Cyprus Geological Survey

The Geological Survey Department is the technical advisor to the government on issues relating to groundwater, mineral resources and the protection of the built and natural environment. The main Sections of the Department are those of the Hydrogeology, Engineering Geology, Economic Geology, Regional Geology, Geophysics and Seismology and, Environmental Geology. Although the classical functions of a National Geological Survey are maintained, the Department gets progressively more involved in multidisciplinary projects carried out under its own initiative or in collaboration with International Institutes and more particularly those of the European Union.

Such projects relate mostly to the development of intermediate and long-term strategy for the following:

Groundwater - The semi-arid climate of Cyprus exerts heavy demands on the groundwater resources. These play an important role in the water balance of the island considering that 70% of the water use (about 250 million m3) is derived from young (Pleistocene) clastic aquifers. However, local aquifers as well as the Troodos fractured ophiolite are offering water for both domestic and irrigation purposes. Therefore, hydro geological investigations for new groundwater bodies together with extensive monitoring and proper management procedures represent one of the main tasks of the Department.

Built Environment - The rapid development and heavy investment of the Cyprus economy in construction over the last 40 years places high expectations on the quality of the foundation design and the construction materials of various engineering projects. Therefore, proper geological – geotechnical investigations were introduced and developed by the Geological Survey Department to support them. In the last ten years the attention was also moved to the hazard and risk assessment of urban areas based on detailed microzonation studies carried out in collaboration with foreign institutions.

Natural Environment - Detailed geological mapping and research are the basis of all geological projects and environmental studies considering that sound understanding of the geological conditions facilitates mineral wealth investigations, hydro geological surveys, engineering projects and neotectonic studies. Most mapping is carried out on the 1:5000 and 1:25.000 scales concentrated mainly on the Troodos ophiolite. The very long mining history of the island has also adversely affected the environment. Minimizing these effects with an active involvement during extraction and restoration works of abandoned mines and quarries are among the tasks undertaken by the Department. In addition, environmental studies related to the disposal of hazardous and other wastes as well as the environmental impact due to quarrying and mining activities are major projects undertaken by the Department in collaboration with other services.

Metallic and Industrial Minerals - Massive sulphide mineralization with occasionally high copper content has been exploited since earlier than 3000 BC. The word copper (cuprus) is synonymous with the name of the island, Cyprus. However, most of the notable ore bodies are already exhausted and today only limited copper mining takes place. Asbestos was also mined (1904 – 1986) and about one million tones were extracted and exported. In addition, high quality chromite ore had been extracted until the early 1980's. Industrial minerals such as aggregates used in the construction industry, umber and ochre for color pigments, gypsum for plasters, brick clay, marl and limestone for cement and building stones and bentonite for industrial use are extracted either for local needs or for export. In a parallel effort in order to control and improve the quality of aggregates and enhance the engineering parameters of the concrete, the Department is also involved in the quality control of aggregates.

A part of the above, a 3 year study aiming to evaluate the quarrying and mining industry and formulate a new strategy for the sustainable development of the island's resources up to the year 2025 is being undertaken.

Earthquakes - Over 500 local events and about 100 regional earthquakes are recorded and evaluated every year. Therefore, understanding the seismic hazard and monitoring the seismic activity in the region are a very significant task for the Department. The relevant studies are based on the seismic network of Cyprus which consists of 7 seismic stations, 2 relay stations and 20 accelerometer stations. The central recording station is located in the Geological Survey building in Nicosia.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005