Created in 1896, the Geological Survey of Belgium (GSB) is a key geological and mineralogical research centre developing both applied and fundamental research approaches. It is also an independent, non-commercial provider of geoscientific services. These services are oriented towards local, regional, federal, European and international authorities, as well as researchers of institutions/universities and research groups, private companies, NGO’s and citizens.
The fundamental and applied research activities within the GSB will be developed along four main axes, namely:
Dynamics of the Sedimentary Basins
A research program on the Dynamics of Sedimentary Basins forms an important base for the applied research and expertise activities of the GSB, because the sedimentary basins form the common denominator of all geologists focusing on Belgium. This axis is oriented towards a better understanding of the geological component of our environment and of the geohazard processes in the past and is based on stratigraphy. Priority research projects will be organized around the following topics:
- Enhancing the stratigraphy and sedimentology knowledge in some key intervals;
- Reconstructing the geological history of natural hazards;
- Reconstructing the oceanic geochemical fluctuations and biotic turnovers (in collaboration with the Palaeobiosphere Evolution Scientific program).
Geological Model of Belgium (GMB)
This axis represents an important business card for the entire GSB as a key provider in Belgium for geo-interpretation services with added-values or innovative data retrieval. Additional duty of GMB will aim to provide ‘Inspire-compliant’ geoscientific information for Belgium, in cooperation with or at the request of the competent authorities. Besides the new processing based on existing data, GMB will also benefit from priorities of campaigns oriented towards the acquisition of new data, applying both traditional approach of direct description (e.g. boreholes, field geological mapping, structural syntheses) and recent methods (e.g. PSInSAR). Priority research projects will focus on:
- Analyzing soil movements by radar interferometry technique PSInSAR;
- Estimating the stability of the monuments using radar interferometry.
Minerals and Raw Materials Initiative
Raw materials are now more than ever essential for the sustainable functioning of modern societies. Access to and affordability of mineral raw materials is crucial for the functioning of the EU's economy. In that context, it is the duty of a federal Geological Survey to maintain, enhance and promote the expertise in what Europe defines as metallic minerals and construction materials as well from primary sources (ore bodies, quarries) and secondary sources (scrap recycling), but also to participate in the development of a performing mineralogy laboratory with modern facilities. During the next 6 years fundamental and applied research projects will focus on the following topics:
- Characterising the physical properties of raw material and minerals;
- Investigating the mineralizing processes and characterising Rare Earth Elements both in Africa and in Europe;
- Identifying the source for raw materials (ornamental stones, rocks and ores, pigments, clays, jewels, ceramic,...) of artefacts and reconstructing the commercial ways to the final users (in collaboration with the Quaternary Environments and Humans scientific program).
This axis will cover the applied research related to those aspects of geo-energy that are not yet scientifically or technically mature. It is directed towards novel technological solutions until commercialization (when other players move in / are imposed). Different aspects of research include:
- CO2 geological storage;
- Shale gas;
- Geothermal energy;
- Energy policy & strategy.