• The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is a scientific agency of India.
  • It was founded in 1851, as a Government of India organization under the Ministry of Mines, one of the oldest of such organisations in the world and the second oldest survey in India after the Survey of India (founded in 1767), for conducting geological surveys and studies of India, and also as the prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public, as well as the official participant in steel, coal, metals, cement, power industries and international geoscientific forums.
  • GSI is headquartered in Kolkata and has six Regional offices located at Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong, and Kolkata and State Unit offices in almost all States of the country.
  • Presently, Geological Survey of India (GSI) is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
  • The main functions of Geological Survey of India (GSI) relate to the creation and updating of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment. These objectives are achieved through:
    • ground surveys, air-borne, and marine surveys
    • mineral prospecting and investigations
    • multi-disciplinary geoscientific
    • geotechnical, geo-environmental, and natural hazards studies
    • glaciology and seismotectonic study
    • carrying out fundamental research.
  • The results of GSI’s work are of enormous societal benefit. The GSI’s operational and yearly programs take on importance from a national standpoint as well.

History of Geological Survey of India

  • Formed in 1851 by East India Company, the organization’s roots can be traced to 1836 when the “Coal Committee”, followed by more such committees, was formed to study and explore the availability of coal in the eastern parts of India. 
  • David Hiram Williams, one of the first surveyors for the British Geological Survey, was appointed ‘Surveyor of coal districts and superintendent of coal works, Bengal’ on 3 December 1845 and arrived in India the following February. 
  • The phrase “Geological Survey of India” was first used on his Dec 1847 map of the Damoodah and Adji Great Coal Field, together with Horizontal and Vertical sections of the map. On 4 February 1848, he was appointed the “Geological Surveyor of the Geological Survey of India”, but he fell off his elephant and, soon after, died with his assistant, F. B. Jones, of ‘jungle fever’ on 15 November 1848, after which John McClelland took over as the “Officiating Surveyor” until his retirement on 5 March 1851.
  • Until 1852, Geological Survey primarily remained focused on exploration for coal, mainly for powering steam transport, oil reserves, and ore deposits, when Sir Thomas Oldham, father of Richard Dixon Oldham, broadened the ambit of the scope of functioning of the Geological Survey of India by advancing the argument with the government that it was not possible to find coal without first mapping the geology of India.
  • Thus, the Geological Survey commenced to map the rock types, geological structures and relative ages of different rock types . The age of rock strata was estimated from the presence of index fossils, which consumed much of the geologists’ efforts in finding these index fossils, as the method of Radiometric dating for estimating the age of rock strata was not developed at that time.
  • On 8 April 2017 GSI began pilot project, with the first ever aerial survey of mineral stocks by GSI, to map the mineral stocks up to a depth of 20 km using specially-equipped aircraft.
  • The GSI was restructured into 5 Missions, respectively relating to “Baseline Surveys”;”Mineral resource Assessments”;”Geoinformatics”;”Multi-disciplinary Geosciences”; and “Training and Capacity Building”, on the basis of the Report of a High-level Committee chaired by Mr S.Vijay Kumar Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Mines of the Government of India.

