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Digital Crust: A 4D Data System on Crustal Material Properties and an Exploratory Environment for Geoscience Research and Learning

Have a look at our poster from the 2015 All Hands Meeting

Science Challenges

Although the earth’s upper crust has been mapped extensively, the resulting data have not been integrated into a single framework.

Many thousands of datasets consisting of observations and measurements of earth system properties have been collected and produced by research teams across many institutions and over many years. While many of these data have been examined, synthesized, and interpreted to produce the scientific knowledge we have of the complex earth system today, there are many data still to be examined and even those that have been used to produce knowledge bear reexamination and reinterpretation over time. Our goal is to turn these thousands of datasets and millions of recorded properties into a community resource accessible for people and software clients.​ Through the Digital Crust Building Block, we intend to build a 4D data system that integrates the existing data, and allows scientists to visualize and contribute to its content, conduct syntheses for detecting emerging patterns (e.g., Macrostrat), and derive 3D gridded data products such as crustal permeability for simulating fluid flow. 

Technical Approach

The architecture is based on document-based data store (e.g. MongoDb) to allow an open-world information model providing flexibility/extensibility while promoting standardization. Information model registry provides platform for documenting content models and mapping between them.

A key function is providing services for mapping between spatial representations from field obs, syntheses, or models geolocated using vector features (points, lines, polygons), grids with various geometry, and hybrid schemes (e.g. Macrostrat). Web services provide loose coupling between data and user applications.

For more technical details, see our Data Framework page and Demonstration Project Description.

Science Drivers

The project is led by geoscientists and intended to serve any disciplinary scientist with interests in the earth’s upper crust.  It will be built on Macrostrat which has integrated many stratigraphic units and allows users to edit the columns. As a demo, we will produce a 3D permeability dataset for N. America for modeling groundwater and geochemical stores/fluxes in large-scale models.

Benefits to Scientists

Digital Crust can be a place for a scientist to find out what data/model already exist on the structure and composition of the earth’s upper crust, visualize the geologic environment, contribute data and models, and derive data products for domain-specific applications.