142-2 Building Cyberinfrastructure for Geochronology: Software Engineering Meets Geochemistry

Poster Number 39

See more from this Division: General Discipline Sessions
See more from this Session: Geoinformatics (Posters)

Sunday, 5 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E

James F. Bowring1, Noah M. McLean2, J.D. Walker3 and Samuel A. Bowring2, (1)Department of Computer Science, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
(2)EAPS, MIT, Cambridge, MA
(3)Geology, Univ of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
The design and implementation of robust and reliable cyberinfrastructure for the sciences, and the earth sciences in particular, is a current scientific problem and challenge; the solution involves close collaboration between computer and earth scientists. This case study presents the results of an exemplar collaboration between software engineers and geochemists that has produced a new approach to data handling and archiving for uranium-lead geochronology. One major goal is to seamlessly federate the geochronological results from any lab into a common database using standard and open techniques. These techniques support the universal identification of geological samples, transparent data reduction algorithms, robust data formats, internet-based storage and retrieval, and tools for compilation and analysis of records retrieved from the database. Another goal of this project is to design and build a template for cyberinfrastructure that demonstrates an end-to-end system, from mass spectrometer to publication, which will serve as a model for subsequent efforts involving all kinds of geochronological data. To this end, this project integrates the efforts of two NSF-supported initiatives: EARTHTIME and EarthChem, which respectively pursue consensus-based universal approaches to data reduction, and the creation of data repositories for all geochemical data.

To meet these needs, an open-source program called "U-Pb_Redux" interactively reduces raw isotopic data into U-Pb dates and uncertainties and subsequently publishes and retrieves these results from the EarthChem database. Using the records produced, U-Pb_Redux allows the user to locate a geographic region or dataset of interest, download and compile the relevant reduced data from EarthChem, filter for applicability, and finally pose informed questions utilizing its visualization and analytical tools and share these results with others. This is a potentially powerful toolset for earth scientists, and community input is solicited.

See more from this Division: General Discipline Sessions
See more from this Session: Geoinformatics (Posters)