British scientists are leading an international effort to bring together all the known geological information about every country in the world. By making the data freely available and allowing researchers to track geological features across national boundaries, the project will make it easier to plan international projects, predict earthquakes and locate natural resources such as oil and gas.
Once the project, called OneGeology, is up and running the data will be searchable via the Internet. "Geology has no respect for national frontiers," said Ian Jackson, who is coordinating the project for the British Geological Survey (BGS). "The data exists, but accessibility is the key."
The project will also highlight parts of the globe where there is scant geological data. "We potentially know more about the surface of Mars than we do about some parts of the world," said John Ludden, BGS executive director. The team also want to give the site an educational angle, by explaining interesting geological features such as the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
The project will be launched next week at a conference in Brighton attended by representatives of 55 countries. One of the first tasks will be to convert the data into a global standard computer language developed specifically for the project. The first data, from the UK, US, Canada, Sweden and France, is expected to be available in 2008.
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