The GSO’s: "practically useful and scientifically important"- Mission impossible or mission completed?

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Smelror, Morten۱; Fredericia, Johnny۲; Fredericia, Johnny۲
Holding Date 04 October 2008

Most countries in the world have a Geological Survey Organisation (GSO) with a mission to carry out services for the benefit of Society. When the survey in Norway was established 150 years ago the arguments were to create an organisation that would be "practically useful and scientifically important". Similar thinking was behind the establishment of the other GSO’s in the Nordic countries in the succeeding years.
Traditionally geological mapping of bedrock, surface deposits and mineral resources has been the main task of the surveys. However, today most surveys deal with almost all aspects related to the need for geological knowledge and information in the modern society, including mineral, energy and water resources, infrastructure development and engineering geology, geohazards, storage of waste and pollutants, and environmental and climatic change. To be able to handle the large variety of tasks the surveys need to demonstrate high-qualified competence in a broad spectre of geoscientific, technical and administrative disciplines. Keeping a holistic view, and maintaining a flexible organisation are considered key success factors for being able to accomplish the long- and short term goals of the surveys.
Present day methods applied by the GSO’s span from remote sensing by use of satellites to nanno-scale technologies, and allow us to make greater advances than ever before. A key factor for being able to provide high value "Geology for Society" at any given time is to keep a strong research focus on problems dealt with at the survey. However, keeping an optimal balance between the "practically useful" and the "scientifically important" can be a major challenge when priorities have to be taken among many vital societal needs, and limited resources are available. How this challenge is met at the Geological Survey of Norway and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in 2008 will be demonstrated by several examples from ongoing research and practical works on plate tectonics, marine seabed and habitats, landslides and subsidence, urban geology, heat-flow and geothermal energy, and PCB- and pesticide pollution (and others).