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The 1 : 5 Million International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas

IGME 5000 : More than just a map -
A multinational GIS Project

Interactive Web Map   
To Interactive IGME 5000 Open to public at mid June, 2006.
IGME5000 2005 The IGME 5000 was printed in November 2005.

Asch, K. (2005): The 1 : 5 Million International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas. BGR (Hannover), 1 map

Here you can order the IGME 5000

Downloadable files Maps, projection, guidelines, input template, status, legend, terms, CMYK values, data model
Methods and Background to the IGME 5000

A detailed description of the project and its background, history, geology and the developed GIS and database methods you will find in Geologisches Jahrbuch No. SA 3:

Asch, K. (2003): The 1 : 5 Million International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas: Development and Implementation of a GIS-enabled Concept; Geologisches Jahrbuch; SA 3, BGR, Hannover (ed.); Schweitzerbart (Stuttgart), 190 p., 45 fig., 46 tab.

ISBN 3-510-95903-5

Information on the contents of this site

The IGME 5000 project will increasingly be using this web site as a way of disseminating news and information about the project. Please visit it regulary and bookmark it!

  1. Introduction and Setting

  2. Cooperation with International Participants and Scientific Advisors

  3. Setting Standards for the Analogue and Digital Data Preparation

    3.1 Standards for the Printed Map
    3.1.1 Preliminary Legend
    3.1.2 Technical Guidance
    3.1.3 Common Topographic Base Map

    3.2 Standards for the GIS
    3.2.1 Term dictionaries
    3.2.2 Data Input Mask

  4. Data Harmonisation and Synthesis

    4.1 Draft Maps
    4.2 Database and GIS

  5. Copyright and Future Data Dissemination

Feedback and Questions

1. Introduction
and Setting

A major European GIS project: the 1:5 Million International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas (IGME 5000) is being managed and implemented by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) under the aegis of the CGMW (Commission of the Geological Map of the World). The project involves over 40 European and adjacent countries and the final area covered will reach from the Caspian Sea in the east, to the Mid-Ocean Ridge in the west, and from Svalbard to the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea (figure 1). The aims of the project are to develop a GIS underpinned by a geological database, and also a printed map providing up-to-date and consistent geological information.


Figure 1. Area covered by the 1 : 5 Million International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas

The GIS will hold significantly more information than the previous printed maps could ever provide. It will also offer versatility, e.g. to retrieve and present for the whole of Europe, information on age, petrography and structural and metamorphic features. More importantly the IGME 5000 GIS will provide the essential foundation for pan-European applied geo-environmental thematic mapping.

While the main theme of the GIS is the pre-Quaternary geology of both the land and offshore areas of Europe, it is planned to include additional themes, such as Quaternary geology — a key factor influencing the natural landscape. In the course of the project also a CD-ROM will be produced with a subset of the GIS and the related database.

The project is dependent on the numerous contributions of the many countries. An extensive multinational project like the IGME 5000 requires meticulous preparation and establishment of standards and protocols in order to provide the essential structure and guidelines for the data compilation e.g. common term dictionaries for the database. In addition a standard topographic base map was an essential prerequisite. So in many areas the IGME 5000 is establishing basic standards where none exist.

2. Cooperation with International Participants and Scientific Advisors

Because the project involves the European and several adjacent countries, co-operation with the respective national geological surveys proofed to be essential. They need to contribute draft maps of the pre-Quaternary geology of their land and sea areas and therefore require common technical guidance and provision with standards about the requirements of the procedure. After now three years over 40 Geological Surveys of Europe, Northafrica and Middle East are involved in the IGME 5000 (List of participating surveys and contacts, pdf-format). In addition a group of scientific advisors has formed and on request supports the project with scientific backing e.g. for the geology of the Mediterranean, the Alps, the Caledonides and the Baltic region, but also on paleogeological reconstructions, etc. The group mainly consists of academics and members of international not-contributing geoscience institutions.

3. Setting Standards for the Analogue and Digital Data Preparation

Rather obviously the geological content is more than essential for a geological map. For that appropriate standards and workflows were developed to ensure that those institutions contributing to the IGME 5000 were working on the same geological, cartographical and geographical (topographical) basis and therefore supplied consistent input data.

3.1 Standards for the Printed Map

3.1.1 Preliminary Legend

For the geological draft map to be created by each participant for the area of their country, a preliminary legend (containing a preliminary classification of the geological units) as a part of Guidelines for the Preparation of Draft Maps (.pdf format, 2670 KB) was developed at BGR.

The preliminary legend defines the contents of the draft maps (and at the same time places necessary constraints of the contributing geologists). A number of partly hierarchically organised tables on age, petrography and metamorphism of the rock units are included in this legend (Asch, 1997a & b) which provided the basis for the more extensive term dictionaries for the database (see 3.2.1).

3.1.2 Technical Guidance

More basic, but nonetheless critical, was the distribution of simple technical guidance notes for the preparation of the draft maps. Guidelines for the preparation of draft maps (Asch, 1997a) were developed which introduced a model of the draft map preparation, the required form of the finally submitted draft and the needed level of generalisation.

