Bringing together geologists, palaeontologists and prehistorians within the Royal Belgian Museum of Natural History was the dream of Edouard Dupont, the second director of our Institute. However, conflicts between Dupont and the Belgian Geological Society prevented this project and lead to the creation, in 1896, of a Geological Survey of Belgium joined to the Mine administration. Following the regionalization processes since 1980 and the disappearance of the Mine Administration in 1995, the Geological Survey of Belgium was transferred to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in 2002. At least, Dupont's dream came true!
The Directorate Earth and History of Life is now the most important research centre devoted to Earth Sciences (geology, palaeontology and archaeosciences) in Belgium. It is composed of about 65 statutory and contractual staff members, together with numerous active volunteers. In the long term, it has the ambition to be a reference and pioneering Centre of excellence in the field of Earth Sciences in support of the sustainable management of the georesources and of the protection of the geoheritage.
Scientific research within the Directorate Earth and History of Life is based on vast collections – comprising more than 3 million fossils and about 40 kilometers of core samples – which attract a large number of colleagues from Belgium and abroad every year. For their researches, our scientists are also continuously roaming about the world – leading fieldwork in Peru, Congo, Tunisia, Russian, Vietnam, China, etc.
Our laboratories have a comprehensive range of modern equipment for mineralogical and petrophysical analysis, as well as for the preparation of micro and macrofossils.
Besides fundamental and applied research, our scientists also provide scientific expertise:
- in the field of Geosciences (geological mapping, natural hazards, raw materal initiatives, geo-energies, etc.)
- subsidized by the regions, in the field of Archeosciences.