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POSTPONED - William Smith Meeting 2020: Geological mapping - of our world and others

06 - 08 October 2020
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Event type:
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Energy Group, Tectonic Studies Group
The Geological Society, Burlington House
Event status:

Please note that given the public health risks associated with the coronavirus, the Society has decided to postpone this conference until 19 to 21 October 2021. Please see our new event page for any future updates regarding the rescheduled event. We will be contacting all registered attendees soon regarding refund and/or rebooking procedures.

Map-making is a fundamental tool for developing geological knowledge – it involves data collection and interpretation, and has its roots in the earliest discoveries in Earth sciences. It remains the starting point for stratigraphic and structural understanding, metamorphic facies, geochronology and modelling studies.

Mapping underpins the assessment of resources and hazards and in the planning of their exploitation, management and mitigation, and it tracks responses of the Earth’s surface to internal and external processes, be they tectonic or climatic.

From its earliest beginning, geological mapping evolved into far more than simply a spatial catalogue of observable rock types and landforms on the Earth’s land-surface. It embraces the onshore and offshore world. Deductive reasoning allows this knowledge to infer subsurface Earth structure, integrating geophysical data and imaging.

Satellite data are used for mapping details of active faulting, earthquake geology, quantifying tectonics and other active shallow-Earth processes. Mapping documents the Earth's surface's responses to a changing climate. Photogrammetry techniques are used to provide quantitative 3D geometric attributes for diverse complex geology. Mapping through remote sensing is at the forefront of characterising extraterrestrial objects, building deductions not only of internal planetary processes but also the evolution of their landscapes.

This three-day conference is a celebration of geological mapping, its historical importance, the deductive reasoning embedded within it, and its use to gain knowledge of the evolution and processes both on Earth and on planetary bodies at large.

The conference will both look forward to new directions and back to lessons from the past, and the organisers invite contributions from people working on geological mapping to fit with (but not necessarily limited to) the themes outlined below.


  • The history of geological mapping and its lessons
  • Case studies in geological knowledge through mapping
  • Maps, their compilations, availability and use – the big data revolution
  • Subsurface mapping – 3D to timelapse
  • Virtual outcrops and new techniques
  • The geo- bio-atmosphere links in space and time
  • Extra-terrestrial geology
  • Cognitive bias and uncertainty in mapping

Associated events

  • Social programme to include a conference dinner
  • Showcase of the Geological Society map archive

Confirmed keynote speakers

Kathryn Stack (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA)

Marc St-Onge (Geological Survey of Canada)

Karen Hanghoj (BGS)

Clare Bond (University of Aberdeen)

Matt Balme (Open University)

Maarten De Wit (AEON, Nelson Mandela University)

Opening remarks and reflections by John Dewey (University College, Oxford)

Closing remarks and reflections by Mike Daly (President-designate of the Geological Society)

Conference convenors

  • Lucy Williams (Rockhopper Exploration)
  • Rob Butler (Aberdeen University)
  • Mike Searle (University of Oxford)
  • Sanjeev Gupta (Imperial College London)
  • David Schofield (BGS)


The Geological Society of London
Burlington House

Registration rates

£ 175.00
£ 225.00
£ 175.00
£ 75.00
£ 125.00

Geolsoc Contact

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House