Physical properties and behaviour of UK rocks and soils

The Engineering Geology Bedrock Map of the UK

As part of the Geotechnical and Geophysical Properties and Processes Team, the BGS has a research program that is characterising major bedrock formations and superficial deposits in the UK, in terms of their physical (geotechnical) properties and mechanical behaviour (e.g. strength, density and porosity).

These deposits are characterised by analysing data obtained through our own field and laboratory studies, as well as data supplied to the BGS by public bodies, private sector developers and ground investigation contractors through the NGDC.

These physical and mechanical properties are important when undertaking construction on or in the ground (e.g. earthworks, building foundations and tunnels). These properties contribute to the understanding of the behaviour of materials when they are loaded or excavated. They also help to inform and aid our understanding of the ground conditions and processes that cause geological hazards.

Our research is aimed at providing information to assist ground engineers, planners, infrastructure owners and civil engineers.

Our outputs include detailed reports, peer-reviewed papers and national-scale information data sets.

Selected research

National geotechnical properties database Engineering geology maps of the United Kingdom

1:1 million-scale maps that are attributed with ‘engineering geological units’. They provide an introduction to the engineering geology of the UK and show how engineering geological conditions change across the country.

Photograph of Penrith Sandstone cliff in the Eden Valley Bedrock formation studies

In-depth studies that focus on characterising the physical (geotechnical) properties and behaviour of specific rocks in the UK and how they affect building and infrastructure development. Completed research reports are available for the Gault, Mercia Mudstone and Lias groups. Research into the Lambeth and Sherwood Sandstone groups are ongoing.

Photograph of glacial till in Morayshire, Scotland Superficial deposit studies

In-depth studies that focus on characterising the physical (geotechnical) properties and behaviour of specific superficial deposits in the UK and how they affect building and infrastructure development. Completed research publications are available for loess deposits (brickearth). Research on the geotechnical properties of glacial till is ongoing.

Photograph showing sandstone specimen with instrumentation for measuring strain attached Laboratory study techniques

Research into the physical and mechanical properties of soils and rocks at the BGS use both conventional equipment and testing standards (British Standards, American Society for Testing and Materials, and International Society for Rock Mechanics) as well as unique tests and equipment developed by the BGS.


Photograph of ground-based laser scanner in the Enden Valley Field study techniques

Field-based studies across the whole UK utilise a variety of techniques and technologies to assess both large-scale (macro) and small-scale (micro) features as well as in situ properties of rocks and soils.


Contact

Contact Dave Gunn for more information.