Geoscience Data Standards

Geoscience Australia develops and maintains standards and procedures to ensure our datasets and products are consistently developed to a high standard and are fit for purpose.

We also contribute to the establishment and maintenance of nationally acceptable standards through the following endeavours:


We are the prime custodians of the national scale geoscientific databases. Many of our database models and data definitions have been adopted as standards by the private sector and state governments.

Lookup tables

We maintain database lookup tables, also known as controlled vocabulary or authority lists, to classify and validate entries in the main database tables. Lookup tables provide standard terms to reduce duplication and errors as well as a standard language to facilitate transformation. Access our Data and Applications.

Geological names

Geoscience Australia is a national authority on geological names, including stratigraphic units and province names. The Australian Stratigraphic Units Database, also stores information on published references to these units and is the repository for definition descriptions.

Standard timescale

Geoscience Australia recommends the use of the standard International Stratigraphic Chart, compiled by the International Union of Geological Sciences' (IUGS), International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). Geoscience Australia and the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences recommend the use of international spellings of time zones, such as 'Archean' and 'Paleozoic'.

GIS geoscience data dictionary

The Spatial Data Dictionary is a specification for the capture of geoscientific GIS data. It forms a foundation for the production of GIS data by specifying rules regarding the structure of such data.

Data symbology

Our Data Standards and Symbols contain specialised line and marker symbols for use in GIS software.

Quality control and quality assurance

We validate our GIS datasets before they are released to the public. Up to 80 tests, mostly using a sampling regimen, are conducted to ensure data integrity. Tests are carried out for data completeness and correctness and, where appropriate, for compliance with Geoscience Australia's GIS data dictionary.

International Geological Data Model - GeoSciML

National and international efforts are currently underway to standardise the format and delivery of geological data exchanged via the internet. In 2003, the Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI), a commission of the IUGS, established a working group on interoperability. The Interoperability Working Group has developed GeoSciML, a data model for exchange of geological map data, and an XML encoding of that data model based on Geography Markup Language (GML).

The GeoSciML data model is based on prior work carried out by North American, European and Australian geological surveys and research organisations. The current (2010) working group contains members from Australia (CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, Geoscience Victoria) and many countries from Europe and North America. The Australian Government Geoscience Information Committee (GGIC), representing all state and territory geological surveys and Geoscience Australia, has endorsed GeoSciML as the Australian geological data transfer standard.


In developing and maintaining national geoscience data standards, Geoscience Australia strives to consult as widely as possible with the geoscience industry. We aim for excellence in the provision of our standards and advice. The development and maintenance of our standards depends on cooperative effort and consultation with those who have an interest in the value and use of data standards.

Service feedback

We value your feedback. Please let us know how well we are achieving these standards.