The NSF Workshop on Envisioning a National Geoinformatics System for the United States, held in Denver, CO on March 14, 2007, foresaw “…a future in which someone can sit at a terminal and have easy access to vast stores of data of almost any kind, with the easy ability to visualize, analyze and model those data.” GEON is developing a geoinformatics system as a step towards realizing this vision.
Accessing Integrated Information
The goal in GEON is to develop a set of software services that can respond to a “natural” request from users, such as:
“For a given region (i.e. lat/long extent, plus depth), return a 3D structural model with accompanying physical parameters of density, seismic velocities, geochemistry, and geologic ages, using a cell size of 10km”
Integrating a variety of multi-dimensional data in response to such a request requires a common framework. GEON is developing the OpenEarth Framework (OEF) to facilitate such integration.
The topmost layers of the OEF consist of digital elevation models (DEMs), which can be obtained from a variety of topographic data. Given the proliferation of such topographic data and the need for easily serving these data, we are also launching a new initiative called the Opentopography Portal (or, OpenToPo for short). The accompanying figure shows integration of a variety of data types in a given geospatial data volume.
We wish to populate the OpenEarth Framework with a varied set of data, including:
• Standard DEM data and newer high-resolution LiDAR data, satellite imagery, street maps, geologic maps and other coverage data.
• Geophysical data: seismic, gravity and magnetic data.
• Bore hole or well data: record of the rock types encountered at different depths at a sample location.
GEON started in 2002 as a project funded under the NSF Information Technology Research (ITR) program. The project began as a collaborative research project among a dozen PI institutions, to develop cyberinfrastructure in support of data sharing and integration among the Earth Sciences community.
Much of the core GEON cyberinfrastructure is generic and broadly applicable beyond Earth Sciences and Geosciences. GEON has established many partnerships and relationships with other projects in earth science, archaeology, paleontology, ecology, and environmental science, to earthquake engineering. Several international partnerships have also been established, e.g. with Japan, China, and India.