BDA Webinar – February 2021 – The Data Journey…

February 23, 2021

The recent British Drilling Association (BDA) Webinar, “The Data Journey…” took place 11th February 2021, and was extremely well attended. in Fact, over 70 people ‘tuned-in’ to learn about the fascinating topic of ‘data’ and the journey it takes from capture to its storage and use.

The session was presented by Steve Thorpe, Geospatial Technician, British Geological Survey (BGS), who began by giving a brief overview of the British Geological Society (BGS), what it is, what it does, and more interestingly some of the research it undertakes at NERC and the National Sciences Facilities. Working with more than 40 universities and institutions, Steve described how its 456 scientists and 217 staff support the science objectives of the society across its 20 bespoke science laboratories as well as hosting a national database and national geological repository.

Steve then moved on to ask why we should consider geology in successful borehole design – because it actually requires knowledge of ground conditions: geology, hydrogeology, drilling/ground hazards and boreholes to help improve conceptual understanding. He then moved on to paper and digital maps, borehole records, 3D models, technical reports, and thematic layers as well as why the continued collection of borehole data is important as geology is an evolving science and new findings may require change.

From here the actual data journey was explained beginning with the Borehole, which may produce freshly drilled data or existing data, but that it is important to assess all data to make sure it’s fit for purpose.

How boreholes form a large part of BGS’ collection and just how detailed its repository of data was also discussed. In fact, its collection spans some 150 years and comes from sources as wide as drilling companies, water well drilling, geothermal and infrastructure projects. Without the continued donations the collection loses its effectiveness. Deposit data with NGDC – British Geological Survey (

The BGS’s Digital Geological Map was then presented, which is split into 4 themes: bedrock, superficial, mass movement, and artificial. At a scale of 1:50 000 and with 99%b UK coverage, Steve explained it contains over 10,000 lithological descriptions.

GeoIndex Onshore was then explained and how it should not only be a first port of call, but how it can used to access information about the desired geology as it provides access to many of the BGS’s data sets. Steve explained how much more information it contained, which have many uses.

How to become involved in supporting the data journey was Steve’s next subject area and how you can upload data, before giving an engaging overview of how the BGS’s “Dig to Share” initiative came about. Specifically, how the initiative aims to unlock ground information and plans to target 10,000 boreholes in 1 year. Ultimately it is looking to establish a fully digital workflow accessible to the whole industry utilising existing BGS systems, which should identify blockers and facilitate solutions, release borehole records as open and digital data, reduce project risks and costs, which will lead to a more targeted GI. The benefits of data sharing were explored too.

The next segment of Steve’s presentation looked at data as part of a bigger picture. Using the London Model, which was released 2014 as an example, Steve explained what data is available and how useful the model is. A brownfield model was also explained. Regional geological visualisation models – British Geological Survey (

The BGS’s Groundhog Desktop software was discussed and how it comes shipped with connections to BGS open data, but with the option to download AGS data, and how it allows imports/exports to numerous popular formats to provide cross-section drawings as tools for developing conceptual understanding.

The session briefly touched on the Big Borehole Dig citizen science initiative, which aims to digitise the historical borehole records (PDF) within BGS archives. With over 600,000 scans of boreholes are available, and Steve explained it was a big project, and so far, volunteers have submitted 1500+ digitised records.

The session concluded with a discussion about how the BGS is committed to working with stakeholders in industry to provide the best data and the best ways for people to access it. He laboured how sharing data benefits everyone, which in turn benefits the industry, which in turn benefits the economy. He added: “Everyone needs to work towards their part of the virtuous circle [with regards to data] – think about where you fit in”.

To listen to the webinar, visit – BDA Webinar – The Data Journey – British Drilling Association

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