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OneGeology-Europe (OGE)

Published on: 19/11/2010 Document Archived

OneGeology-Europe (OGE) has brought together a web-accessible, interoperable geological spatial dataset for the whole of Europe at 1:1 million scale based on existing data held by the pan-European Geological Surveys.

Rich geological data assets exist in the Geological Surveys of each country of the world, including each European Member State, but they are difficult to discover and are not interoperable. For those outside the Survey or nation, they are not easy to obtain, understand or use.

The project has accelerated the development and deployment of a nascent international interchange standard for geology, GeoSciML, enabling the sharing of data within and beyond the geological community. It facilitates the re-use of geological data by a wide spectrum of public and private sector users. It addresses the licensing and multilingual aspects of access and move geological knowledge closer to the end user where it will have greater societal impact. The project provides examples of best practice in the delivery of high resolution digital geological spatial data to users, e.g. in the insurance, property, engineering, mineral resource and environmental sectors.

Policy Context

The EU Directive INSPIRE (2007/2/EC) came into force on 15. May 2007 with the aim to create an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe to provide a legislative framework that will enhance the accessibility of environmentally relevant data for EC politicians, economists, scientists and citizens. Optimally this data should be consistent and comparable, i.e. they should be interoperable and if possible even harmonized.

INSPIRE addresses 34 thematic geospatial data fields in Annex I, II and III of the Directive, and their metadata; To enable the cross-border interoperability of this data, Data Specification are being set up for each of these themes, one being "Geology". The work of the Work Package 3 Data Specification team has already been recognised by the European Commission as providing a basis for the necessary, more detailed specification of the INSPIRE geology theme.

OneGeology-Europe's Work Package 3 (WP 3) is delivering an essential basis for the OneGeology-Europe project: A specification for geological spatial data and an interoperable 1:1 million scale dataset for the whole of Europe. This includes in its core a vocabulary to describe lithology, age and genesis of the rocks and the tectonic structures and term definitions and relations.

Technology solution

The project's aim was to create dynamic digital geological map data for Europe. These data have been made available from a portal via the Internet using the latest computing technology, GeoSciML. This approach allows different types of data and formats to be made available and will be accessible to anyone using the web.

GeoSciML (GeoScience Markup Language) is a GML (Geography Markup Language) application language for Earth Sciences. It is an XML schema for data exchange over the Internet that incorporates the ability to represent geographic data relevant to territorial features such as geometry (e.g. polygons, lines and points) using the OGC's GML specification. The range of features being offered for exchange are defined by the domain or subject area of Earth Sciences or the geological sciences.

GeoSciML accommodates the short-term goal of representing geoscience information associated with geological maps and observations, as well as being extended in the long-term to other data. It draws from many geoscience data model efforts, and from these establishes a common suite of feature types based on geological criteria (units, structures, fossils) or artifacts of geological investigations (specimens, sections, measurements). Supporting objects are also considered (timescale, lexicons, etc), so that they can be used as classifiers for the primary objects.

GeoSciML is based on W3C, OGC and ultimately ISO international standards for data exchange over the Internet and is being designed by the IUGS-CGI Interoperability Working Group, an international consortium of geological surveys around the world.

Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts


OneGeology-Europe aimed to create dynamic digital geological map data for Europe. It will make a significant contribution to the progress of INSPIRE - i.e. develop systems and protocols to better enable the discovery, viewing, downloading and sharing of core European spatial geological data.

OneGeology-Europe addresses licensing and multi-lingual aspects of sharing geological knowledge and demonstrates best practice examples of the delivery and application of geological spatial data in the public and private sectors.

OneGeology-Europe is a natural offshoot of the global OneGeology initiative and consists of a consortium of European geological surveys and representatives from the user community. The initiative is truly multilateral and multinational.



Geological data are essential to society. The impact of quarrying, volcanoes, flooding, radon, underground aquifers, subsidence/landslides/slope stability and pollution affects everyone. To view the data spatially (i.e. on a map) enables people to easily view the often complex relationships of the different rocks and deposits found across Europe.

The purpose of One Geology-Europe is to enable the sharing and accessibility of European geological data. The national geological institutes have a wealth of data assets which is often accessible only to specialists. In addition, these data have not been easy to understand so far, their use and inter-operability are difficult. These functions are possible with One Geology-Europe.



OneGeology-Europe makes geological spatial data held by European geological surveys both discoverable and accessible. This not only allows researchers, consultants, environmentalists, construction and water industries, house builders, planners and local, regional and central governments to make more informed decisions about the resources underlying Europe but also provides you with the means to find out just what lies beneath your feet!

OneGeology-Europe also enables Europe to play a leading role within the global OneGeology initiative.


Metadata Catalogue

The Geological Metadata Catalogue, developed within the framework of the OneGeology-Europe eContent plus project, provides the means for searching (Metadata Search) national geological and applied geological map data ranging from the scale of 1:10,000 to 1:1 million. The Catalogue also offers a SW tool, fully multilingual, for creation and/or editing metadata records (Metadata Editor). The national geological map data, maintained and provided by 21 national geological survey organisations, are presented in this Metadata Catalogue in the form of datasets, dataset series or where available as on-line services.

In order to harmonise descriptions of national geological and applied geological maps or map series, a new Geological Metadata Profile (GMP) was developed and utilised when collecting the metadata records. The GMP is fully based on the EN ISO 19115 (for datasets, series) and EN ISO 19119 (for services) international standards. The GMP is also compliant with the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation (Nr. 1205/2008).

In order to directly display a metadata record (geological or applied geological map) for which an on-line map service is available, the Metadata Catalogue is integrated into the OneGeology-Europe Portal. Both the OneGeology-Europe Portal and the Metadata Catalogue build together a unique multilingual system for discovery, view and use of geological data across Europe.

Lessons learnt

  • Communication between the groups, organisations, projects working in the area of SDI and geosciences information is sub-optimal - greater cohesion is needed;
  • More priority and resources should be devoted to co-operative goals;
  • Fewer individual and domain specific programmes should be initiated;
  • Realising the potential synergies and reducing overlap and duplication will not happen if left to individual groups;
  • Increased resources need to be provided specifically for clustering and integration activity by trans-national umbrella organisations (EC, EEA, the World Bank, UNESCO and GEO/GEOSS);
  • Domain specific associations like EuroGeoSurveys, EuroGeographics and IUGS should pay a stronger role also;
  • Need for increased proactive orchestration of the geosciences informatics and broader SDI communities, and providing funding streams that encourage integration, not fragmentation;
  • Many actors operating with similar objectives - wider community (and SDI community) is confused - impact and effectiveness suffers;
  • Level of understanding of SDI and importance is poor in geological and environmental scientists and in the senior management of geosciences and environmental science organisations and the end users;
  • More effort and resources in SDI projects (including INSPIRE) should be devoted to communication and outreach.
Scope: International, Pan-European