This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


World’s largest ever geological mapping project launched today

By James Dacey

Vatnajokul, Iceland — Europe’s largest glacier (Credit: OneGeology)

OneGeology has been dubbed ‘the biggest mapping project ever’ and its basic premise is to create the first ever digital geological map of the world and make it universally available via a web portal.

I have a background in geophysics, and I am on a Science Communication course at University of Bath, so I was naturally intrigued to see how this project will improve how scientists interact with each other and how they communicate with society as a whole.

In case you are worried that I have hi-jacked this blog, I am working as an intern at Physics World. If the lack of dark matter hasn’t scared you away then I’ll tell you a little bit more…

At a press conference today, Ian Jackson, Coordinator of OneGeology explained: “Geological maps are essential tools in finding natural resources e.g. water, hydrocarbons and minerals, and when planning to mitigate geohazards e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes and radon. Natural resources are a crucial source of wealth for all nations, especially those that need to develop and build their economies. Identifying geohazards is often a matter of life or death.”

It’s a truly global collaboration with 97 organizations from 79 countries contributing geological data. When the website goes live today all content will be free and access will be unrestricted.

From the techie viewpoint this project is being made possible by a new mark up language known as GeoSciML. This is an XML schema which can be used to represent geography (geometries e.g. polygons, lines and points using the OGC’s GML specification). At present, its catalogue of specifications includes Geologic Units and Earth Material.

This being an international venture there were language barriers to overcome in the shape of differing web software. Developers got around this by programming a web map service (WMP) to translate all data into GeoSciML.

So how does this run?

Basically, contributors will feed in their geo data and the ‘map’ itself will appear in image format such as PNG, GIF or JPEG. So far, 102 million square kilometres — or 69% of the Earth’s land surface have been surveyed.

Users can then view different ‘layers’ of the map — such as lithological, seismic, paleaomagnetic — depending on their interests.

The next step is to develop a ‘Web Feature Service’ or WFS. Essentially this will be an interface to allow people to add any geographical feature they think worthy.

This project was commissioned as part of the UN International Year of the Planet Earth. OneGeology will be officially unveiled on 6th August at the 33rd International Geological Congress held in Norway.

Although sometimes derived as a diluted science perhaps the geologists have come up with something here to inspire the physicists. Imagine a grand unified web portal for all flavours of physics research.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

One comment to World’s largest ever geological mapping project launched today

  1. Bob Tsevekidou

    on Firefox you get an error message in French!
    Cette application est optimis


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text