The traditional way of mapping Earth's geology and mineral resources is a costly and time-consuming undertaking. While satellites cannot entirely replace the expert in the field, they can certainly help – as a recent effort in Africa shows.
Geological maps identify different types of rock, faults, groundwater and deposits. They are not only essential for building infrastructure and assessing risk, but also important for locating and mining natural resources.
ESA has recently supported a pan-African initiative to collect, interpret and disseminate satellite information on geology and mineral resources such as metallic ores.
This ESA-funded effort has paved the way for the German geo-information company GAF to help the African Mineral Geoscience Initiative. The aim of initiative, which is led by the African Union Commission and supported by the World Bank Group, is to catalogue Africa's geology and mineral resources.