Map of world geologic provinces.  For more information on what the various colors mean, see the link on the page below. Map of world geologic provinces. For more information on what the various colors mean, see the link on the page below.

Map of world geologic provinces.  For more information on what the various colors mean, see the link on the page below.

Explorers have been making maps for more than four thousand years! As explorers for oil and gas, no introduction to petroleum geology is complete without first discussing the geologic map.

A geology map is used just like your handy highway map that you or your parents might keep in their car. Important data is stored on that road map – locations of cities, roads, mountains, and rivers – just to name a few. The geologic map is used in much the same way, only instead of capturing surface features such as cities and roads, the goal is to describe the subsurface. One of the most common uses for geologic maps is by construction firms, as they need to look for potential hazards such as faults before building buildings or roads.

The history of map making is a long one, but for geologists, there was one map that quite literally changed the world - William Smith’s 1815 geological map of Great Britain is the first geological map of any country in the world. One of the versions of his map is housed at the Geologic Society of London.

The United States Geologic Survey and the National Park system put together a website that can walk through the fundamental elements of geologic map and how to read one.