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Geological map gets better and better

The development of the New Zealand landmass we see today occurred over many hundreds of millions of years. And yet we regularly need to update our geological maps to reflect the changes happening now and our increased understanding as science moves forward. 

Geologist Julie Lee with the updated QMAP. Photo: Margaret Low

Geologist Julie Lee with the updated QMAP. Photo: Margaret Low


“The utility and accessibility of the QMAP seamless GIS dataset means it is being integrated into many recent geoscience applications. This includes a national shallow shear wave velocity model spearheaded by the University of Canterbury, and international geoscience data-sharing platforms for industry and science.”
Dr Mark Rattenbury, Programme Leader, GNS Science


This past year we updated the 1:250,000 scale Geological Map of New Zealand to take account of changes since the initial 2014 edition was produced. A wealth of data acquired after the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake was one of many additions and improvements made to the map, providing a greater level of detail overall. 

The map, also known as QMAP for quartermillion scale, is one of the most used of GNS Science’s digital geological map products. Last year it had 53,000 online views through a webmap application. It forms one part of the Nationally Significant Collections and Databases maintained by GNS Science. 

The substantially updated version features 15 different layers of geological information that can be displayed on screen by the user in any number of chosen combinations. 

These layers have rich information relating to geological units, faults, fold axes, landslides, and geological resources such as mines and quarries. 

The map is used by a wide range of sectors including insurance, education, scientists, infrastructure providers, tourism, government and the public. It is available for purchase, download and viewing online. 

Updating the map draws on geological knowledge gathered by teams across GNS Science, as well as information from universities and industry. 

An upcoming addition will include the Chatham Islands and integration of other work in the wider geological map portfolio. This work includes urban geology and regional projects on volcanoes and areas with economic concentrations of clean-tech minerals used in low emissions technology.