From a small group of European geologists that was officially constituted during the 1881 International Geological Congress in Bologna to propose a standard legend and draft a Geological Map of Europe, the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW) has evolved into a worldwide network of cooperating geological surveys. It has contributed to progress in the earth sciences by preparing and printing maps, recognizing that these maps provide the geometric constraints for data syntheses and can, through imaginative and novel legends, demonstrate the relationship between heterogeneous parameters.
The original Bologna group was enlarged to comprise representatives of all the geological surveys of Europe, thus forming the Commission for the Geological Map of Europe, which still retains a certain autonomy within the framework of CGMW. In 1910, at the eleventh session of the International Geological Congress, when the first edition of the Geological Map of Europe was nearly ready for printing, a 1:1,000,000 geological map of the world was proposed. In view of the size of such a task, and the lack of a base map, it was decided that a world map be drafted to a ‘suitable scale’ according to the legend used for the Geological Map of Europe. Representatives of all countries were invited to collaborate, and thus the Commission for the Geological Map of the World came into being.