Since 1999
Supporting sustainable development

Landslide in Sauvat (Cantal, 2014). © BRGM - Gildas Noury

After having separated from its mining investment and engineering activities, BRGM is resolutely positioning in the forefront of research and development, to take on the new challenges facing the planet: climate change, environment, risk prevention and the supply of water and raw materials. Its challenge today is to propose practical solutions to meet the sub-surface challenges of the 21st century.

By withdrawing from its activity as a mining investor and transferring most of its engineering work in France to its subsidiary Antea, which was then sold in 2003, BRGM is asserting its research and development role. At the request of the public authorities, it is involved in actions to support public policies, particularly in the prevention of natural and environmental risks and groundwater management.

Cartographie 3D d'une cavité souterraine au scanner laser mobile (Haute-Vienne, 2018).
3D mapping of an underground cavity with a mobile laser scanner (Haute-Vienne, 2018).

A priority given to environmental issues

In 1999, BRGM set up a new organisation to better tailor its offer to meet societal needs and better respond to new environmental challenges: groundwater resources, risks, geothermal energy, etc.

The swing towards the themes of the environment and natural hazards was confirmed by a decree of 20 September 2004 which placed BRGM under the triple supervision of the Ministries of Research, Industry and the Environment.

Mining safety: a new mission

In 2006, BRGM was also assigned an "after-mining" role by the Government,  with entrusted it with the technical aspects of surveillance and safety work for former mining sites and for the prevention of mine-related risks. It created a special department for this mission, the Department for Mine Safety and Risk Prevention (DPSM).

Agents du BRGM vérifiant le dispositif de comblement des cavités du bassin minier de May-Sur-Orne, dans le cadre d'une opération de sécurisation des anciens sites miniers (Calvados, 2012). © Laurent Mignaux - MEDDE
Operation to secure the former mining sites of the May-Sur-Orne mining basin (Calvados, 2012).

The BRGM Carnot Institute: research for business innovation

2006 was also the year in which BRGM obtained the Carnot accreditation. The BRGM Carnot Institute undertakes joint research with partners in industrial sectors and businesses of every size. The aim is to deliver innovative management solutions for land-use and sub-surface management, raw materials, water resources and the prevention of natural and environmental risks.

Localisation centimétrique de cibles pour une campagne photogrammétrique par drone (Seine-Maritime, 2015).
Centimetric location of targets for a photogrammetric campaign by drone (Seine-Maritime, 2015).

The availability of geoscientific and environmental data

As a producer and manager of sub-surface data, BRGM has made this georeferenced information available to decision-makers and the public. Its databases are available via several websites and portals for the dissemination of geoscientific and environmental data, including the InfoTerre portal.

The French geological reference platform, an extension of the geological map

Following the geological map programme, the French geological reference platform (RGF), launched in 2011, aims to provide 3D, digital, homogeneous and coherent geological information for the whole of the national territory. This is a unifying ambition for the geosciences community, whose multi-year programme mobilises the various stakeholders (academic laboratories, companies, etc.).

Carte 3D de la plaine d'Alsace et du massif des Vosges pour le Référentiel géologique de la France (Alsace, 2013).
3D view to the north-west across the Alsace plain and the Vosges Range (Alsace, 2013).

State-of-the-art laboratories and experimental platforms

As the first BRGM department on the Orléans-La Source site, the laboratories have never stopped carrying out their analytical activities on all fronts and for all environments: optical and electron microscopy, chemical analyses, isotope measurements. Their advanced equipment allows many applications in fields as varied as fundamental geology, rock dating, geothermal energy, the environment and water and soil quality.

To support innovation and develop its experimental capacities, BRGM is also developing technological platforms at its Orléans site: a Geothermal platform to optimise the performance of geothermal exchangers, set up in 2008, the Plat'Inn platform for the development of the circular economy since 2018, the PRIME platform, whose construction is due to be completed in 2019, for the depollution of land, the sub-surface and groundwater.

Plateforme PRIME pour la remédiation et l’innovation au service de la métrologie environnementale (Orléans, 2017). © BRGM - Didier Depoorter
PRIME platform for remediation and innovation in environmental metrology (Orléans, 2017).

A new scientific strategy presented in 2019

In 2019, BRGM reaffirmed its general positioning, combining research, support for public policies and innovation, in France and abroad and its new science strategy for the next 10 years, based on six major societal and economic objectives:

Geology and knowledge of the subsurface

Furthering knowledge of the subsurface and developing a geological infrastructure are key roles for the BRGM as the French geological survey organisation. The aim is to produce fundamental and applied knowledge on large geological systems and on processes involved in development across regions and/or affected by climate change.

