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IMPLEMENTING GEOSS

How AEGOS and geology contribute to the GEO Work Plan

By Luc Chevallier, Council for Geoscience, South Africa; Stuart Marsh, British Geological Survey; and Marc Urvois,French Geological Survey; on behalf of the AEGOS Consortium.

The sustainable use of geological resources such as minerals, building materials, groundwater and geothermal and other energy sources is a key issue for the world’s future, due to an ever-increasing population and the rising demand for natural resources. Their management presents an environmental challenge that is not yet well-reflected in the GEO Work Plan. The European Commission has funded several projects designed to fill this gap, one of which is the African-European Geo-resources Observation System, AEGOS.

The purpose of AEGOS is to design a pan African spatial data infrastructure and observation system of interoperable geological data that will provide support to a wide range of end users to foster and strengthen the sustainable use of geo-resources in Africa, as a geoscience contribution to building the GEOSS and in the framework of INSPIRE principles.

The AEGOS team is coordinated by the French Geological Survey BRGM and consists of a partnership of European and Africa geological surveys, with each Work Package having co-leaders from the two continents. The first two authors co-lead the Work Package that links AEGOS to GEO and between them they gave four presentations at the GEO work plan symposium in Pretoria in May. In these, they made the case for an obvious lack of GEO Tasks covering the management of geological resources in the GEO Work Plan. This gap became clear from work undertaken within AEGOS to analyze the geological content of the Work Plan. The preliminary results are shown in figures 1 and 2, below. Based on this, the team argued strongly for Geoscience to feature more prominently in future iterations of the Work Plan, as outlined in Figure 3.

This contribution started a dialogue with the GEO Secretariat that then continued during a 7-8 July 2010 AEGOS-GEO Workshop on “Geoscience Observations and Observing Systems”, hosted by the Geological Remote Sensing Group of the Geological Society of London. Out of this workshop emerged a plan to add new tasks on managing the environmental impacts of mineral extraction and on the identification of geothermal energy resources to the current revision of the GEO Work Plan 2009-11.

In the longer term, the workshop suggested that the Energy SBA might be extended to include mineral resources. Several more potential GEO activities have been identified that would strengthen such a “Geo-Resources” SBA. The new 2012-15 GEO work plan will be prepared over the next year, for approval at the 2011 GEO Plenary. So, proposals for new GEO activities that are developed and matured in the coming months will be timely. As well as those in the obvious gap topic of Geo-resources, potential new contributions may be envisaged in geohazards, to help implement the Geohazard Community of Practice Roadmap, urban planning, soil characterisation and palaeo-climate, which would see the geoscience contribution spreading across the 9 SBAs, as a truly cross-cutting activity.

 

  Graph: reference to and potential relevance of geology in “Building an integrated GEOSS”

Figure 1: Reference to and potential relevance of geology in “Building an integrated GEOSS”

 

  Graph: Reference to and potential relevance of geology in “The 9 GEOSS Societal Benefit Areas (SBA)”

Figure 2: Reference to and potential relevance of geology in “The 9 GEOSS Societal Benefit Areas (SBA)”

 

  Graph: Adaptation of GEO diagram showing how geology could contribute to the nine societal benefit areas of the GEOSS work plan. New proposed tasks are in red.

Figure 3: Adaptation of GEO diagram showing how geology could contribute to the nine societal benefit areas of the GEOSS work plan. New proposed tasks are in red.