World Geoscience Conference
 Geology Matters No 8
Introduction Director's Discourse The Role of Geoscience in Society World Geoscience Conference International Co-operation and Agreements Griffith Geoscience Research Awards 2008 - International Year of Planet Earth GeoUrban Dublin Project New Burren Map IYPE/Du Noyer Competition Launch of INFOMAR Website and Product Range Mapping Potential Landslide Hazards Groundwater Vulnerability Mapping An Intern's Life

World Geoscience Conference

Peadar McArdle


The 33rd International Geological Congress (IGC) - now rebranded as the World Geoscience Conference - was hosted by the Nordic countries in August 2008 and convened in Oslo. This four-yearly event had an attendance of 6,000 delegates from 120 countries who participated in a wide range of scientific and business meetings, workshops, seminars, poster sessions, exhibitions and excursions (see www.33igc.org for programme details).

Adopting an overall theme of "earth system science", the increased emphasis on climate change and natural hazards illustrated the increased geoscience focus on meeting society’s needs. Seven major and relevant themes adopted under International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) - 2008 featured prominently in the congress’ programme:

  • Early life, biodiversity and the geo-environment
  • Climate change: past, present, future
  • Geohazards and human behaviour
  • Water, human health and the environment
  • Mineral resources in a fast-growing global economy
  • The energy race - what will be the future energy mix?
  • Earth and beyond - synergies between Earth and planetary sciences

There was significant representation from Ireland, with our delegates involved actively in all aspects of the congress - in chairing symposia, making plenary and symposia presentations, and participating in poster and exhibition sessions. It will be noted that the themes of the National Geoscience Programme (2007-2013) are all comprehended in the above congress themes and they were reflected in Irish contributions. This was an important showcase for Irish Geoscience, publicising Ireland as a good base in which to undertake geoscience (whether as a practitioner or investor). Irish contributions also reflected the value which the Irish government attaches to its Science & Technology agenda.

A keynote review of Ireland’s seabed mapping was undertaken in plenary session at the invitation of the organisers. The Minister of State was invited to speak but in the event was unable to attend and the Director presented on his behalf. Immediately following this session a press conference was held in which the international importance of Ireland’s seabed was highlighted.

GSI chaired two important symposia. Mary Carter chaired "Putting new life into old data - digital conversion and exploitation of paper records", which explored the increased value and usage of geological data when managed in digital format and delivered over the web. The second symposium, "Impact and value of geological knowledge", examined the economic impact of the geoscience sector, its various services and research, and was chaired by this writer.

Scientific papers and posters were presented by GSI staff on a variety of priority themes, including an INFOMAR overview (Koen Verbruggen), seabed classification (Koen Verbruggen, Xavier Monteys), web delivery systems (Mary Carter) and the impact of Ireland’s geoscience sector (Peadar McArdle). A total of four posters, in addition, were displayed on aspects of INFOMAR and landslides.

GSI participated prominently in two new global initiatives which were featured at the congress. One Geology, coordinated by the British Geological Survey, is designed to make geological mapping across the world accessible over the internet. The second global initiative is International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) and, given that we are more than half way through the year, IGC provided a timely opportunity to review its progress and impact. Mary Carter represented GSI at the governing boards of both initiatives.

GSI is the adhering body for Ireland for IGC and its overseeing body, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). The latter coordinates international cooperation and synergy in a variety of areas including information management (Geological Information Consortium) and geological mapping (Commission for the Geological Map of the World). Mary Carter, Koen Verbruggen and Peadar McArdle participated in these meetings.

During the IGC, this writer signed an MoU with the Director of the US Geological Survey, Dr. Mark Myers. This will provide opportunities for staff transfers and training, with significant potential for upskilling our staff, and it arises from earlier cooperation on advancing the case for TELLUS/RESI surveys in Northern Ireland and Ireland.