3.1.3 Common Topographic Base

Of fundamental importance is a common topographic base map. This controls the spatial referencing of the data but also needs to be suitable for printing (described in: Asch 1997b). The map is digitally available for free for all IGME participants and participants of co-operating projects, e.g. Geological Electronic Information eXchange System (GEIXS), the 1 : 5 Million Map of the Soil Regions of Europe (European Soil Bureau). On the IGME 5000 Members Only Special Site the data are provided in the common file formats (.gen and .e00) of the IGME GIS platform which is ArcInfo (ESRI Inc.).
All IGME 5000 contributors were asked to use this topographic base map and to submit their contributions on it, marking their geological units by individually created, unique identification numbers, the IN, which would be related to the general legend.

The submission of the draft maps was preferred in analogue form to avoid software incompatibilities and to avoid the need for digitising at the partner institutions.

3.2 Standards for the GIS

3.2.1 Term Dictionaries

An essential part of any GIS is the database and the definition of its content and structure. This did not exist for the "region" of Europe at the required resolution. The term dictionaries were compiled on the basis of existing international standards as far as possible (e.g. for the classification of igneous rocks from Streckeisen, 1973, and Streckeisen, 1980; the chronostratigraphic classification of sedimentary rocks from the IUGS, 1998. However invaluable at this stage was the contribution of the academic advisors of the IGME 5000 (see Asch 1997b, p. 152).

Figure 2. Data input mask (template) for the database (86 KB)

3.2.2 Data Input Mask

To facilitate the data acquisition for the database and to involve the participating institutions in the generation of the database, a data input screen (or template) based on an MS Access runtime version was distributed to the IGME 5000 participants.
Based on the term dictionaries and a comparatively simple data model, the screen described in the Guide for Use of the Data Input Mask (Asch & Troppenhagen, 1998) provides information and limits on how the geological units may be described. While simple, the data model had to be developed with the opportunity for later modification towards a more sophisticated model in mind and moreover it must facilitate the necessary synthesis of the individual "country databases" considerably.
The descriptions provided are being collected in a database table, the "country databases" at the participating geological institutions. When the data acquisition is complete, the mask system also includes functions to compress and copy the thus created individual database for mailing or e-mailing back to BGR (and to create a back-up for local use).

4. Data Harmonisation and Synthesis

4.1 Draft Maps

After the national draft maps were sent back to the BGR, the geological units and even the individual legends (because of the enormous variety of geological units) are being cartographically and geologically harmonised and generalised (figure 3).
Harmonisation of:
a. terms (e.g. for age or lithology)
b. grade of detail
c. "sheet boundary faults"
d. drawing style

Figure 3. Harmonisation of the various draft maps of the countries.

4.2 Database and GIS

To create the database the following process (Figure 4) is employed: on integrating the country-related data tables, the definive identification numbers (IN, see above) are harmonised by applying an algorithm so that finally only one combination of attributes relates to one identification number. This newly generated IN replaces the original IN national numerical coding of the geological units.

Figure 4. Scheme for the unification of the IN

The editoral staff manually allocates the new IN to the units on the draft maps in the course of the geological harmonisation and the geological and cartographical generalisation.
After collation the linework of the European geological map will be digitised and transferred to and further processed in ArcInfo, the GIS platform the IGME is currently being developed on. The primary key to the descriptions in the database will be provided by the IN after they have been added as attributes to the geological polygons. The entire procedure finally generates a database that comprises the attributes of all geological units and their IN as a link to a complete and harmonious European geological map with an unmistakable IN for all areas.
At a later state the thus created GIS must enable the production of a printed map, an attractive CD-ROM, an internet version and extract maps to be produced on demand. In addition to the cartographic design, database retrieval functions, but also the visualisation tools for the CD ROM and internet versions need to be created. The potential requirements of the future users are central to the definitions of these products.

5. Copyright and Future Data Dissemination

A yet to be resolved issue is that of data distribution and copyright. The question is, how to disseminate the digital data while retaining copyright. BGR wants to retain copyright because it wishes to avoid indiscriminate commercial exploitation. The issue of intellectual property rights is not simple and is also at discussion on European level. However, for the IGME 5000, the first step for a future copyright protection has been to draft an agreement for the Provision and Use of Spatial Data based on a similar form from the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO, 1993). At the moment the agreement is restricted to regulating the provision of the digital topographic data created for the IGME 5000, though it could in the future be an example for the distribution of the geological data.


AGSO (1993): Rights and Responsibilities of Spatial Data Custodians and Lead Agencies

Asch, K. (1997a): Guidelines for the Preparation of Draft Maps; Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover

Asch, K. (1997b): The Development of a New Small Scale Geological Map of Europe as a GIS; Proceedings ScanGIS '97; pp. 149-155

Asch, K. & Troppenhagen, H.-G. (1998): Guide for Use of the Data Input Mask; Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover

IUGS (1998): International Stratigraphic Chart, Strasbourg

Streckeisen, A.L. (1973): Classification and Nomenclature recommended by the IUGS Subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks. Geotimes, 10/73, pp. 26 - 31

Streckeisen, A.L. (1980): Classification and Nomenclature of Volcanic Rocks, Lamprophyres, Carbonites and Melilitic Rocks. IUGS Subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks. Band 69, Vol. 1; pp. 194 - 207.

Feedback and Questions

If you require more infomation about the project or have questions about the IGME 5000, please contact

Dr. Kristine Asch
Sub-Department B4.2 Geodata, Geological Information, Stratigraphy
Mail: igme5000@bgr.de
Tel: +49-(0)511-643-3324
Fax: +49-(0)511-643-533324
Postal address

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Last update: 26.08.2016