Groundwater management

With the water cycle as a whole affected by climate change and water resources subject to severe constraints, it has become vital to achieve sustainability in water management. The BRGM monitors the availability and quality of groundwater resources and works to anticipate and prevent phenomena arising from pollution, drought, flooding and salt wedge intrusions.

Risks and spatial planning

Every region is now faced with new threats arising from climate change. The issues for the BRGM are to help strengthen resilience across regions and to promote sustainable planning by anticipating and preventing risks. The work involved covers natural risks to surface, subsurface and coastal areas, but also risks that arise in mining and industrial sites.

Mineral resources and the circular economy

The BRGM handles the chain from start to finish: assessing available minerals, analysing their uses and life cycles and proposing recycling solutions. As the French geological survey organisation, the BRGM works to support the ecological transition towards a circular economy that consumes fewer mineral resources, by developing innovative technologies to re-use waste materials.

Subsurface potential for the energy transition

The BRGM's commitment to the energy transition involves exploring the potential contributions of the subsurface to the development of renewable and carbon-free energy resources. The aims here are to promote geothermal energy by making use of naturally existing subsurface heat to produce heat and electricity, and to contribute to CO2, heat and energy storage.

Data, digital services and infrastructure

In a context where ever more varied data are being produced in every greater quantities by increasingly varied means, the BRGM has engaged fully in the digital transition. The challenge is to manage the geoscientific and environmental data cycle in the interests of predictive geology and broader knowledge dissemination among the public and policy-makers.

BRGM: 60 years of innovation to meet key challenges for the future


BRGM takes a new direction

As of 1999 BRGM took a new direction:  it strengthened its role in research and development by providing more and more services in France. It withdrew from all its mining activities by selling its subsidiary Antea in 2003 and preferring to embark on an ecological transition. In 2004, this aspect of its activity was strengthened when it was placed under the triple supervision of the Ministries of Research, Industry and the Environment.
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On-line publication of basias, “the industrial memory of France”

Former industrial and urban activities have left traces in the ground’s surface layers. An inventory to identify polluted sites was thus undertaken in 1973. Following this, the government decided in 1998 to entrust BRGM with the task of developing a database listing all sites likely to have been polluted by former activities. The Basias database was then created in 1999. 
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BRGM is the main operator of the national piezometric network

The first piezometric networks were set up in 1956 by BRGM in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Lorraine and Gironde regions following the worrying drop in groundwater levels linked to the increasing abstractions, particularly for industrial uses. In 2002, it became the main operator. The BRGM now manages some 1600 points.
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Publication of a new edition of the geological map of France

BRGM published a revised edition 6b of the geological map of France in 2003. This update was necessary as geological knowledge had evolved. At first glimpse, it looks identical to the previous edition, but if you take a closer look, you can see all the differences and the way in which this emblematic document was enriched. Let us look at the successive versions of the geological map of France and the scientific advances that were reflected in this 2003 edition.
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The year of quality certification for BRGM

BRGM sets great store on quality in all its undertakings. In 2004, it was awarded its first ISO 9001 standard for its Quality management system (QMS). This certification is a guarantee to its customers and partners that its projects can be relied upon. In 2012, it obtained the Environmental management system (EMS) certification. These two ISO standards have since been renewed.
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Geosciences magazine

In 2005, the BRGM published the first issue of Géosciences, a journal that deals with the role of the geosciences and how they contribute to important issues in society. Géosciences is intended for an informed readership and has now published 25 issues, including 2 special editions.
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BRGM and the post-mining mission

Since the mid-1990s, BRGM has been monitoring and learning more about the changing stability of former mines and their impact on water. In 2005, with the public mining company Charbonnages de France (CDF), BRGM was commissioned to propose a prefiguration whose objective is to develop in a concrete way the transfer of skills and post-mining facilities of mining operators after their disappearance or after renunciation of concessions.
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BRGM obtains the Carnot label

BRGM strengthens its areas of expertise by promoting collaboration with economic stakeholders whose skills complement its own, and by coordinating European programmes. This strategy enabled it to be officially certified as a "Carnot Institute" in April 2006.
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BRGM installs an experimental geothermal platform on its site

A pioneer in geothermal heating networks in the 1970s and 1980s, BRGM was in the forefront in the 2000s in relaunching the reliable and profitable use of “very low-energy” geothermal energy. It installed on its site an experimental platform for surface geothermal heat exchangers (< 200 meters), which was inaugurated at the end of 2008 by the Prefect of the Centre Val de Loire Region, Bernard Fragneau, and the President of the Centre-Val de Loire Region, François Bonneau. The platform celebrated its 10th anniversary on an anniversary day on June 24, 2019.
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Year of Planet Earth