Functions of Geological Survey of India

  • The Charter of the Geological Survey of India outlines its functions as follows:
    • Enable and facilitate the provision of objective, impartial, and up-to-date geological expertise and geoscientific information of all kinds, particularly for decision-making for policy, commercial, economic, and societal needs.
    • Systematically document the geology and geological processes of the surface and subsurface of India and its offshore areas using the latest and most cost-effective techniques and methodologies, including geophysical and geochemical, and geological surveys.
    • Develop and continually enhance GSI’s core competence in survey and mapping through continued accretion, management, coordination, and utilization of spatial databases (including those acquired through remote sensing).
    • Use new and emerging computer-based technologies for the dissemination of geoscientific information and spatial data, through cooperation and collaboration with other stakeholders in the Geoinformatics
    • Explore (through the ground, airborne, satellite, and marine surveys) and scientifically assess mineral, energy, and water resources for the country and facilitate their optimal exploration through proactive information dissemination.
    • Maintain a leadership role in the geological field and develop partnerships with Central, State, and other institutions, to help create enhanced execution capability and capacity in the field of geology in furtherance of GSI’s Vision and the objectives of this Charter.
    • Coordinate geoscientific activities with stakeholders in all sectors related to geoscience to help sustainably manage our natural resources, including water.
    • Conduct multidisciplinary as well as fundamental Geoscientific research and studies (including geotechnical investigations, physical, chemical, and biological hazard geo-investigations, climate change geostudies, paleogeostudies, etc.).
    • Actively participate in international collaborative projects to improve our understanding of the earth and its ecosystems and its geology, including studies related to tectonics, global warming and climate change, and Polar studies.
    • Generally advance the cause of the geoscience by documentation, propagation, archiving, and education, including creation and management of museums, monuments and parks, archives, libraries, and other facilities for use of students, researchers, and the public.
    • In particular, constantly endeavor to popularize Geoscience at school and university levels through the production and dissemination high quality audio-visual and printed material, and through the medium of the Internet.
    • Also, hold exhibitions and special events to bring geoscientific concepts before the public.

Geological Survey of India: Vision and Mission

  • The GSI’s vision and mission are as under:
    • Baseline Geoscience, Data Collection
      • Systematic Geological Mapping (SGM) is the most important and basic mapping programme performed by the Geological Survey of India. It has covered 98.52% of the total mappable area of the country.
      • Multisensor Airborne Geophysical surveys are carried through Twin Otter Airborne Survey System (TOASS) and Heliborne Geophysical Survey System (HGSS) as a significant aid in exploring mineral resources, particularly base metals.
    • Natural Resource Assessment
      • GSI acknowledges the ramification associated with the increasing use of fossil fuels and thereby focuses its attention on renewable, non-conventional energy resources such as geothermal hot springs.
      • Mineral resource assessment projects include Ferrous Minerals, Base Metals, Precious Metals & Minerals, Non-Ferrous and Strategic Minerals and Industrial & Fertilizer Minerals.
    • Geoinformatics
      • The Geological Survey of India has covered almost all accessible parts of the Indian subcontinent by systematic geological mapping and through other specialised geoscientific activities. The multi-thematic data thus collected are also used for geospatial modelling for targeting mineral reserves or to solve geo-environmental problems.
      • The geoscientific data acquired by the Geological Survey of India from various field and laboratory-based investigations are disseminated to the scientific community through various categories of publications.
    • Multidisciplinary Geosciences
      • Fundamental Geoscience involves carrying out research in principal branches of fundamental Geoscience like Petrology, Palaeontology and Geochronology & Isotope Geology and allied earth science-related subjects with an aim to better understand and appreciate the earth’s processes.
      • Desertification and its impact assessment, Geo-Environmental appraisal of mine and other anthropogenic contamination areas, and Arsenic and Fluoride contamination studies of groundwater in parts of the country are some of the socio-environmentally relevant studies which figure prominently in the annual programme of GSI.
      • GSI is entrusted with undertaking and coordinating landslide investigations and formulation of mitigation measures by developing strategy/methodology for all types of landslide investigations in the country.
    • Training and Capacity Building
      • GSI is engaged in the task of providing training and capacity-building programmes for the resources.

Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) declares geo-heritage sites/ national geological monuments for protection and maintenance.
  • The Geoheritage sites are defined as sites containing:
    • geo-relics and phenomena,
    • stratigraphic type sections,
    • geological structures and geomorphic landforms including caves, natural rock-sculptures of national and international interest; and
    • includes such portion of land adjoining the site.
  • A Geo-relic is defined as any relic or material of a geological significance or interest like sediments, rocks, minerals, meteorite or fossils.
  • The GSI will have the power to acquire geo-relics for its preservation and maintenance.
  • The 32 geo-heritage sites spread across 13 states include: the Volcanogenic bedded Barytes of Mangampeta in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh, the Akal Fossil Wood Park in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan etc.

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