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Position Statement

GSA: Science, Stewardship, Service


The Value of Geologic Mapping

Adopted November 2003; Revised October 2005; Revised November 2008; Revised April 2012

Position Statement
To improve the scientific basis for public and private natural resource, environmental, and land-use decisions, The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports comprehensive geologic mapping on local, state, and national scales and advocates increased public investments for current state and national geologic mapping programs.

This position statement (1) summarizes the consensus views of GSA regarding the importance of geological mapping for natural-resource and land-use decision making; (2) encourages partnerships among government, academia, and industry to share mapping expertise and technology; (3) promotes the development of digital data and maps in a readily accessible and useable form; and (4) encourages educational institutions to value and reward the teaching of geologic mapping skills.


Geologic maps are tools portraying interpretive, three-dimensional views of rock, sediment, and soil units that depict their distribution and age relationships. Geologic maps provide a context for testing scientific theories, hypotheses, and models. They stimulate scientific thinking, questions, and ideas and promote further development of geologic methods and techniques. Geologic mapping at appropriate scales creates a framework within which biologic, climatologic, and other scientific data can be considered in the context of geologic information, yielding increased understanding and encouraging further multidisciplinary scientific investigations. Geologic maps are also valuable teaching tools in earth-science classrooms. The preparation of geologic maps is a fundamental skill unique to the science of geology.

Geologic maps and their subsequent derivative products have immense economic and societal value, and when these maps are current, digital, and Internet accessible, they are particularly useful. They support our ability to locate and develop mineral and water resources; assess and protect groundwater quality; safely site solid and hazardous waste disposal facilities; construct, restore, maintain, and protect sensitive ecosystems; and identify and prepare for such natural hazards as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and land subsidence. Geologic maps can also show how the physical environment has been impacted by human activity.  Geologic maps enhance our ability to identify health hazards; to site and build the nation’s infrastructure of roads and highways, railroads, pipelines, utilities, dams and locks, buildings, and foundations; and to make more informed land-use and planning decisions. . Geologic maps are fundamental elements for informing the policy decisions of federal, state, and local agencies.


GSA adopts this statement as a reflection of its institutional   commitment to the following actions: 


  Opportunities for GSA and Its Members to Help Implement Recommendations

To facilitate implementation of the goals of this Position Statement, GSA recommends the following actions:


Position Statements adopted by GSA Council may be used freely in their entirety by members in public policy discussions on the scientific issues to which they pertain.

About the Geological Society of America

The Geological Society of America (GSA), founded in 1888, is a scientific society with over 25,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA advances the geosciences, enhances the professional growth of its members, and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geologic issues, and supports all levels of earth-science education. Inquiries about GSA or this position statement should be directed to GSA’s Director for Geoscience Policy, Kasey S. White, at +1-202-669-0466 or .

© The Geological Society of America, Inc.