volcano banner

Science Menu

Geological Mapping Update of Antarctica (GEOMAP)

The Action Group on the Geological Mapping Update of Antarctica has been formed to begin the process of updating geologic geospatial information of Antarctica. The aim is to facilitate an international effort to gather both rock and surficial deposit information and compile it into a modern digital framework, with a view to producing a holistic GIS dataset that will underpin studies of glacial dynamics and climate change. 

International representatives are still being sought. Interested parties should contact the Steering Committee co-chairs.

There are numerous, hard-copy, regional-scale geological maps that were developed last century. Many have been scanned, some have been georeferenced, but few are more than raster digital information.  For the most part, they are geologically reliable for defining bedrock geology (‘deep time’). Unfortunately they contain little representation of glacial geology, the maps have poor spatial reliability in the context of modern science (located by GPS), and the maps have not kept pace with the present focus on Antarctica’s role in climate change.   

Antarctica contains minimal geologic exposure when compared to overall area, but the rock and cover deposits contain a geomorphological and geological history of the waxing and waning of Antarctica’s ice sheets. Some relatively small areas have been represented by detailed local maps in journals, but there are no modern attribute-rich GIS datasets to provide holistic information at the scale of the ice sheets/ice shelves.  Meanwhile, large quantities of satellite data are being rapidly acquired at high-precision, offering the opportunity to accurately locate outcrops and derive compositional information at sub-metre resolution.

There is a growing need for a digital dataset to comprehensively define the exposed geosphere, for pinpointing the locations of glacial deposits, indicate their mode of formation, age, and likely source.  Such key underpinning information on the geosphere and its history can be used to constrain biological and ecological research, identify geoindicators of climate change, and help improve our understanding of Antarctica’s role in climate change.   

The Geological Mapping Update Action Group will facilitate an integrated programme from 2015-2018 to promote the capture of existing geological map data, update its spatial reliability, improve representation of glacial sequences and geomorphology, and enable data delivery via web-feature services. International representation is still being sought and interested parties should contact the group co-chairs.

What GeoMap does

  pdf Towards a digital dataset of the Antarctic geosphere (7.11 MB) - a Powerpoint presentation on the SCAR GeoMap project, its work and the progress made in mapping the geosphere.

GeoMap Workshop

GeoMap held a workshop at the XII ISAES Meeting in July 2015 called "Towards improved geological maps of
Antarctic rocks and surficial deposits":


Terms of Reference

This group will facilitate an integrated programme to promote the capture of existing geological map data, update its spatial reliability, improve representation of glacial sequences and geomorphology, and enable data delivery via web-feature services.


  • Solicit wide international representation.
  • Debate and decide on GIS-data structure and delivery mechanism:
    • Debate the relative merit of a distributed database like OneGeology, versus a centralised database model;
    • Ensure adopted process enables retention of academic and custodial rights (sovereignty) as/where necessary.
  • Convert geological maps into GIS-databases and smart web feature services.
  • Improve definition of glacial geology and geomorphology using satellite imagery and remote sensing, local age-dating studies.
  • Find a host for web services, perhaps utilising Geoserver or ArcGIS Server, in WMS smart image form or in WFS feature form (utilising GeoSciML).
  • Prepare paper outlining geological nomenclature and classification issues that arise.
  • Highlight areas for targeted research and/or the need for new geological field work.
  • Facilitate exchanges of early-career and other scientists with an interest in spatial representation of the geosphere.



Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
c/o Scott Polar Research Institute
University of Cambridge
Lensfield Road
Cambridge, CB2 1ER, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1223 336550