BGS peat data store

The BGS holds a variety of information relating to the presence of peat. Since 1835, BGS have been carrying out systematic geological surveys of Great Britain from national scale down to 1:10 000 scale.

Peat has been mapped and recorded on field slips which have been subsequently converted into the digital geological map of Great Britain (BGS Geology).

The BGS has also had an ongoing programme of collecting and digitising geological information from boreholes, including the presence, depth and thickness of peat.

In addition to data relating to field and borehole observations of peat, BGS have been employing remote sensing techniques to identify areas of histosol coverage for large areas of Great Britain.

BGS Geology polygons

BGS Geology polygon.

The Digital Geological Map of Great Britain (BGS Geology) ranges from national (small-scale) to detailed (large-scale) resolutions with the availability of the five geological themes:

  • artificial ground
  • bedrock
  • linear features (e.g. faults and mineral veins)
  • mass movement deposits
  • superficial

BGS Geology has been compiled from geological mapping undertaken by the BGS and represents the geology at or very near to the surface of the ground.

Peat has been included on the superficial theme where it has a thickness of greater than 1 m.

Please note that due to the age of the mapping and the survey techniques in place at the time, peat may not have been included on the map even though it may have existed.

Data from borehole records

Borehole record mentioning peat.

BGS holds a vast collection of borehole records, covering onshore and near shore boreholes from Great Britain dating back to at least 1790 and ranging from one to several thousand metres deep.

Around 50 000 new records are added each year. Borehole records are produced from a geologist's or surveyor's observations of the rock core extracted from the ground.

Borehole records typically include:

  • depth
  • lithological descriptions
  • locality
  • thickness

Information about peat location, depth and thickness are contained in the borehole record.

Individual borehole scans are available, free to view, from Borehole scans.

Remotely detected histosol model

Remotely detected histosol model.

The BGS has used remotely sensed imagery to detect the presence of peat and histosols for many areas in Great Britain, ranging from western Scotland to Cornwall.

Peat is not always exposed at surface and the methodology employed in this work relies on measuring spectral properties that occur on the surface of the earth.

A combination of Landsat and ASTER satellite imagery was used in the research. The results of the research are held in ascii and ESRI grid format.

Learn more about using remote sensing imagery to detect peat.

3D models

3D model.

3D models help us visualise the ground beneath our feet without the need for interpretation of traditional geological maps.

The BGS are developing 3D models at a range of scales to meet the needs of our users, including off-the-shelf and custom-developed 3D models of Britain's subsurface geology at various resolutions and in a range of formats.

A number of existing 3D models already exist showing the depth, thickness and location of subsurface lithologies including peat.


For further information please contact Marieta Garcia-Bajo