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As the Internet develops into a more powerful cyberinfrastructure (the Grid), geological survey knowledge will enter a framework where users assess its value by its relevance and evaluated reliability rather than its source, and where artificial boundaries of place and discipline lose significance. Within geological surveys, much effort has been devoted to the development of the geological map through digital cartography. Consequently, a firm base already exists for more radical change to the geoscience knowledge system. The geoscience map is prepared from field records and structured data and is given meaning through the illustrated text narratives of map explanations. A more comprehensive view of this knowledge system is needed to gain the full benefits of the Grid. The flexibility of markup languages can link narrative to database, spatial modeling, and semantic representations, and thereby combine the insights of human understanding with the power of computation. Rationalizing and extending the scope of existing ontologies (specifications of conceptualizations) to align their structure and vocabularies could provide a more comprehensive conceptual view. Thus, a major challenge for geological surveys will be to transform their knowledge system to conform to a new service-oriented infrastructure devised by others, with its future evolution determined by users.

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