Scotland’s rocks and landforms provide a range of benefits and help us to understand how the Earth has evolved. They provide us with valuable economic resources and naturally regulate hazards and flooding.
Siccar Point on the South-East coast of Scotland is world-renowned in geological science, famous for outcrops that reveal 'Hutton's Unconformity', and is a location rightly regarded by many as the birthplace of modern geology.
YouTube: Siccar Point – the birthplace of modern geology – British Geological Survey
Rocks and landforms in Rum – © Laurie Campbell, – Scottish Natural Heritage
The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a data-rich organisation with over 400 datasets in its care, including:
The data is managed by the National Geoscience Data Centre.
View geology data on a mobile device using the iGeology app where you can also share your geological observations and photographs including points of interest and outcrops. We also encourage you to tell us where our mapping needs updating.
Are you a fan of Minecraft? BGS has reproduced 2D and 3D maps of geology and surrounding islands within the world of Minecraft. This map shows the OS map data on the surface and the rough position of real geology beneath, repeated down to the bedrock.
British Geological Survey has reproduced the 2D geology of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands within the world of Minecraft.
Make-a-map – customisable map of the rock units that are of interest to you – for amateur geologists, students and teachers.
The results of Scottish Natural Heritage’s site condition monitoring programme can now be searched live through the Protected Nature Sites data analysis application. Here you can find the number of Earth science features that have been assessed as favourable, unfavourable or recovering due to management, as well as searching by area, or using more detailed selection tools to find how many Earth science features have a record of irreversible damage (‘partially destroyed’) at their last assessment. Data on pressures impacting features can also be searched.
There are around 895 important rock and landform sites in Scotland (identified by the Geological Conservation Review, GCR). Around 75% of these are protected as notified Earth science features in SSSIs, and their condition is monitored under Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) Site Condition Monitoring programme.
Case studies illustrate how individuals and organisations are working to maintain and celebrate Scotland’s geodiversity, and support Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter.
Local GeoConservation – local groups work with local authorities to designate Local Geodiversity Sites, and work to raise awareness of sites and geodiversity through publicity such as leaflets, booklets, posters, interpretation boards and websites, and by developing access and educational usage of sites and trails. Local Geodiversity Sites were previously known as RIGS, Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites.
Geoparks – celebrate our outstanding geological heritage and its links to culture, education and sustainable economic development.
Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter – encourages everyone to work together to raise awareness of, and manage, Scotland’s geodiversity; and to ensure its better integration into policy and guidance to meet Scotland’s economic, social, cultural and environmental needs.
The principal method of protecting a geological feature or landform of national or international importance is through notification within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a statutory designation made by Scottish Natural Heritage under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
Legislation only provides limited protection to geodiversity outside SSSIs from the following activities:
Geoparks, national parks, national nature reserves and local nature conservation sites also help protect rocks and landforms and marine protected areas (MPAs) help protect important seabed features.
Scottish Planning Policy provides an approach for the planning system on:
Additional guidance includes:
Scottish Fossil Code – aims to help protect Scotland’s fossils while encouraging public interest and responsible use.
Scottish Core Code (2011) – combats the growing problem of core holes defacing rock outcrops, provides guidance on responsible and environmentally-acceptable rock coring.
The following areas have completed geodiversity audits:
As yet there are very few local geodiversity action plans (LGAPs) in Scotland.
These images are subject to copyright and are for single use only. Please contact Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library for further information, Tel: 01738 444 177 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was updated on 19 Nov 2019
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British Geological Survey - a world-leading geological survey. It is Scotland’s premier provider of objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to help society to use its natural resources responsibly, manage environmental change and be resilient to environmental hazards.
Understanding Scotland’s geology is increasingly important as the legacy of past industrial development, future land use and resource and energy pressures combine to create a highly sensitive subsurface environment. This presents major challenges for sustainable development and potentially conflicting uses, particularly beneath our cities. We are also active in applied geomorphological research. The upland environments of Scotland provide valuable ecosystem services, many of which are closely linked with geomorphology.
Scottish Geodiversity Forum - aims to promote Scotland’s geodiversity, and seeks to widen the profile of geodiversity and influence national and local policies.