STRATEGIC GEOSCIENCES AND EVOLVING SOCIETAL DEMANDS
National leaders call on academies of science and other scientific resources for advice, but at the state level, geological surveys are commonly the only non-regulatory science agency. As such, they are increasingly being called on to address broader scientific questions than originally envisioned. Geological surveys have continually evolved over the past one hundred and seventy years; those that continue to do so will survive and thrive.
Most geological surveys were established to map the geology primarily to identify mineral resources. Geological mapping of the U.S. at 1:24,000 is still among the poorest in the world but is steadily improving. Basic geological mapping will continue to be a prime function of geological surveys but increasing emphasis will be on thematic and derivative maps.
Geological surveys have an ongoing challenge to meet changing societal needs and expectations if they are going to continue to garner public support. These have changed from primarily support of wealth creation from mineral and energy resources, to preservation of the environment, identification and mitigation of geologic hazards, effects of population growth, resolution of land use conflicts, and overall improvement of the quality of life.
Recently emerged areas of survey activities are in advanced techniques to extend the lives of existing resources, enhanced exploration and production techniques for resources in mature provinces, refocusing mineral resource expertise from metallics and precious minerals to industrial minerals such as aggregates, interaction in regional to global studies (such as climate change), biogeoscience (including medical geology), geoinformatics, baseline geochemistry, regional 3-D surficial geology, and educational outreach.