BGS Rock Collections (mineralogy and petrology collection database)

The BGS mineralogy and petrology collections contain upwards of a million samples, housed at Keyworth and in Edinburgh.

Roughly a quarter of this is prime material arranged into a number of major archive collections, please see the key to alphabetical prefixes for further details.

Petrological thin section images

The petrological thin sections (microscope slides) are being imaged (plane and cross polarized light) and progressively linked to the database. Currently about 100 000 Scottish thin sections are available (S & N registration series). 75 000 English and Welsh thin sections (E registration series) will be added in due course.


Chalcedony photomicrograph
  • Registration number
    e.g. S1234. Enter prefix and number without a space. The prefix codes denote the major archive collections: Many specimens will have an original collector's number (COLLNO) as well as an archive number. Specimens that have been geochemically analysed may have a laboratory number (LABNO).
  • Rock or mineral name
    Includes terms such as 'basalt', 'malachite', 'dyke' and 'porphyritic'.
  • Locality
    Used for a fairly precise locality names, e.g. 'Bardon'. For more general searches use the 1:50k geological map sheet.
  • Map reference
    Note that many of the early collections predate the introduction of the British National Grid and may not be retrieved by this search. A programme of retrospective entry is ongoing, but will take several years to complete.
  • Collector and/or donor
    Enter a name such as 'Darwin'

Database status

The database contains over 200 000 entries and includes most of the prime material. The information has been accumulated over many years from variable sources and it contains some inconsistencies and imperfections. Feedback on these is welcomed and should be directed to Mike Howe.