This is a view of the main search page. The geography search default is via the map; checking the ‘specify region’ button enables you to search for a particular country. Circled numbers correspond to the following features in the menu bar opposite:
Although the country and age listings are quite comprehensive, not all country/age/data search combinations will produce results. There’s a trade-off between broad searches with slower data retrieval and narrow searches with perhaps no results. Until this issue is resolved, the following tables at least provide a guide to database contents as well as their geographic and age distributions:
The ‘specify region’ menu enables you to choose from ‘region 1/region 2/region 3’ categories (continent/country/state or province, or ocean/subocean/major sea). These are derived mostly from the CIA World Factbook and are mapped to ESRI’s country codes for highlighting on the map.
When choosing to select from the map (the default startup option), the magnifying tool shown above also serves to select the area of interest; the map will automatically zoom to that area. Using the other tools, you can zoom out, pan, or return to the initial global view. The small reference map can be disabled if preferred.
Selecting directly from the map can be used to encompass a country or region of interest, south central Asia in this example. We’ll continue with this selection for the remainder of the tutorial.
Select an age from the pull-down menu. As you can see, different levels of search resolution are available, from era to stage. If recorded, stage divisions (lower, middle, upper) will also appear in the search results table. We’ll choose a Jurassic age for this tutorial.
Age names and absolute ages are derived from the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) Geologic Timescale 2004 (Gradstein, Ogg, Smith, et al., Cambridge University Press). A very useful online resource is the GeoWhen Database, which bases its central stratigraphic classification and dates on this 2004 timescale.
The results table from your database search will contain a named maximum and minimum age as well as corresponding maximum and minimum absolute age for each record. You should consult the ICS or GeoWhen sites to view the +/- absolute age uncertainties.
Clastic-carbonate sediments (4):
Conglomerate; Sandstone; Mudstone, shale; Limestone.
Climatically-significant sediments (15): Tillite and glacio-marine beds; Peat, coal; Dolomite; Eolian sands; Gypsum, anhydrite; Halite and bittern salts; Reefs; Bedded chert, radiolarite, diatomite; Phosphorite; Chamosite; Glauconite; Ferromanganese nodules and concretions; Limonite, goethite, or hematite; Nonmarine, nondeposition (soils); Oil source rock.
Lithology Summaries (7): Conglomerate dominant; Sandstone with shale; Shale with sandstone; Shale; Clastics with some carbonate; Carbonate with some clastics; Pure carbonate.
Igneous Rocks (7): Rhyolite, rhyodacite, trachyte, latite; Andesite, basaltic andesite, dacite; Basalt, phonolites, basanites, dolerite dikes; Granite, monozonite, adamellite, alkali granite; Granodiorite, diorite, albitic granite, tonalite; Foidite, foyaite, exexite, theralite, etc; Uplift and unroofing (cooling age).
Search for selected rock categories to plot on the maps or download for analyses. This image shows the main menu, divided into three categories for sedimentary rocks and one for igneous. Clicking on the ‘+’ beside each will open up the full choice of rock types, as listed opposite:
Now let’s continue with a search for records of Jurassic age from south central Asia, as selected from the map.
In this example, the ‘climatically significant sediments’ category was opened, and coals, eolian sands, and evaporites selected.
Below, the search results are shown plotted on the selected map region. A pop-up legend is available for guidance, and the results can also be viewed in a table or on paleomaps. Basically, any records that show on the main map will be viewable in the results table and on the paleomaps: these are linked to the map search area, so changing this automatically refreshes the results.
After selecting the data you want, use the ‘Plot Data’ button to plot results on the map:
To select fossils, choose the dinosaur or plant buttons to expand the options.
In this example, I’ve chosen to go a little deeper in my dinosaur search, by choosing sub-categories (Saurischia then Theropoda). I’ve selected bone and track preservation states to further narow my search. For the plants, I’ve chosen to search for all species.
Alternatively, I could have searched both fossil groups by genus name. This is a text search, and entering partial names may produce more taxa: for example, typing ‘dictyo’ in the plant box gives Dictyophyllum and Dictyozamites, typing ‘dic’ gives, in addition, Dicksonia and Radicites. Additional information from whole-name searches of dinosaur genera is also available via Wikipedia.
After selecting the data you want, use the ‘Plot Data’ button to plot results on the map. Searching for these fossil taxa in the Jurassic of south central Asia (together with the climate sensitive sediments selected previously) produced the following map plots:
What follows are examples from a search of the Jurassic in south central Asia. In addition to plotting search results on the map, by selecting ‘View Data’, results can be viewed in a table with the option of exporting as a csv file to (e.g.) Excel.
The results table contains a summary of the search criteria, links to details of lithology and environmental codes, and the export to Excel option:
There’s also a summary of the databases and the number of records in each:
To fit in this window, the results table has been split into two sections. The first (a PGAP example) comprises information about the database source (PGAP, CSS, OSR, DINO, PBOT), locality number, geography (latitude, longitude, region), age maximum and minimum (period, epoch, stage, stage divison, ICS absolute age), formation name, and lithology code:
And continues (DINO and PBOT examples) with information about any fossil content (genus or species) and preservation style, plate rotation age and paleocoordinates (from Chris Scotese’s Paleomap Project), inferred depositional environment, paper number, locality details, stratigraphic reliability, facies, and general comments:
A record number can be selected to provide a complete printable list of all records for its locality. Here’s a PGAP sedimentary rock example:
And this is a dinosaur example:
Finally, a paper number can be selected to provide the complete reference source in a new window:
Paleocoordinates have been precalculated using Chris Scotese’s plate rotation program. This means that search results, in addition to being downloaded or plotted on present-day maps, can be shown on his paleomaps using the ‘View PaleoMap’ option:
Here’s a paleomap example of Upper Jurassic records from south central Asia, selected from the present-day map.
As with the results table, a summary of search criteria is provided. The paleomaps can be navigated with the same tools as the present-day map (zoom in and out, select a region, pan). The Lower and Middle Jurassic records from our Jurassic search can be viewed on the relevant paleomaps simply by selecting from the pulldown menu.
This feature allows reference searches by author last name, year of publication, or article title. This last is basically a keyword search. Results are dislayed in a new window.
The example opposite shows a last name search. Results are shown below:
The check boxes enable the viewing of locality details in a new window:
From which the full locality listing can be viewed and printed:
The databases were constructed individually using MySQL. The core components that link these (and, indeed, any other geologic databases in this system) are the geography and age codes.
Geographic names are derived mostly from the CIA World Factbook and are mapped to ESRI’s country codes for highlighting on the map.
Age codes are derived from the ICS Geologic Timescale 2004. Another very useful online resource is the GeoWhen Database, which bases its central stratigraphic classification and dates on this 2004 timescale. PIP database searches will yield named maximum and minimum ages as well as corresponding absolute ages for each record. You should consult the ICS or GeoWhen sites to view the +/- absolute age uncertainties.