Reform and Development of Geological Work in China

Ms. Shou Jiahua and Dr. Zhang Hongtao

1. History of China Geological Survey

The China Geological Survey (CGS) has about a 90-year history. In 1913, the Geological Survey under the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce was set up. Chinese geologists carried out the preliminary studies of petrology, stratigraphy, paleontology, tectonics and mineralogy in China and found some mineral deposits such as the Anshan Iron Ore Deposit, Jiapigou Gold Deposit, Fushuen Coal Deposit and Yumen Oil Field. During that time, some geologists from the United States, Japan and German also did the geological investigations in China.

In 1949, the People's Republic of China was established, and the Ministry of Geology was set up in 1952. Following that, systematic regional geological mapping, mineral exploration and hydrogeological investigation were carried out throughout the country. By the detailed geological work, minerals such as petroleum, natural gas, iron, copper, tungsten, tin and rare earth have been discovered. At same time, many important results of geoscientific research have been achieved too. The cooperation with international geoscientific organizations was started such as the projects of the Baiyinchang copper exploration with Russia and geophysical exploration with France and the United States in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In 1976, the name of the Ministry of Geology was changed to the General Bureau of Geology under the State Planning Commission. In 1986, the name of the Ministry of Geology was resumed. In 1994, the Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources was named. Due to geological work operations in the public and commercial sectors for long time, the evils of the operation affected the development of geological work in China. Problems such as the geological investigation group was overstaffed, up to 1.1 million people,operating expenses increased every year, but the geological work decreased, and geological equipment and instruments could not be replaced timely in this system. The organization could meet the needs for the transition from a planned economy to market economy so reform of this situation should be made.

In 1998, the Chinese government made an important structure reform, 44 ministries were reduced to 29 as the Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources was abolished. The Ministry of Land and Resources was set up based on the former Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources, State Bureau of Land Administration, National Bureau of Oceanography, and National Bureau of Surveying and Mapping. The Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) is responsible for the planning, administration, conservation and rational utilization of land, mineral and marine resources within the territory of the People's Republic of China and marine areas under its jurisdiction. The reform of geological work at the central and provincial levels took place according to the separation of government and enterprise management. The management of the geological investigation group that belonged to the former Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Metallurgical Industry, Ministry of Coal Industry, China National Nonferrous Industry Corp., China National Nuclear Industry Corp., and other industrial agencies were transferred to the provincial level. They independently operated, developed and benefited under a market economy and gradually operated as enterprises on a commercial operation basis. Some of them , according to different situations, became a part of the metallurgical geological exploration and engineering company group, coal geological exploration and engineering company group, and Mingda chemical industry mining company group. Some were merged into the China nonmetallic industry company group and China salt industry company group.

As another important reform of the national geological work in China, the China Geological Survey (CGS) was formally set up on July 16, 1999. Its main functions are to undertake, organize, and carry out basic and public geological investigations and strategic mineral exploration. In November 2001, the China Geological Survey was reorganized as the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, China Institute of Geo-Environmental Monitoring, National Geological Museum of China, National Geological Library were merged into the China Geological Survey. Now 27 institutions are under the China Geological Survey after its reorganization. It performs geological investigation, geoscientific research and public service.

At present, the China Geological Survey has 6,500 staff members in total, and annual budget of RMB1.5 billion (about US$18 million) allocated by the central government for geological work. In the budget, RMB 1 billion (about US$12 million) is allocated for a special national program of "new round investigations of land, mineral and marine resources". The geoscientists from the national geological investigation group, universities and research institutions are participating in this program.

2. Progress of Geological Work in China

In the past 50 years, Chinese geoscientists carried out regional geological mapping, mineral exploration, geophysical and geochemical exploration, hydrogeological, engineering geological and environmental geological investigations, marine geological survey and geoscientific research, which covered the inland and part of the offshore.They have made great achievements in these fields through their hard work.