The International Year of Planet Earth provided an opportunity for BRGM to raise public awareness of Earth sciences and the need to preserve natural resources. For 7 months, it presented an event giving a "geological" view of the Earth at the French Museum of Natural History (MNHN). Other actions were also undertaken.
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The development of 3D geological modelling at BRGM

One of BRGM's main roles is to produce and disseminate 3D geological information on the subsurface. To do this, BRGM produces three-dimensional geological models from outcrop observation data, borehole and sounding data and geological maps. BRGM is thus investing in the development of 3D geological modelling methods as used in its geological data management and geological modelling software: respectively GDM and GeoModeller. 
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Higher education activities at BRGM

Created in 2009, the mission of ENAG, the BRGM school, is to train highly specialised geoscientists and develop partnerships to support various actors in the academic world. The esteem with which ENAG’s educational programme is viewed by the academic world, along with the successful integration of students in the professional sphere, has led BRGM to broaden its scope. Following the Ministerial Order of 21 July 2016, the "BRGM Campus" seal was introduced to cover all BRGM activities that support higher education (Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees).
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From GéoFrance 3D to the start of the RGF programme

With the completion of the 1:50,000 scale geological map programme, BRGM had one of the most advanced tools and repositories of geological information in the world. However, changing socio-economic needs and evolving technology mean that new products and services needed to be developed. Consequently, BRGM began gradually implementing the French Geological Reference Platform (RGF) in 2011.
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BRGM reorganises its divisions

The aim of the reorganisation of BRGM’s scientific roles, which began in 2011, was to prepare the institution’s future so that it might continue offering France the most advanced geological survey possible. This new organisational structure, completed in 2012, is based on 6 divisions: 3 thematic and 3 transversal. 
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Launch of the GéoRisques website

The GéoRisques website created by BRGM was put online in 2014. This site is intended to meet the need for access to information on natural hazards and technological risks, and for its use and dissemination. In 2019, 2.5 million users accessed the GéoRisques platform.
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Reorganisation of BRGM's regional and overseas network

With the adoption of the NOTRe Act, which redefined the contours and especially the areas of competence of the French Regions, our Regional Activities Division has reconfigured its coverage and services to adapt to the new opportunities opened up by the reform. BRGM now has thirteen regional divisions and five delegations in mainland France, plus five regional divisions and two branches in Overseas France.
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20 years of monitoring the Aquitaine coast

The Aquitaine coast is subject to strong oceanic and anthropogenic stresses. The Government and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region therefore created the Observatoire de la Côte Aquitaine (OCA) in 1996 so that regional elected officials would have a decision-making tool for coastal management and development. For 20 years, the OCA has been closely monitoring developments on the Aquitaine coast.
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BRGM-Andra, 20 years of partnership

In 1998 the collaboration between BRGM and Andra was formalised by the signing of their first partnership agreement. Twenty years later, the two organisations are once again renewing their collaboration with the common ambition of developing new fields of research, such as geophysics and data mining.
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New experimental facilities at BRGM

BRGM is committed to developing high value-added partnerships and services for industry stakeholders. This commitment to reach out to industry, already reflected in BRGM’s accreditation as a CARNOT institute, has been strengthened through the development of experimental testing facilities and tools for conducting research, development and innovation programmes using novel – and sometimes ground-breaking – equipment. BRGM has thus acquired two experimental platforms called PRIME and PLAT'INN, which are geared towards innovation and dedicated to the environment.
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Open science: BRGM is helping to disseminate knowledge

In line with its commitment under France’s open science plan, BRGM is providing free access to its geological maps of mainland France via the InfoTerre portal. 
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Celebrating 50 years of sporting adventures at BRGM

BRGM's Club Omnisport (COS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Thanks to the engagement and stamina of BRGM’s employees, the COS has expanded its facilities, membership, volunteers and activities.
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A new scientific strategy

With the evaluation of BRGM by HCERES in 2017, followed by the implementation of the new objectives and performance contract (COP) for 2018-2022, BRGM has grasped the opportunity to review its positioning strategy and to identify key scientific orientations for the medium term, in collaboration with all staff. BRGM's work is structured around three pillars: research, expert studies and consultancy, and innovation. All of BRGM’s scientific activities have now been structured in accordance with its scientific strategy, which addresses six key issues of our time.
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