Several areas of expertise make the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (GDN) the foremost institute for reliable information about the subsurface. Our expertise also enables us to act as an independent adviser to the Netherlands’ national government.


To predict possible movements in deep earth layers, knowledge of the behaviour of rocks and water at great depths is required. Through our expertise in geomechanics, we are helping to map the expected consequences of production and storage by calculating the stress differences that occur between different places in the subsurface. Our researchers model the extent and likelihood of these movements and their impact on the surface. We use data on the composition of earth layers, such as the elasticity and porosity of the rock type. Multidisciplinary research is indispensable in this: GDN combines knowledge of geomechanics with laboratory research, modelling, and mapping.

Reservoir engineering

We build dynamic simulation models that model the flow of gases and liquids in underground reservoirs. These models provide insight into how to optimise the use of the subsurface in practice, which is important for almost all our areas of research expertise, such as oil and gas extraction, geothermal energy, and the underground storage of energy and carbon dioxide. We developed our own optimisation technology, Everest, which can, for example, help determine the best location for a well, decide which observations are most useful, or judge how much water needs to be injected into a well. Through our expertise in reservoir engineering, we help maximise the economic and social benefits of underground operations while minimising risks.

Well technology

Each underground application requires a well that connects the topsoil to the subsurface. A well is made by drilling a hole and placing a pipe, and subsequently sealing the hole between the pipe and the borehole wall. GDN develops and demonstrates technological innovations to enable wells to be drilled for new applications, such as geothermal energy or for the storage of carbon dioxide, heat, and hydrogen. These technologies make wells more (cost-)efficient without compromising their safety.

Knowledge about existing wells is crucial to assess their suitability for reuse in sustainable applications. Research into well technology makes it possible to construct wells more cheaply and sustainably, and to increase their production or storage capacity.

3D modelling

An important part of petroleum geology is finding out the structure of the subsurface. Through the seismic interpretation of sound waves, we are able to determine which layers the subsurface is made up of and where faults are located. Using this data, we then create a three-dimensional model of the subsurface. This allows us to create an image of the subsurface and the minerals, oil, gas, or salt that are present there, or of the geothermal energy it contains. We use our expertise to find out where the minerals and energy are located, whether they are extractable, and in what volumes. This contributes to a more sustainable Dutch mining industry.


Our petrophysicists can determine the quality of reservoir rock in the deep subsurface. We use the porosity and permeability of rock layers to determine how suitable they are for extracting geothermal energy, for example, or for storing substances underground. We can also deduce how much oil or gas is present in a field from the water saturation. We analyse log measurements along boreholes ourselves and also use rock measurements provided by operators. On the one hand, we contribute to exploratory research on a regional scale, amongst other things; on the other hand, we evaluate geological reports submitted in the context of, for example, licencing, thus supporting and advising the Dutch national government in its decision-making processes.

Four focus areas

We apply these and our other areas of expertise to social issues in our four focus areas: the energy transition, a safe and liveable delta, the effects of mining, and the digital subsurface. The blue icons below will take you directly to the pages of these focus areas.