Applied and medical geochemistry

Geochemical baselines


BGS is working towards providing comprehensive baseline data on the chemistry of the UK surface environment, thus improving our understanding of the sources and behaviour of chemical substances in the surface zone. Information gained from the analyses of hundreds of thousands of samples of stream water, stream sediment and soil, allows high-resolution mapping of chemical baselines in both rural and urban environments. Applications of this data are diverse and include:

  • exploration for minerals
  • mapping environmental change
  • support for environmental policymakers and regulators
  • underpinning scientific studies into possible environmental causes of human health and agricultural problems

The Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) project is the national capability in high-resolution geochemical mapping in the UK.

The BGS has more than 40 years experience in international geochemical mapping both for resource development and environment and health projects (see international geochemistry).

The BGS also undertakes work related to abandoned mines and contaminated land.

Medical geology

Download G–BASE's UK Geochemical maps

This is study of the relationship between natural geological factors and health in man and animals, and the influence of ordinary environmental factors on the geographical distribution of such health problems. The team has a wide ranging research portfolio including

  • international studies on the geological controls on deficiency and toxicity of selenium and iodine in human health
  • measurement and spatial distribution of the bioaccessibility of potentially toxic elements (e.g. As, Pb, Cd) and organic substances (e.g. PAH and PCB) in soils

For more information visit Medical geology


For more information contact Team Leader Dr Joanna Wragg for further information