Some might not be aware that CGS formerly was once known as the California Division of Mines and Geology. In fact, CGS has undergone several name changes since it was first created in 1860. These periodic changes were not the result of whimsical notions, but were made to better reflect the ever-evolving scope of the survey's mission to provide useful geologic information for the improvement of the general welfare and economy of California.
Every organization, to one degree or another, acquires and conveys a unique institutional personality that evolves through time. The character of an organization is governed not only by the collection of the people who form it, but also by ever-changing factors such as mission, technology, and practices. Such factors often are expressed in logos.
For example, the emblem of the 1860 Geological Survey of California displayed below clearly reflects the fundamental purpose and the driving force behind the formation of the institution. Its mission was to begin surveying and mapping the vast, unexplored regions of a new state and to provide information meant to encourage development of the state's rich mineral resources -- particularly gold.
Note the emblem's Latin phrase ALTIORA PETIMUS, which roughly translates to "We Reach Higher." At the time, the newly created and highly motivated survey was just beginning a task that would last through to the present time, and it set standards for those who would follow.
As expressed in our current emblem, below, the mission and accomplishments of the Survey have increased significantly over the past 150+ years. For example, the colored relief map of California signifies the survey's past accomplishments, as well as its continuing application of the latest technological advances in geologic mapping. Secondly, CGS mineral resource studies, represented by the geologist's rock pick, continue to provide valuable information to California industries, businesses, land-use planners, government agencies, and the public. Lastly, the appearance of the seismic record on the emblem is reflective of the valuable contribution CGS is making in the areas of seismology, earthquake engineering, and seismic hazard mapping.
In the spirit of the words displayed on the 1860 survey emblem, today's California Geological Survey continues to "reach higher" in its efforts to provide the best geologic information possible to the people of California.