model Downloads

A selection of our 3D models from across the country can be downloaded here along with the software to view and print them. There are examples of models built at a range of scales.

Geologist using GSI3D3D geology services

We have worked with organisations such as the Environment Agency, utilities companies and local authorities to create off-the-shelf and custom-developed 3D models of Britain's subsurface geology at various resolutions and in a range of formats.

Clyde gateway modelGeological modelling systems

The BGS use a range of methods and software to build and develop geological models such as our in-house developed Groundhog GSIS, as well as commercial applications such as GSI3D, Gocad and Petrel.

Teaching using 3D modelsTeaching and learning

3D is becoming an integral part of our culture and learning environment; the BGS have developed a set of 3D resources specifically aimed at teaching geology to Earth science students. The package includes a 3D model of a classical geology region and a set of specific questions targeted at each case study.


BGS 3D geological models can be explored using the Groundhog viewer. Purchase virtual boreholes and cross sections and enquire about licensing geological surfaces.


GeoBlogyGroundhog explores deep beneath our feet... by Gerry Wildman

'Groundhog' is a new digital tool from the BGS which delivers 3D geological models to communities, planners and policy makers.


For more information contact enquiries@bgs.ac.uk