The British Geological Survey is a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council, through which it is funded by government to assemble, manage, interpret and communicate the National Geosciences Database for the benefit of the nation. On the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, set up in 1835, the Geological Society has honoured the Survey by dedicating this issue of its Journal to the reporting of some of the Survey's activities. This issue is not meant to be a compendium of papers covering the full range of BGS activities. That is impossible in an organization currently dominated by a financial need to respond rapidly to the demands of customers (including Government). Instead it represents a snapshot of those activities that reached publication stage during the summer of 1985. Some papers offered for inclusion had to be withdrawn pending their release from confidential status. Others submitted could not be revised in time because of customer demands on the author’s time. They all, however, emanate from a broadly based programme of strategic research responding to the immediate demands of modern industrialized society while contributing to the on-going and long-term assembly of the National Geosciences Database.

The objective of the Survey, 150 years ago, was to assemble and interpret a geological database for the whole country, and initially the only tool available was geological surveying. Geological surveying is carried out by field geologists observing and sampling strata to identify rock type, composition and age, observing topographical features

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