Article Business Practice Loss Prevention

BGS Question and Answer

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BGS – Legal Obligations Regarding Drilling

Many Members of the AGS received a letter on the 31st May referring to legal obligations regarding drilling and the submission of borehole logs to the BGS. Clarification was sought to ascertain the legal position with regard to boreholes drilled for the purposes of soil analysis for engineering and scientific purposes for the construction industry.

Are there any legal obligations for submitting these records to the BGS?

Roderick Bowie from BGS replied:

“The legal obligations in England Scotland and Wales only apply to those boreholes covered by the Water Resources Act and the Mining Industry Act.  These include some types of monitoring boreholes and geothermal bores  This does not cover boreholes drilled for engineering or construction purposes although we would be pleased to accept this type of information and already do so from a wide variety of different sources including the Geotechnical Industry.  In fact recognising this gap in the legislation the Government did encourage local authorities to deposit this type of information with us, the aim being to help to ‘add to the value of the advice given by the Survey’.  Part of the contractual arrangement between the Highways Agency and their Consultants/Contractors is that a full copy of the factual sections of any report produced as part of their Ground Investigation work is supplied to the Survey. This has included for some time the digital data in standard AGS format.

Many companies are concerned about passing client information to the BGS, but we can and do keep information Commercial in Confidence if requested and some of our donors write into their contracts that data will be deposited with us if the clients don’t object.

There is different legislation in Northern Ireland where all boreholes over 20m are notifiable and records must be kept irrespective of the type or reason for drilling.”

Article Business Practice

AGS data: improving the flow

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Mark Shaw of the Business Practise Working Group recently attended a meeting of the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) Technical Committee to further explore areas of common ground with respect to IT and e-Commerce.

Three main issues were discussed:

  • Online Bidding
  • Electronic Tendering Protocol
  • The use of AGS data format

Online Bidding

Both the AGS and FPS have now published position papers concerning the use of on-line bidding for the procurement of geotechnical contract.  Both organisations have expressed some reservations. The full position papers can be found on the AGS and FPS websites ( and

Electronic Tendering Protocol  

A survey of AGS members carried out in 2003 revealed that nearly 75% of those who responded had tendered for contracts based upon electronic information and of those 75% indicated that tendering based upon electronic information had not saved them any time. The main reasons highlighted for this were:

  • Poor Indexing (Can’t find the right information).
  • Too much irrelevant information (Information Overload)
  • Fixed formatting (Not able to manipulate the data provided)

In an attempt to address this situation, the FPS and AGS have prepared a joint protocol for the presentation of electronic data when provided for tendering purposes. The purpose of the protocol is to encourage good practice with respect to indexing, the provision of relevant information, and the use of open electronic formats when inviting tenders based upon electronic information.

The AGS and FPS are seeking to promote the protocol within standard specifications for geotechnical works such as the new specifications for Site Investigation and the specification embedded walls.  A copy of the protocol is provided below.  If you have any comments to make on the protocol or how and where it should be promoted please contact Dianne Jennings at

AGS Data  

The AGS data format is long established as the preferred format for exchanging electronic geotechnical and geo-environmental data within the UK and increasingly in many other countries around the world. The advantages in rapidly sharing data in a universal format between different organisations are clear and yet there are still many organisations still not using the format. The “cry” from the site investigation contractors is that AGS data is not being demanded by their clients. The “cry” from end users, such as FPS members, is that the data is not available.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that most site investigation contractors are both willing and able to produce AGS data and equally many sub-contractors and sub-consultants are keen to use AGS data.  There seems to be some blockage in the chain preventing the data getting from source to user (see diagram).

The FPS and AGS have agreed jointly to attempt to clear this blockage, focusing in the first instance on the use of AGS data by piling contractors.

This problem is trying to be addressed from both ends:

  • The FPS has requested its members to routinely ask for AGS data when tender invitations are received without it. Although this may not always elicit data, the regular request should help build awareness that there is a need for the data.
  • The AGS is seeking to encourage site investigation contractors to promote the need for AGS data and to make it readily available. Simple actions make include :
  • Using the AGS data format logo on boreholes and reports to indicate that AGS data is available.
  • Making AGS data available on request either free, or for a very nominal charge (giving due consideration to their contractual obligations).
  • Being aware that when requested the AGS data is needed rapidly, typically within half a day from receipt of the request, for tendering piling contractors.

Quite understandably site investigation contractors may feel it inappropriate to provide the information to an organisation that is not their client.  This difficult issue is still being considered further by the Business Practice working group.  In the meantime, a questionnaire is being prepared to gather the thoughts and views from site investigation contractors and this will be distributed later in the year.

If you have any comments or thoughts on any of the issues raised please contact Dianne Jennings who will put you in contact with the relevant working Group member.

Article Laboratories

“The Geology of Site Investigation Boreholes from Hong Kong”

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AGS (Hong Kong) have announced the publication of the above title. The author is Chris Fletcher but in an effort to promote the development of good practice in the industry AGS(HK) has played a significant role in the publication.

Described by the author as a ‘Practical Guide for Geologists and Engineers’, the book Is the first of its kind in concentrating on illustrations and geological interpretations of samples of rock and soil obtained from boreholes throughout Hong Kong. All the main groups of rocks and many of the individual rock types present in Hong Kong are covered in terms of composition, distribution, geological setting and site examples. Hydrothermal alteration, deformation and weathering are also addressed, and there are sections on superficial deposits and karst.

A review by Diamad Campbell (GEO) concludes: The range of lithologies and materials addressed is extensive, and the illustrations in particular comprise a very valuable resource for geologists and engineers working in Hong Kong. Although practitioners using the book should bear in mind that it presents the author’s personal view of interpretation of samples obtained in site investigation boreholes, the book is recommended to anyone interested in the geology of Hong Kong.

For copies: AGS(HK), c/o Benaim (China) Ltd, 25/F SUP Tower, 75-83 Kings Road, North Point, Hong Kong. (Payment by bankers order only made payable to AGS(HK) – HK$200 inc. p+p)