Until 1999, China has completed the regional geological mapping of 9,473,800 km_ on a scale of 1:1,000,000, about 98.7% of the accessible mapping areas. Regional mapping of 6,910,000 km_ on a scale of 1:200,000 was completed except for most of Tibet, the south part of Xinjiang, west part of Qinghai and northeast part of Inner Mongolia, which was 72% of the access areas. About 1,590,000 km_ on a scale of 1:50,000 was mapped or 16.6% of the access areas and 225,000 km_ is on a scale of 1:250,000.

Through the large scale of geological investigations, mineral prospecting and exploration, 171 kinds of minerals have been discovered so far in China. There are 155 minerals having proven reserves that are classified as follows: 8 energy minerals, 54 solid minerals, 90 nonmetallic minerals and 3 water and gas. It is about 12% of the total amount of the world's proven reserves. The tungsten, tin, molybdenum, antimony, rare earth minerals, fluorite, barite are the dominant minerals in China.

For regional geophysical and geochemical exploration, gravity surveys of 7 million km_ on a scale of 1:1,000,000 inland and 3 million km_ on a scale of 1:200,000 have been completed. The only area not surveyed is in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; 1.5 million km_ could be accessed for a gravity survey. A great breakthrough of geochemical exploration and analysis method had been made in the 1980's, and then large-scale regional geochemical exploration was carried out in China. This exploration on 4.6 million km_ on a scale of 1:200,000 and 1.8 million km_ on a scale of 1:500,000 have been completed, and a series of important achievements in mineral prospecting have been made. It is very important to the fields of agriculture and environmental protection. The airborne geophysical exploration covered 9.3 million km_ onland and 2.3 million km_ offshore. A total of 214,719 km lines covering 1.2 million km_ were completed from 1998 to 2000.

The first round investigations of the regional hydrogeology and groundwater resources, which cover 5,723,000 km_ on a scale of 1:200,000, 1,852,700 km_ on a scale of 500,000, and 2,001,900 km_ on a scale of 1:1,000,000, have been completed in China. About 1.4 million km_ of hydrogeological exploration for farmland irrigation on a scale of 1:100,000 have been planned in the northern 17 provinces. The dynamic monitoring system of the nation's groundwater has been set up. About 2,748 geothermal fields have been discovered, and 6.77 million km_ of geothermal exploration was carried out. In addition, the mineral water investigation and assessment of mineral water sites have been done. More than 20,000 groundwater monitoring stations have been set up, 1,000 of them are operated by the central, provincial and local governments. Twenty-eight balance test sites of groundwater have been set up too.

In the economic development zones, the investigation of engineering geology on a scale of 1:200,000 or 1:500,000 has been conducted, and the long-range plan of engineering geology has been finished. The investigations of engineering geology and environmental geology on scales of 1:500,000 and 1:200,000 have been carried out in more than 100 cities along the Yangtze r, Yellow, Pear Rivers and coast areas. In addition, more than 200 typical dangerous geohazards, which include the Lian-Zi-ya dangerous rock, Huang-la-shi landslide and Ji-pa-zi landslide have been investigated and secured. The environmental geological investigation and assessment of 18 important land-use and development areas were completed.

The 1,800,000 km_ of offshore oil and gas investigations on different scales have been fulfilled, including the offshore oil and gas assessment. Eleven investigations on the equator, mid-and east-basins of the Pacific Ocean covering 2 million km_ have been carried out by geophysical vessels. As a result of the investigations, two mineral areas over 300,000 km_ with 2 billion tons of manganese and cobalt nodules, which are economic, have been delineated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The investigations of the marine geological environment and geohazards along coast areas covering 600 km_ on a scale of 1:100,000 have been completed.

At the same time, the China Geological Survey pays great attention to the geoscientific research and has carried out the research in fields of the national division of mineral resources; the major minerogenetic province and mineral prospecting of China; mineral resources investigation and assessment in the west part of China; groundwater resources; environmental geology; exploration technology and GIS. The great results have been obtained in continental dynamics, karst environment, global change, ultrametamorphic belt, regional geochemistry, airborne magnetic, the early vital evolution. In 1992, over 300 Chinese geoscientists attended the 29th International Geological Congress for the first time that was held in Kyoto, Japan. The 30th International Geological Congress was successfully held in Beijing, China in 1996. Through these international events, China further strengthened the cooperation with international geoscientific organizations including with the Geological Survey of Japan.

