About the Geological Survey
The Geological Survey of New South Wales (GSNSW) is the state's premier geoscience agency. It provides information to the government, the mineral exploration and mining industries and the community on the state's geology, mineral resources, exploration highlights and advice to government on land use planning and on its assessments of mineral exploration activities in NSW.
The GSNSW assesses the state's mineral and energy resources and geology and provides a comprehensive information framework to:
- optimise responsible mineral exploration and development;
- inform resource, land use and infrastructure planning.
The New Frontiers exploration initiative supports various GSNSW programs. The initiative fast-tracks the provision of new geoscience information for NSW and promotes mineral and petroleum exploration investment in the state.
- The main function of the GSNSW is to deliver quality geological and geophysical information to the mineral exploration industry and the general community through its online services and in the form of hardcopy publications and digital data, generated through a number of interdisciplinary projects.
- It is involved in local government land use assessment.
- It assesses the work of exploration companies to ensure best use of tenure.
- It is involved in educational activities through Science in the Suburbs, Earth Science Week and Scientists in Schools.
- It manages drill core libraries and mineral, rock, fossil and meteorite collections.
- It conducts developmental work in information storage and delivery system technologies to provide up-to-date information discovery and delivery services and to underpin its products.
- It holds large repositories of information which are accessible by industry and the community through online systems.
- It collaborates with other scientific bodies to share skills and information.
The Geological Survey of New South Wales was established in 1875 in the Department of Mines. The work of Reverend W B Clarke, Geological Surveyor, and Samuel Stutchbury, Government Geologist, laid the foundations for the systematic work of the GSNSW and formed the basis for the first New South Wales geological map issued in 1880. The need for mineral resources for a developing young country drove the GSNSW to expand its resource mapping but later its work also encompassed maps for tourism and for construction work such as the NSW Snowy Mountains Hydro-electricity Scheme. Technological developments after the 1920s resulted in the inclusion of geophysics to allow geological interpretations to extend below the land surface.
In the 1970s, the GSNSW produced a 1:1 000 000 state geological map followed by a tectonic map at the same scale based on the new concept of plate tectonics, which showed the structural regions and tectonic history of the state for the first time. To further encourage exploration, it mapped all known mines resulting in 1:250 000 metallogenic maps supported with detailed explanatory notes and mine data sheets.
The development of computers lead to computer-aided drawing systems (CAD). By 1993, the GSNSW had produced its last hand drawn map and by 2000, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was fully integrated into the GSNSW technical tool kit. Computers also allowed sophisticated analysis and modelling of seismic, magnetic, gravity and radiometric data. During the 1990s, access to Global Positioning System (GPS) location data for both navigation and positioning revolutionised the acquisition of gravity and airborne geophysical data, and made the routine use of high-resolution geophysical surveys in geological mapping affordable. Combined with remote sensing satellite imagery, geophysics proved to be a powerful tool for interpreting regional geology at, and below, the Earth’s surface.
The GSNSW ongoing geoscientific information activities include not only production of standard series hardcopy maps, reports and publications but also structural reorganisation of its databases and delivery systems to allow easy downloading of non confidential data via the internet. It is internationally recognised that quality geoscience information reduces exploration risk, boosting mineral resource development across the state.
See extended version of the History of the Geological Survey of NSW