Geology, soil and seismic risk

European regions for Earth sciences

The cooperation among Geological surveys of Bayern, Catalunya and Emilia-Romagna

Cover of the brochure In 1992 the Geological Surveys of Emilia-Romagna (Italy), Catalonia (Spain) and Bavaria (Germany) informally started an innovative collaboration in the fields of Earth Sciences and Information Systems. This close working partnership led to the organisation of several editions of the "European Congress on Regional Geoscientific Cartography and Information Systems" in Bologna (1994), Barcelona (1997), Munich (2000), Bologna (2003), Barcelona (2006), Munich (2009) , (Bologna 2012) and Barcelona (2015). These congresses entailed effective co-operation across Europe between the Regional Geological Surveys, brought together numerous participants from many European countries, and even from Northern Africa and Asia, and produced important innovations and solutions regarding geo-environmental topics and information systems. Spontaneous cooperation between European regions has demonstrated that this could be a very effective way to bridge the gap between different traditions and methodologies and to begin sharing territorial and geo-environmental information at European level. To support this objective, the European Soil Bureau Network of the European Commission and EuroGeoSurveys have been invited to become members of the Scientific Committee.

Topics like climate change, soil conservation, quality and quantity of groundwater, extent of natural hazards, access to energy and mineral resources and popularisation of geological knowledge represent the common areas of interest of Geological Surveys and are of the highest significance for Europe's growth and sustainable development. Emilia-Romagna, Bavaria and Catalonia are particularly interested in developing and promoting an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to applied Earth Sciences and to further develop their on-line information systems (including metadata, data and thematic maps), in support of:

  • policy making;
  • environmental management;
  • sustainable access to natural resources;
  • the mitigation of the impacts of natural hazards of geological origin;
  • the development of downstream services;
  • the information of the general public.

To make this possible, these regions organise joint advanced technical and professional training activities to implement the available technologies and develop common methodologies.

Today an intimate understanding of the physical make-up of the territory and of its subsurface is vital for society, for the cities, business and industry as well as to ensure the continued functioning of the life-supporting ecosystems. In every country this understanding is a fundamental pre-requisite to any form of land use management, of the sustainable use of natural resources and of the prevention and mitigation of natural hazards. It is becoming increasingly evident that natural resources of geological origin, namely water, soil, mineral and energy sources are finite and precious, consequently their use must be governed by stringent criteria of sustainability. In the same way, sustainable development is not possible without assessing hazards, minimising risks and maximising awareness.

Loss of soil due to factors such as contamination, sealing, compaction, loss of organic matter or erosion impair the fertility of land, their proper functioning for the recharge essential groundwater resources, their buffer role in flood prone areas; coastal erosion threatens tourist areas; landslides in mountains and floods in plains endanger people, infrastructure and properties; over-exploitation of natural resources, including water, jeopardise the availability for future generations. To manage these problems, planning authorities need, reliable information on geological settings, on subsurface resources and on natural hazards. This need is likely to continue to rise in the coming years.

The role of Geological Surveys is therefore to acquire the necessary quality-controlled data, to turn it into information and knowledge and to disseminate it to support policy makers and other components of society (academia and research, engineering and consultancy firms, industry, insurance companies, investors, NGO’s, the general public…); to fill the gaps in knowledge, to refine data and improve their availability in interoperable and harmonised formats. At the same time there is an increasing demand for information from the society. European citizens ask to have more immediate access to the information they need for a better understanding of: the environment in which they live; the hazards they are potentially exposed to; the importance of preventing such hazards and of the necessity of a sustainable use of precious natural resources.

The development of an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to applied Earth Sciences, as well as the development of the interoperability and harmonisation of geoscientific data layers are necessary to support:

  • existing or forthcoming European policies, regulations and initiatives that involve the knowledge, the use and the management of the Earth’s subsurface resources as well as the threats generated by our living Earth;
  • national as well as regional or local policies and regulations addressing natural resources, geological hazards or the development and management of subsurface space;
  • to provide the above mentioned users with data, information and knowledge related to the mentioned themes.




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last modified 2022-09-08T17:21:35+02:00
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