OR/16/052 Specification of standard outputs

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Kessler, H, Terrington, R, Wood, B, Ford, J, Myers, T, Thorpe, S, and Burke, H. 2016. Specification of in- and output data formats and deliverables for commissioned 3D geological models. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/16/052.

Where appropriate, the ‘attribution of geological units will be based on the BGS Lexicon and Rock Classification Scheme code (www.bgs.ac.uk/lexicon/home.html; www.bgs.ac.uk/bgsrcs/)’

Any additional attribution needs to be separately agreed and costed.

A standard 3D geological model consists of (or can be exported) as one or more of the following components:
DTM, downhole data (boreholes), geological coverages (geological map lines), geological cross- sections, fault outlines, fault planes, geological surfaces, geological volume shells, geological thickness maps (isopachyte maps)

These objects can be delivered in the following standard formats (depending Terms & Conditions):


  • Cross-sections (including simple legend and location map)
  • Boreholes (depending on confidentiality clauses) as tab separated ASCII files, Excel or AGS format
  • Geological unit extents or coverages as 2D ESRI shape files
  • Geological sections and boreholes as 3D ESRI shape files
  • Geological sections as maps/plans (jpeg, png, 2D PDF)
  • Surfaces and thickness grids as ASCII or ESRI grids
  • Surfaces and fault planes as triangulated meshes (GOCAD t-surf, or ASCII Indexed Triangle Mesh)
  • Coverages, sections and surfaces as Bentley CAD output (dgn)
  • Coverages, sections and surfaces in Autodesk CAD format (dxf, dwg)
  • Sections and boreholes as Google .kml files


  • All objects in 3D PDF format (note limitation to Windows)
  • DTM, boreholes, coverages, sections, surfaces and shells (for structurally non-complex models) in LithoFrame Viewer
  • Faulted model surfaces in GeoCando or Geoscience Analyst model viewer (not yet deployed in serious projects)
  • Boreholes, sections and coverages in Groundhog Desktop compatible .xml (view and edit)

Bespoke outputs (thematic maps, bespoke software formats) can be generated at an additional cost, if tested beforehand. The client will be responsible for providing full specifications of any specialised/bespoke formats, or bearing the cost of BGS investigation into the format. Any edits to the specification supplied during the course of the project will incur an additional cost.

Schematic outputs, cartographically enhanced sections and 3D cartoons that require specialist cartographic/design staff need to be agreed with the client and costed appropriately.