3. Development Trend of Geological Work in China

As you know, every geological survey organization in the world faces common issues on the method to make the public aware of geoscientific knowledge and adjust the policy and direction of geological work in terms of public needs for economic globalization.

Like other developing countries, China's national economic development needs more mineral resources. China's sustainable development that is in harmony with its population, resources and environment is very important to the national geological work. As the largest geoscientific agency in China, the China Geological Survey (CGS) must pay special attention to the structural reform on the one hand, and fundamental shift of the national geological work on the other hand. So it can meet the increasing needs of geoscientific knowledge and geoinformation by the public and further development based on economic and social development.

(1) Strategic adjustment in five fields
A. Solve the present and strategic issues from the substantial results and tactical issues to enhance the service of the national geological work to the national micro decision-making;
B. pay special attention to the resources and environment from the geological investigation and mineral prospecting to enhance the service of the national geological work for the public;
C. strengthen international cooperation to increase the level of the national geological work;
D. use advanced technology from the traditional methodology to improve the technology of the national geological work; and,

E. disclose geoinformation to the public..

(2) Work goals in five fields
A. Carry out the strategic investigation and assessment of mineral resources to ensure the nation's economic development. The exploration of petroleum, natural gas, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, and potash in the west part of China will be strengthened in accordance with the state policy on "Development of Western China". Alternative mineral resources will be investigated in the east part of China except old mines. In the west and north parts of China, groundwater exploration will be strengthened;
B. strengthen the research of fundamental geology, environmental geology, disaster geology, and agriculture geology in accordance with the strategic aim of the national and regional sustainable development. The environmental geology of the densely populated areas in the east part of China shall provide direct or indirect service to the public;
C. implement geological engineering investigations for the construction of key national projects such as Three Gorge Dam, Qinghai-Tibet railway, division works from the Yangtze River to Tianjin and Beijing, oil pipeline from Xinjiang to Shanghai, and land hazards; and strengthen investigations and monitoring of geological environment related to the engineering constructions;
D. adjust the traditional geological work, explore new ways that can provide geoscientific knowledge and information to the public, use new technology to refine and reprocess geological data and provide a series of geoscientific results and popular science products to the public; and
E. promote geoscientific research including research and development of geophysical and geochemical methods, remote sensing, GPS and GIS technology, and data processing and integration.

(3) Plan of national key projects
A. Complete the regional geological mapping on a scale of 1:250,000 in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from 2002 to 2005, and publish the first set of geological maps on a scale of 1:250,000 in 2008;
B. execute the multi-purpose integrated geological and geochemical mapping into serve the agricultural, environment protection and engineering industries;
C. conduct strategic investigations and assessments of polymetallic copper deposits along the Yaluzangbu River in the south part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; polymetallic copper deposits in the areas of the Lancangjiang Jinshajiang Nujiang Rivers of southwest China; copper and gold deposits in the Tianshan area of Xinjiang Province; and tin deposits in the Nanling area of southeast China;
D. initiate the regional geological survey on a scale of 1:1,000,000 in the sea area of China;
E. carry out strategic exploration of marine gas hydrate;
F. implement monitoring and research of new tectonics movement, which can affect the national key project;
G. conduct the groundwater exploration in Erdos Basin;
H. complete the second round of groundwater assessment;
I. establish the monitoring network system of the national geological environment and geohazards;
J. finish the designing of the integrated system for GIS, GPS, remote sensing and data processing that is used for the geological data acquisition in the field, and put it into production;
K. set up the database and network system for fundamental geology of China; and
L. conclude the continental scientific drilling project in the ultra-high pressure metamorphic belt in Donghai, east part of China before 2005.