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What is IUGS?

IUGS Flyer 
A short explanation of the IUGS (version 2014)

IUGS Brochure 
A more detailed explanation of the IUGS (version 2019)

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is one of the largest and most active non-governmental scientific organizations in the world. Founded in 1961, IUGS is a member of the International Council of Science. IUGS promotes and encourages the study of geological problems, especially those of world-wide significance, and supports and facilitates international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the earth sciences.

At present IUGS gives special consideration to:

  • International standards;
  • Geoscience education;
  • Geoscience information; and
  • Environmental management and hazards.

IUGS Commissions, Task Groups and Initiatives are concerned with a wide range of geologic research of direct interest to governments, industry, and academic groups within the earth sciences. IUGS believes that it is of mutual benefit to establish close links with other organizations engaged in geoscience activities, and especially those organizations whose work relates to some of the major activities of IUGS.

founding fathers
Some of the "founding fathers" Paris (Unesco), 1961

How did IUGS originate?

The Union was founded in March of 1961 in response to a need to coordinate geoscientific international research programs on a continuing basis. Geoscientists felt that a mechanism was required to take action on global geological problems between the International Geological Congresses, traditionally held every four years. IUGS wasalso to serve as a vital link in solving problems requiring interdisciplinary input from other international scientific unions operating under the aegis of the International Council For Science (ICSU). Compared to these, IUGS was a "latecomer," although some of its responsibilities had been carried out by the International Geological Congress - a venerable institution over a century old. Since 1961, IUGS has experienced rapid growth in membership, scientific scope and expertise, as well as international prestige.

What does IUGS do?

IUGS fosters dialogue and communication among the various specialists in earth sciences around the world. It achieves this by organizing international projects and meetings, sponsoring symposia and scientific field trips, and producing publications. Topics addressed span the gamut from fundamental research to its economic and industrial applications, from scientific, environmental and social issues to educational and developmental problems. For example, IUGS is currently involved in:

  • identifying and defining the problems critical to an improved understanding of terrestrial and planetary geological processes;
  • encouraging formulation and testing of new geological concepts, models, and methodologies;
  • focusing effort internationally on the study of critical economic or environmental problems whose resolution may depend on an understanding of geology;
  • fostering international agreement on nomenclature and classification in several geoscientific disciplines such as stratigraphy, petrology and tectonics;
  • strengthening mechanisms for facilitating international cooperation in geological research and exchange;
  • improving publication, dissemination, and use of geological information internationally;
  • encouraging new relationships between and among disciplines of science that relate to geology worldwide;
  • attracting competent students and research workers who will devote their attention to geology, and to stimulateexcellent education for students interested in geology;
  • fostering an increased awareness among individual scientists world-wide of what programs are being carried out in geology in each country;
  • promoting public understanding and appreciation of the planet earth, its environment in space, and their study; and
  • furthering the public welfare by assuring that geology makes appropriate contribution to public policy decisions of an international nature.

For more information about IUGS goals and current programs, please consult our colorful brochure and information card, which may be read on-line or downloaded: IUGS - Brochure and IUGS - Flyer


The IUGS Secretariat is located in Beijing, China and is financially supported by the Government of China and the IUGS. All the matters concerning IUGS may be directed to the IUGS Secretariat or the IUGS Secretary General. NOTE: the IUGS Secretariat moved to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing on 1st December 2012.

The INTERNATIONAL UNION OF GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES is a 501 c (3) non-profit organization registered in the USA.

Federal TIN (IRS) = 521231783
DUNS Number = 653870014
In Care of Name = Chinese Academy of Goelogical Sciences (CAGS)

IUGS Secretariat
Director of IUGS Secretariat 
Mr. Ma Yongzheng
26 Baiwanzhuang Road
Xicheng District
Beijing 100037
Tel: +86-10-5858-4808
Tel: +86-10-6831-0893
Fax: +86-10-6831-0893
Mobile: +86-13901183838

IUGS Secretary General
Secretary General (2016-2020)
Prof. Dr. Stanley C. FINNEY
Department of Geological Sciences
California State University, Long Beach
CA 90840