London, August 1 : Scientists have pieced together the first global geological map, and have made it available on the Internet.
According to a report by BBC News, led by the British Geological Survey (BGS), the project involved geologists from 80 nations.
Between 60% and 70% of the Earth's surface is now available down to the scale of 1:1,000,000.
"That's 1cm for every 10km of the Earth's surface," explained Ian Jackson from the BGS and leader of the OneGeology Project. "With that resolution, people can focus in on a small part of their city," he added.
"Eventually, people will be able to get up close and see the rocks beneath their house," he said.
This was because the geological maps were being constantly updated.
"Every time someone bores a hole in the ground, and hauls out some rock, we can refine our maps a little bit more," said Jackson.
Project organisers explained that what is novel about this project is that it takes local geological information and makes it global.
The resource displays geological information with the use of a "virtual globe", in much the same way as Google Earth now presents satellite images.
Eventually, it is hoped that the geological maps will be detailed enough to help companies find the Earth's exploitable resources, such as minerals and oil.
Jackson suggested that the project should encourage the mining of minerals in developing countries, by making maps available that were previously unavailable to outside investors.
The developers of the system added that it would also help scientists and engineers learn more about the Earth and its environmental changes.
Researchers at the BGS hope that by making geological surveys global, they can encourage "big science" - research that no one country or geological survey could do on its own. By crossing national borders, the "joined-up geology" should foster international initiatives that will target global problems, such as climate change.
According to Jackson, "Geological surveys across the world are involved in trying to work out how you put CO2 underground and keep it there, and these sorts of databases are going to be required."