Software Review - UKOOA/BGS Lithostratigraphic Nomenclature of the North Sea on CD-ROM (August 1996)

PDM reviews a newCD-ROM-based resource from the British Geological Survey, providing a definitivenomenclature of the North Sea's lithostratigraphy.

This review is intended as a review of the technology rather than of the stratigraphic interest of the product. In respect of the latter, a quote from the introduction well describes the intent. "Emphasis has been placed on developing a scheme that, while satisfying the requirements of lithostratigraphic procedure, is of practical value to the diverse group of professionals needing to use it (e.g. exploration/development geologists, drillers, mud loggers, petroleum engineers, and members of the academic community). To this end, the aim has been to ensure that all lithostratigraphic units included within the scheme will be readily identifiable with the minimum of information, i.e. through the routine study of cuttings and wireline logs."

Harry's member

The report is supplied as a Windows help file and is as such fully integrated into the Windows environment. I had no trouble cutting and pasting between the NSL demo and other windows applications such as Word and Visio. The quality of the graphics, intended for quick reference, are not quite up to presentation standard, but good enough for reports. I had no trouble in knocking up the following basic introduction to the Harris member in a few seconds. "The Harris Member is composed almost entirely of reddish brown, red, brownish grey, and waxy green to greenish grey mudstones and minor siltstones, but there are occasional laminae of white and purple mudstone, and stringers and thin beds of sandstone and argillaceous limestone. The mudstones are micromicaceous, and locally contain traces of pyrite. They are typically slightly calcareous, and include sporadic units of highly calcareous mudstone, grading to marl. Most of the sandstone beds are less than 1m thick; they are white, pale grey, pale brown or greenish grey, moderately or poorly sorted, and very fine, fine or medium grained. Some sandstone beds are highly micaceous; others are reported to contain traces of glauconite. The sporadic, thin limestone beds are white, pale grey or pale brown, and have microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline textures".

The use of a Windows help file has several advantages

The basic material has already been published in paper form by the British Geological Survey1 and consequently should be an authoritative reference in this field. The BGS also has one of the most comprehensive geological libraries in Western Europe (and a reference library for the general public) and is custodian of the National Geoscience Information Service which includes a substantial inventory of maps, borehole cores, samples and other data.


Some minor niggles, Windows help files do not highlight text found in a search and the basic help file format is easy to get lost in. Although bookmarks and history help a lot, the newer InfoViewer format uses a split-screen display with a hierarchical reminder of the current location of one side, and the hypertext help-type file on the right. Other ideas for future editions might be hotlinks from maps to wells and full text of papers (references) or perhaps some URLs.

Cambrian are now seeking pre-commitments for purchase of the full product on its completion later this summer. For more information please contact Phil Carpenter at (44) 1291 673022, fax (44) 1291 673023, via e-mail at or through the World Wide Web at

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