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William Smith Virtual Meeting 2021: Geological Mapping - of our world and others

19 - 21 October 2021
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Event type:
Conference, Virtual event
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Energy Group, Tectonic Studies Group, Geological Remote Sensing Group
Virtual event
Event status:

This year’s William Smith Meeting will be an international celebration of the breadth of geological mapping. We look to explore its historical importance, the principles at its core, and its value in understanding the geological evolution and processes taking place on Earth and beyond.

Read more about the inspiration for this event here

View two very special films specifically created for this event. The films were directed by Lead Convenor, Lucy Williams and showcase the societies William Smith Map with commentary from Owen Green and Mike Searle (Oxford University) onsite at Burlington House. The latter film treats us to an exploration of extra-terrestrial maps including Richard Proctor’s chart of Mars and shot in the beautiful Royal Astronomical Society. A special thank you to the RAS for their support with this film.

A short History of Geological Mapping: from William Smith to present (35.26 minutes)

With Owen Green, University of Oxford and Mike Searle, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Split into three parts (William Smith and the origins of Geological Mapping, The Highland Controversy: How Geological mapping can solve model predictions and Mapping the Himalaya: from the Great Trigonometrical Survey to Everest) venture on a journey that illustrates how William Smiths original principles of mapping underpin field work to the present day.

Life on Mars told through maps: 1870 to 1905 (40.35 minutes)

With Joshua Nall, Curator of Modern Sciences at the Whipple Museum and Chair of the RAS Astronomical Society Heritage committee and Lucinda Offer, Education and Outreach Officer RAS and Executive director of the Mars Society.

This film tracks the fascinating story of the early mapping of Mars from Proctor through to Schiaparelli, Green and Lowell, and how the evolution of their interpretations popularised the belief that Mars sustained intelligent life forms.

Meeting Themes

  • The history of geological mapping and lessons learned
  • Case studies in geological mapping
  • Availability, compilations and use of maps
  • Maps and the big data revolution
  • Subsurface mapping – from 3D to 4D
  • Virtual outcrops, fieldwork, and new techniques
  • Experiences of doing fieldwork or mapping during pandemic-imposed restrictions
  • Mapping the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere in space and time
  • Extra-terrestrial mapping
  • Cognitive bias and uncertainty in mapping
  • Any other geological mapping topic or application 

Associated events


Full event programme


Registration for this virtual conference is open and available to all (Fellows and visitors).

If you need a VAT receipt please email with your registration details.

Registration Fees

The fees listed are for the full three day event (19-21 October 2021)

Fellow  £60 
Non-Fellow £80 
*Other Societies member
Corporate Affiliates £65 
Speaker £45 
Student (Non- Fellow) £25 
Retired Fellow £25
Student Fellow  £0 

*Other Societies include the following: AAPG, AIPG, GSA, NGWA SEPM and GAC

Student members can attend this event free of charge, however must register to attend. If you would like to make a donation to support our charitable activities, we would sincerely appreciate your generosity.

One day event fees are also available. Please contact for further details and prices.

Confirmed keynote speakers & topics

• Opening remarks and reflections by John Dewey (University College, Oxford)
Kathryn Stack (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) Geologic Mapping and the Search for Signs of Ancient Life in Jezero Crater with NASA’s Perseverance Rover
Marc St-Onge (Geological Survey of Canada) Rocks Are Us: 179 years of geological mapping, technological innovation and scientific advancement by the  Geological Survey of Canada
Karen Hanghøj (British Geological Survey) The future of Geospatial information for the UK
Clare Bond (University of Aberdeen) From map and compass to 3D models and digital outcrops: how biases influence mapping and interpretation
Matt Balme (Open University) Team-based, bespoke, and machine learning: different ways to map Mars from remote sensing data
• Closing remarks and reflections by Mike Daly (President 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 (British Geological Survey)


This will be a virtual event, taking place via Zoom. All those registered will receive details of how to join in advance of the event.

Event sponsorship

We would like to thank Gold Sponsors Imaged Reality for their generous support with this event.

If you would like to speak to us about sponsoring this event, please contact

Register now

Registration rates

£ 60.00
£ 80.00
£ 70.00
£ 65.00
£ 45.00
£ 25.00
£ 25.00

Geolsoc Contact

Emelia Spofforth-Jones

Emelia Spofforth-Jones

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House

Event sponsors