BGS Civils: strength

BGS Civils: strength sample.
BGS Civils: Strength Map UK
The cemented sandstone layers are more resistant to weathering than the uncemented layers.
Scale 1:50 000
Coverage Great Britain
Format GIS line and polygon data. (ESRI, MapInfo, others available by request.)

Product 1: BGS Civils bundle (all 8 layers)

£0.50 per km2

Product 2: BGS Civils individual layers

£0.30 per km2

Product 3: BGS Civils web viewer (subscription service)

£500 per layer for the first layer. £100 for each additional layers.

Or, £1000 for all 8 layers.

BGS Civils comprises 8 layers: bulking volume, corrosivity (ferrous), discontinuities, engineered fill, excavatability, strength, sulfate/sulfide, foundation conditions.

All products are subject to number of users, licence fee and data preparation fee.


This theme provides information on zones of rock strength and the local factors controlling it, as part of a suite of GIS layers for different engineering parameters.

The spatial model covers England, Scotland and Wales at 1:50 000 scale and is based upon archive data of engineering soil strength from the National Geotechnical Properties Database coupled with the BGS Geology 50k dataset.

The strength of rocks and soils is an important factor in all engineering activities.

What is strength?

The strength of rock material depends on composition, density, the strength of individual components within the rock and how these components are bound together (i.e. interlocking grains or cementation).

The strength of the rock mass is affected by mechanical discontinuities such as fissures, joints, shears and faults.

Alteration, such as weathering of the material and mass, also causes changes in strength, usually weakening the material. However, weathering can also lead to the formation of hardpans, which strengthen the soil or rock. The presence of water and any increased pore water pressures would also change the strength of the rock.


The description and classification of strength depends on the type of deposit. In engineering geology, earth materials are split into two groups: soils and rocks.


Soil is an aggregate of mineral grains or organic material that can be separated by gentle means such as agitation in water. Soil behaviour is determined by the particulate nature, specifically the particle size, shape and mineralogy, and water content and material density. The mass properties of a soil are largely influenced by its material characteristics. The principal soil types are clay, silt (fine soils), sand, gravel (coarse soils), cobble and boulder (very coarse soils). Whether the soil is classified principally as fine or coarse is dependent upon the behaviour of the material. Discontinuities affect the mass strength of some soils, primarily clay and silt.


Rock is an aggregation of minerals connected by strong and permanent forces. The behaviour of the rock material depends on the material characteristics. The behaviour of the rock mass depends on a combination of the material characteristics and the discontinuities including spacing, roughness, persistence, filling, orientation and the number of sets.


Definitions of the engineering strength of rocks and fine soils are provided as minimum, maximum and typical strengths; definitions of the engineering strength of coarse soils are provided as minimum, maximum and typical densities. This tri-fold classification allows for the wide range of variation encountered within some stratigraphic units. The classification used in the dataset is based upon the British Standard 5930 (1999) code of practice for site investigation (modified 2003 and 2009).


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Hutton field: well correlation diagram.