International Geological Congress

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International Geological Congress


international scientific unions of geologists whose function is to assist theoretical and practical research in the field of earth science and to exchange scientific information.

The International Geological Congress was first organized in 1875. By statute the sessions of the International Geological Congress meet once every three or four years, each time in a different country. There were 23 sessions before 1968: (1) 1878, Paris, (2) 1881, Bologna, Italy, (3) 1885, Berlin, (4) 1888, London, (5) 1891, Washington, (6) 1894, Zürich, Switzerland, (7) 1897, St. Petersburg, (8) 1900, Paris, (9) 1903, Vienna, (10) 1906, Mexico City, Mexico, (11) 1910, Stockholm, (12) 1913, Ottawa, (13) 1922, Brussels, (14) 1926, Madrid, (15) 1929, Pretoria, (16) 1933, Washington, (17) 1937, Moscow, (18) 1948, London, (19) 1952, Algiers, (20) 1956, Mexico, (21) 1960, Copenhagen, (22) 1964, Delhi, and (23) 1968, Prague.

Each session of the congress is devoted to a specific scientific theme. For example, the sixth and ninth sessions were mainly concerned with the problem of tectonic covers (thrust faults) in the Alps, the 11th was devoted to questions of the geology of polar countries, the 12th to problems of the Precambrian and of magma, and the 17th to the geology of Asia. A very important part of each session of the International Geological Congress is the excursion that acquaints the participants with the peculiarities of the geological structure of the country in which the session is taking place.

The scientific reports heard or sent to the sessions are printed in the Transactions. The official languages of the International Geological Congress are Russian, English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Prizes for the best scientific work contributing to the progress of some branch of geological science are awarded at the sessions. A prize was established in 1897 in memory of the late Russian geologist L. A. Spendiarov. The Spendiarov Prize has gone to several Russian geologists: A. P. Karpinskii (who received the first award in 1900), F. N. Chernyshev, and V. P. Baturin. It is traditionally awarded to a young scientist, a representative of the country in which the congress is taking place. The second session of the International Geological Congress in Bologna accepted the international system of stratigraphic subdivisions that was proposed by the Russian delegation. The activity of the International Geological Congress has made it possible to design international geological and tectonic maps with common signs, which has made it possible to unify their scientific terminology. The International Geological Union was established at the 21st session of the International Geological Congress.


Nemilova, A. V., and A. P. Vasil’eva. Mezhdunarodnye geologicheskie kongressy i uchastie v nikh russkikh geologov: Spra-vochnik. Leningrad, 1937.
Keller, B. M. “Russkie geologi na mezhdunarodnykh geologicheskikh kongressakh (I-XII sessii).” In Ocherki po istorii geologicheskikh znanii, issue 1. Moscow, 1953.


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