BGS GeoIndex already provides access to a range of 2D information and data resources through an interactive map viewer, enabling users to navigate to their area of interest, view and query datasets, download reports and clip data and make enquiries.
The new tool allows users to capture synthetic boreholes, geological cross-sections and slices through 3D models developed by BGS for London, Glasgow and Cardiff, the largest cities in England, Scotland and Wales.
Making key urban models freely accessible for the first time, it will benefit a range of technical, professional and academic users, in particular consultancy for the geotechnical, construction and groundwater sectors.
The models provide regional geological understanding (50m resolution) designed to help users develop conceptual ground models and plan ground investigations. Users can query the geological model to obtain a range of visualisations of geological conditions beneath each of the cities. The views can also be downloaded as a standard format PDF.
Each of the geological models were constructed through the analysis of thousands of borehole records and integration with geological map data and informed by extensive literature review. In addition to the virtual borehole and section functions, a new slice function is being trialled for displaying geological units at specified depths.
Katie Whitbread, who leads the national geological modelling programme at the BGS, said the tool helps inform the development of Conceptual Ground Models for construction and groundwater management, as well as supporting early-stage planning. "Urban geological models encapsulate a huge amount of geological data and knowledge to provide comprehensive 3D information on the variability of the rocks and sediments underlying our cities. Understanding this variability is critical for de-risking decision making and investment in a range of applications from construction to the management of surface and groundwater.
"Conceptual Ground Models are a key component of early planning and desktop studies, helping to identify potential risks, develop hypotheses around ground conditions, optimise the design of targeted investigations and allow communication of the geological conditions to different stakeholders.
"The Urban Interactive Model Tool adds value to the initial stages of this development process, providing accessible regional geological understanding for key UK cities derived directly from three-dimensional geological characterisation of the upper few 100m of the ground."
Through the tool users can link to other BGS resources including the Lexicon, model metadata reports and relevant research reports for the selected cities, and access wider BGS 2D and 3D data services.
The underlying model data, along with a range of other BGS LithoFrame models, can be licensed through BGS Data Services, which can also arrange academic licences. BGS also provides bespoke modelling services and commissioned research for users requiring access to more detailed information.
Users are encouraged to provide feedback by email to the BGS enquiries service (firstname.lastname@example.org) and are invited to get in touch if they are interested in being part of a user forum to help inform the design and development of new features and functions.
Whitbread added: "Whilst the tool is not intended to provide a substitute for detailed site investigations and we recognise these evaluations require additional information, the geological model provides a base-line dataset and regional context that crucially, can inform early decision-making, particularly at the desk study stage.
"We are committed to working closely with potential users and stakeholders to develop the model and explore how BGS can advance its 3D geology services to help support planning and resource assessments.
"Working with our stakeholders we would like to explore future development of the tool such as increasing the coverage of UK urban areas, adding geotechnical and hydrogeological information, and providing additional digital output formats so that GeoIndex continues to provide subsurface knowledge where it is needed most."
The new tool can be accessed by opening the onshore GeoIndex and navigating to the new ‘3D Models' layer under the data list.
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