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Episodes 2023; 46(4): 537-549

Published online December 1, 2023


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Mapping the geology of South America

Jorge Gómez Tapias1,2*, Carlos Schobbenhaus3, Nohora Emma Montes Ramírez1, Fernando Alirio Alcárcel Gutiérrez1, Daniela Mateus Zabala1

1 Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Dirección de Geociencias Básicas, diagonal 53 n.o 34-53, Bogotá, Colombia
2 Vice President for South America of the Commission for the Geological Map of the World
3 Geological Survey of Brazil, SBN, Quadra 02, Bloco H, Ed. Central Brasília, 1o andar, Asa Norte, Brasília, Brazil, DF CEP: 70040-904

Correspondence to:*E-mail: mapageo@sgc.gov.co

Received: November 22, 2022; Revised: February 5, 2023; Accepted: February 5, 2023

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Geological Map of South America (GMSA) at a scale of 1:5,000,000 illustrates recent progress in South America’s geological mapping. Information compiled from the national geological maps of different countries and regional maps was generalized and harmonized at the 1:5,000,000 scale and then enhanced with geochronological information from indexed journals. The digitization, harmonization, and editing of the map were performed with the shaded relief image with a 90 m resolution in the background, facilitating excellent georeferencing and allowing for future updates to the map according to continued research. To construct the GMSA, eight workshops were held to discuss and define its characteristics. The most relevant workshop was held in Villa de Leyva, Colombia, with the participation of delegates from several countries. Here, we obtained the official geological cartography of each South American country and made agreements for the realization or revision and endorsement of the final map. The remaining workshops involved the groups overseeing the GMSA at the Colombian Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Brazil, who compiled and integrated the map. Specifically, the GMSA includes layers of chronostratigraphic units, faults, folds, basaltic dikes, intrusive and alkaline volcanic rocks–carbonatites, high–pressure metamorphic rocks, impact craters, kimberlites, and volcanoes.