Eighty one scientists from Geological Survey and similar organizations in over 40 nations gathered together on 12-16 March 2007 in Brighton, on the south coast of England. Such events are common enough, but this was a conference with a difference. Its single, clear-cut aim was to generate a global team of experts to do no less than make available on the worldwide web the latest and best global geological map information at a scale of 1:1 million - and to do so at no cost to the user.

Launched as a contribution to the International Year of Planet Earth 2007-2009, OneGeology shares with the IYPE the same focus upon the needs and aspirations of the human community. Improving sustainable supplies of energy and minerals, mitigating the effects of geological hazards on life, health and livelihood, and facing the challenges posed by human enhancement of climate change all demand the highest quality readily available geological knowledge. With the 1:1 million scale global geological map as the first priority of OneGeology, a whole range of derivative products can be expected to emerge in response to the increasing demands of human society. From the start and increasingly with time, therefore, this initiative will be one that serves not only geologists but ordinary people and their decision makers around the world.

Refining and achieving such goals demand team work of the highest order.  It was appropriate, therefore, that the workshop was guided by accomplished experts and achieved a very high work rate. The scene was set eloquently by Professor Aubrey Manning (Goodwill Ambassador of the IYPE and a biologist with impressive geological awareness) and Dr. John Ludden (Director of the British Geological Survey (BGS)). In the workshop sessions, expert guidance came from Dr. Ian Jackson (OneGeology’s brain-child) and his British Geological Survey team, Dr. Harvey Thorleifson (Association of American State Geologists), Dr. John Broome (Geological Survey of Canada) and Professor Fraser Taylor (Chair, International Steering Committee for Global Mapping), with encouragement and further guidance from CGMW, ICOGS, IUGS, IYPE, and UNESCO.

During the core days of the workshop, a high work rate was achieved by operating in groups of 6 to 8 scientists in round-table ‘brain-storming’ mode, and under strict time limits, with sets of key questions before them on vital subjects such as scales and types of information and timescales to be included, as well as on such critical subjects as interoperability between numerous e-mapping systems, the ‘data deluge’ affecting us all, and the obstacles to information exchange found in certain economic sectors. 

The outcome of the Brighton workshop was wide-ranging, forward-looking and inspiringly positive.  It was orders of magnitude richer than can be gauged from the sober but necessarily generic ‘Brighton Accord’.  OneGeology ( is a star project within the IYPE, addressing both its science and outreach programmes. The workshop outcomes and the prospects they raise are exciting and colourful, for this was a team event from start to finish, and one that demonstrated quite tangibly the catalytic power of a common passion for maps and what they can offer the world. 

Edward Derbyshire