The Geological Survey of New South Wales (GSNSW) was established in 1875 in the Department of Mines. The work of Reverend W B Clarke, Geological Surveyor and the father of Australian geology, and Samuel Stutchbury, Government Geologist, laid the foundations for the systematic work of the GSNSW and formed the basis for the first New South Wales geological map issued in 1880. The need for mineral resources for a developing country drove the GSNSW to expand its resource mapping but later its work also encompassed maps for tourism and for construction work such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. Technological developments after the 1920s resulted in the inclusion of geophysics to allow geological interpretations to extend below the land surface.

In the 1970s, the GSNSW produced a 1:1 000 000 state geological map. This was followed by a tectonic map at the same scale based on the new concept of plate tectonics, which showed the structural regions and tectonic history of the state for the first time. To further encourage exploration, the GSNSW mapped all known mines, resulting in 1:250 000 metallogenic maps supported by detailed explanatory notes and mine data sheets.

The arrival of computers resulted in the adoption of computer-aided drawing systems (CAD). By 1993, the GSNSW had produced its last hand drawn map and by 2000, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was fully integrated into the GSNSW technical tool kit. Computers also allowed sophisticated analysis and display of geophysics and geochemical data. During the 1990s, access to Global Positioning System (GPS) location data for both navigation and positioning revolutionised the acquisition of ground and airborne geophysical data, and made the routine use of high-resolution geophysical surveys in geological mapping affordable. Combined with remotely sensed satellite imagery, geophysics proved to be a powerful tool for interpreting regional geology at, and below, the Earth's surface.

The ongoing geoscience information activities of the GSNSW include not only production of standard series hardcopy and digital maps and reports, but also geophysical imagery and 3D models. Its growing databases and delivery systems allow easy downloading of data via the internet. This provides accessible, quality geoscience information for land use assessment and to lower exploration risk and boost mineral resource development across the state.

For further information
Geological Survey of New South Wales
+61 (0)2 4063 6500
Geological Survey of New South Wales, PO Box 344, Hunter Region Mail Centre NSW 2310
516 High Street Maitland NSW 2320 Map