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Ground stability


The ground stability map layer is derived from geological mapping and is categorised to show areas that are liable to instability and so are potentially hazardous. It is valuable to any organisation that owns or manages property.

The British Geological Survey has a dataset called Geosure that contains national ground stability information based on a simple hazard rating system. This information is particularly useful to environmental consultants and engineers as it shows areas susceptible to natural ground movement. If the subsurface conditions are not taken into account during the planning process the development’s stability in the short and long term could be severely affected.

Ground stability information is divided into six sub-layers:

  • Collapsible deposits

Some varieties of rock may collapse when a load (such as a building or road traffic) is placed on them, especially when they become saturated.

  • Compressible deposits

Some types of ground may contain layers of very soft material, such as clay or peat. These can compress if loaded with overlying structures, or if the groundwater level changes which can result in depression of the ground and disturbance of foundations.

  • Running sands

Some rocks contain loosely packed sandy layers that turn to fluid if water flows through them. Such sands can 'run', removing support from overlying buildings and causing damage.

  • Slope instability

Characteristics such as geology, gradient, water, drainage and man-made constructions can combine to make a slope unstable. Landslide or rock fall may lead to a loss of support which results in damage to buildings.

  • Soluble rocks

Ground dissolution occurs when certain types of rock contain layers of material that dissolve when wet. This can cause underground cavities to develop which reduce support to the ground above and can lead to a collapse of overlying rocks and structures.

  • Swell and shrink

Variation in underground moisture can cause swelling clays to change volume and is caused by many factors including weather changes, vegetation cover (particularly growth or removal of trees) and man-made activity. These changes can cause movement, particularly in the upper two metres of the ground which can significantly affect building foundations, pipes or services.

A 50m buffer zone should be included when assessing the above factors.

Data providerBritish Geological Survey
Sample of dataSample layered PDF
Coverage areaBritain

Version date of dataset2017
Frequency of update cycleAnnual

Viewable in map windowYes
Viewable on map backgroundsAll map backgrounds except FIND Map / OS Plan
Viewable between scales1: 3 001 - 1: 150 000

PrintableYes
Printable between scales 1: 3 001 - 1: 150 000

ExportableYes
Export formatsDWG, DXF, TAB, SHP
Maximum export size via internet20 000 hectares (200 km²)

Viewing£5.00 per sq km for 1-10 sq km. £3.00 per sq km for 11-50 sq km. £1.60 per sq km for 50+ sq km
Printing£6.00 per sq km for 1-10 sq km. £4.00 per sq km for 11-50 sq km. £1.60 per sq km for 50+ sq km
Exporting£12.00 per sq km for 1-10 sq km. £10.00 per sq km for 11-50 sq km. £6.00 per sq km for 50+ sq km

Period layer saved for viewing (without incurring further costs)12 months
Period print saved for (without incurring further costs)12 months

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