Using the British Geological Survey WMS Service with Mapyx Quo

Major kudos to BGS for making their 1:50,000 geological maps available online including via a WMS Service.

I’ve been struggling with scanning BGS maps and importing them into Mapyx Quo for a while. Its an arduous process and the scanned maps contain the roads, placenames etc as well as the OS topographic map I have in Quo so its not as pleasing to use as it could be.

I was thus motivated to write a little Windows .Net programme to access the BGS WMS and automate the import into Quo. The process is not completely automated (partially because Quo uses a non-XML file for storing the user-loaded maps) but is still quite simple.

The programme is not as polished as it could be – its good enough for me – and has only been written with the BGS service in mind (although it could well work with other services).

I am making the Windows installer (I use XP still) available (no warranty blah blah) but please do not distribute it (refer people to this web address instead): download installer (about 350k)

Usage is simple:

  • In Quo set the coordinates to WGS 84 decimal degrees
  • Right-click and copy the location of interest to the clipboard
  • Paste it into WMS2Quo (my programme)
  • Choose which layers you want. e.g Bedrock and Superficial (bedrock is the default)
  • Click “Fetch”. This uses the geonames service to find the name of a nearby location. This will be used in the name of saved files. You can edit/change this in a text-box.
  • (the segment of the geological map should appear)
  • Save the map and a Quo calibration file
  • In Quo “Explorer”, select the “Loaded Maps” tab and use the document-with-green arrow icon to import the map image. This will cause the image AND saved calibration file to be read. I usually now change the transparency to 80%. You should see the geological map in Quo.
  • You can “query” the map one layer at a time to find the kind of rock (etc) at a given point by clicking the mouse on the image. This information is remembered and can be saved out as a GPX file containing “waypoints” for each location. Import this into Quo and set it to show the waypoint “note” and you will get geological labels showing.

There is a “settings” button which can be used to alter the save location, image size etc. Take care and NB that the BGS WMS server will sometimes return a blank image if your image size/map size combination are out of its range. A known bug also means you need to restart the programme if you change the save location. I recommend you change the save location as the first thing you do. Also, watch out for your firewall blocking web access; if you get an error on “Fetch” this is the first place to investigate.

I would like to acknowledge Paul Dixon ( as I adapted code of his (GPL Open Source) for the coordinate transformations that are used. This is JavaScript whereas I used C#.Net. I’ve uploaded this for use, adaption or what you will under the same licence: DLL, Source code.

If you would like the C# source code for the “WMS2Quo” app please contact me. Similarly, I’d like to hear of any bugs (you know what I mean by “like”).

4 thoughts on “Using the British Geological Survey WMS Service with Mapyx Quo

  1. Maybe I was too quick to praise BGS as, following a short email announcing this post to them, I got a very long email from their IPR and Licensing manager expressing concern.

    NB: any use of my software above does need to be in accordance with the terms of use of the WMS (see the link on the first line of my post).

  2. Adam,

    I read your post with some interest – I am a director of Mapyx.

    This is quite an interesting concept and we would be interested in discussing if there are any opportunities to do a bit more with you as regards to the BGS maps. We could automate the process and perhaps add some layers of data. It might be quite interesting.

    let me know your thoughts.

    Best Steve

  3. Very nice utility, thanks for making it available. One question how is the map related to the seed location?it does not appear to be centre or corner!

  4. The seed location defines a square tile (5km x 5km by default but you can change it via “settings”) referenced to the NGR km blocks. Thus, they tile nicely but if you are interested in an area close to a tile corner you have to mess about.
    Cheers, Adam

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