The Jamaica Geological Survey was officially started in 1859 with its first director, British Scholar, Lucas Barrett. The Survey was based on the request by Sir Henry Barkley, ( Governor of Jamaica, 1853-1856), for a complete and systematic mineral survey of the island. It was under the auspices of the Colonial Office: Colonial Secretariat Law, February 7, 1870, that the Survey was formalized. Early activities of the Survey consisted of economic mineral surveys with an emphasis on copper as well as mapping on a parish basis. The outputs of the Survey were in the form of reports, exhibition and maps, which were presented to the Governor as well as made available to England.
No official geological survey existed between 1925-1950 due to the economic constraints of the island, however, independent geological contributions were made by Dr. C.A. Matley, Dr. G.N Stockley amongst others. Dr. C.A. Matley was appointed Government geologist and under his tenure the assessment of the ground water potential for the island was conducted, in addition, one of the most extensive collection of Jamaican fossils was provided and is currently housed in England.
By 1949, the Directorate of the Office of Colonial Geological Surveys recommended that a Geological Survey be re-established after its suspension during the war years. The Survey became functional under the auspices of the Ministry of Development and Welfare with Professor V.A. Zans (a Lativa national) as director. It introduced aerial photography used to support traditional methods of geological evaluations. Systematic survey across the island as well as work on karst morphology, geo-hydrology, bauxite, industrial minerals and the geology of the Blue Mountains were done.
A number of entities were established out of the activities of the Mines Department and the Geological Survey, these include:
- Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), formerly the Research Unit of the Department of Mines, was established in 1973 to manage the country's bauxite resources.
- Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) was established in 1978 to develop indigenous energy resources.
- The Underground Water Authority, formerly apart of the Geological Survey, was established in 1984 and later became the Water Resources Authority in 1996. It is responsible for the management, protection, controlled allocation and use of Jamaica's water resources.
In 1973, the Geological Survey and Department of Mines were merged to form Mines and Geology Division (MGD), however, in 1978, the Survey was designated an independent entity and attached to the Ministry of Mining and Energy with Dr. Arthur Geddes as director.
Ministerial Heads for MGD (formerly the Geological Survey and Mines and Quarries Division) from 1949-present
Ministry of Mines and Lands (1949-1951)
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (1951-1957)
Ministry of Development and Welfare (1957-1968)
Ministry of Finance and Planning (1968-1973)
Ministry of Natural Resources (1973-1978)
Ministry of Mining and Energy (1978-1985)
Ministry of Mining, Energy and Tourism (1985-1989)
Ministry of Mining and Energy (1989-1992)
Ministry of Production, Mining and Commerce (1992-1993)
Ministry of Public Utilities, Mining and Energy (1993-1994)
Ministry of Agriculture and Mining (1994-1997)
Ministry of Mining and Energy (1997-October 2002)
Ministry of Land and Environment (October 2002-March 2006)
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (April 2006-September 2007)
Ministry of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications (Sept. 2007-June 2008
Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications (June 2008-April 2009)
Ministry of Energy and Mining (April 2009 - January 2012)
Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (January 2012-Present)