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OneGeology unites global geological map data

Recognizing the critical importance of geological observations to GEOSS, the global geological survey community are contributing to GEO through OneGeology Global and the EC’s OneGeology-Europe project by making the best available geological map data from around the world web accessible (Task DA-09-03c).

Global geological map dataThe OneGeology initiative, originally launched in 2007 as a contribution to the UN International Year of Planet Earth, is progressing rapidly towards its target of making geological map data at a scale of about 1:1 million accessible via internet.

As of September 2009, the number of national geological surveys that are participating has reached 111. Of these, 41 are already providing their digital geological map data through web map services to the OneGeology portal. This portal is in the process of connecting with the GEOSS Common Infrastructure.

Achieving the required interoperability and data exchange has been a major achievement of the OneGeology initiative. A set of detailed 'One Geology Cookbooks' on interoperability aspects has been written, and a Technical Working Group has been engaging with standardization efforts, with strong links to and dependence on GeoSciML. The current year has been one of significant progress also in terms of strengthening OneGeology’s organization, including through the establishment of a dedicated Steering Group.

Further significant advances at the regional level have been made possible by funding obtained through the OneGeology-Europe (EC) and Geoscience Information Network (NSF) projects. OneGeology’s bilingual portal has been highlighted in the mainstream media and already welcomes about 10,000 visitors per month. Among the many user-friendly services it provides is a function to interact with Google Earth.

OneGeology’s future aims are to increase even further the number of participating national survey organizations and the number of countries that operationally provide their data. The initiative has already started to progress from providing web-based map services to offering web-based feature services; this means that users will have access to the individual geological features in a usable and editable format, as opposed to the simple image files presented by map servers.

Further challenges to be addressed are the harmonization of geoscience classification across national frontiers to ensure seamless boundary transitions. Earth observation data from satellites is and will contribute significantly to meeting this challenge as well as to the goal of moving to higher resolutions, applied geoscience data the three-dimensional representation of our geology.

For more information, see OneGeology’s most recent newsletter.