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​​​​​Volcán Galeras. Fotografía de Jair Ramírez, proyecto GeoRED



Armando Espinosa B.

​​​During World War I, even though Colombia was a neutral country located geographically far away from the conflict, it nevertheless suffered serious economic disruptions. At that time, Colombia had to import all the mineral products it required, such as iron, cement for the first major engineering works or even coal for the operation of the railroads. Whe​​n intercontinental trade was interrupted, Colombia experienced a paralysis. The National Government then decided to create an institution in charge of exploring the territory in search of the mineral resources it urgently needed. This would be called the Comisión Científica Nacional, established by Law 83 of December 22, 1916. It was assigned two basic objectives: to draw up the national geological map and to explore the national territory in search of mineral deposits.

A few months after the Comisión began its operations, a series of earthquakes struck Bogota and the surrounding region, causing severe damage. The Colombian State and society realized then and there that this institution should have an important role to​ play in the study of geologically damaging phenomena. From that point forward it would expand its field of action to respond to the requirements of the country; similar developments happened after the earthquakes of Nariño and Gachalá in 1923, the eruptions of the Galeras volcano in 1925, the landslides that force the relocation of the towns of La Paz and Sativanorte in Boyacá in 1933, and many others over the ensuing decades.

In 1938, Colombia had already developed an incipient mining and oil industry. The National Government at that time created the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and turned the Comisión Científica Nacional into a larger institution: Servicio Geológico Nacional (SGN). This institution was called upon to face the challenges of WWII and the post-war period, when the historical situation created by the previous war was repeated, thus, a new phase of exploration was required. The SGN was also tasked with creating an official national geological map and related publications. The first official national geological map was created in 1944; the same year the Museo [Museum] Geológico Nacional was established.

In the 1950s, the Servicio Geológico Nacional enjoyed its golden age: together with the Instituto de Fomento Industrial, it led the largest industrialization projects in Colombia, including the discovery of iron and coal deposits in the Paz de Rí​o region, the creation of the eponymous steel mills, the first steel production plant in the country, the creation of a national cement industry, and the assembly of the Zipaquirá soda plant, together with the Laboratorio Químico Nacional.

​​​In the decades following World War II, the availability of European scientists made it possible to link great geological researchers. The institution was guided by figures such as the Colombian Benjamín Alvarado, undoubtedly the greatest exponent of our geological science, and the Chilean-German Enrique Hubach.

​​In 1963, the National Government saw the need to take stock of the country’s available mining resource, leading to the creation of the Inventario Minero Nacional, a new institution that worked in parallel to Servicio Geológico. The mining resources of large areas of the national territory, but it also left a remarkable scientific legacy because it became a true school for Colombian geology. Even today, some of the most experien​ced Colombian geologists received their training through the Inventario Minero Nacional. 

​​Servicio Geológico Nacional, Inventario Minero Nacional, and Laboratorio Químico Nacional merged in 1968 into a new institution; the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Geológico-Mineras, Ingeominas. Until then, geological cartography and mining exploration studies had been conducted separately due to the various institutions manner of dealing with the country’s needs. Ingeominas was responsible for undertaking the systematic cartography and exploration of the national territory, a task that today, almost fifty years later, is being completed by Servicio Geológico Colombiano. During the 1980’s, after t​he Popayán earthquake in 1983 and the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in 1985, Ingeominas assumed the role of creating and operating the National Seismological Network and the country's volcano observatories. The Colombian State appointed the responsibility to the institute for the basic studies related to natural hazards of geological origin.

In 2004 the institution, by the name of the Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería, assumed the functions of mining authority through its offering of Mining ​Services, whilst the basic studies continued their course within their offered Geological Services. This situation changed in 2011 when mining affairs were handed over to​ the recently created Agencia Nacional de Minería, and through decree law 4131 of 2011 Ingeominas was transformed into Servicio Geológico Colombiano. The institution became part of the country's National System of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Servicio Geológico Colombiano

Sede Principal

Dirección: Diagonal 53 N0. 34 - 53 Bogotá D.C. Colombia

Código Postal: 111321

Horario de Atención Sedes SGC: Lunes a viernes 8.00 a.m. a 5 p.m.

Horario de Atención Museo Geológico Nacional:
Martes a viernes de 9:00 a.m. a 4:00 p.m. y último sábado de cada mes de 10:00 a.m. a 4:00 p.m.

Teléfono conmutador: (601) 220 0200 - (601) 220 0100 - (601) 222 1811

Línea anticorrupción y de atención al ciudadano y denuncias: 01 - 8000 - 110842

Línea de atención 24 horas para emergencias radiológicas: +57 ​317 366 2793

Correo Institucional:

Correo de notificaciones judiciales:

Correo información relacionada con medios de comunicación: