Modelling systems

Geological Model

The modelling systems team develops cutting edge geological modelling systems in support of BGS science and information services.

Our work is integral to the change from a 2D mapping to a 3D/4D modelling culture. We develop documented workflows for the production, storage and delivery of 3D geological models, along with the tools and training necessary for modellers to use these workflows.

The team develops databases and graphical tools for the management, editing and visualisation of geological subsurface interpretation and models. As part of this work we have made the graphical tools (BGS Groundhog Desktop) available to download for free.

BGS Groundhog Desktop

Groundhog Desktop software interface

BGS Groundhog Desktop GSIS (desktop geoscientific information system) is a graphical software tool for the display of geological and geospatial information such as interpreted (correlated) geological cross sections, maps and boreholes.

The team also supports several commercially available modelling tools in use in BGS, as listed below.


GSI3D (geological surveying and investigation in three dimensions) is a methodology and associated software tool for 3D geological modelling which enables you to quickly and intuitively construct 3D solid models of the subsurface for a wide range of applications.

GSI3D utilises a digital terrain model, surface geological linework and downhole borehole data to enable the geologist to construct cross sections by correlating boreholes and outcrops to produce a geological fence diagram.

Mathematical interpolation between the nodes along the drawn sections and the limits of the units produces a solid model comprising a stack of triangulated objects, each corresponding to one of the geological units present. Geologists draw their sections based on facts such as borehole logs correlated by intuition — the shape 'looks right' to a geologist. This 'looks right' element pulls on the geologist's wealth of understanding of earth processes, examination of exposures and theoretical knowledge gathered over a career in geology.


Gocad model example: Voxel model of superficial deposits in the Glasgow area

Gocad (geological object computer aided design) software originated in a project started in 1989 by Professor Jean-Laurent Mallet at the University of Nancy in France.

Gocad consists of a structural modelling core that is extensible via a plug-in architecture to cover many areas of 3D geological modelling, for example reservoir grid construction, reservoir property modelling, well correlation and fracture analysis.

In industry, the software is primarily used by hydrocarbon and mining companies, and via the Gocad Consortium it is in use by over 120 universities and geological surveys.

Within BGS, Gocad has been in use by specialist 3D modellers for the past decade, for the construction of 3D geological models and as a data integration and visualisation platform.


Petrel by Schlumberger is a high-end 3D geological framework and property modeling package designed for the petroleum industry.

It has very sophisticated tools for integration of a wide range of data types, including 3D seismic, and is used extensively in BGS's CCS programme of work.

Petrel model example
Petrel model example


Contact Holger Kessler for more information.