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Home > Science and research > Structure, Composition and Evolution of the Earth's Crust

Structure, Composition and Evolution of the Earth's Crust

Research on the regional geology of the Czech Massif and Western Carpathians is closely related to the programme of geological mapping and is carried out in cooperation with other geological institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad. The aim of this work is to improve understanding of the tectonic and metamorphic development of the crystalline complex, the patterns of distribution of intrusive and eruptive magmatic rocks, the geological dating of metasediments and granitoids, the tectonic development and distribution of facies in sedimentary basins, and the lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy of sedimentary formations in relation to the interpretation of palaeo-environmental conditions. The composition and structure of the basement rocks govern the geological and topographic development of the country and thus have a fundamental influence on the biosphere itself.

One of the primary tasks of the CGS is to ensure that understanding of the geological composition and structure of the Czech Republic is commensurate with the highest contemporary scientific standards. The information gathered as a result of ongoing regional and applied research projects is incorporated within the appropriate databases of the national geoinformation system for use by regional and local government authorities, geotechnical and mining companies, industrial and civil engineering organizations and the wider public.

1. Mapping of the geological composition and structure of the Czech Republic, and areas abroad

Geological mapping of the national territory of the Czech Republic is primarily concerned with the surface exposures, superficial deposits and subsurface structure of the Czech Massif and Western Carpathians. This involves investigations of the petrology and the mineralogical and geochemical compositions of the constituent sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic formations, the development of sedimentary basins and systematic palaeontological, palaeoenvironmental and biostratigraphic investigations of selected sedimentary formations.

A list of projects concerned with structure, composition and evolution of the Earth's crust is given here.

Since 1996, in order to provide complete coverage of the Czech Republic by geological and thematic (special purpose) maps at a scale of 1:50,000, re-mapping of the geology at a scale of 1:25,000 has been carried out in the Bohemian Forest National Park, the Giant Mountains National Park, the Žďárské Uplands Protected Landscape Area, the Ash Mountains Protected Landscape Area, the surroundings of the Town of Křivoklát, the surroundings of the Town of Pilsen, the Elbe River Basin, the Doupovské Mountains, the Maleník Upland, the vicinity of the Odra River and the surroundings of the Town of Vsetín. This detailed geological mapping will improve understanding of the geological and hydrological conditions in the areas of specially protected landscape and natural parks, and enable sustainable management of land, water and mineral resources. The staff of the CGS also compile special geological maps for land-use planning, for expert reviews of civil engineering projects, and for a range of other practical geoscientific problems.

See the geological maps available on-line

3D geological models of the rock environment of the Czech Republic

Geological maps in a broader sense also include 3D maps, resp. 3D geological models. Their creation is currently connected mainly with planning of radioactive waste and CO2 repositories, transportation constructions and utilization of geothermal energy. Thus, models are created only in the relevant territories of interest. Once the unified methodology for creating 3D geological models at the Czech Geological Survey will be established on the basis of these pilot areas, it will be possible to produce these outputs in coordination with systematic geological mapping.

See a map of the Czech Republic with links to 3D visualization of currently available models

2. Development of geochronological, geochemical, petrological, structural and stratigraphic methods

Geochronological, geochemical, petrological, structural and stratigraphic investigations are closely linked to fundamental research and dependent on data gathered using a range of instrumental methods for non-destructive imaging and analysis of mineral phases and structures as well as classical procedures for determining the bulk chemical composition and isotopic variations of rocks and minerals.

During the course of mapping and research, large amounts of information are gathered through observations made in the field and analyses of rocks, minerals and waters carried out in the laboratory. All this data must be systematically archived and incorporated in a central relational database so that interpretation can be carried out efficiently. The primary aim is to understand how individual sequences of rocks have formed, how they govern the conditions in the biosphere, and how they can best be used for human l purposes as amenities, agricultural or industrial resources

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Metamorphic rocks

The mineralogy, chemistry and texture of a metamorphic rock record the changes that have affected it during its geological history. Systematic investigations using non-destructive imaging and instrumental analysis provide information about the age of the rocks, the metamorphic reactions and the pressures and temperatures under which these took place. By linking these to changes in crystal structure, deformation and the rates at which elements and isotopes diffuse through constituent minerals and rocks, the cycle of changes taking place in different parts of the Earth’s crust through geological time can be reconstructed.

Plutonic rocks

Structural and petrological investigations of magmatic complexes are being carried out across the whole Czech Republic so that the mechanisms that govern the intrusion of igneous rocks and their patterns of distribution can be related to the geodynamic environment in which they occur. Determination of the chronological sequence of crystallization and the architecture of individual plutonic complexes are key aspects of this work. Plutonic bodies are also the subject of applied research concerned with energy technologies and strategic underground storage of materials.

3. Investigation and modelling of geosystems – interaction of endogenetic and exogenetic processes

The response of sedimentary and volcanic rocks to exogenetic processes and the influence that these rocks can also have on the surface environment is a subject of great importance that requires investigation using conventional geological mapping and instrumental measurement and analysis in the field, combined with sophisticated methods of remote sensing using imagery and spectral measurements of the Earth’s surface obtained from airborne and spaceborne platforms. Applied research in this field is concerned with fluid-rock interactions (alteration, the flow of fluids and chemical diffusion under the influence of thermal, pressure and density gradients and dynamic loading etc.). The main themes at present are the assessment of the safety of different types of intrusive rocks for use as depositories for nuclear waste and their potential as alternative energy sources

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Sedimentary formations

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Remote sensing of the Earth

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Applied research projects

Research projects include purpose-designed scientific and technlcal studies of the rock environment aimed at industrial and experimental applications: these are funded under national programmes, e.g. by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, DIAMO, SURAO and others, and by the Technological Agency of the Czech Republic.

Activities abroad

Geologists from the CGS are involved in several types of research projects in foreign countries. Some are multilateral projects coordinated by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS, UNESCO, IGCP) concerned with the investigation and correlation of challenging geological phenomena worldwide. Others are bilateral projects, often concerned with specific laboratory techniques, or cooperation with foreign geological surveys based on particular research themes and mapping programmes. An international solutions group currently cooperates on research topics supported both by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic and the Technical Agency of the Czech Republic. Projects for technical training of personnel and improvement of the geoscientific infrastructure make an important contribution to developing countries.

Publication of research results

Reports, papers and monographs summarizing and interpreting the scientific results of regional research projects are published in Czech and foreign journals, and in the proceedings of national and international geological conferences, as well as being brought to public attention through popular meetings and promotions organized by the CGS. Members of the CGS act as scientific editors for a number of international journals as well as fulfilling an important role in the scientific education of university students by the supervision of diploma and doctoral research. Students learn by practical participation in CGS mapping and research projects during their university education, and receive training in laboratory procedures and the interpretation of scientific results. Through this involvement in advanced education, the CGS ensures that hard-won practical experience and scientific knowledge can be passed on to the next generation of professional geologists.

A list of CGS periodicals can be found here.

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Czech Geological Survey
Klárov 131/3
118 21 Praha 1
phone: +420257089463