Rock scientists from all over the world are going to collaborate on the creation of the first geological map of the Earth:
The OneGeology project, bringing together scientists from more than 55 countries, will pool national geological survey information and present it on the Internet for all to see rather like Google Earth already does with satellite images.
In doing so it will not only provide people with access to the first detailed images of the ground beneath their feet but also expose the yawning gaps that exist in knowledge.
"The geological data exists. What we are trying to do is unlock it and make it universally available," Ian Jackson of the British Geological Survey told a news conference on Thursday. "It is like piecing together a global jigsaw puzzle."
"We believe that increasing the availability of geological data will increase our knowledge of environmental factors that affect human health and welfare," he added.
One aim will be to start to identify deep geological structures that might be used for the safe long-term storage of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.