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The Map Collection contains approximately 35,000 items dating from the beginning of geological mapping through to the present. Maps are available in flat and folded formats and there is also a collection of atlases. Geographical coverage is worldwide, although there is an emphasis on Europe and the British Isles. In addition to geological maps, some geophysical and other related maps are held.

All 20th Century geological maps have recently been re-catalogued and listed in the online Library Catalogue and detailed indices to series mapping are available in the Map Room. Historical geological maps will be added to the catalogue in due course, while manuscript maps are part of the Archive. Much of the stock in the Map Collection is available for loan to Fellows and employees of Corporate Affiliates as detailed under Loans Service.

The map room at the Geological Society's Library

The GSL Library’s Map Collection contains over 35,000 map sheets, with worldwide coverage. They are classified by continent, and thereafter by country, many with explanatory notes. The collections are available for loan, including the unfolded sheets (which were originally kept for reference only). The Collection is one of the Library’s most popular services. This page describes the collection, and how as a Fellow or employee of a Corporate Affiliate, you can access it. 


Though worldwide, coverage naturally varies from one country to another, for various reasons – including the difficulty of obtaining maps, its mineral resources, the frequency of use, and space available for storage, the Council of the GSL has recommended that maps are collected down to a scale of 1:200,000. 

Types of map available

The library contains basic geological maps in its primary collection. However it also stocks tectonic/structural maps, economic geology maps, geotechnical, geophysical, geochemical and hydrogeological maps.

This reflects the wide range of uses to which the collection is put by the Society’s varied Fellowship, which range from academic research, regional interpretation for prospecting companies, water supply, waste disposal, site investigation, building materials and ground conditions for various infrastructural projects.


Geofacets, the new geographic data search tool from Elsevier, is now available for Fellows and Corporate affiliates to use in the library.  This is a quick method for map and document discovery if your search is centred around a particular location on the globe.  Simple GIS search tools allow you to zoom into and find both journal articles and maps published in journals related to your area of interest.  All Lyell Collection materials have been indexed in this way and can be searched using this tool.  Please ask at the Library Counter or in the Map Room if you'd like to use Geofacets.


If you wish to make an inquiry of the Map Collection, here are some helpful hints.

  • Remember to give as much detail as you can for the location you require. This will save considerable staff time and yield you a quicker result.
  • You should let the librarian know why you need the map - the librarian may then be able to advise you further. Naturally the confidentiality of your call will be respected.
  • In the event that we do not have the map you want, the librarian may be able to suggest other sources.
  • Use this website first! All catalogued maps are included in the online Library Catalogue.

Library Catalogue

Advanced Map Search

Can't find the map you're looking for? Contact us.