Geological field observations help us understand Earth history and are essential for developing hydrocarbon, groundwater, and mineral resources and for improving models of natural hazards like floods, earthquakes, and volcanoes. When geologists look at rocks or structures (like faults) in the field they collect a large variety of information. The traditional method for the collection of these data (still taught to students and practiced by geologists) is the writing of notes in a field notebook and the drawing of lines and symbols on maps or diagrams. Geologists all understand how to do this, but sharing the information with others is not easy or flexible ? most of the time these data are summarized in a report, table, or diagram leaving out the complete details of their discoveries. This project develops ays to easily gather, record and communicate information collected in the field. The main approach is to use handheld devices such as tablets or smart phones to collect information, mimicking closely the procedures used by field scientists, and then store the data in a format accessible to other scientists or the interested public. The system will also support those wanting to use traditional methods (notes in a field notebook) but then convert their data to digital format when they return. They aim to develop this data-collection and -sharing system, along with common definitions for technical terms, and distribute it broadly among the geoscience community. The project will last three years, and the efforts will be focused on both sedimentary rocks (the type formed by the action of wind or water) and igneous/metamorphic rocks (the types derived from molten rock or by the addition of heat and pressure on existing rocks). By the end of the project, geologists will be using the software and methodologies we develop to both collect and disseminate data from the field. The work and approach will be applicable to a broad spectrum of the field sciences including such areas as biology and ecology.
The project will develop a Data System for parts of the Geological Field Sciences that closely follows the existing workflows and vocabulary of the field geologist. The Data System will seamlessly incorporate the data from different sub-disciplines. The starting point will be an application and approach called Strabo, developed for this purpose by the Structural Geology and Tectonics community. The researchers intend to engage the Sedimentary Geology and Petrology communities and use the Strabo approach to establish data standards, data collection, and community buy-in. They will modify the existing Strabo platform to incorporate data types for Sedimentary Geology and Petrology, and build on the field-based application (StraboMobile) to fit the appropriate workflows. The project will 1) Hold community-wide town-hall meetings; 2) Engage expert panels to review workflows and vocabularies of the field scientists; and 3) Offer trips for junior to senior faculty to gather feedback about operation of the appropriate new field applications cloned from Strabo. This project will: 1) Provide digital databases for the geological field sciences that promote widespread and timely data-sharing; 2) Establish pathways for different sub-disciplines to interact and share data with each other and facilitate interdisciplinary integration of field data broadly across geosciences; and 3) Ensure public access to data from NSF-funded projects. At present, many communities are excluded from easy data communication because no common digital archives or even data reporting exists. The work will extensively engage post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and junior faculty members to help train the next generation of geoscientists.