Case study: Clyde Urban Super Project (CUSP)

Knowledge of the subsurface is vital in planning and delivering successful construction and regeneration projects – yet poor understanding of ground conditions is the largest single cause of construction project delay, and overspending. To address this, and other urban subsurface issues in the Glasgow area (e.g. planning, flooding, contamination), the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) Clyde-Urban Super-Project (CUSP; has developed 3D and 4D subsurface models and other geoscience datasets (geochemistry, groundwater, engineering geology).

The models (deterministic, stochastic and time series) and datasets, based on data from tens of thousands of boreholes and other sources, provide new insights into, for example: Glasgow’s complex geology; impacts of its industrial legacy; and opportunities for harnessing heat from abandoned mine workings, which is itself generating further research.

To make the CUSP models, and data, more accessible, BGS and Glasgow City Council, a key partner, have established the pioneering ASK (Accessing Subsurface Knowledge;, a data and knowledge exchange network involving public and private sector partners. ASK promotes digital free flow of subsurface data and knowledge between its partners. In addition, a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship is currently in progress, helping to translate the improved understanding of Glasgow’s sub-surface into appropriate forms to support various decision-making purposes, and underpinning regeneration and other projects, and the next generation of Glasgow’s City Development Plan.

Lessons learnt in Glasgow are being shared far and wide, for example through a European COST Action (Sub-Urban) focussed on sustainable urban subsurface use, and  transforming relationships, in 30 countries, between those who develop urban subsurface knowledge and those who can benefit most from it; the planners and developers of the cities of tomorrow.