3 questions to...
Laurent JolivetSorbonne University Professor
and Chair of the Scientific Committee for the French Geological Reference Platform
In a few words, how would you describe the RGF?
L. J. — The RGF, or French Geological Reference Platform, is the database that will ultimately contain all geological data on the surface and subsurface in France. The information is digital, in 3D, updated over time, homogeneous and consistent across all areas of mainland and overseas France. This reference platform is the successor to the programme for the 1:50,000 geological map of France, led by the BRGM in collaboration with the academic community and itself building on earlier mapping work dating back 80 years.
The RGF is a federating programme for the geoscience community that responds not only to increasing demand for scientific knowledge but also to pressing strategic needs. Economic development relies to a significant extent on the subsurface and its resources (minerals, groundwater), which are also involved in key issues for society such as spatial planning, energy prospecting and storage, waste storage, risk prevention and protection of populations and the environment.
How is work on the RGF conducted in practice?
L. J. — The RGF is designed to meet these challenges by moving from 2-dimensional information to a multi-scale geological representation in 3D, and even in 4D since time is a fundamental dimension in the Earth Sciences. The data will be incorporated into a collaborative information system (IS) for exchanging, distributing and accessing geoscientific knowledge. The RGF is a collaborative effort ranging across multiple themes, because it is above all an ambitious and enduring joint programme between the Universities, the CNRS and BRGM that began with the first geological map of France. It is funded by BRGM, with jointly conducted studies encompassing numerous PhD theses.
After the first "work package" launched five years ago on the Pyrenees , two new projects began in 2019 on 3D mapping of the Alps and the Paris Basin, with the start of work on 13 new theses.
How would you assess the programme so far?
L. J. — The RGF programme is a good reflection of BRGM’s contribution to geological knowledge. The joint studies have proved their value in applying this knowledge to different uses and for the benefit of society as a whole. The programme involves both university academics and researchers in applied fields, two families that know each other well as we were already working together more informally on the previous mapping programme. We are now working in a more structured and focused way on the different RGF projects, with BRGM contributing not only its knowledge of the terrain in France but also its expertise in georeferencing and map harmonisation. Our next projects will cover the Massif Central, the French Caribbean and, over the next couple of decades, the whole of France.