Concept: Geological Surveys


Interest in the geology of the Solomon Islands dates back to MendaƱa's expedition in 1568, which sought the elusive gold supplies of biblical King Solomon. Naturalist Henry B. Guppy in the 1880s published articles and a substantial book (1887) on the geology of coral reefs and the lives of Solomon Islanders themselves. In 1890 Charles M. Woodford published a book about many aspects of the islands, including their geology (1890a). In 1896, an Austrian geological expedition led by Baron Foullon von Norbeck, Director of the Imperial and Royal Geological Society, Vienna, landed off the north coast of Guadalcanal and attempted to climb what they thought was the highest mountain. The party were attacked and almost all were killed. (AR 1974, 60; [accessed 12 July 2011])

Two geological surveys were conducted in 1927, when D.A.V. Stanley from the University of Sydney led a party to Rennell Island to investigate phosphate deposits. In the 1930s, alluvial gold was discovered in appreciable quantities at Gold Ridge on Guadalcanal, which in 1931 led to the establishment of a small mining industry which lasted until the war. Protectorate authorities also knew that there were coal deposits in cliffs near Cape Hunter on Guadalcanal, which steam ships had used occasionally as an emergency supply. (Horton 1965, 138)

In 1950, the government decided to establish a Geological Survey under the direction of J. C. Grover, tasked with the geological mapping of the Protectorate. Extra funds in 1954-1955 enabled the Survey to be expanded to three geologists, a draftsman, a secretary, three Solomon Islander assistants and twenty-four labourers. In 1961 the establishment was increased to six geologists. The first-level assessment of the geology and mineral wealth of the Protectorate was almost complete by 1964. Reconnaissance geological mapping had begun in the 1950s, and culminated in a regional geological map and associated reports. Also in the 1950s the Geological Survey team was able to use the United Nations Special Fund to conduct an aerial geophysical survey in search of economic sulphide and other mineral deposits. The mineral survey was completed in 1968. Private mining companies continued detailed prospecting. The Geological Survey returned to detailed systematic geological mapping, which continued during the 1970s, and also maintained records of seismic activities (q.v.).The geohydrological section was active as well, and also performed work for private companies. (Grover, 1956; AR 1963-1964, 35; NS 31 Jan. 1970) See also Mining.

Related Concepts

Related Natural Phenomena

Published resources


  • Horton, Dick C., The Happy Isles: A Diary of the Solomons, Originally published: 1965, Heinemann, London, 1965. Details

Conference Proceedings

  • Grover, J.C. (ed.), Presidential Address, 1954, British Solomon Islands Society for the Advancement of Science and Industry, vol. Transactio, British Solomon Islands Society for the Advancement of Science and Industry, Honiara, 1956, Internal 1-9 pp. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details