Geoscience Australia's history dates back almost to Federation in 1901 when it was decided to set aside land for the national capital. This decision led to the establishment of the Australian Survey Office in 1910, when surveying began for the Australian Capital Territory.
Geoscience Australia came into being in 2001 when the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG) merged with the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO).
AGSO's predecessor organisation the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR) was established in 1946; with the name changing to AGSO in 1992. BMR's main objective was the systematic geological and geophysical mapping of the continent as the basis for informed mineral exploration.
AUSLIG's main function was to provide national geographic information. It was formed in 1987, when the Australian Survey Office joined with the Division of National Mapping, which was formed in 1947. Another important component of AUSLIG was the provision of satellite imagery to industry and government, started by the Australian Landsat Station in 1979, renamed the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES) in 1986.
Since that time Geoscience Australia's activities have expanded and today it has responsibility for meeting the Australian Government's geoscience requirements. This role takes the Agency well beyond its historic focus on resource development to topics as diverse as natural hazards such as tsunami and earthquakes, environmental issues, including the impacts of climate change, groundwater research, marine and coastal research, carbon capture and storage and vegetation monitoring as well as Earth observations from space. Geoscience Australia's remit also extends beyond the Australian landmass to Australia's vast marine jurisdiction.