The geology of the UK is extremely diverse and records almost every period of geological time. The UK's complex geological history has not only shaped the landscape, it has also created a wide range of resources, from coal, to oil and gas, to geothermal energy. While not all of the stratigraphic intervals have proven to be rich in hydrocarbons, those that have fueled geological exploration, much of which has been largely offshore. Exploration for oil and gas along the UK Continental Shelf began in the late 1960's and is still ongoing.


The North Sea basins are located on the UK Continental Shelf, between the east coast of the UK and the west coasts of Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. The whole area was dominated by a significant rifted basin system during the Triassic and Jurassic, which was later infilled by siliciclastic and carbonate deposition.

At the height of its success, the combined exports of the UK, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands made the North Sea the world's fourth largest oil producer and third largest gas producer. While a significant number of North Sea fields are now in decline and the basin as a whole is in a mature stage, it has been estimated that the proven reserves could sustain production for another 20 years. It is also has potential to become a centre for decommisioning hydrocarbon fields and exploring carbon capture and storage as we move to use less fossil fuels to combate climate change.


Precambrian to Ordovician rocks form the crystalline 'basement' on which the younger sediments were deposited. They are rarely documented in the North Sea, but where they have been sampled they are known to include low to high grade metamorphic rocks, igneous rocks and metasedimentary rocks.


These basement rocks can be highly fractured due to having undergone multiple phases of deformation. The rocks underlying the North Sea are thought to be remnants of the Baltica, Laurentia and Eastern Avalonia crustal blocks which were once part of the supercontinent Pangea. 


Generalised stratigraphy of the UK Continental Shelf, after the Millennium Atlas (2003).



Relinquished core material from the UKCS and the North Sea provides a unique geoscience resource which we aim to make available to the wider geoscience community. This includes providing core for education, research and science outreach to schools, universities and STEM ambassadors. We also supply material for geological collections, display, research and training purposes to individuals and commercial organisations. 

We have a range of core material available, all of which is donated from companies who have relinquished, abandoned or decommissioned fields in the North Sea and the UKCS. While we do not create a directory of material, we recommend using the British Geological Survey UK Continental Shelf Offshore Hydrocarbon Well Collection to view scans of equivalent core material to help with your search. 

Our core store is located in Aberdeen and we arrange for suitably priced shipping, wherever you are in the world. Local pick ups are also encouraged. 

Selection of core material in the North Sea Core store.

Diagram of main core cuts from the OGA PON 9 documentation.


Core material is cut down the length of the core barrel and can either be a half, a third or a quarter of the original core diameter. Core is available in lengths of 3 ft/1 m or by the 10 ft/3 m box, but can be shorter if sections have been removed for analysis. Core is vital in understand subsurface geology and making the link between wells and remote sensing data.


Slabs of core are produced by cutting down the length and through the middle of the core barrel, and are then typically preserved in resin. Resinated core slabs are usually available in lengths of 3 ft/1 m. They are particularly useful in displaying the sedimentary structures and lithological variations.



We keep a list of the core material we have available, which can be searched by well name, core type, geological age, lithology and depositional environment. Please note depths are listed are in feet (ft) and are approximate. While we endevour to keep our database as up to date as possible, we recommend you Contact Us for more information about a specific section or well. You can also see the location of all our core material of the map below.

If you are interested in what the equivalent core sections looks like, please go to the BGS UKCS Offshore Hydrocarbon Well Collection, and search for the well name.


Location map of available core material, for more information click on a well icon or refer to the core database. Created with ArcGIS Online and the OGA Open Data resource.

Contact us:

Company Number: SC661048

North Sea Core store