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Geological Collections

We have a good collection of geological maps for the UK and worldwide

The British Library has complete holdings of 1:50 000 scale geological maps for the whole of the United Kingdom. These are produced by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and published by the Ordnance Survey. The Map Library also has the earlier 1 inch to 1 mile (1:63 360) series dating back to the 19th century. More detailed maps at 6 inches to the mile (1:10 560) are also available but only for limited areas.

Geological maps come in drift and solid editions. Drift editions show more or less superficial deposits (beach sand, glacial drift, peat gravels and peat) plus any outcrops of solid rocks at the surface. Solid editions show the whole outcrop of rocks as they would appear if all the superficial deposits were removed.

The Library also holds other specialised maps such as aeromagnetic anomaly maps and sea bed sediment maps.

For areas outside the UK, there will be some geological mapping for every country but coverage is not always this detailed. The collections of the British Geological Survey are more comprehensive, both for British and for overseas geological mapping.

Carta Geologica d'Italia

Carta Geologica d'Italia. 1931. 1:1,000,000 Maps 20575. (3.). Copyright © The British Library Board


The various geological series of the United Kingdom can be found on Explore the British Library under the headings Geological Survey of England and Wales, Geological Survey of Scotland or Geological Survey of Northern Ireland. To find the required sheet numbers, please consult the index at the Enquiries Desk in the Maps Reading Room.

Maps in Science, Technology and Business (STB)

Holdings are small but carefully chosen to reflect the library's subject areas, with geology and earth sciences particularly well represented. Other topics where maps provide important information tools are also covered.

Maps are not removed from books, nor are they catalogued separately.

Please check for books of the geology of specific areas (which often include a geological map), atlases and periodicals in the catalogue of the Sciences Collections. This can be found by choosing the Catalogue Subset Search link on Explore the British Library home page, and then going to the Sci, Tech & Business link on the available list.

Further reading

  • British Geological Survey, Catalogue of maps (annual)
  • Maltman, Alex. Geological maps: an introduction. John Wiley, 1998.
  • Perkins C R, and Parry R B (eds.) Information sources in cartography. Bowker-Saur, 1989.